2019: the year in review

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and have some fun New Year’s Eve plans. This is a time of year that always puts me in a reflective mood, and today is no different, particularly as we reach the end of not just a year, but a decade.

It has to be said, last year was a pretty dreadful one for me – apart from getting my PPL(H), of course. I remember sitting alone on New Year’s Eve, writing in my diary and vowing that 2019 would be better, and I’m pleased to say that it definitely has been a vast improvement!

As always, I’ve had lots of freelance copywriting work keeping me busy in 2019, but have managed to fit in lots of fun things around it. On a day-to-day basis becoming a member of Soho Farmhouse has been a massive improvement to my quality of life; I’m feeling healthier and fitter than ever thanks to the gym there, and a ‘cinema date for one’ at the gorgeous cinema there has become a regular treat (new releases I’ve enjoyed this year include Marriage Story, The Souvenir, Judy and Punch and Little Women).


I absolutely love travel and very much make it a priority in how I spend my time and money, and this year I’ve had an interesting variety of travel experiences, both solo and otherwise.

  • I spent a few days in Prague with my sister in January. It was lovely and snowy and a really magical place.
  • I spent Easter weekend alone in Malaga – I’ll write about this before Easter 2020 to share tips, as it was quite an experience.
  • I flew to the Netherlands in a Piper Malibu with some friends from my flying club and we hopped from island to island, starting in Texel.
  • I went on a week-long retreat to the Amalfi Coast in Italy with the Idler Academy; highlights included Sorrento, Herculaneum and Positano.
  • I took my boyfriend Paul to Rome for his birthday in the searing August heat.
  • I spent a week driving around New England on my own, lapping up all the Fall colours and photographing pumpkins.
  • I spent a few days in Porto Covo, Portugal with Paul, ending with an afternoon in Lisbon.
  • I went to Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains with Paul – an evocative experience that was somewhat better than my only other experience of North Africa!
  • I spent a December weekend with friends in The Hague and Leiden in the Netherlands, visiting Christmas markets and enjoying lots of wine and cheese.
  • I had a delightful Christmas in Iceland with Paul, including basking in the Blue Lagoon on Christmas Day.

I’ve also done a couple of the usual business trips to Italy/Switzerland, so one way or another it’s been another good year for travelling! Here’s one of me in Positano, Italy back in May.


I’ve also been doing plenty of flying, and on the rotary side of things most of my flights have been in the R44, while also adding a few other interesting types to my log book. I did renew my R22 type rating, but I rather regret doing so as I haven’t flown it at all. I’m trying to develop my confidence a bit, and so have landed at a few different country house hotels and other interesting places with and without instructors. I love this pic taken by my friend Jonny when I flew him to the Classic Motor Hub!

I’ve taken quite a few friends up this year, as well as, sadly, a terminally ill child and his family. I hired an R44 and flew over downtown Boston while I was in America, which was amazing, and I flew myself down to Weston-super-Mare Helicopter Museum with two non-flying passengers, which felt a huge achievement. I also wrote an article and then a feature-length 10,000-word supplement all about helicopters for Flyer Magazine, for which I got to have a go at flying the Bell 505 and the Cabri G2.

I’ve also had a go in the Bell 47 and a ride in the back of a Bell 206 JetRanger. Oh, and I got to fly to the Isle of Wight and Enid Blyton’s favourite Dorset hotel, Knoll House, in an R66 (the jet-engined version of the R44) for some writing I was doing for a client.

Fixed wing

Most of my fixed wing flying this year has been on flyouts with my flying club, Take Flight Aviation, although I’ve also taken a few people up with me and flew (solo) up to Yorkshire in a PA28 to fly the aforementioned Bell 505. This year’s flyouts have been great fun, and there are lots of photos on the Take Flight website; we’ve flown to the Netherlands, Old Warden for the Shuttleworth Flying Proms, Welshpool, Hinton-in-the-Hedges, Oaksey Park, Leicester for go-karting, Isle of Wight, Brimpton, and Compton Abbas. Here’s Mike (owner of Take Flight) and me in the cockpit of the Malibu en route to the Netherlands. Wearing life jackets for the Channel crossing!

Very excitingly, I also got my first ever ride in a business jet courtesy of Paul. I got to sit in the jumpseat of a Hawker flying from Oxford to Biggin Hill at sunset. It was so interesting watching commercial pilots at work, and experiencing a much faster and more powerful aircraft than anything I’ve been in the cockpit of before.

Changing my name

I’m now looking ahead to 2020 and getting a few ideas together about my plans for the year. A big change for me is that I have a new name. It doesn’t feel right keeping my married name, and I also don’t want to revert to my maiden name, because that would feel like taking a step back. So I have taken the empowering step of renaming myself, opting for the surname Ramsay, which is in the family tree on my dad’s side. I like the alliteration of Rachel Ramsay, and also the fact that the last three letters of Ingram are the first three of Ramsay, so it’s like I’ve still got half my old name. It’s also still a nice nod to my Scottish roots. I have a big pile of admin to do around this, but I feel it’s a positive step that will help me look to the future with more of a sense of my own identity.

Among my resolutions for 2020 is to start blogging more often again, so watch this space! Happy New Year and thanks, as ever, for reading.

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