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2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

2022 Home Comforts & the Midnight Plane to Georgia

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Can it really be that another year has passed? Bear with me a moment (incidental music). I have just checked my calendar and yes, it would appear another twelve months have flown by. I swear, it’s going faster and faster every year. Thus it’s time for me to put out my annual year-in-review post, following 2020’s The Highs and Lows of a Nomadic Travel Blogger and 2021’s A Travel Blogger’s Balkan Odyssey.

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Sladja and I had the first half of 2022 planned long before it arrived. After two years away from The UK, I felt it was time to pay an extended visit home. To check in with family and friends. Revisit some old haunts and explore a bit more of my own country.

It was Sladja’s first time in Britain, hence she was really excited by the prospect of immersing herself in British culture. Moreover, it would be the first time she’d meet my family and closest friends. No wonder we arrived in such good spirits, fuelled by the prospect of the adventures ahead.

The High Street in Tean Staffordshire

The village of Tean in Staffordshire, England. 2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Our base for the first three months of our six month stay was the little English village of Tean in the bucolic county of Staffordshire. Roughly twenty minutes by car from the city of Stoke-on-Trent.

We lived on The High Street in a beautiful old townhouse converted from a 19th-century post office. Tean was just what we were looking for: small and quiet, but with plenty of services, including a supermarket, pub, hairdressers, fish & chips shop, Chinese takeaway and cluster of cosy churches.

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Upper Tean Christ Church in Staffordshire

Upper Tean Christ Church. 2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Moreover, we had numerous hiking trails right on our doorstep. These included the leafy public footpath, Martha Ford Lane, and the gorgeous routes around Winnothdale, a small community of farms and stunning country houses.

Winnothdale in Staffordshire Home Comforts and the Midnight Plane to Georgia

The farmland of Winnothdale. 2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

For the most part though, Tean was a place for us to hunker down for the winter and concentrate on our various projects. And so the weeks rolled by, punctuated by supermarket deliveries, home cooking, movie watching, reading, listening to records and tending to the log fire. Already, we look back on this period so fondly. One day of course, although lord only knows when, I will blog about Tean in more detail and add it to the travel report library.

Leighton Travels 2022 Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Winter or not, we still managed to do plenty of exploring. In this regard, we must thank our local guide Pete, a keen walker and passionate reader of crime novels. Kind, affable and conscientious, we quickly found Pete to be great company.

With the lovely Pete Dawson 2022 Home Comforts and the Midnight Plane to Georgia

Out and about with Pete.

Under Pete’s wing, we walked the picturesque Dimmingsdale Circular trail. And explored the village of Croxden, where we found the ruins of a 12th century abbey. He also led us along the Barlaston Canal and through the pretty Ilam Park in The Peak District. Thank you so much Pete, one day I will write all these chapters up in full. Sladja and I are certainly looking forward to hitting new trails with you the next time we visit.

Croxden Abbey.

Croxden Abbey Staffordshire.

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Independently, we made tracks all over Staffordshire with numerous visits to the city of Stoke-on-Trent. And to the modest but charming towns of Cheadle, Uttoxeter, Leek and Stafford. Just outside the latter, Sladja caught sight of her first English stately home when we spent an afternoon hiking around the pastoral grounds of the 17th century Shugborough Estate.

Shugborough Estate Staffordshire England

Shugborough Estate.

A few days earlier, my brother (pictured below) had driven down from Scotland to stay for a few days. The three of us had a great time exploring Shugborough, once home to the celebrated Royal Naval Officer Admiral George Anson.

In fact, we got so caught up in our wanderings that we didn’t make it out until after closing time. As a result, we had to climb over the fence that borders the estate in order to escape. Sladja was quite mortified.

The Chinese Bridge Shugborough Estate. 2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Shugborough whetted our appetite for more stately elegance, so when my old friend Wonderboy came to visit, we spent a day touring the equally impressive Trentham Gardens. These gorgeous, historic grounds once belonged to the now ruinous stately home, Trentham Hall. Where, among others, the Dukes of Sutherland once resided.

Exploring Trentham Gardens.

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Looking back, I’m actually surprised by just how much we managed to see and do. In February, for example, I cleared my work schedule so that we could have a… wait for it… holiday in London. And what a stay we had, with ten action-packed days exploring as much of my home city as we possibly could. It was exhausting, but so much fun, especially seeing just how much Sladja was falling in love with the city.

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Valentine's Day at Leadenhall Market

Valentine’s Day at Leadenhall Market, London.

Wading through our photos, I realise what a multitude of articles I now need to add to my already considerable London archives. Of these, it would be hard to pick a favourite experience. Rather, I’ll give special mentions to grave-hunting in Highgate Cemetery, a morning stroll through Dunstan in the East Church Garden and getting lost in Camden Market. Oh, and the hours and hours we spent drinking in the Royal Parks.

St Dunstan in the East Church Garden

St Dunstan in the East Church Garden.

Before heading back up to Staffordshire, we jumped on a train to the town of Colchester for a day with my lovely 84 year old grandmother. That was a special afternoon. We drank tea, reminisced about “the good old days” and presented her with some plants we’d bought in town. Then took her to the local supermarket, so she could stock up on essentials. It was a criminally brief catch up in many ways, but I’m so glad Sladja got to meet Nanny Powell.

Visiting Nanny Powell 2022 Home Comforts and The Midnight Plane to Georgia

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Towards the end of our stay in Tean, we embarked on another trip, this time to see my “favourite” uncle in the town of Carnforth. I hadn’t seen Uncle Dave, my aunt Liane nor indeed my cousin Mia in about three years, so there was much to catch up on.

The Canal Turn Pub.

The Canal Turn Pub in Carnforth

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Again it was a case of trying to do as much as we could with our limited time. I was able to show Sladja around Lancaster and the nearby Warton Village. Furthermore, I managed to cover some new ground with afternoons in the historic villages of Cartmel and Bolton-le-Sands.

Visit Cartmel in Cumbria 2022 Home Comforts and the Midnight Plane to Georgia

The village of Cartmel in Cumbria. 2022: Home Comforts and the Midnight Plane to Georgia.

However, the definitive highlight was when Uncle D drove us to the Lake District. There, we spent a few hours touring the stunning Hill Top Farm, once home to the celebrated English writer Beatrix Potter. Magical stuff.

Hill Top Farm Beatrix Potter.

On the Peter Rabbit trail at Hill Top Farm in the village of Near Sawrey.

In early April it was finally time to bid farewell to Staffordshire. So off we went on the train up to Scotland, where my dad lives in the town of Galashiels in The Scottish Borders. At long last the weather was improving, which was perfect for all the million and one hikes we wanted to do. To the estate of Torwoodle… across the fields of the Meigle Circular… to Yair Forest, Beaumont Forest and beyond.

Hiking in Beaumont Forest 2022 Home Comforts and the Midnight Plane to Georgia

With my dad and River the dog in Beaumont Forest, The Scottish Borders. 2022: Home Comforts and the Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Much to our surprise, and unbridled delight, this improved weather quickly turned into an actual heatwave that April. We definitely took advantage, with memorable day trips to the endearing Scottish border towns of Jedburgh, Melrose and Peebles.

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Visit Jedburgh Abbey in The Scottish Borders

Sladja at the ruins of Jedburgh Abbey.

And yet, if push came to shove, I would handpick our visit to the estate of Abbotsford as my favourite of our April field trips. This is where the hugely successful and influential novelist, poet, playwright, historian and judge (among other titles) Sir Walter Scott lived between 1817 and 1825. This lavish home is absolutely dripping with history, its remarkable grounds immaculately kept. Can’t wait to blog this one up someday.

Visit Abbotsford in The Scottish Borders

The amazing Scottish estate of Abbotsford. 2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

In May we packed up our bags again and headed to the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, for a fantastic two week stay. This time it was for a housesitting post looking after a Spanish couple’s cute cats, Coco and Mimi.

House sitting cats in Edinburgh 2022 Home Comforts and The Midnight Plane to Georgia

Cat sitting in Edinburgh.

Seemingly as a punishment for all the good weather we’d had in April, that Edinburgh fortnight was riddled with rain, wind and chilly temps. But we didn’t care, we still hit the streets hard, doing as much as we could with our time.

Exploring The Royal Mile in Edinburgh

A quiet May afternoon on The Royal Mile. 2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

As with London, there is way too much to mention in full. Among our many highlights, we smile broadly to think of our exploring around The Royal Mile. Of touring the Royal Yacht Britannia and tracking down the so-called Harry Potter graves of Greyfriars Kirkyard.

The Royal Yacht Britannia.

Aboard The Royal Yacht Brittania

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

In mid May we left Edinburgh and took the ridiculously scenic train journey to The Scottish Highlands for the last leg of our UK tour. There, we lived with my mum for a month in the pretty village of Spean Bridge, just outside the town of Fort William. With my sister, brother-in-law and niece living nearby in the settlement of Banavie, this was a proper family reunion.

Family reunion 2022 Home Comforts and the Midnight Plane to Georgia

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

To celebrate being back, meeting Sladja for the first time and indeed as a belated wedding present, the five of us set off on a magnificent boat tour of Loch Linnhe. It was a great day, the weather firmly behaving itself as we sped through Linnhe’s handsome waters racing the Jacobite Steam Train and spotting a colony of seals.

Loch Linnhe boat cruise Fort William

Good times on Loch Linnhe. Who has COVID?

Unfortunately, within days, we all came down with COVID. Sladja, my mum and I got it quite bad and we were knocked out for the better part of two weeks. It was unbelievable, we’d managed to avoid COVID for over two years bouncing around the world and then we got it on the first day out with family.

COVID positive 2022 Home Comforts and The Midnight Plane to Georgia

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

COVID of course hampered a chunk of our travel plans. And yet, with what time remained, we managed to cross off some wondrous local day trips. Indeed, we embarked on a half day journey on The Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig. We also enjoyed a fantastic day in Glenfinnan and an unforgettable day hiking around Loch Ossian in the isolated outpost of Corrour.

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Hiking in Corrour Scotland.

Somewhere on the hiking trails of Corrour.

Overall, it had been a great six months, a period of cultural reconnection and home comforts. From the familiarity of the language and visits with family, to all those favourite foods like Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, Double Decker chocolate, fish and chips and all my favourite Indian dishes.

An Indian feast on Brick Lane in London

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

On June the 24th we arrived back in Serbia for another extended stay with Sladja’s parents. There, we knuckled down with work for a couple of months, rarely leaving the little town of Obrenovac. It was also an opportunity for us to think about where we would head next. Ideally a new country that offered a longer visa than most. Hmm.

Sunset over the Sava river in Obrenovac

Sunset over the Sava river in Obrenovac. July 2022.

It was fiercely hot in Serbia that July and August. No, we didn’t have air con. Rather, we battled on with fans and an endless supply of cold drinks and ice cubes. Along the way, we watched Wimbledon tennis matches on the balcony and broke up the general drudgery by celebrating no less than four birthdays. Sladja and I in July, her mum and dad’s in August.

Obrenovac, Serbia.

Birthday bonanza 2022 Home Comforts and the Midnight Plane to Georgia

Just one of four birthdays we celebrated in the months of July and August.

After much deliberation (bouncing back and forth a hundred times), we finally decided to spend the rest of the year in…. Georgia! That’s the country folks, not the U.S. state. Instead of a midnight train, we took a midnight plane from Belgrade that gave us an overnight stop in our old friend Istanbul. We spent our first two months in the coastal city of Batumi, a curious, rough-around-the-edges metropolis with a lovely stretch of coast that allowed us to regularly swim in The Black Sea.

Hidden beach Batumi Georgia

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

While it’s fair to say we were less than charmed by numerous aspects of life in Batumi, there is still much to look back on with fondness. Some of the food was magnificent, the architecture of the old town calming and photogenic. And there was so much greenery, from the extensive Batumi Boulevard in the city to the absolutely breathtaking Batumi Botanical Garden.

Batumi, Georgia.

Black Sea views from Batumi Botanical Garden

Drinking in the Black Sea views from Batumi Botanical Garden.

In mid October we relocated to the understated town of Tskaltubo near the city of Kutaisi. In truth we hadn’t come with the highest expectations, but were pleasantly surprised by how peaceful and laid-back life was. The town itself is utterly nondescript and barely even worth a look. But the surrounding history kicks ass.

A lazy autumnal afternoon in Tskaltubo Georgia

A lazy autumnal day at home in Tskaltubo.

Back in the 1920s and 30s, Stalin unveiled Tskaltubo as the Soviet Union government’s primary resort town. During these decades, over twenty grand spa hotels sprang up. Some for Stalin and his cronies, others for the military and Russia’s rich and powerful. What a month we had exploring these now abandoned ruins, which lie scattered around town and the wonderfully green Central Park.

Sanatorium Metallurgist in Tskaltubo.

Hanging out at the spectral remains of Sanatorium Metallurgist.

We also spent some days getting to know the lovely city of Kutaisi, with its fine collections of churches and cathedrals. This charming river town also has plenty of greenery and honours its cultural heritage everywhere with countless statues, sculptures and historical plaques. Truly, there is so much to tell you about on these pages, when the time comes.

Kutaisi Holy Annunciation Temple.

The Holy Annunciation Temple in Kutaisi.

In mid November we relocated to Georgia’s handsome bustling capital, Tbilisi. Renting a tiny apartment on the outskirts of the city, this is where we hunkered down for a spell, like hibernating squirrels. For around a month we pretty much stayed at home teaching, blogging and watching what turned out to be a magnificent World Cup in Qatar. It was a comfortingly intimate period fuelled by French press coffee, home cooking and late night card games.

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

World Cup hibernation Home Comforts and the Midnight Plane to Georgia

Keeping up with the blog in between World Cup games.

With Argentina as World champions, we emerged from our cave and set about investigating the terrific city of Tbilisi as 2022 jogged to a gentle close. Blogwise, it could be easy to feel overwhelmed by just how many spots and experiences we have to share. From climbing Narikala Fortress and seeking out the unfinished historic sculpture, Chronicle of Georgia, to experiencing a traditional sulphur bath and absorbing countless parks, markets, cafes and unusual buildings, Tbilisi has certainly delivered.

Exploring Tbilisi digital nomads lifestyle.

Tbilisi: 2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Well done for staying with me throughout this somewhat bloated article. As you read this 2023 has just come into view and we’re preparing ourselves for the end of our Georgian adventure on January 16th. So far we have the first quarter of the year mapped out, with three stays booked up across two countries. At the risk of sounding a bit coy, I’m gonna hold back the details for a later piece.

Have Passports Will Travel.

Leighton and Sladja global digital nomads.

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

As always, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for their amazing support of Leighton Travels. Once again the blog has grown considerably in all the various ways laid out on my WordPress stats page. Soon enough, I’ll be hitting 2000 WordPress followers, which is a nice round number, though I don’t place too much importance on these things. Elsewhere, I’m expecting to pass the quarter of a million mark for overall hits since the site was launched.

However, most importantly, it’s the growth of what I consider authentic engagement that feels most special. Those folk who always read each piece in full. Who take the time to leave thoughtful comments and build relationships. Truly, I know who you are, and it makes all the hours that go into blogging worth it.

Blog Plans for 2023.

Leighton Travels travel reports short stories.

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

Regarding content, I’ll be adopting a new approach from March onwards. Having spent so much of this year redoing old articles from my earliest travels, I believe it’s high time to focus on the adventures Sladja and I have had over the past few years, post 2020 Cambodia. It’s going to be a long haul trying to catch up with the present, but I shall do my best to bridge some of the gap.

Exploring the world with Leighton Travels.

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

This article is dedicated to the memory of Sandra Dawson. And to my dear friend Emma Dawson, whose friendship means so much to us. Emma, here’s hoping for a happy, healthy and healing 2023.

“Words seem so feeble in moments like these. Life is so precious, and death such a thief. The depth of your pain I cannot comprehend, but I’ll stand alongside you in the darkness, my friend”. – John Mark Green.

RIP Sandra Dawson.

2022: Home Comforts & The Midnight Plane to Georgia.

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92 Comments

  • bublelady

    Another super read Leighton. May 2023 be all that you and Sladana wish for. x

    January 1, 2023 - 3:24 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks, I don’t think I realised just how much we’d done this year until I put this article together. Happy New Year! Let’s hope 2023 is a better one for all of us.

      January 1, 2023 - 3:29 pm Reply
  • Amélie

    I love the title. Wow, it’s been a busy and eventful year for you two. I really like your slow travel approach, and I’m looking forward to reading your individual articles on the places you visited. Georgia’s never been much on my radar, but from your description and the selected photos it looks really interesting, with lots of varied sights and experiences. Happy New Year! Here’s to more travel and travel articles!

    January 1, 2023 - 3:34 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Amelie, for your support of Leighton Travels! I must admit that Georgia wasn’t much on my radar either until we went there ha ha. It has been an interesting 5 months for sure and I’m looking forward to sharing these adventures, although lord only knows when that will be. Happy New Year Amelie, I hope 2023 delivers for you on all fronts.

      January 1, 2023 - 3:42 pm Reply
  • Stan

    whoa, what a yearly review. like amelie i commend your travel approach. a lot of bloggers seems to wiz through half the planet in even just a few months. surely there is much more reward to this kind of experience, you must be quite the fountain of knowledge by now for all things georgian. i anticipate the georgian blogs, specially those on the stalin spas town. you better hurry up though, i might not be around in 5 years!!! happy new year leighton to you and your lady.

    January 1, 2023 - 3:50 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Stan, your readership this year has been amazing. Thanks for all the comments and for ploughing through so many pieces. I hope you are staying warm and safe over there, it’s been quite the chaotic Christmas period it seems. Have a great 2023!

      January 1, 2023 - 3:56 pm Reply
  • Memo

    What a year! Are you sure it was just one? Loved all the village names during your days in England and Scotland. It’s like diving into a Harry Potter novel. My favorite part though was your having to climb the fence in order to escape after closing time. No one knew you were there?
    Can’t wait for the individual blogs. BTW, who thought to design the cake? It’s perfect. Happy New Year.

    January 1, 2023 - 4:00 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Memo, Happy New Year! I knew you would appreciate this one having waded through so many reworked pieces this year. Part of me wishes I had chalked off a few more places while we were in The UK. But truly I’m not sure we could’ve squeezed in more with any kind of quality time. My family (orchestrated by my sister I think) came up with the cake, it was certainly representational of the year and indeed our lives in general. Cheers!

      January 1, 2023 - 4:32 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I forgot to answer your question. At Shugborough Estate we were expecting staff to begin rounding people up at some point. Or maybe that there’d be an announcement that people should start heading for the main gate. There was nothing, and we didn’t see a single person in that last hour, not a soul as we strolled past the locked gates and clambered over the fence and out of the grounds.

      January 3, 2023 - 8:52 am Reply
  • Liana Gelashvili

    Welcome to Georgia! I love my country, I hope more people will come and try Georgian food and meet people. The abandoned Soviet sanatoriums are a fascinating place to explore. I loved it. I did not love all the dogs I met there, though. Scotland looks amazing, it is on my bucket list. I like the two cats, they look like evil sisters from that cartoon, ha ha. Amazing year you had! Maybe we see each other in Tbilisi.

    January 1, 2023 - 4:22 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Liana, I think you might be the first Georgian to leave a comment on Leighton Travels. We have enjoyed our time here and think Georgian food is great. The dogs… ah yes, that has been a tough aspect of our stay and indeed we have many canine tales to tell. A bit of my heart will always remain in Scotland, especially The Highlands. Thanks for getting touch, I will respond to your email later today.

      January 1, 2023 - 5:48 pm Reply
  • Travels Through My Lens

    I love this post, Leighton, and I was smiling as I read through it and in awe of all you experienced; enjoying family, friends and familiarity, how completely lovely. It’s heartwarming that Sladja got to spend time in your home country and meet your family and friends. I agree that this post should have some thought provoking, memory inducing music. 😊 The closing quote was particularly poignant for me; my dear brother died over 20 years ago, and he is in my heart everyday. May I use this quote someday? Thanks, Leighton, for this amazing post. Happy New Year!

    January 1, 2023 - 5:18 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Tricia, thanks for your kind words. It really has been quite a year, but one that we are hoping to better over the course of 2023. So sorry to hear about your brother, but glad that he remains so present in your thoughts. The quote is from a poem by John Mark Green, I’ve just edited this piece to reflect that. Happy New Year!

      January 1, 2023 - 5:41 pm Reply
      • Travels Through My Lens

        Thanks Leighton. I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures in 2023. Loss of a loved one cuts so deep. I took a look at John Mark Green’s work and it speaks to me; thanks for sharing.

        January 1, 2023 - 9:20 pm
  • kagould17

    I am tired out just reading how many travel adventures you had in 2022, Leighton. So glad you managed the exploration and family connection time back in the UK. We find time with family and friends to be amongst the most rewarding these days. Sorry to hear about the Covid strike, but it seems it reaches out when and where you least expect it. Can’t wait to hear about more of your adventures. Happy 2023 and all the best to you and Sladja. Alan

    January 1, 2023 - 5:42 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers, Allan. We are happy with our travel bounty, especially as we were working so hard to build up our business along the way. A fine balance at the best of times, I can tell you. Happy New Year to you and the family! I hope 2023 is a better one for all of us and indeed this suffering planet.

      January 1, 2023 - 5:48 pm Reply
  • Little Old World

    Wow, you’ve had such a busy year! Very much looking forward to reading all about your post-2020 adventures, particularly your time in Georgia as it’s not a country I’m really familiar with. Happy New Year to you and Sladja, and all the best for 2023!

    January 1, 2023 - 6:17 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey, thanks for reading and adding to the comment thread. I have got sooo much blogging to do I fear it may be a few years before I get around to publishing our Georgian adventures. Still, plenty to share from across the world in the meantime. Happy New Year to you too! Hope it’s a great one for you.

      January 1, 2023 - 6:19 pm Reply
  • BACK ROADS AND OTHER STORIES

    Happy New Year!

    January 1, 2023 - 7:20 pm Reply
  • 100 Country Trek

    Thanks for sharing your travels . You and your wife were there visiting your Nanny in Colchester. We were there in Scotland and it was a fascinating site we visited. Have a wonderful New Year Anita

    January 1, 2023 - 7:47 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for dropping by Anita. Scotland is such an incredible country, I couldn’t imagine anyone being indifferent about it. Happy New Year!

      January 1, 2023 - 8:09 pm Reply
      • 100 Country Trek

        Thanks for sharing your travels. Anita

        January 2, 2023 - 5:15 am
  • Lookoom

    This is a great post Leighton, full of those little moments of real life, family, friends, home, everything that we appreciate better after traveling a lot like you. I’m of course curious about these new destinations, but I’m confident that whatever the place or subject, you’ll make the best of it. It already looks like a very nice year 2023 in prospect.

    January 1, 2023 - 8:09 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Lookoom, (I still don’t know your actual name ha), I appreciate your comment as always and your ongoing readership over the last few years. We have tried to live 2022 to the fullest and will attempt to repeat the trick this year. Though I have to concede that for the first quarter we’ll be predominantly resting in one location. Recharge the batteries I think. Happy New Year, I hope you have a fantastic 2023.

      January 1, 2023 - 8:19 pm Reply
  • natty4t

    Fantastic round up Leighton. What a colorful exciting year you had. I can’t wait to see what next year brings for you 🙂 x

    January 1, 2023 - 8:43 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      It is really rewarding doing these yearly roundups. So easy to forget stuff I think, luckily we seem to capture virtually every detail along the way. That day out on the boat was one of the great days of the year. It was even worth getting COVID for 😉

      January 1, 2023 - 8:56 pm Reply
  • Erin of the Hills

    I’m so happy to have stumbled across your blog last year. I look forward to each and every post! Definitely giving me the itch to travel again. Thanks for all your beautiful words. Happy New Year!

    January 1, 2023 - 9:33 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Erin, a huge thanks to you and all the reading you’ve done across Leighton Travels. All your likes did not go unnoticed! I have just enjoyed reading your first blog in a while, wishing you all the best for 2023!

      January 1, 2023 - 9:41 pm Reply
  • ThingsHelenLoves

    What a whirlwind year. Sladja got quite a cross section of British destinations whilst in the UK! Your time in Georgia sounds fascinating and Tskaltubo looks right up my street. Genuinely looking forward to reading the more detailed posts about it all.

    Love the mention of St Dunstan in the East, I’ve literally just discovered the place. We spent a few days in London between Christmas and New Year and that was one of the highlights. Love a nice London park!

    All the best for 2023, look forward to seeing where the year takes you!

    January 1, 2023 - 10:21 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for this lovely comment Helen. Yes, St Dunstan in the East is an absolute gem isn’t it? Sladja is itching to get back to London, but I suspect we might not make a UK return until 2024. Tskaltubo…. part of me wants to just drop everything else and write it all up now. Thanks again Helen, have a blast in 2023!

      January 1, 2023 - 10:32 pm Reply
  • Little Miss Traveller

    Enjoyed your review of the year and of all the places you managed to fit in during it whilst Also working hard. Hope 2023 turns out equally successful for you both. Looking forward to finding where your next home will be.

    January 1, 2023 - 10:41 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for your comment Marion. We are really looking forward to some rest, a slower pace of life and some sunshine by the end of the month. Happy New Year and hope you enjoy your birthday celebrations.

      January 1, 2023 - 10:44 pm Reply
  • TJ

    What an amazing year! Such varied experiences. The Lake District is one of my favourite places on Earth and that cottage is a dream. Oh, to live in the midst of such a beautiful place. Beatrix was a lucky lady. That Indian feast looks delightful. Is it on Brick Lane that restaurant? I’ve enjoyed reading your very thoughtfully put together 2022 overview.

    January 1, 2023 - 10:56 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey TJ. Thanks for reading my end-of-year review. Getting to see Beatrix Potter’s former home was one of our 2022 favourites. There was a real magic to exploring the cottage where she wrote so many of her finest books, especially as the interior was so well-preserved. Glad to hear you’re also a Lake District fan, we feel we have unfinished business there. Happy New Year to you!

      January 2, 2023 - 12:33 am Reply
  • wetanddustyroads

    The English village of Tean looks really charming … I wouldn’t mind staying there for three months (even in winter)! To see family and friends after such a long time, must have been great – and to show Sladja all these beautiful places, were probably like an adventure on its own! Scotland looks like such a picturesque country … can’t wait for your posts on these (one day 😉). And Georgia – just as beautiful it seems! Can’t wait to see where you two are going next – cheers 🎉 on 2023 and many adventurous travels! Btw, love your Valentine’s Day photo.

    January 2, 2023 - 12:03 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Happy New year Corna! Thanks for working your way through this bulky piece. It was quite tough being concise with each leg of our adventures, we had to leave so many details out of course. Thanks for your loyal readership, it means a lot to us.

      January 2, 2023 - 12:36 am Reply
  • Tanja

    Happy 2023! Lots of great adventures in the UK.

    January 2, 2023 - 1:25 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Happy New Year Tanja, thanks for your comment.

      January 2, 2023 - 1:29 am Reply
  • Juliet

    Incredible photos! So glad you were able to enjoy your experiences in spite of Covid.

    January 2, 2023 - 2:41 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading and commenting Juliette. Happy New Year to you and your family! I hope 2023 is a good one for you.

      January 2, 2023 - 9:23 am Reply
      • Juliet

        Happy New Year to you, Leighton! You are an amazing inspiration and I hope 2023 brings you many new adventures and wondrous experiences!

        January 2, 2023 - 5:46 pm
  • thehungrytravellers.blog

    I don’t know where to start in response….well, apart from Happy New Year to you both. Sladja’s had a great introduction to the UK, very varied and it must have been fascinating introducing someone to your own country step by step, that’s something I’ve never done. Funnily enough, Tblisi would have been on our second trip of retirement had COVID not intervened. It’s been an interesting and changing year for you, especially as it has (if I remember correctly) involved having to reinvent your income streams after China dropped another, different, bombshell. We’ll be here following you through 2023….good luck with your next (as yet unrevealed) adventures! (One last comment which sorry but as a Derbyshire boy I can’t let it go…re Ilam, I think you mean Peak District, not Lake District….sorry! I had to!).

    January 2, 2023 - 2:56 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Phil, thanks for your lengthy response! Yes, getting to spend so much time in The UK and get around to the degree we did was great. Easily the most amount of time I’ve spent across Britain in nearly 20 years. Seeing it all through Sladja’s eyes was indeed special. Georgia has been a fascinating experience and Tbilisi is a really interesting and layered city that takes time to unravel I’d say. We are trying to make the most of our remaining two weeks or so, with plenty still to see and do despite having already spent 7 weeks here. You have a good memory: It has been a challenging but mostly rewarding experience building up our school while living across 4 countries. And you are right again about my typo, I probably just had the Lake District in my mind as that came later. In fact, not getting to go deeper into the Peak District is one of our mini-regrets of the year. Next time, as they say. Happy New Year to you both and safe travels as always!

      January 2, 2023 - 10:02 am Reply
  • Anna

    What a fantastic article and fantastic travel year for you!! I didn’t know you were in Georgia, I’m dying to go there! And the first part of your post reminded me that there is so much beauty in Britain as well. I look forward to your posts about Georgia in the future, as it’s very high on my list! Happy new year to you and Sladja! X

    January 2, 2023 - 2:59 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Happy New Year to you Anna! I remember, in my early 20s, being just desperate to get out of The UK and thinking it had nothing to offer me. While I still know I don’t belong there full time, my extended stretches of exploring in 2019 and 2022 really opened my eyes to how amazing Britain us. I do hope we’ll be back, perhaps in 2024, for a similar period of catching up with everyone and discovering new places. Thanks so much for your support of the blog this year Anna, it’s been great to have you onboard.

      January 2, 2023 - 10:06 am Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    I love this post and all the pictures of you two! What a great year, despite the covid. I’m excited to read all about the adventures you two have. I also love that cake!! Happy New Years, may 2023 bring lots of adventure!

    January 2, 2023 - 4:16 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Lyssy! Happy New Year to you, Jon and your family. Knowing you guys, I’m sure you celebrated it in style with spectacular eats and drinks.

      January 2, 2023 - 10:14 am Reply
      • Lyssy In The City

        Quite the opposite actually 😂 we watched a lot of football and jon made tacos, so good eats but comfy clothes at home

        January 2, 2023 - 7:06 pm
  • Rochelle | Adventuresfromelle

    Superb read and beautiful photos, Leighton. I’ve enjoyed many of your articles last year. Cheers to 2023 🙂

    January 2, 2023 - 5:09 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Rochelle! After the immense challenges of 2020 and 2021, this year felt comparatively carefree. Thanks for leaving your mark on the comment thread.

      January 2, 2023 - 10:18 am Reply
  • Lingo in Transit

    You had such a busy 2022! I was happy to read that you were able to connect with family in different countries. It felt like a decade ago we were all in lockdowns. Wishing you and Sladja a fruitful 2023 filled with good health and happiness!

    January 2, 2023 - 6:08 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Happy New Year to you! Thanks for reading and saying hi. I have kept an eye on your adventures in Korea, a country I’ve been lucky enough to visit twice. Yes, the time of paranoia, anxiety and lockdowns already seems like a different world. Wishing you a healthy safe and adventurous 2023!

      January 2, 2023 - 10:21 am Reply
  • bronlima

    So that’s what you’ve been up too! All the best for your new ventures!

    January 2, 2023 - 6:26 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Geoff! Wishing you a fantastic 2023 and a more settled time in Peru. Keep on writing, keep on taking photos and keep on singing!

      January 2, 2023 - 10:22 am Reply
  • bianca_o

    Beautiful article, amazing year for you! Living in an English village is a dream of mine. I’ve never heard of Tean had to seek it up. Your life there sounds perfect to me, and the surrounding countryside is lovely.

    January 2, 2023 - 10:27 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Bianca! Tean is an incredibly pretty and peaceful village. But oh lord was it cold in January and February. We had to build our initially non-existent fire-making skills. Thanks for visiting Leighton Travels, have an excellent 2023!

      January 2, 2023 - 10:45 am Reply
  • qprgary

    Good one Leighton think you have it right the UK is we think no place to be but great for a visit. Not a good time to unload our assets but we will and then decamp elsewhere, not sure I’ll even miss the R’s now after 50 odd years.

    January 2, 2023 - 12:24 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Happy New Year Gary! So you’re selling up and getting out of dodge eh? That’s very exciting, am I sensing a warmer climate? QPR… yeah, we are playing tonight and I have zero appetite for it. Usually that’s when we pull out a performance, so here’s hoping.

      January 2, 2023 - 12:47 pm Reply
  • Diana

    Holy cow, what a year! I can’t wait to read more about your adventures, both past and upcoming. Wishing you a wonderful 2023!

    January 2, 2023 - 8:09 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Diana! It was indeed a packed year, no wonder we have decided to kick back for the first quarter of 2023. Thanks fir stopping by, I hope 2023 is a great one for you too.

      January 2, 2023 - 8:35 pm Reply
  • Monkey's Tale

    Sounds like a busy year. Of all of those wonderful pictures I love the photo of Abbotsford Estate. It looks like a fairy tale. I didn’t realize you were in Georgia, wonder where the next few months take you two! Happy 2023 Leighton where ever you end up, Maggie.

    January 2, 2023 - 9:14 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Abbotsford is fairytale-like, absolutely love the history and the beauty of the house and its rambling grounds. Thanks for all your reading, commenting and liking this year Maggie, all the best for 2023.

      January 2, 2023 - 9:58 pm Reply
  • Travel with a Pen

    Happy New Year, Leighton and Sladja! What a great year 2022 was for both of you – sans Covid. It’s lovely that you both got to spend time with family as well as explore different places. I have also enjoyed reading your travel reports last year, looking forward to doing the same this year. Especially looking forward to Turkey and Georgia travel series, whenever you get to writing about them. Both countries were to be our 2020 “big trip” before Covid happened. We managed to visit Turkey since then and hoping to visit Georgia soon as well. Wishing you a wonderful 2023!

    January 3, 2023 - 12:14 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Happy New Year Amarachi! Thanks for your support of the blog this year, it has not gone unnoticed. So sorry to hear that Turkey was one of those Covid-cancelled trips for you. For us, Istanbul was one of the very few places we could fly into en route to Serbia back in the summer of 2020. So we thought, why not stay for a few weeks. And then, on our way to Georgia this year, we had another day to tick off some spots. I hope you have a great 2023 full of adventures. I’ll keep an eye open, as always for your blog work.

      January 3, 2023 - 8:47 am Reply
  • Juliette

    Wow, what an adventurous year you had! It’s amazing that you could catch up with so many family members and that Sladja could meet your family too! The English countryside sure is stunning, and I would too be mortified if I had to climb gates to leave a place ahah! It seems like you had a wonderful time in Serbia and Georgia too, and now I can’t wait for you to catch up on aaall of these adventures so I can read about them 😉 have a wonderful 2023!

    January 3, 2023 - 2:01 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading my end-of-year review Juliette. It’s been great to have you onboard this year and to discover your own blog. Hoping 2023 is a solid year for you all-round, with plenty of travel adventures and a blossoming travel blog to boot. Happy New Year!

      January 3, 2023 - 8:54 am Reply
  • grandmisadventures

    Wow, what an incredible year for you and Sladja! Your pictures of your visit through the UK and the city-scapes from Georgia are just beautiful. But more than that, I loved seeing the pictures of all the reconnecting with family and friends that you have had. They must have loved getting to meet Sladja and welcome her to the family. What a tender year for you to share with her where you come from and reconnect with your family. I will be on the lookout with high anticipation for your future posts since they are always my favorite to read 🙂 Happy New Year Leighton, I appreciate your friendship in the blogging world and wish you all the best in the year to come.

    January 3, 2023 - 2:22 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Happy New Year Meg! Such a lovely comment to wake up to on this chilly Tbilisi morning. It was indeed a great year and one in which we seemed to be go-go-go for most of it. As such, we are planning a major change of pace from the end of January to late April. And some sunshine, oh yeah. As for blogging bonds, the feeling is mutual. Thanks so much for keeping up with Leighton Travels twice a week for the last few years. And for your own blog, which regularly has us keeping the U.S. on our radar for future adventures.

      January 3, 2023 - 9:00 am Reply
  • Louise Jayne

    You certainly packed in a lot last year, I’m impressed, and slightly exhausted just reading about it! I’m looking forward to reading more about your adventures – especially Abbotsford which recently got added to my must visit soon list. Happy New Year!

    January 3, 2023 - 4:45 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Happy New Year Louis Jayne! I was equally exhausted putting this piece together ha ha. Thanks for reading and adding to the comment thread, I hope 2023 is a great one for you on all fronts. Abbotsford is something else, you’re gonna love it.

      January 3, 2023 - 9:02 am Reply
  • Rebecca

    You had an INCREDIBLE year, Leighton. From returning to your roots for the first half of 2022 in the UK to embarking on your expat adventures in Georgia (one of my favorite countries I’ve visited), you and Sladja had quite the time going all over Europe! Seems like 2022 was a bit of settling down (in the UK) and a bit of adventure! I’ve enjoyed reading your reposts of your travels from Cambodia and your younger years, and I’m especially looking forward to your more-recent trips in the world. Here’s to a wonderful 2023 with more unforgettable memories!

    January 3, 2023 - 7:36 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Rebecca, here we are after another 12 months commenting on each other’s end-of-year musings. Time sure does fly. It is definitely time for me to cover a large wedge of 2020-2022 on these pages, you have been very patient I must say ha ha. It should all kick off sometime in March after my current batch of scheduled articles go out. We both appreciate your ongoing readership and hope 2023 unravels the puzzle of everything you want life to be. Happy New Year!

      January 3, 2023 - 9:05 am Reply
  • A mango

    How amazing meeting you on Jacobite, Leighton. Hope Georgia is good for you. We are just recovering from Covid. Hope to meet you and wife again some day. Maybe you come 广州some day.

    January 3, 2023 - 12:59 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Mango! What a surprise to hear from you! So sorry to hear about Covid, but glad you are all getting better. I would love to visit Guangzhou one day, a Chinese city I haven’t explored properly. Thanks for reading, Happy New Year!

      January 3, 2023 - 1:05 pm Reply
  • travelling_han

    Aw Leighton what a year. I love that you got to spend some great quality time in England with your family (although how you got COVID on a boat trip in Scotland having been everywhere else travelling the world is beyond me!) – Shugborough is a special place to me and I’m so glad you visited it, and that Sladja has seen a stately home 🙂 Georgia also looks really interesting and I’m looking forward to your future posts on it. 2023 sounds like it will be full of adventure and I’m so excited to see where it takes you. Happy New Year 🙂

    January 3, 2023 - 2:57 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Hannah, Happy New Year! thanks for reading his end-of-year epic, it is much appreciated. Somehow I knew you’d been to Shugborough. I’m sure the next time we’re in The UK, Sladja and I will cross off a few more country estates. And hopefully exit them all in the conventional way. Georgia has been very interesting. Not our favourite country I would say, but absolutely worth the five months we’ve spent here. Wishing you a wonderful 2023!

      January 3, 2023 - 5:07 pm Reply
  • WanderingCanadians

    It must have been so nice to reconnect with family and friends and explore some familiar and new sights with Sladja in 2022. I got a good laugh that you had to climb over the fence because you were wandering around the Shugborough Estate after closing. That’s one of my biggest fears! It certainly sounds like you have a lot of new content to cover from your adventures in 2022. Wishing you all the best in 2023!

    January 3, 2023 - 4:16 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Happy New Year! The fence was a hoot, definitely not us at our most graceful. Oh guys, I truly fear I’ll never get round to catching up with stuff that needs to be published. I will need to live to a ripe old age to have any hope. Have a great 2023, let’s see how much more of Canada you can mop up over the next 12 months. “A lot” is the answer, I’m sure.

      January 3, 2023 - 8:04 pm Reply
  • jasonlikestotravel

    I didn’t realise that Sladja had not been to the UK before, that’s great that you were able to see so much of the country together. Although a shame that Covid ruined your time up in Scotland a little.
    Excited to see where you end up in the New Year and as for trying to bridge the gap in travels, I think it’s good if you always have content you can write about.
    Anyway Happy New Year! Enjoy what’s left of your time in Georgia 🙂

    January 3, 2023 - 7:56 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Happy New Year Jason! Thanks for taking a look at my end-of-year report and checking into the comment thread. I hope for you 2023 is just as good, if not better, than your thoroughly decent 2022.

      January 3, 2023 - 8:04 pm Reply
  • secret blogger

    You are such a jovial person. Loved your travel blogs. Hope you have a great year ahead.

    January 3, 2023 - 9:39 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha, I’ll take that as a compliment. Thanks for reading and commenting Secret Travel Blogger. Wishing you a similarly fantastic 2023!

      January 3, 2023 - 9:59 pm Reply
  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    Despite the covid, it looks like you and Sladja had a wonderful 2022! I have to tell you that I have enjoyed every one of your blog posts (and short stories), and I can’t wait to see what you surprise us with in 2023. Happy New Year to you both!

    January 4, 2023 - 2:02 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Happy New Year Kellye! Thanks for catching up, let’s hope 2023 is a good one for us all and brings some much-needed stability in key regions of the world.

      January 4, 2023 - 9:56 am Reply
  • NortheastAllie

    2022 looks like it was a year of amazing experiences for you filled with travel, family, and interesting areas that you two explored. Happy New Year, and looking forward to reading about your adventures this year as well!

    January 4, 2023 - 6:35 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Happy New Year Allie! Wishing you a fantastic 2023!

      January 4, 2023 - 9:16 am Reply
  • rkrontheroad

    So nice to read of your UK times and places! Abbotsford looks dreamy, as does the view of the Black Sea. Looking forward to following your catch-up posts. I’ve so enjoyed following your travels. May you have a wonderful new year together, full of good times and meaningful explorations.

    January 7, 2023 - 12:58 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Happy New Year Ruth! Thanks for checking out my 2022 overview, it was an adventurous but hectic year. Hoping to slow things down for three months at the end of January. I’m sure you have plenty planned for your year, hope 2023 is a good one!

      January 7, 2023 - 9:37 am Reply
  • anoushpetit

    What an amazing year! The abandoned Soviet sanatoriums are really something else. I’ve never heard of Tskaltubo and Kutaisi before. The name of that English village, Tean, and all the surrounding areas where you went for walks, is lovely. They sound like something you might read in a children’s book or a crime novel. Great photos and writing.

    January 22, 2023 - 11:01 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Anoush! I had certainly never heard of Tskaltubo before we planned our visit. Such a unique place with incredible history, all those old ruinous spas just sitting there waiting to be explored. Thanks for reading!

      January 22, 2023 - 11:19 am Reply

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