In just over 24 hours it’ll be a New Year. Gosh. Has 2015 absolutely flown by for anyone else? Seems the older we get the faster time passes us by.

The end of the year always brings about the same things: we have no idea what day is it for the best part of a week; we stuff our faces with Quality Street choccies (except those coconut ones, no thanks); debate whether or not mince pies and Christmas pudding are delicious or disgusting and, of course, take some time reflect on the past twelve months: the good, the bad and the ugly.

2015 may not have been quite what I expected, but I can’t deny some wonderful memories were made. Here’s my top ten moments of 2015…

2015 in review - top ten moments -

Ringing in 2015 with Twin Atlantic

Twin Atlantic -

As you all know New Years Eve is kind of a big deal in Scotland, and when you spend the night squished at the barricade to watch one of your favourite home-grown bands – Glasgow quartet Twin Atlantic – headline Edinburgh Hogmanay’s Waverly stage during the bells…well it doesn’t get much better than that. This year I’ll be shivering in Princes Street Gardens to ring in 2016 with none other than Biffy Clyro!

The Ruling Class Gala & meeting James McAvoy

James McAvoy - The Ruling Class -

There was a tremendous number of perks to my job in Theatreland. Some of the best days involved attending special events for productions, taking photos of West End stars and recording interviews with up and coming and established professionals in the industry. It wasn’t all glitz an glamour, but these days made the more challenging days worthwhile. During Jamie Lloyd’s second Trafalgar Transformed season I attended a bunch of events for the award-winning production of The Ruling Class – including the Gala night performance and afterparty. That was pretty cool! I also went to one show as a fan and was lucky enough to grab a photo with the lovely James McAvoy. Having spoken to him a number of times before in  professional situations it was great to approach him in a more relaxed and informal setting and get a photo as a fan.

Visiting Sketch for Afternoon Tea

Sketch Afternoon Tea -

Something everyone has to make time for if they want to call themselves a Londoner: a proper Afternoon Tea. A friend and I had debated at length where to go before the fantastic images of The Gallery at Sketch made it clear this was the place for us.

The space is bathed in a beautiful dusty pink and the whole aesthetic reminds me of Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel. Each and every dainty cake and finger sandwich is beautifully presented and it all tastes utterly divine. The chestnut choux and cucumber and ricotta fingers are a particular delight, as of course are the warm-to-your-table melt in the mouth all butter scones.

Even the tableware – created by David Shrigley – is utterly adorable, with both endearing and tragic messages scribbled on everything from the sugar bowl to the bottom of the tea cups. It might cost an eyewatering 40 quid a head, but I promise it’s worth it.

Chatting to Fall Out Boy for the first time in 8 years

Fall Out Boy - Meet & Greet -

I’m a massive music fan. This is probably something I’ve yet to make clear on this blog. I’ve created and managed music sites, I’ve been assistant editor for webzines, I’ve photographed concerts and festivals in several countries for big UK and US music magazines and publishers and that’s all been amazing.  It all started because of this band.

Some 12 years ago I started listening to Fall Out Boy and it led to a lot of crazy adventures around more countries than I dare to admit. They got me photopasses for their shows before I even kew how to properly use my dad’s DSLR – and they continued to give me passes even though I was awful! Then they became this huge mainstream arena rock band. Then they went on hiatus. And then, finally, they came back. I didn’t get to really speak to them properly all together again until October when I ended up at an M&G where I finally got to thank them for all the opportunities they’d given me when I was younger. We chatted about how wild life has been through the better part of a decade, about my old touring family – the friends that have gone on to get married and have babies, who don’t go to shows anymore, all sorts. And it was wonderful, if not a little emotional. I guess I’ll always wish that they were still my little secret band playing basement shows to sixty people. Sadly though, those days are gone.

Maison De Moggy

Coco - Maison De Moggy - Cat Cafe -

You know me, I love cats. All cats, all the time. I’ve spoken about them all more than enough over in this post. Every moment hanging out in this beautiful Cafe with these purrfect felines has been delightful. It’s been a real treat getting to know these moggies and their brilliant Cat Nannies too!

Hanging out with my favourite Aussie for the first time in 5 years

Friends at Wizarding World Orlando - LifeAfterLdn.comWhen you haven’t seen one of your dearest friends in half a decade it’s time to hop on a plane and  go hang out with them in a foreign country. It’s also great to visit somewhere new. Toronto is a really lovely city – the Royal Ontario Museum, to the Toronto Zoo, CN Tower and even the cities first Cat Cafe, it was all so much fun. The whole Toronto/Orlando trip was wonderful and I really appreciate Bel(le) and Emma letting me crash with them in their Canada digs before we went off on adventures in Universal Studios…

Arriving at Diagon Alley

Wizarding World of Harry Potter -

After making yet another trip to the Warner Bros Studio Tour in October, rounding off the year with a brief but wonderful trip to Universal Studios to visit Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade made 2015 a truly Pottertastic year. The attention to detail across the two lands is quite unbelievable. Even without the rollercoasters the ‘theme’ elements of the parks couldn’t be any better – from the wand choosing ceremony in Olivander’s, to the Frog Choir performances in front of the larger-than-life Hogwart’s castle, and of course the spectacular fire-breathing Ukrainian Ironbelly atop Gringott’s Bank, it really is a must visit for all Potterheads.

Seeing The Academy Is play Almost Here in full

The Academy Is -

Eleven years on from first seeing them support Fall Out Boy in Chicago I was back in the US to watch one of my favourite bands – Chicago rockers The Academy Is – play their debut album Almost Here in full over four years after they’d split. It was an emotional rollercoaster that made us laugh, cry and sing our hearts out for a solid hour. The icing on the cake was getting to talk to the boys for a while after the show, some closure that a lot of us never really got when they called it a day back in 2011. Fingers and toes are tightly crossed that the AH10 tour was successful enough that they think about touring beyond the US again in 2016.

Every minute spent in Disneyland Paris

Disneyland - Goofy & Pluto -

What’s not to love about the happiest place on earth? Buying an annual pass for Disneyland Paris was easily the best investment I made all year. It brought me days of joy with some of my dearest friends, discounts in the restaurants and stores and early access to the parks to get pictures with Disney superstars! You can read more about my Disneyland adventures here.

The stars above Los Roques de Garcia

Stargazing at Mount Teide, Tenerife

I always thought I’d seen stars before. I’ve been to the Highlands of Scotland, I’ve looked up at the sky 10,000 miles from home and gaped at constellations that were not my own, but nothing prepared me for what I saw the evening we travelled up to Los Roques de Garcia on Mount Teide in Tenerife. It was so beautiful, so vast, so…epic that I felt astonishingly small and insignificant in this enormous galaxy. It was breath-taking. I think I actually cried for a little while because it was so overwhelming. If I got like this over stars who knows what I’ll do when I finally see the Northern Lights.


What were your most memorable moments of 2015?

Written by Shiona