Updated: Mar 14
I don't know about you but this year has gone faster than me clicking my fingers. Already excited about what 2019 is going to bring. The vision board is complete, goals set and I've already taken action. Now time to relax, grateful to enjoy being with family & friends, great food, and all the joys of the festive season.
It's nice to look back to see how far I've traveled on my personal journey, grateful for all the opportunities, meeting old and new friends at some of the fabulous events throughout the UK, and further afield.
What has been your biggest goal or achievement this year? I have one-word Courage. Being naturally shy it takes a great deal of my energy to muster up my strength of Courage. Walking up to these two gentlemen was a little bewildering! But I needn't of worried they were very friendly and funny too.
WTM London ©MDHarding
That's A Wrap - 2018
This year has been busier than ever trying new food, experiences and creating amazing memories! If you could name one of these, what would it be?
As they say "You only have one life. Go for it!"
Top 18 of 2018
In no particular order here are my 18 highlights of 2018. What are yours? Please comment/share below.
I have never eaten food in this style, flavour, and presentation before. It blew me away. The Baba Restaurant in Edinburgh is located just off Charlotte Square, on George Street. One you must try at least once!
Read more here.
Colourful Dips at Baba's Restaurant ©MDHarding
Visiting The Home of The Dalai Lama
I've been lucky to have been in an audience with the Dalai Lama many years ago in Glasgow (he is very funny) and since have been curious as to what his home in Tibet and today in McLeod Ganj, India was like. In February I was lucky to visit McLeod Gani also known as "Little Lhasa", at an elevation of 2,082 metres (6,831 feet). Located by the Dhauladhar Range, part of the southern Himalayas.
The mountain caps were covered in snow like they had just been dipped in vanilla ice cream. We took our time dissecting the scene before us, as this was a trip of a lifetime. We were finally here! After two planes, a train, and a bus, we had made it. The stairs rose high before us, every step almost felt like you were climbing a mountain. The air was crisp, clean, and thin. We wouldn't be running around today.
Astonished at how central his Holiness lived, the streets lead off with many stalls, little shops, and parked taxis. We were welcomed through the towering gates and directed up the stairs to a large platform with doors into small Buddhist temples. The walls on the outside were adorned with large Tibetan Prayer Wheels. There were around 30 people quiet as little mice, examining, praying, and looking out to the great vastness of the mountains beyond. Off this platform, a path leads the way to another set of towering bottle-green metal gates. The entrance to the 14th Dalai Lama's house.
We were told that his Holiness was home, which was a wonderful surprise!
Visiting the Dalai Lama's House ©MDHarding
Discovering there really is more to the Czech Republic than Prague! The history and folklore of Tesin Silesia, visiting Petrovice Chateau then experiencing the Kravarsko region. There was also the amazing Dolni Vitkovice mine with Bolt Tower! Yes, named and visited by Usain Bolt.
Read more here.
In The Czech Countryside ©MDHarding
There are just some things you put off, even though they are right on your doorstep. Thinking that they are more difficult to reach than they are. The Giants Causeway for one was definitely one for me. It all came together nicely and would highly recommend a trip to Belfast if you have never been before, it was also the home of the RMS Titanic.
The trip combined seeing Titanic The Musical and visiting the Giant's Causeway. Did you know that there are museums, walking tours and more linked to the RMS Titanic?
The Giant's Causeway ©MDHarding
One of the smallest islands in the Orkney Archipelago - Papa Westray or Papay for short. Is a hidden gem!
The island is best explored on foot, taking in the coastline with its wildlife and historic sites. You can also arrange with the local ranger to take a boat trip to the smaller island - Holm of Pappy with its neolithic cairn.
Did you know you can also take the shortest scheduled flight in the world? When flying from Kirkwall (Orkney) take the flight via Westray to Papa Westray. It is 1 minute 14 seconds! You will also receive a certificate.
Can highly recommend staying at the Papa Westray Hostel. The location is idyllic. There are also private rooms available too.
Papa Westray ©MDHarding
Isle of Gigha
One of the smallest islands forming part of Argyll & Bute. The island off the west coast of Scotland has a population of only 160 people! Did you know it has been inhabited since prehistoric times?
Read more here.
Isle of Gigha ©MDHarding
Where do I start with Taiwan? It was awesome! We had no idea what to expect but we didn't have to worry about all the pre-guessing. It was easy to get around, with great food, lovely people, and some of the most incredible landscapes to be seen. Taiwan we will be back.
Discover more and why it should be on your travel bucket list here. Also don't miss seeing the capital Taipei from the highest vantage points and scenic destinations.
Alishan National Park ©MDHarding
Liverpool was a last-minute lively trip! I wish I could have spent more time in this vibrant city. I loved every minute of it, from watching the incredible performance of Let It Be (Beatles) to staying at The Titanic-themed hotel.
Have you visited Liverpool? What was your highlight? Haven't been? Don't worry there is still time. Here is more on what not to miss.
The Beatles Story Museum ©MDHarding
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Every year the Edinburgh International Book Festival gets bigger and better with profound, entertaining as well as truly inspirational events.
One of this year's personal favourites was discovering the Scottish 3D photography pioneer George Washington Wilson. Dr. Brian May (also the lead guitarist of Queen) and Professor Roger Taylor (not from Queen) shared their passionate interest in Victorian stereoscopic photography. Did you know that the legendary Queen guitarist Brian May has a Ph.D. in Astrophysics and is part of the management at the London Stereoscopic Company?
Entertaining ourselves while we wait in line to see Dr. Brian May ©MDHarding
Edinburgh International Fringe Festival
As always the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival did not disappoint with the hilariously funny Hardeep Singh Kohli, Gyles Bandreith, Jason Byrne, a variety of acts at the festival gala, Susan Coleman, and an audience with pop star/musician/celebrity Jason Donovan as well as many more.
What was your favourite act this year?
The Incredibly Hilarious Jason Byrne ©MDHarding
Red Bus Bistro
I have never experienced afternoon tea like this before. One of the most thrilling, entertaining, and delicious!
Looking to try something new next year? Step on board the Red Bus Bistro to enjoy an experience of a lifetime with either afternoon tea, gin, or a gourmet burger.
On-board The Red Bus Bistro in Edinburgh ©MDHarding
This summer saw the Great Exhibition of the North, celebrating the North of England's pioneering spirit. The country's biggest event in 2018, was packed with amazing exhibits, live performances, artworks, and more in 80 days.
It was incredible with the first display in the UK by 100 hundred drones, flying in formation. Wow!
Opening Night - Great Exhibition of the North ©MDHarding
V & A Dundee
With 10 long years in the making the V & A Dundee finally opened its long-awaited doors in September. It was worth the wait! Looking as good on the inside as it does on the outside. Don't miss the current exhibition - Ocean Liners: Speed & Style featuring the largest remaining fragment from Titanic. On display until 24th February 2019.
V & A Dundee ©MDHarding
Nothing like traveling in style and after the re-imagining of great ocean liners at the
V & A Dundee I was excited to be traveling in a classic Morgan. Lots of fun!
Carpe diem - (Seize the day) with High Spirits Tours.
Beautiful Aberdeenshire in Autumn ©MDHarding
Visit To The Red Deer Centre & Highland Safaris
I love autumn in Scotland and there is no place that does it better in Scotland than Perthshire! What makes it even better is meeting Rua the red deer and Ossian the Owl at the Red Deer Centre.
Fun for all the family!
Rua at the Highland Safaris ©MDHarding
Back at this time last year we were planning to visit Magical Munich after returning from Vietnam. The timing just wasn't right, the timing this year however was perfect! Taking a long weekend to visit a few of the Christmas markets and the Bavaria Film Stadt. We had already read that some scenes of the movie Never Ending Story were filmed here. I was very excited having enjoyed watching the movie growing up. Have you seen it?
More on Munch coming soon!
Falkor The White Luck Dragon, Bavaria Film Stadt, Munich ©MDHarding
It's been an awesome year in the land of musicals. Did you see one or more this year? What was your favourite?
Read more here.
Back Stage Pass with the Cast of Let It Be ©MDHarding
I hope you've enjoyed reading and feeling inspired. Thank you for joining and supporting me through 2018.
Wishing you all the very best for 2019! See you in the bright and shiny New Year. x