Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Owlet's Year in Review


Long time, no speak; I hope you've had a wonderful Christmas. I've heard a lot of people saying that 2016 hasn't been the best year, but for me it's been crazy in the best ways. I started The Owlet in February thinking I'd maybe get 100 views a month, and now I'm travelling the country and being invited to black tie dinners. If you'd have asked me at the start of the year where I though I'd be at the end of 2016, I never would have said this so I feel like I need a 2016 digest.

Get ready for a seriously long post.


The year started pretty quietly. Adam and I spent our first Christmas together, then because I was struck down with a cold we never made it to my friend's New Year's Eve party and ended up in our local pub, ringing in the new year with a quiet cocktail and a glass of champagne.

I think the main reason that January was so quiet was because I had a huge deadline for my second year of uni. This meant that I spent the whole of December and January taking photos for my project. I basically spent a month running around with Adam dressed as the Mad Hatter, a teapot and a top hat. If you'd like to know more about this project, I actually did a blog post with more photos.


February is where my crazy new life begins to take shape. This photo is from 7th February when I revived my old blog that I abandoned, and created The Owlet. The picture is actually of the preview that I showed Adam before it was even made live. In reality, I never thought pressing the publish button would have such a drastic effect on my life.

Obviously I had to include an owl somewhere. This year I've been lucky enough to be around owls on multiple occasions, but nothing even closely relates to the time that a member of the Bradley Stoke Radio team interviewed an owl (and her handler!) live on air. Meeting the interviewees was the beginning of an entire university project based around photographing owls. This is one of the projects I have been most proud of to date - I got to spend months in the company of owls, got the best grade I'd ever achieved and was awarded Best In Show at my graduation exhibition.


Every March, the Photography Show pitches up at the NEC in Birmingham. This is something I go to every year and isn't particularly out of the ordinary to me, but this was the first time Adam had ever been to Birmingham, and was the start of a bit of a love affair with the city which has meant we've been up and back to the midlands several times in 2016.

March was also when I got to photograph in the Bristol Old Vic for the first time, which is hands down one of Bristol's most beautiful venues. I got there a lot earlier than I needed to be and spent some time photographing in the hall before the audience were allowed in. Since then, I have done more and more work in theatres and it's been something that I've grown to love.


In my mind, April was the month that everything started to take off for me and The Owlet. I was invited to my first big blogger event - Bristol Fashion Week - and was featured on the website which around 20000 people saw. 

April was also the first month that I started to travel with my blog. I was invited to London for a Mad Hatter's Tea Party. It wasn't quite what I expected but it was amazing to be invited to an event in another city and being able to meet other bloggers was brilliant.


May saw more travelling with The Owlet, as well as me getting braver and filming one of my first (and this is still one of my favourites) vlogs! I was invited to Birmingham for the opening of a new restaurant. I went up early and spent the morning wandering around, then spent the afternoon chatting, making pizza and meeting people that I still call friends now. Spoiler alert: there was a lot of cider and the vlog is more of a comedy sketch.

I was trying to keep this post to just two highlights for each month but as the year progresses it's getting harder and harder to limit myself. As well as travelling to Birmingham, I went to London, turned 20, did one of my first collabs on the blog, and did a lot more travelling and a lot of behind the scenes things. But, I left all of those out, as I want to mention something even more special. 

In May my parents celebrated 25 years married and 30 years together with a garden party for all the family. in 2006, they renewed their vows after 15 years together as the doctors said they didn't think Dad would see their 25th - but of course he proved them wrong and as well as the party, they went on a cruise to celebrate!


June is another month of celebration. If you remember seeing this photo on Instagram, you'll probably remember the caption saying something about feeling very relieved! While the photo isn't particularly exciting, this was taken when my friends and I went out for lunch, having handed in the last piece of coursework for our FdA, meaning I could finally get out of a place that had spent two years making me miserable, and freedom felt amazing.

One morning in June I opened up Gmail to one of the best messages/ blogger opportunities I have possibly ever been offered. Attending Royal Ascot is something that's always been a dream of mine but never seemed realistic. So when Appletiser offered me tickets to spend the day at the races, I needed picking up off the floor. It was the most incredible experience, and I can't explain how grateful I am for being offered the chance to live out one of my dreams, but let's just say we've been saving for next year's tickets since then.


Once I'd handed in my uni project and gotten the Graduation Exhibition out of the way, summer was mine to enjoy. One of the first things I did was visit West Midlands Safari Park with Dad. I have to say, feeding a zebra and having a giraffe appearing through our sunroof is probably one of the more unique experiences I've had. Downside? A goat tried to eat my favourite dress.

After that, Bristol's festival season kicked off. BSR was invited to host the stage at the Harbour Festival, which meant I spent the best part of a week on stage taking photos, hanging out with friends that I've met through the radio station, and (not so happily) getting the most wicked sunburn I have ever experienced.


August is the month of Balloon Fiesta - it's something I've always done with my family, and more recently something that BSR has played a big part in. But this year I got to combine all of those things when I was offered tickets into the member's enclosure by Red Letter Days. After dinner, we were able to walk across the field through all the balloons while they lit up for the night glow. Being that close the action was amazing, and something I would absolutely love to repeat!

By August, we still hadn't had time for a holiday so I went to Weymouth for the day with Adam and his family. This was a lovely idea in theory, however we got there and spent the entire day freezing, and then getting soaked in torrential rain. Sod's law!


To be honest, as I've been looking for photographs for this post I've been trying to work out how I've had time to write anything on here because I've fitted so much in, but I think September must have had an extra week on top of the other months - either that or I didn't sleep because there is no way I could have fitted so much in.

This month, I took another trip to London (and another trip to Birmingham - are you seeing a pattern yet?). Where I spend a lot of time travelling, I'm lucky enough to have friends in most cities across the country, but that also means that I don't very often get to see them. So when I found myself with a spare day I went to meet one of my friends in central London. I know the city well but Panda (not his real name!) doesn't so I took him to do some touristy things and bumped into this lovely man. If you want to find a strange man singing 80s songs in union flag dress, just head to Cool Britannia on Piccadilly. 

NEXT CITY! Okay so I have a confession - I took photos and filmed on this trip (working holiday and all that) but my laptop was full, so I copied the card onto Adam's computer and haven't seen it since.

ANYWAY, by September we still hadn't managed a holiday so decided on a last minute week in Birmingham. I'm used to the city whereas Adam has only been twice so we did lots of touristy things like visit the Bullring, seeing the canals by boat and walking around the new library. This time was absolutely not long enough though, so stay tuned for the next instalment of Birmingham trips.


I feel like I absolutely cannot do a year in review post until I've addressed the time that the Hotel Du Vin team let the bloggers loose in their Bristol branch. This is probably the poshest place any of us have ever been, and it was sort of like escape from the Zoo. This was such a lovely event because we sat down to afternoon tea, with all of us around one big table which meant we got to spent the entire time catching up. Afterwards we were taken for a tour around the hotel, and yes, that is me, Sam and Liv in a shower together.

Next up isn't something you would have seen anywhere. Every year I take two days to teach school students with BSR. I love teaching so this is one of the things I look forward to doing every single year. I teach them how to use our software, and go through how to make a jingle or an advert to play out on the radio. I love working with students that have chosen to be there and have a real interest in radio and love it when the students really want to learn.


November was probably one of the most jam-packed months this year. I had 3 events a week for most of it, opportunities for learning, work and some incredibly family things so it's been really hard to choose my two highlights. However, I couldn't not mention this in my round up.

This November I walked up the isle in a cap and gown! Yes, I actually survived my two years to get my FdA, and graduated with honours at Bristol Cathedral. I have some lovely photos of all of us together with me in my robes, but I think this photo of us before we left for the Cathedral sums up my strange family best, and despite it not really showing what we were doing that day, it's my favourite photo out of all of them.

The same week that I graduated I was incredibly lucky to be invited to spend the day at BBC Bristol. We were given talks about the latest technology that the BBC are using, we shown around the studios and taught how to present, produce and take care of technical aspects. One of my highlights was getting to sit on the red Points West sofa with some of the people that I've watched on TV for years.


So you may have noticed that even though I've had quite a lot going on during December, I'd been mysteriously absent from my online life. That's because on 6th December Dad had an operation to have a pacemaker and defibrillator fitted. 

I wasn't going to put this in but it's been a massive part of our year and I know a lot of you were asking after him. In June Dad was told that he had a 1 in 5 chance of his heart stopping and that he needed an Internal Cardiac Defibrillator fitting. This corrects the abnormal heart beat, but also will restart the heart if anything were to happen. After the op, Dad was allowed home the same day and is making a great (if all be it slower than he would've hoped) recovery, and repeatedly says it's the best Christmas present anyone could have given him.

So while Dad's operation did slow me down in the final few months of 2016, it didn't stop me at all. On 2nd December I was back in Birmingham to visit Clothes Show live as a member of the press. I finally got to meet Purely Amy, who I've counted as one of my friends since I first started The Owlet. She is one of the nicest people I have met through my blog, so it was really nice to spend the day hanging out at the NEC, even though we weren't that impressed by the show itself. Amy speaks more about it on her blog, but I've actually yet to write a post  - all will be explained in the new year, don't worry!

So there we are, my entire year in a nutshell (or a very long post). I can't believe how crazy this year has been, how much has happened or how much starting The Owlet has affected my life. If you told me that I would get stopped when walking down the street by complete strangers who read my blog, or travelling the country to attend black tie dinners I would never have laughed and called you crazy.

So that leaves me with one thing to say - the most massive thank you I possibly can to you. Without your support every day, I wouldn't get to do anything like this. I have had the most amazing year as The Owlet and it's all down to you.

Happy New Year. I don't know about you but I have a good feeling about 2017, and I can't wait to see where it takes us.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

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