A Year in Travel Blogging

Having spent a lot of time backpacking and trying to see the other side of the world, this year I decided to make it my mission to visit as much of England as possible in between the bigger trips.

With a full-time job that I love, my travel is all taken at weekends and squeezing every last drop of potential from my annual leave. Now, as the New Year gets closer, I can look back and see that it’s been quite a journey.

Amsterdam by Sara Hardman Travels

Amsterdam

2014 started with a trip to Amsterdam that I booked as a surprise for my boyfriend’s birthday. We had an incredible stay at the Raddisson Blu; we filled our museum quota by drinking our body weight at the Heineken Museum, we enjoyed a river cruise and, naturally, completed the trip by accidentally causing a big scene in the red light district!

Heineken Museum, Amsterdam

Heineken Museum, Amsterdam

The first UK trip of the year was a flying visit to Manchester and Liverpool. We spent time shopping, eating and hanging out in the legendary Cavern Club, the iconic venue where The Beatles shot to fame.

Feeling the need to bump culture up my list, in April I headed over to the beautiful city of Stratford-upon-Avon for the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birthday. I took my camera along and captured his family homes and a city rich in beauty, literature and heritage.

Shakespeare's Birthplace by Sara Hardman

Shakespeare’s Birthplace on Henley Street.

In April & May the indulgence was halted and I became involved in the Live Below the Line campaign. The global movement takes place annually with the goal of ending world poverty by 2030. There are currently an estimated 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty around the world.

Live Below the Line - Sara Hardman
For one week I had to live on £1 per day for all my food and drink. It was extremely hard, I was exhausted at work, unable to sleep with hunger and quite a few pounds lighter by the end of the week. Thanks to the generosity of my friends, family and the lovely bloggers out there, I raised £135 for the Global Poverty Project. It’s happening again in 2015 and you can get involved.

Azura

P&O Azura

The big trip abroad in June was also a travel first for me – I took my first cruise holiday on P&O Azura. The family trip took me to St Peter Port in Guernsey, Cherbourg in France, Oporto in Portugal and Coruna in Spain. I had previously declared myself ‘Too Cool to Cruise‘ but couldn’t have been more wrong about the holiday. I would have to say as far as luxury goes, this week on board Azura in a beautiful balcony cabin is at the top of my travel list.

Azura P&O Cruise Sara Hardman

Dinner at the Glass House

I’ve stayed in lots of 5 star hotels but to be surrounded by that level of service, 24 hours a day –  if you so wish – was incredible. Sunsets on deck, Champagne in the Atrium, opening the curtains and watching the sunrise over mile after mile of sea whilst sitting in bed was just breathtaking. I cannot wait to take another cruise trip with P&O; so very, very highly recommended.

P&O Cruise Azura Sara Hardman

Up on deck, Azura

Photography has become a growing interest for me and throughout the year I started to make more and more photography sales through my Redbubble site. People were buying postcards and framed images that I’d taken on my travels and it inspired me to keep working on my photography and I’m really enjoying it.

Taking photos in London

Taking photos in London

A huge 2014 highlight was when Lonely Planet magazine wanted to use my Angel of the North photo in their magazine! I was so excited that I ran out to buy three copies. I took the shot on a road trip to the north of England in September – here’s how it appeared in the magazine.

My double page spread in Lonely Planet!!

My double page spread in Lonely Planet!!

My boyfriend and I visited much of Yorkshire including trips to Whitby, Staithes, Scarborough and Ribblehead, we climbed Ingleborough – one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks – we drove to the Scottish border, looked at waterfalls in Northumberland, visited Durham Cathedral and spent a day in Newcastle.

Sara Hardman Travels Whitby photo

Whitby through the whale bones.

In October we went back to Newcastle to see the incredible Body Worlds exhibition by Gunther Von Hagens. The exhibition features real human bodies that have been preserved after death and is absolutely mind blowing!

copyright: Gunther von Hagens' BODY WORLDS, Institute for Plastination, Heidelberg, Germany, www.bodyworlds.com

copyright: Gunther von Hagens’ BODY WORLDS, Institute for Plastination, Heidelberg, Germany, http://www.bodyworlds.com

November was a very busy month! We started with a trip to London to see the beautiful poppies at the Tower of London. The following week we jetted off to Barcelona for an amazing surprise birthday treat that my boyfriend organised.

Birthday in Barcelona

Birthday in Barcelona

To end the month we checked ourselves in to the Aqua Sana Spa at Center Parcs for a little relaxation in Thetford Forest.

Sara Hardman Tower of London poppies

Tower of London

Excitedly waiting for Christmas we ended the year by heading back up north to visit a few Christmas markets. We drank mulled wine, shopped for gifts and listened to carols in York, Knaresborough, Skipton, Leeds, Bradford and Manchester.

Knaresborough

December in Knaresborough

So after a lovely Christmas with family, I’m now looking forward to a very exciting New Year with lots of very special plans to make. I’ll tell you about those in my next post…

Hope you had a great year, if you visited anywhere you’d recommend please let me know so I can add it to my 2015/16 wish-list.

Sara Hardman Travels

Always on the move

Thanks so much for following my blog this year.

Enjoy 2015. Happy New Year!

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