2017: My Year In Review

I’ve spent a long time staring at the screen trying to think about where to start on my year in review for 2017. The previous two years were so easy to summarise: 2015, the year I married the love of my life and got pregnant; 2016, the year I became a mummy and my world changed forever. But 2017 was different. In some ways it was the very best year of my life, with some incredible memories that I’ll take with me to my grave. In other ways, it was one of the hardest with a handful of difficult blows which led to some very low lows. Fortunately, in the end things balanced out in favour of happier outcomes, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few moments this year when I felt like the universe was testing me a little.

At the end of a year like this, I think it’s so important for all of us to reflect on our achievements and give ourselves a jolly good pat on the back, so, just like my tradition from previous years, I’ve cobbled together some of my favourite moments from 2017. And there were many!

Follow Your Sunshine: My year in review

My Top Highlights

*Branching out into the world of journalism with my first resident writer’s role as Food Columnist for the Qatar edition of Ohlala Magazine.

*Celebrating Baby Sunshine’s First Birthday with a picnic in the park with all of our friends.

*Experiencing the beauty of Norway in the springtime, with a trip to Oslo followed by a memorable stay near to Alesund at the Storfjord Hotel.

*Writing a guest post for one of my favourite bloggers, The Travelista, on things to do as a tourist in Doha.

*Visiting the two incredible Four Seasons properties in Bali, first at Sayan and then at Jimbaran Bay and discovering that Bali is a far more child-friendly travel destination than we’d been led to believe.

*Embracing a deluge of staycations at home in Doha (to beat the blockade blues), each as incredible as the last in their own right: City Centre Rotana, the Grand Hyatt, the St Regis and the newly renovated Ritz Carlton being the highlights.

*Making some tough decisions about my employment status and direction, my blog and my life in general and eventually deciding to ditch the 9-5 and take my blog full time. It was a scary step but I haven’t regretted it for a second. It means more time with Mr Sunshine and Baby Sunshine, more flexibility in what I do with my time and more time dedicated to doing what I love: writing…what’s more it led beautifully to the next highlight which was…

*Receiving an incredibly exciting email from the Lonely Planet Destination Editor for the MENA region, which eventually led to my new appointment as Lonely Planet local writer for Qatar!! To say that I’m thrilled with this role would be an understatement. It’s a dream come true and I can’t wait to get stuck in properly in the new year. In the meantime, you can read my first article here.

*Being given the extremely exciting and once in a lifetime opportunity to interview one of my all-time heroes, Gordon Ramsay at the St Regis in Doha. He was charming, chatty and just a little bit cheeky. You can read my interview here.

*Continuing our family travels with several fantastic trips, to Venice, Lake Garda, York and London, which you will able to read about on the blog in the new year.

*A fabulous birthday party at The Pier with Pooja (Les Rebelles Squad).

*Heading back to England for a wintery and very memorable Christmas at home surrounded my all of our friends and family.

Follow Your Sunshine: My Year in review

2017 in Numbers

3: The number of Qatar-based magazines that Follow Your Sunshine featured in this year

2: The number of events I hosted

5: The number of staycations we had

11: The number of destinations we travelled to as a family

10: The number of flights we took

4: The number of new nieces and nephews that were added to our expanding family

55: The number of blog posts I wrote

17: The number of brand collaborations I took part in

430: The number of Instagram photos I posted

76,973: The number of Instagram likes I received

1: The number of jobs I left

196902: The (approximate) number of times I was retrospectively grateful for this sudden change in direction!

7: The number of perfect sentences that Baby Sunshine can now say

0: The number of times Baby Sunshine slept through the night

My 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2017

Our Honeymoon: Positano’s Hidden Gems

Six Reasons To Try The Caramel High Tea at City Centre Rotana

An Exclusive Interview With Gordon Ramsay in Doha

10 Child-Friendly Things To Do On A Staycation at the Grand Hyatt Doha

Qatar’s Best Family Friendly Restaurants According to 7 Parent Bloggers

A Staycation at City Centre Rotana

Four Years of Follow Your Sunshine: My Blogging Journey and a Brand New Direction

Two Minute Teaser: Big Apple Brunch at New York Steakhouse

20 Things I’ve Learned Since My Baby Became a Toddler

A Weekend At Al Gassar Resort

What This Year Taught Me:

  • Sometimes you have to travel through the darkest of times to discover the light at the end of the tunnel. You have to trust that the Big Man Upstairs has a plan for you, and that everything will work out just the way you want it to in time.
  • When things go wrong, you’ll learn out which friends will stick around to ride the storm with you and which friends immediately jump ship.
  • Taking time to be mindful, and listen to your inner voice can change your entire world.
  • Sticky toddler kisses solve everything.
  • Life is a game of two halves.

Follow Your Sunshine: my year in review

What’s Next?

Baby Sunshine and I will be seeing in the new year with family in England while Mr Sunshine works hard producing the TV coverage of the Qatar Open back home (it’s so funny to find myself finally calling Qatar home after four years living there!). It’s really difficult to be apart for this period but we have lots of exciting family travel plans coming up in 2018 to make up for it (look out for tomorrow’s blog post for more on this!).

The first quarter of the year is an incredibly exciting one for me, as I get stuck into my Lonely Planet writing, and pursue a new business opportunity that has been brewing for a long time now…watch this space!

On the blog front, my resolutions are to be more consistent and focused on producing the content that I love: expect more regular food, travel and family posts, as well as a continuation of my Blogging 101 series in the new year. There are also a few potential travel opportunities in the pipeline which I’m trying not to get too excited about just in case they don’t come into fruition. Please keep your fingers crossed for me!

Other than that, next year will be all about friends and family: quality time spent with quality people and concentrating on the things that make me happy. We have several visitors coming to stay with us in Qatar, a wedding to look forward to and a holiday with all of the extended family is in the planning stages.

Whatever 2018 brings, I am looking forward to a settled and less turbulent year than 2017 turned out to be.

Thanks again to all of you for all of your kind emails, comments and support over the last year. I almost gave up on Follow Your Sunshine on numerous occasions, but it was you lot that kept me going! I’m so pleased I didn’t throw in the towel when things got tough and I’m hoping this little space on the internet will keep ticking away for many years to come.

Wherever you are in the world, I hope you have a fantastic celebration as you see in the new year tonight, and I hope that 2018 brings you health and happiness.

FYS x

For previous ‘year in review’ posts, click here.

7 Comments

  1. December 31, 2017 / 5:19 pm

    Polly… I don’t even know where to start. I’m so immensely proud of you for all you have achieved this year and I feel so lucky to have watch you flourish as a person, a mum and a blogger. I’m so, so grateful to have you as a friend, especially as you have stuck by me in some of the hardest moments this year even though you’re over 3,000 miles away.

    I’m so excited to see you reach for the stars in 2018!

    Love you always,
    A

  2. December 31, 2017 / 5:46 pm

    LOVE THIS!! Also we got to have dinner together in Doha <3

  3. Flying Food Ninja
    December 31, 2017 / 9:09 pm

    You forgot to mention eating around Doha with your awesome bestie! πŸ˜‰ Haha just kidding

    I am beyond proud of you and everything you have accomplished and gone through. Sophia is such a doll and your are so extremely talented! Anyone should be thankful to be part of the sunshine life 😘 Also so happy to have gotten to know you better over this year. Thank you for making Doha full of sunshine!

    Love you and this darn blog! It’s the best and your the bestest! πŸ’™πŸ’™

  4. Dad
    December 31, 2017 / 9:49 pm

    We’re so happy to be seeing the New Year in with you and Little Miss Sunshine in our sleepy part of England. Here’s to 2018 and to many more good things ahead. The number 4 above has special connotations for me also of course – in total, that is, not just this year’s score! x

  5. January 1, 2018 / 8:07 pm

    You’ll have to buy the Lonely Planet book and pop it on the coffee table, as a published author!!

  6. January 2, 2018 / 4:19 pm

    I’m so glad you didn’t give up – we all need a dose of your Sunshine! Those are some fabulous highlights and I can’t wait to see more of your lovely positivity in 2018 πŸ™‚

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