The events of 2020 may not have been quite what we expected as we excitedly rang in the New Year almost 12 months ago. There’s been heartache, boredom and anxiety – not to mention a whole bunch of confusion about just about everything. There’s definitely hope on the horizon for 2021, but I’m definitely not expecting a return to ‘normal’ any time soon. For that reason, I’m heading into 2021 with a fair amount of trepidation.
While the events of 2020 have been hard to watch and my little family has been affected by the pandemic in a few ways, thankfully we are all safe and well. The hardest thing has definitely been keeping my nan safe and making sure she hasn’t been venturing out too much for her lattes. Even though I live a few hours away I’ve ‘bubbled’ with her so I’ve still been able to see her quite a lot, especially over the summer when cases were low and the lockdown had ended.
Unfortunately, though, I had to self-isolate over Christmas after being alerted by the NHS app that I’d come into close contact with someone who’d tested positive for coronavirus. That meant we spent our first Christmas without each other ever. I know it was for the best though, and I know we’ll make up for missing out on Christmas together when it’s safe.
There have been a few personal silver linings to this immensely difficult year. For one, I haven’t been travelling to an office for work, so I’ve managed to save money on everything from fares to clothing and lunches. I definitely prefer the life/work balance that working from home gives you. And as I’ve been working from home, I’ve been able to spend so much time with my lovely ginger cats (and be on call for when they want to be let out/let in/fed…).
As a hardcore introvert with a love of staying home with my cats and watching Netflix, the various ‘lockdowns’ we’ve had in London have, rather selfishly, been fine for me. I’ve binged TV shows I’ve been meaning to watch for years, caught up on recent movies, been for lots of runs, and perfected a few favourite recipes. Still haven’t started that sign language course I signed up for, and the embroidery hoop is still sitting half-finished in my bedside drawer. Oops.
Trips at home and abroad
I made it to one country this year, before the lockdown in March. My boyfriend Ian and I made it to Krakow in Poland in February. This was a trip I was meant to do with my mum for her 60th – a long-held dream of hers to get on a plane (despite her fear of flying), and visit Auschwitz to pay her respects.
When mum passed away in 2017, I swore that I would go on the trip myself. So that’s what I did! We didn’t go to Auschwitz in the end (the trip was already emotionally charged as it was – plus I had already visited back in 2008), but it was still a trip to remember. Ian and I went for city walks and beers, and played copious games of mini-golf and pinball machines. We made it to several museums and took a tour of Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory, which I know mum would have found fascinating.
As sad as I am that this was my only international trip of the year, I’m so grateful that it was this one.
Once the national lockdown hit in March, we put the brakes on booking any other big trips abroad. By the time September rolled around, though, I needed a change of scenery. Thankfully Sophie from Luggage Tags and Ticket Stubs was up for an adventure too, so off we ventured down to Cornwall on the train for 3 nights.
I absolutely loved this trip – it was the first time I’d ever been to Cornwall, and it reminded me of just how many amazing sights there are still for me to see in this country. We stayed in a hostel in Penzance and took trips out to St Ives, Mousehole, Land’s End, Sennen Cove, Porthcurno, St Michael’s Mount and the Minack Theatre. These were all places I thought you’d need a car to visit…turns out, you don’t at all! Just a timetable for the local bus routes and the patience to sit through a few hour-long journeys.
In October I went on a caravan break with my friend Kiri. We stayed in an old-fashioned caravan in Walton-on-the-Naze, a seaside resort in Essex that my grandad used to come to with his siblings and parents. I’ve been every since he passed away to place roses on the spot where we spread his ashes, and this year we decided to make a weekend of it. The caravan experience was not quite as we remembered it when we were younger, but we still had a fab weekend of beach walks, movie evenings, bingo – and a Sunday roast dinner made in the most basic of kitchens!
I feel ridiculously lucky that my birthday get-together took place just a few weeks before the first lockdown in March. I met up in the pub with many of my most favourite people, and then went to a Talking Heads DJ night with even more of my favourites. I turn 30 in 2021 and I’m already anticipating not having a big gathering, so I feel like this was my way of celebrating a year early!
A trip to Kew Gardens
I’ve never been to Kew Gardens before, so when Ian suggested a day trip back in August I couldn’t resist! It was all very 2020 with masks and lots of hand sanitiser – we even skipped a few bits because the queues to get in were insane! But it was a fab day out and I’d love to go back to see the bits we missed.
So many socially distant walks
I’m going to say it: I’m SO GLAD I managed to avoid the majority of Zoom calls this year. It’s not that I don’t like my friends but group video calls are anxiety-inducing and it’s not like you can even have a proper conversation with someone. I have, however, been ALL OVER the socially distant walks. I’ve walked around London snapping pics of Christmas lights, around all the local parks and woods, and around nearby pockets of my area of London. 2020 has definitely been the year of walks!
I’ve tried to run more…
I was actually doing alright with my running for much of this year. I’d been going out for runs at lunchtime three days a week, and had finally got myself back to running 5km around what seems, at times, the hilliest part of London ever. And then suddenly, around August, I hurt my hamstring and had to take a few weeks off. I then had to start back on the Couch to 5k app, which was incredibly frustrating! I’m still enjoying my (slow) runs three times a week, but I’m not pushing myself to get back to my previous level just yet. I’d rather take my time and not risk any more injuries!
Still, in 2020 I managed to run 429km over 109 runs – let’s aim for 500km in 2021!
I got a new job
I really enjoyed the job that I had at the start of 2020, but uncertain times meant that I sadly had to move on. Luckily in September I managed to find a new job with another fantastic national charity. It’s been a steep learning curve, but it’s felt good to be learning new skills.
My freelancing took a back seat
I’ve worked as a travel copywriter for several years and have been quite lucky to have a steady stream of work from various sources. With the travel industry being hit massively by the Coronavirus pandemic, it wasn’t surprising that a lot of my freelancing work dried up. Thankfully I wasn’t completely up the creek thanks to my full-time job… I felt much more concerned for those people who relied on travel writing as their main source of income.
We moved flats!
I almost forgot this happened earlier this year, it feels so long ago now! At the beginning of the year we desperately needed to find a new place to live as our landlady was selling up. After dozens of viewings, rejected offers and stretching our budget, we finally managed to find a lovely new flat – on my birthday!
We faced a bit of a race to move before the first lockdown hit as we weren’t exactly sure what that would have meant for us and for the van (and the men) we were hiring to help us move. But, we did it, and it’s been great to get acquainted with a new flat/area during the various lockdowns.
And we welcomed a new arrival
His name’s Henry, and we love him so much.
Lots of cat cuddles
Look back at my phone’s photo album in previous years and it’s full of pictures of days out, trips and friends. This year, my camera gallery is almost exclusively filled with pictures of Jim and Ralph. And I’m absolutely not mad about that. They are the loves of my life, and it’s been wonderful to be around to help them settle into our new place.
I used to really enjoy learning German at school, so it’s been a long-held ambition of mine to get back on it. During the first lockdown I started on a German Duolingo course and I’ve gone 280 days of practicing without missing a single day! The Duolingo course is quite basic and I find it doesn’t really teach you much about grammar, but it feels good to be keeping things ticking over.
At the beginning of 2020 I set a goal to read 12 books in 12 months. Well, I completely missed that, only reading 8 books in total! Turns out, my peak reading time is actually on trains when travelling to/from work. Between Christmas and New Year I’ve tried to get myself into a routine of reading for 30 minutes before bed, so fingers crossed I can actually hit this goal in 2021!
I don’t have any plans for 2021. Not one! I’m just taking every day as it comes and seeing how things develop. I’m in no rush to jump on a plane or make any grand plans while things are so awful for millions of people – I’m just grateful that I have a cosy and safe home with my little family.
I hope that wherever you are in the world you had a relaxing Christmas and that your New Year shapes up to be full of everything you want it to be!
Do you have any plans and goals for 2021?