2018 Yearly Wrapup

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Here we are again – saying goodbye to one year and welcoming in another. As always, I’m continuing with my yearly tradition and writing a year in review post and…what a year it’s been, not only in my history career but in my personal life as well.

The first big event of 2018 was our trip to Rome, in the first week of February. What a trip it was – we spent three full days squeezing in as much of that gorgeous city as we possibly could, visiting places we hadn’t been before and seeking out places that were linked to the Borgia family. Some of my favourite places from the trip include the Castel Sant Angelo, seeing Vanozza Cattanei’s gravestone listing the names of her children, the Borgia apartments and the Salita dei Borgia.

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March saw the release of my course on the Medici family over on MedievalCourses as well as being on Truce, a podcast, talking about Girolamo Savonarola. In April I was signed off sick from the day job for a couple of weeks and spent the time visiting local museums – I visited the Solent Sky Museum, Tudor House and the SeaCity museum. The visits certainly kept me busy and it was so nice to explore some of the historical sites in my hometown.

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During the May bank holiday, my partner and I decided to take a walk across the city and head to Netley Abbey. If I ever say I’m walking there again, someone PLEASE stop me! We did have a wonderful day out, though – the ruins of Netley Abbey are utterly stunning and very peaceful. We also spent a good few hours wandering around the Royal Victoria Country Park where I was particularly taken with the cemetery. I also booked my very first author talk!

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I turned 30 in July and, following a rather messy night out a few days before, I spent the actual day getting a new tattoo! It’s become something of a birthday tradition to get inked on my birthday so, for my 30th, I got a very special tattoo done – Cesare Borgia’s signature!

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August was, on a personal level, a month of incredible highs and incredible lows. My little brother got married at the end of the month and we had an absolutely wonderful time – I was so proud of him and my sister-in-law. It was a gorgeous ceremony in a beautiful location in Falmouth. But unfortunately, the morning after, my grandfather suddenly passed away in his sleep. He’d had a brilliant day at the wedding and had been so chuffed to see his first grandchild get married. Rest in peace, Grandad. I love and miss you.

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As 28 September rolled around, during two weeks where I’d been signed off work (again), I gave my very first author talk at Southampton Central Library. The nerves were very, very real but I had an absolute blast giving the talk and will certainly be doing more in the future!

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October saw my favourite event of the year – the Winchester History Weekend! It’s always an absolute pleasure to attend the talks given at this event and this year we booked to see Dan Jones & Marina Amaral talk about their new book “The Colour of Time” – they discussed how Marina coloured her photos, how Dan Jones discovered her, the process behind writing the book and let me tell you. It was awesome. We had the chance after the talk to meet the both of them and, funny story, when it was my turn to get my book signed Dan Jones looked at me and said “I know you from the internet!” and asked how the blog and writing was going. Both him and Marina are absolute sweethearts and it was an honour to meet them both!

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We also said goodbye to my Grandad in October – I travelled up to Leamington Spa for his funeral. It was a very emotional couple of days.

On the day I got back from Leamington Spa, I went ghost hunting! Two friends and I had booked a night at Tudor House Museum in Southampton with the Paranormal Adventures team so, after a quick nap when I got home, off I went to meet them from work (as I was still signed off at that point) and we went ghost hunting! What an experience it was – a lot of very creepy things happened, including one of my friends seeming to channel the spirit of a young lady, a very intense Ouija board session and some creepy goings on up in the attic!

Now, I’ve been somewhat quiet here during the last few months of the year. And that is because I’ve been spending a lot of time concentrating on my current work in progress. It’s been an uphill climb however now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The first draft is VERY close to completion! So I should hopefully have more news on that during the first few months of 2019.

2018 has closed on a very sad note, however. On Saturday 22 December we said goodbye to our beautiful grey chinchilla, Cesare. The poor mite had been unwell for a while and dragging his back-end, struggling to go to the toilet. A xray showed a strange white mass which both the vet and specialist couldn’t identify. It was down to my partner and I to research what it could be and we discovered that it was 99% likely to be a kidney stone. By this point our boy was far too weak and would not have survived further x rays or even surgery – when we noticed he’d been passing blood in his urine we made the very difficult decision to have our boy put to sleep. Cesare had such a personality on him and really was the sweetest of boys – his passing has certainly left a hole in our hearts and this festive period has been difficult without his craziness. Love and miss you, Cesare.

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I’d like to wish each and every one of my readers a Happy New Year – thank you for all your support this year, you’ve been wonderful. Stay safe tonight and here’s to a happy and prosperous 2019!

2016 – Yearly Wrapup

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It’s that time again. And what a year it’s been. When 2016 started, I must admit, things were a bit crap in my every day life. I was out of work and struggling to find anything decent that I would enjoy and that would pay the  bills. The book I’d started working on had been shelved and if I’m honest, I shied away from proper blogging here as well.

But then everything changed. In February I finally got myself a job that not only do I enjoy but is stable. After months of temporary jobs mixed in with periods of no work whatsoever, it was nice to have a bit of stability back in my life. As such, I picked my book up again and made contact with the fabulous guys at MadeGlobal. Their interest in my brief history of Cesare Borgia gave me the drive and inspiration to get the book finished.

Said book was published in October 2016. Cesare Borgia In A Nutshell has to be my  biggest achievement of this year and I am so so grateful for everyone’s support in my completing this project. A massive thank you to MadeGlobal for giving me the chance to publish with them and a massive thank you to each and every one of you for buying my book.

This year I’ve made many new friends, reconnected with friends that I had lost touch with and visited some amazing places. In July, over my 28th birthday, my partner and I headed off to Paris. It was a fantastic trip, ruined by a bout of food poisoning thanks to the hotel’s dodgy food, but we got to see some amazing landmarks. Versailles was definitely my highlight of the trip and somewhere I will be visiting again.

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In September I went to London for MadeGlobal’s “An Evening With The Authors” which was truly a wonderful experience. A morning spent at the Tower of London was followed by an evening at UCL’s “The Venue” where our group of authors – some from as far away as Australia! – got to meet the public, talk about our books and getting published and even sign a few books. I’ll admit, I got a little over excited with the first book I signed for someone. It was such a surreal experience!!

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Now as this year draws to a close, it has been a tough end to the year with so many deaths. I was talking with my partner the other night after we heard the news about Carrie Fisher, and we said that it was as if our childhood was now over. So many celebrities who have passed away this year were the legends of our childhood and now, those chapters have finally closed. I truly hope they all rest in peace, and send thoughts to their family and friends at such a difficult time.

There’s lots to look forward to in 2017, though! I’m working on my second book – those who follow me on twitter will know all about it and my woes of referencing – and I’m planning a trip to Florence for both research purposes and a holiday. A much needed getaway. I’ve also started a third book, but at the moment that’s really only in the planning stages with a very basic introduction written.

2017 is going to be an amazing year. Thank you to each and every one of my readers for sticking with me – you’re all fantastic. I’ll raise a glass of Prosecco to you later on this evening.

Happy New Year, everyone!