Then and Now – My 30th Year in Review

Today’s blog post is a little bit different to my usual content, but it’s one that I really wanted to write.   As today is my birthday, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back over the past year, and reflect on things that happened during it.  I like to look at my birthday as the start of a fresh new year, rather than starting a new year on the 1st January (if that makes sense?).  At at the end of each year, I like to look back on everything that has happened, and decide what I would like to do differently next year, and what I would like to keep the same.

Last year I turned 30, which in itself is a birthday worth celebrating.  I always told myself that in the year of my 30th birthday, I would be very kind to myself.  By that, I meant that I would try my best to do things that make me happy, or do something that I had always wanted to do but never had the chance.  For example, I would visit a City that I always wanted to go to, or buy a designer bag which I have always wanted.  All of that aside, this year in particular has had its fair share (and more) of highs and lows.  I always like to keep a little record of each year, so I thought, why not turn this one into a blog post!….. So here it is….. my little timeline of my 30th year……


Obviously, the main highlight of March was my birthday itself.  If there is one person who knows how to spoil me, then that’s my husband Dan!  My day started off by him surprising me with the Chloe Drew bag, which I had wanted for AGES!! Well, I say surprising, but of course he had some help choosing this …….(from me) lol …but I was so excited to finally be allowed to use it!  Dan then informed me that we would be driving to Dubai and spending the night at Atlantis the PalmThis is one of Dubai’s most iconic and luxurious hotels.  We spent the day sunning ourselves by the resorts amazing pool areas and had a delicious dinner that evening.  The next day we made use of the water park which is part of the resort.  So far, my year was off to a good start…….


At the end of the month we both headed back to the UK for our hen and stag parties.  As it was Dan’s birthday on the 31st, we had a nice lunch in Covent Garden before going our separate ways for the weekend.  Dan went to Nottingham and I went to Bath where I met my friends and family for a weekend of fun.  Bath is absolutely BEAUTIFUL.  We spent an afternoon at the thermal spa which was totally amazing and an evening eating Greek food followed by plate smashing, dancing, and Gin drinking! HILARIOUS!




April was a big mixed bag of highs and lows, from friends moving away to other friends getting married, to having another hen party, to wedding planning……the list goes on…It was one CRAZY month!

My lovely friends in Abu Dhabi threw me a UAE hen party, which consisted of a very therapeutic art lesson and a delicious dinner at Hakkasan, Emirates Palace. We sound very sophisticated when I read it back lol but we definitely aren’t!



April also saw two amazing friends of ours tie the knot at a beautiful wedding in Richmond Park, London.


Funnily, the thing that I love most about living abroad is also the thing I hate the most…….Making friends.  You really do meet some incredible people while you are living away from home, and usually you bond quickly because you are all in the same situation.  The flip side of making great friends when you are an expat (I hate that term, sorry to use it) is that, one day, everyone moves on.  Whether that is to another country, or back to their home country, it doesn’t matter, all that matters is that it will be a different country to the one that you are in.  I find this really hard to deal with but at the end of the day, with real friends, it shouldn’t matter which country you are in.  The important thing is to make the most of the time you have together.  We did just that before a friend left Abu Dhabi last April.  A group of us spent the weekend at the Cove Rotana Resort in Ras al-Khaimah to have one final get together.




May marked the most significant month of my 30th year, and that’s because it was the month in which Dan and I got married.  After what felt like years in the making, we finally had our big day on 28th May 2016.  Our friends and family travelled from near and far to celebrate with us, and it is certainly a day we will never, ever forget! By some miracle, we pulled it off!





After a couple of days rest following the wedding, Dan and I headed off on our honeymoon.  I have already written blog posts about this which you can read here if you like.

Honeymoon part 1 – Kuala Lumpur –

Honeymoon part 2 – Pangkor Laut –


Having not fully recovered from our holiday blues after honeymoon, we took advantage of an Abu Dhabi public holiday weekend and headed to Sri Lanka with a small group of friends.  Sri Lanka is a beautiful country that has such a heart-breaking history.  We experienced both breath-taking (Galle, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage) and tragic (tsunami museum and horrific driving) scenes.  For these reasons, I had a great holiday, but left Sri Lanka with very mixed emotions.

Here is a little clip of the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.




August was also a very significant month for me.  That’s because it was the month in which I left a job (maybe even a career) which made me incredibly unhappy.  I was becoming a person who had no drive or passion for the job that I was doing.  I never want to feel like that in my job, so it felt like the right time to move on.  At this moment and time, there is no grand plan but I am focusing on doing things that make me happy and let me be me.

Two great friends also welcomed the birth of their beautiful baby girl in August, to whom I proudly became Godmother.


In September, Dan and I took trip to Milan and Rome.  Italy is by far one of my favourite countries in the world.  Everything about this country is beautiful; the food, the people, the architecture, the wine, the shops….. THE ICE CREAM lol.  Honestly, the list goes on.  We even managed to catch a glimpse of the Pope while we were there! I absolutely loved this holiday.


My-30th-Year-in-Review-Milan-3.JPG My-30th-Year-in-Review--Rome-2.JPG


October was a pretty quiet month, which was quite nice.  I used it to spend some time to myself and took advantage of the perfect beach weather.  There were a few pool days with friends too, which are always great.




In November, we were very kindly given two tickets by our lovely friends to attend the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.  The tickets were for the hospitality suite so our seats were fantastic, and of course we made use of the complementary refreshments.  We had been to the Grand Prix the first year we moved to Abu Dhabi but had not been since then.  It’s always such a good day out, even though I know absolutely nothing about the sport!

Here is a little clip from the day.


Living in Abu Dhabi, we don’t get to experience a lot of the Christmas build up.  To get us into the festive spirit, we decided to go to Munich at the end of November, in time to visit all of the Christmas markets.  Munich is such a cool city with lots to see.  We did lots of walking, drank plenty of glühwein, ate lots of crepes and of course had a stein at the Hofbräuhaus…….(well Dan may have ended up with one and a half!).  It was so so cold so of course we ended up with lots of hat and scarf selfies lol



In December, we headed back to London and Ireland for Christmas.  We spent Christmas day with my family in Ireland and headed to London on the 26th to spend some time with Dan’s family.  We came back to Abu Dhabi for NYE.



Like with every year, January was a pretty quiet month, apart from one or two visits from family and friends, which is always lovely.


February was one of the most exciting months of my year.  That’s due to the fact that I finally published my blog online.  This was a very significant time for me, as it was something that I had wanted to do for years but just never had the courage (or time) to do it.  I thought now was as good a time an ever, and here I am writing my 6th blog post.  I have been really enjoying it so far and I hope you are enjoying it too!

Kiehls-Event-Tryano-Goodie bag
Lipstick-Flat lay with cushion
Pangkor Laut Bow Back Claire Baker
Blue and Grey Living Moodboard
Perfect Palettes - Feature Image


So that was my 30th year in a nutshell.  It feels like some of those events happened years ago! Time just flies by. This time last year I certainly did not think I would be sitting here writing this blog post…..and who knows what I will be doing this time next year……but for now, I am off for afternoon tea and to enjoy my birthday ? .

I hope you all have a great weekend!





  1. Rosemary Buckley | 19th Mar 17

    Lovely reading your blog Claire what an amazing year you had. Wish we could have another repeat of your wedding day it was amazing memories we will treasure for ever xx keep up the good work xx

    • Claire | 21st Mar 17

      Hi Rosemary, thank you for your lovely comment. 🙂 I wish we could repeat it too. So glad you are enjoying the blog xx

  2. Geri | 19th Mar 17

    Claire, happy birthday (belated) and whow what an amazing year you have had. Here’s wishing you lots more of the same. And congratulations on your courageous decisions during the year and keep writing. I look forward reading lots more.

    • Claire | 21st Mar 17

      Hi Geri – thank you for the birthday wishes and lovely comment. Delighted that you are enjoying reading it xx

  3. | 19th Mar 17

    Beautifully written and descriptive ….. you could start to write a book ! Love reading your posts . Happy birthday Claire too – and may the next one be as exciting and as adventurous.

    • Claire | 21st Mar 17

      Thank you for your kind comment and i’m so glad you are enjoying the posts. Great to have you reading them 🙂 xx

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