There's no doubt that 2020 has been a strange and difficult year for us all, with a lot of heartache and loss for so many. From being separated from our loved ones to the mental and physical challenges of working from home, homeschooling and Joe Wicks' workouts, we have been tested to our limits, all while living in a constant state of hand-sanitised anxiety.
However, there have also been some positives to arise from this year of extreme change and disruption. For me personally, more time spent at home has led to me falling back in love with my local area of Kent and Sussex. Despite living in Tunbridge Wells for the past three years, I feel it's only been this year that I've finally had a chance to explore it fully and get to know the beautiful spots that the surrounding area has to offer. Here's how the past year has given me a new appreciation for south east England...
I started The Adventure Playlist in 2018 to celebrate my love or travel and write about all of the incredible places I'd been lucky enough to visit. From hiking the Inca Trail in Peru and star gazing in the Bolivian salt flats, to road tripping around California and wine tasting in South Africa, I'd been to some amazing locations around the world and loved sharing my experiences, itineraries and advice.
Then 2020 happened, and the world changed. Almost overnight, our biggest adventure became the fortnightly trip to the local shop, and travelling to far-flung destinations quickly became a thing of the past. As a nation, we were forced to spend more time enjoying and appreciating our little patch of home and looking inwards rather than out to the horizon.
The silver lining of this - for me, at least - has been that this time reignited my love for my local area. With less time taken up commuting or busying myself with plans, I've developed a new found appreciation for my gorgeous corner of England, falling head over heels for the beauty and charm I was fortunate to have right on my doorstep. It feels a little like finally going on a date with someone you've been acquaintances for years, and suddenly discovering they're 'the one'.
Throughout 2020, I've had time to explore places I'd been meaning to go for years and discovered new spots that I hadn't even known existed - from National Trust sites to characterful villages; and pretty parks to tantalising organic farm shops. My daily walks have become my new adventures; visiting hidden gems and, as lockdown restrictions started to ease, lovely local shops, eateries and landmarks.
This past year also saw the arrival of our beautiful daughter - a sparkling ray of light on the year's slightly gloomy horizon - which has also inevitably changed my perspective of travel. Though I'm excited to one day take her on trips abroad to see some of the amazing sights around the globe, for now I'm equally loving days out taking in the scenery of the South Downs, the High Weald and the dramatic cliff-lined coasts nearby.
With this in mind, whilst I've been reluctant to write many blog posts this year given the travel restrictions in place, I am now keen to write about family-friendly days out with my girl, as we explore the Kent and Sussex countryside together. There will be a time for bigger more far-flung adventures again, I'm sure, but until then, join me as I make the most of and celebrate beautiful Britain!