Reflecting on 2015 & Last Day of Blogmas | Blogmas Day 24

Hey Sweeties,

Well I for one cannot believe how quickly December let alone Blogmas has gone by, how are we on Christmas Eve? It was really strange saying goodbye to my colleagues yesterday and saying “see you in 2016” which sounds like an age away, but is actually only next week. Crazy. But as is traditional at this time of year, it’s good to reflect on the year almost gone and remember that despite the speed in which it has gone by, there will have been some memorable moments and achievements packed in along the way. Here are some of mine:

Looking back at my post this time last year (here), my core ambition for 2015 was to move on in my career as I felt I was in a bit of a pit to be honest, I wasn’t happy. However, that drive for better paid off in April when I landed myself what is now my current role and I finally feel I am in a position that is at the level I should be at. Looking forward, I am delighted that most of my next career ambitions can be met with my current employer so I really can now just relax and enjoy my job and the company and people I work in and with. Got an interview coming up in the New Year or looking to take that next step in your career? Read my interview tips.

The biggest thing I did for myself this year was take myself away on my own with Trek America. It was without doubt one of the best experiences of my life and I met some great people that I will hopefully be friends with for many years to come. Read my travel diary here.

Badwater basin, Death valley

The best thing that happened to me this year, above everything else, was getting engaged to the total love of my life (here)! Next year now brings a wedding and a new chapter of life as a married woman which, while I am still getting used to the thought of being a wife (I still feel like a little girl inside), I am so excited and can’t wait.

Wedding magazines

I guess another fairly memorable thing that happened this year that is worth a mention is lopping off my long hair, I now have a bob which I love. If you’d said this to me last year that I was going to cut a fair chunk of my hair off I wouldn’t have believed you but I did and I don’t regret it one bit. Although I miss putting my hair up in a big chunky top knot.

New hair

I will talk more about my blogging ambitions for 2016 in another post very soon but as a quick mention, taking the plunge this year and self-hosting ClaireySweetie was pretty cool and I am glad I did it. I wrote all about the pros and cons of self-hosting your blog a few weeks ago.

And that my Sweeties, wraps up Blogmas for another year. I hope you enjoyed all my posts and also the fact that I posted every day, welcome also to new followers.

The last thing I now need to do, is wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year (although I’ll be speaking to you again before 2016 dawns).

Merry Christmas

Enjoy yourselves.



Tipping in America -The European Perspective & Debate

Hey Sweeties,

I want to discuss today, tipping in America. Having just returned from my trip with Trek America touring the west coast (read my diary here), it was very much a focus on conversation throughout the trip and while we were well briefed about the tipping culture in the USA, we Brits will never quite be on board with this.

I have been to America before –New York and Las Vegas, but having not understood tipping, I didn’t do it as fully as I should have done but during my last trip, being educated about tipping from an actual American provided some much needed context to the culture and thus, changed how I did it.

Tipping in America

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Pacific Coast, LA & Tour Summary | Trek America Diary Days 13-14

Catch up with my Trek America trip so far, days 1-4, 5-7, 8-10 and 11-12.

Day 13 –Pacific Coast & Halloween Party

At the beginning of each day before we head off in the van (unless it’s a free day and we’re not driving anywhere), Lana always shows us the map and talks us through the route that we’re needing to do to get to our next destination. Until this point, we’ve mostly driven across very basic landscapes which I’m not going to lie, is quite boring. However, having been the DJ for the last week (which means I sit at the front with Lana organising the soundtrack for the day –tougher than it sounds when you have an audience to please!), I haven’t been able to just nod off when I like. So it always amuses me when Lana says (to everyone), “you can fall asleep for this first part, but make sure you’re awake and looking at the views through the second part” because I can guarantee you, I want to fall asleep when the view finally gets interesting!

The Pacific Coast, is beautiful! Quite twisty turny so while I get a little bit travel sick, I was grateful for sitting in the front but the west coast is honestly, stunning. But a bit like when we were travelling through Yosemite I had my eyes peeled for bears, the Pacific Coast is all about whale watching and looking intensely at the sea as you’re driving along and questioning every suspicious looking object and ripple is tiring!!

I’ll let some pictures do the talking for a min of the Pacific Coast (Big Sur)…

Trek America Pacific Coast

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Visiting San Francisco | Trek America Diary Days 11-12

Catch up with my Trek America Westerner 2 tour so far: Days 1-4, 5-7 & 8-10

Day 11: Driving to San Francisco 

I feel a bit sad this morning, I can feel the end of the trip being now only a couple of days away and the thought of not being with my Trek Family every day is dawning on me. We still have a couple of days but still, it’s present in my head; this past week has gone so fast, I have never known a week to go so quickly.

Our first stop on arrival into San Francisco was lunch with a stunning (despite rather windy) view of the famous Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. This was followed by an opportunity to cross the bridge on foot -Lana dropped us off and collected us on the other side of the bride, I never knew the bridge was 1.5 miles in length!

Golden Gate Brideg, San Francisco

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Death Valley & Yosemite | Trek America Diary Days 8 – 10

Catch up on my Westerner 2 Trek America trip so far: days 1-4, and days 5-7.

Day 8: Death Valley and Benton Hot Springs

This morning we met in the hotel lobby at 7am to load up, prepared for a whole day in the van crossing Death Valley. Today was long!! We had 355 miles/571km to cover to our next campsite –Benton Hot Springs, located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Until reaching our destination we quite literally sweated across the desert because it was ridiculously hot, even in a van with AC! We stopped a few times en-route and while the desert is of course fascinating, it did after a point all look the same so stopping for pictures got a bit tiring.

Trek America, Death Valley

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