And so another year has passed – and also a long time since I wrote a blog on my own website which, in itself, is a good thing because 2017 was a busy old year! Going into it, it felt like I’d only taken the plunge to go freelance five minutes before and the learning curve has continued. This year I’ve loved the flexibility that being self-employed brings – the chance to travel the country and beyond and still be able to work, giving me a freedom I’ve never before had to spend time with my nearest and dearest.
It’s also been a year of trying to push harder at all my freelance dreams. I’ve continued the journey of trying to write more food-based pieces for various publications and with that has come a whole array of opportunities and experiences that I never thought I’d have. Like travelling to Poland to learn about vodka, foraging for mushrooms with Glynn Purnell, stalking deer in Scotland and travelling to Italy to learn all about Prosecco. I was a judge in the Great Taste Awards, the Quality Food Awards and the National Fish and Chip Awards, and got to witness firsthand the Team UK selection day for the Bocuse d’Or – one of the most prestigious culinary competitions in the world.
While I love writing about food, I’ve realised that news reporting is, and always will be, a huge part of my journalism career. I’ve done it for many years and it’s been great carrying on through my work with Yahoo News UK. I’ve also started writing opinion pieces – something I never thought I’d get the chance to do – mouthing off about things that I feel particularly strongly about, including the firefighters who ran into Grenfell Tower, one of this year’s many tragedies, and did everything they could to try to save lives.
2017 saw me continue my work with the University of Nottingham business school, delivering training to its MBA students and sitting on a media panel to test their ability to handle a grilling from journalists. I’ve also been delighted to start working with Cityserve, Birmingham City Council’s food service division, helping them get the message out there about the great work they do.
If the past year’s news and events have taught any of us anything, it’s that tragedy can strike at any time. That’s why I continue to work with Band of Builders, volunteering to help them where I can as they try to help builders in need. What started as just another story has become a cause close to my heart and I look forward to seeing it go from strength to strength.
So what about 2018?
I don’t really believe that it’s possible to ever get to a point where you think you’ve ticked all the boxes and “made it” (whatever that might mean). For me, there are always more things I want to do, more publications to get published in. I want to be a better writer, learn more and try new things, and that only happens by working at it. So that’s the plan for 2018. Keep working hard, keep pushing to do more, be better and do things that are really uncomfortable, difficult, but of course hugely rewarding.
And to keep an eye on the big picture. And if that means helping people in any way I can, then that’s the plan!
Happy New Year one and all, here’s to chasing dreams, working hard and giving back.