2023 – A Review

2023 – A Review

It’s that time of the year between Christmas and New Year when my energy totally disappears! However, at least this year I have dodged the old C.O.V.I.D. Thankfully!


After not venturing beyond the British shores for over 15 years and not flying for over 22 years, I decided to get over my fear of flying and visit a friend in Finland, not once but twice this year! I must admit that it’s not just a fear of flying, having food intolerances/allergies also makes things a little difficult.

A view of Tankar Island from the boat.
Tankar Island and it’s landmark lighthouse.

The weather for my trip in June was glorious! The jeans & hoodies I had packed for the trip were not needed. It was shorts & t-shirts all the way! I explored Helsinki, took a long train trip northwards to Kannus, visited Kokkola, ventured to Ohtakari (on my birthday), took a boat trip to Tankar Island, and spent some time in Kalajoki. I already knew I wanted to go back!

Food stalls at Helsinki Christmas Market.

I think a winter trip to Finland is a must and, whilst I didn’t get to see the Northern Lights, I did get perfect weather once again… Snow! I explored more of Helsinki (there’s still more I want to see) and browsed Helsinki Christmas Market. Once again, I journeyed northwards by train to Kannus, explored Kokkola’s old wooden town, and ventured further north to Oulu.

Do I want to go again? Hell yeah! There’s so much of Finland I want to explore.

Where will my next trip take me?

Out & About

Here in Wales, we don’t see much snow these days, but back in March, snow rather than snowdrops (which had been there in February) carpeted the churchyard. Later in the year, I came across the story of a Titanic survivor who was laid to rest in the village cemetery.

The St Mary Window at Manchester Cathedral.
The St Mary Window.

Manchester is fast becoming a favourite place to visit, and, of course, Manchester Cathedral (and its colourful stained glass windows) is always a wonderful place to take in some peace after the hustle & bustle of the city. I like to see if I can find some new street art around the city too.


In February, I attended Palentines – a weekend festival for all things planner/journal-related. It was a fun and creative weekend.

My Tim Peake signed programme, hardback book and ticket.
My signed programme, signed hardback book and ticket from Tim Peake’s My Journey To Space show.

March was a busy month for events. A friend and I went to the local theatre to see comedian Tom Allen and then we returned a week later to see The Makings of a Murderer (a rather fascinating evening!). I also took Dad to Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury to see astronaut Tim Peake with his My Journey To Space show. It was very interesting to hear him talk about his life and journey to being an astronaut on the International Space Station.

Mike Parker reading from his new book, All The Wide Border.
An Evening with Mike Parker at Booka Bookshop, Oswestry.

April began with An Evening with Mike Parker at Booka Bookshop in Oswestry to hear all about his book about the Welsh border, its history and the folks that inhabit it. Fittingly, April ended with another Booka Bookshop event, this time Crime on the Border with Claire Mackintosh, Lisa Jewell & Louise Candlish.

In July, my friend and I finally got to see Hollywood Vampires in Birmingham. I say “finally” as we had been waiting since 2020 due to a couple of postponements and then the tour being cancelled. Finally, we got to see them. Was the wait worth it? Yes, it was!

A life-size Ozzy Osbourne cake!
A life-size Ozzy Osbourne cake!

My niece & I visited the Craft Show in Birmingham in November and I quickly remembered why I hadn’t been in years (the crowds!). The cakes were extraordinary though, especially the life-size cakes of Ozzy Osbourne and King Charles!

I already have a few events lined up for 2024… Rhod Gilbert & the Giant Grapefruit, Train, James Blunt and Take That. Can’t wait!


I planned to read 52 books this year… and I failed… Big time! I lost count along the way but it was more like 15-20 books (including audiobooks). Oops. Still, it was more books than the year before, and I’ll try to do better in 2024.

A set of books sat on a shelf.


I only managed a couple of Supporting Small Businesses posts this year, but hopefully, there’ll be more in 2024. I already have a couple planned.

The Garden

Despite the seemingly never-ending wind and rain this year, I spent quite a lot of time in the garden photographing and videoing the bees and the butterflies. Once again, my wildlife camera caught sight of the visiting hedgehogs.

A butterfly on a coneflower.

There were even more dahlias this year, though not as many as there should have been. An order of tubers from Sarah Raven was only partially fruitful this year with roughly 50% of the new tubers not producing anything. If I order more tubers, I’ll be looking elsewhere.

All in all, a pretty good year, I think! Let’s see what 2024 brings!


  1. Definitely a good year! Having just read a couple of other posts by bloggers who seem to have read a million books this year (very slight exaggeration) I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who struggles to keep up. I used to be a voracious reader too.

    Happy new year, Nikki, and hope 2024 is another good one for you.

  2. tomthebackroadstraveller says:

    …on this rainy, dull day your snow, flowers and butterfly look fabulous. I wish you a healthy and happy 2024.

  3. Kris P says:

    Well, you may not have made it through 52 books but I’d say you got out and about quite a bit, Nikki. Life-sized cakes?! I can’t say I’ve ever seen one of those. I enjoyed your Finnish posts as the country is part of my ancestral history I’ve never had a chance to explore. My husband has a condition that requires a very restrictive diet so we haven’t done any of the traveling we’d planned to do once we retired – nor even the travel we were doing while we were working, but life does throw curveballs.

  4. Kelly says:

    You certainly have made a good case for visiting Finland with your posts and photos! I’ve enjoyed seeing it through your eyes.

    I’ll excuse you for failing on your book goal. You were too busy “seeing and doing” to spend much time reading!! Aim a little lower for 2024!

    I look forward to reading about (and seeing through photos) all the things you have planned for next year!

  5. Definitely a year to remember, Nikki, and I would imagine the Scandinavian countries were well equipped to deal with food allergies. They’re becoming more and more common these days, aren’t they? Just remains to wish you happy new year, however you chose to spend it.

  6. Wow! great photos and wonderful year ~ Finland sounds and looks marvelous ~ Bravo to you for getting over any fears of flying ~ Hugs,

    Wishing you good health, laughter and love in your days,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  7. Mia says:

    I didn’t quite get to my reading target, but have read more than I have in years.

    How much of Finland has your Finnish friend seen?

    My first dentist for where I live now, was Finnish! Perhaps on your next visit, you’ll come across someone who knows what bore da means!

  8. Ginnie Hart says:

    I like this kind of synopsis of the year, Nikki, and read it with interest. So glad you got over your fear of flying at least enough to venture off again to a place you clearly love. Your many interests are inspirational, so keep them up. I’m curious as to when your birthday is?? It sounds like it’s in June. Mine is the 13th. Are you a Gemini??!! 🙂

  9. Astrid says:

    After reading your post, I can say that you really spent your time well in doing wonderful things you love. I so enjoyed following you in this year. I am sure that you will have some great trips in 2024 and that you take us along.
    Happy New Year to you and your loved ones and all the best and safe travels!!

  10. Alan Rolfe says:

    It’s interesting to look back on the year but I can only recall significant events. To that end, I started writing. daily journal 96 days ago and now I don a daily entry. Hopefully, this time next year, I can look on a packed year.

  11. Carol says:

    I’m sitting in my living room surrounded by boxes and yes, not too motivated to write a blog post. Your recap of 2023 was so refreshing and fun. I’m pretty much an armchair traveler now, and I appreciate your beautiful photos and words. I’m looking forward to visiting you in 2024! God Bless!

  12. Ann says:

    You’ve definitely had an interesting year, Nikki, thank you for sharing it all with us. I’m sorry you didn’t achieve your goal to read 52 books, but perhaps it was too ambitious? 15 to 20 must almost match the number I was able to read 🙂 Happy New Year! xxx

  13. chickenruby says:

    Sounds like a good year. That cake of Ozzy looks fab. I managed 57 books this year. I picked out 4 each month to make sure I read them, it was a struggle at times and others were read in a day or two. Happy New Year to you and here’s to more travel in 2024.

    • Nikki says:

      Anywhere particular in Wales? I’m lucky enough to live in Wales, though I’m not far from the border. Scotland is lovely and I would love to go again.

  14. Hi Nikki – Finland looks fabulous. Here in Australia we’re such a long way from everywhere else and I’m still reluctant to get on a plane and be away from home for too long. I’ll keep it on my one-day list though….and also Wales because it sounds like such an interesting place. Happy New Year from down under 🙂

  15. Marty says:

    I always have big plans for books too, but my output tends to be in line with the same approximate number you read this past year. As I’ve gotten older I’m noticing that my reading has slowed, which actually may be a good thing (I think I’m processing more). I’m making a note of the Richard Osman one you read, btw.

    Congrats on getting over the fear of flying! I haven’t flown since before the pandemic, so that might be a bit of a hill to climb. So to speak.

    Happy New Year!

  16. Angie says:

    Nikki – a wonderful summary of a year well-lived! Finland is a place I would love to visit at any time of year! I am hoping to read more in 2024 – we will see if I succeed! Thanks for visiting my blog and your kind comments.

  17. Barbara says:

    Hi Nikki
    It sounds like you’ve had a busy and productive year, well done. I enjoyed reading about some of the things you got up to.
    I used to be terrified of flying and vowed never to get on a plane again after one particularly awful flight. But then my son moved to Australia, leaving me with very little choice but to fly. We’ve not seen him for five years due to Covid and my husband’s ill health but are determined to make the trip again this year.
    Wishing you a Very Happy New Year.XX

  18. Suzanne says:

    Wonderful highlights, Nikki, and I hope 2024 exceeds 2023 in more adventures locally and abroad. I have become a slower book reader, and that’s okay, as it’s not a race. Happy New Year.

  19. Karalee says:

    It sounds like you had an eventful 2023, and that’s wonderful you went to Finland twice! I still think reading 15-20 books is great even though you didn’t reach your goal. I love the photo of the butterfly!

  20. Wow – that’s such a wonderful year of so many highs to remember. How will you top it in 2024? Maybe 30 books Congrats on taking wonderful photos to remember your adventures by.

  21. Ju-Lyn says:

    What a year it has been! your travels abroad & nearer by, all the events & fairs, and the books you did read – I guess that’s why we aim high, so that even when we get halfway, it is better than not at all ❤️

    That Ozzy Osbourne cake captured my eye & imagination: edible art!!!

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