2020 A Year in Review

2020 may have been the oddest year of most of our lives but it’s done now, and we have to have hope that 2021 will be better. I have, for the most part, managed to stay mentally sound throughout most of the year, which I know isn’t the same for everyone. I thank my lucky stars that this happened now and not a couple of decades ago when we would have been far more isolated that we have been thanks to Zoom, FaceTime and Teams.

I also massively appreciate the fact that we have outside space which, although at the moment isn’t at all enticing due to the inclement weather, got us through the warmer months of the year with relative ease, especially so when we were allowed to have people in our garden.

Here are some of my favourite garden photos of last year.

The garden was reasonably productive in terms of fruit and veg in 2020 …

… and we had quite a few visitors of the fauna variety!

Inside the house, we made a few home improvements. The first was pre-lockdown when, with the help of my Dad, we transformed our bathroom from dingy to sparkly clean safari wonderland.

During lockdown when I was furloughed and hubby’s workplace was demonstrating exactly how a zero hours contract benefits the employer (they still are!) we tackled first our spare bedroom/my home office making it a homage to all things Harry Potter …

… then when I was unfurloughed but hubby was still unbusy with zero hours, he decided to tackle the woodchip in our living room and we completely redecorated including wallpapering, laying laminate flooring, opening out the fireplace and hanging the TV on the wall.

Outside we built a catio on the side of the kitchen so our furry girls can get some air safely.

Away from home, amazingly we did manage to squeeze in three holidays. The first was, to paraphrase Craig Revel-Horwood A-May-zing!! A week long cruise round the Caribbean preceded by a two night stop in Orlando and a trip to Universal to go on the new Hagrid’s Magical Creatures coaster. This was pre-COVID, in fact I remember the first I heard about it was by scanning the Sky news app whilst I was sunbathing on deck, and I assumed it would be like the previous SARS disease. I never even entertained the thought that it could turn into what it has! Blissful ignorance, eh?

In between lockdown 1.0 and lockdown 2.0 we managed a short break to Norfolk which was a game of two halves – lovely to get away and see the sea, but I got bitten by a dog, we had to come home early because hubby had a job interview (which he didn’t get!) and I got a flat tyre!

In September we went to Edinburgh for my birthday. This had been booked pre-pandemic and we didn’t know until the last minute whether we’d be able to go, but I’m so glad we could because we had a fantastic time. One of the best holidays I’ve ever had.

We had a few great days out – we walked alpacas, visited confetti fields, played with meerkats, met gorillas at Twycross Zoo and we walked and cycled many times in Sutton Park and Kingsbury Water Park …

… and we also had a couple of great days in making up for things that we should have been doing. We had a non-Jamaica party for two on the day we were supposed to be flying out and we had a tennis afternoon tea on the day Dad and I were supposed to be going to watch the ATP tour finals in London.

I also did a lot of crafts – mainly crochet, but also knitting, baking, jigsaws (do they count as crafts?) model making, felting and, obviously, mask making!

So, all in all, although it certainly didn’t feel like it at times, 2020 was actually a pretty full year and I achieved quite a lot. Amongst all this, I was also working full time (apart from being furloughed for nine weeks in the summer) in a job that I only started six weeks before we were plunged into lockdown and home working, and I feel that I managed very well to learn the new job (although this is an on-going process) under challenging circumstances. It turns out that home working, while it doesn’t suit everyone or every job, works pretty well for me, and for my team. As I mentioned before, thank goodness for technology!

Now it’s time to look forward to 2021 and I’ll finish with a quote that I recently read in a fiction book, the sixth in the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley but that is based in fact (the first book I didn’t enjoy as much, but I’m so glad I persevered because they got better and better and one thing to look forward to in 2021 is the release of the final in the series).Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards – Soren Kierkegaard.

Six on Saturday 2nd January 2021

Happy new year all! I’m still trying to decide on new year’s resolutions but one is definitely going to be to pay more attention to my blog …. starting now!

It was a bit of a challenge to find any inspiring garden related things to take photos of this week, but I think I’ve managed it. My first two points are entirely to demonstrate how cold it is. I hate winter and everything it embodies!

Point one is our frozen bird bath! I think you can tell it’s frozen, or is it just that I know it was? Hubby is going out there religiously every day with a bottle full of hot water and defrosting it so we don’t get robin (Cousins) and jay (ne Torvil) ice skating on there (too tenuous? Sorry!)

Next up is this perfectly formed Tupperware ice cube in the strawberry patch. Hubby fills a little takeaway tub with water every day for the wildlife in our garden – we have passing hedgehogs, foxes and many cats as well as the birds – and he normally waters the strawberry plants with it when he changes it. At the moment, however, given the minus temperatures, we’re just a couple of tots of rum short of a strawberry daiquiri!

Phew, that was strong! So, to sober us up, a reminder of summer past and winter present (did I mention I hate winter?) Here’s a deceased Agapanthus flower. Much as I’d rather it was still luscious and alive and sun-baked, I did think it was attractive enough to be photo-worthy.

Moving in to something far more colourful, here’s some beautiful Cyclamen cheering up the garden. I can see these from the kitchen window and they do look cheery.

Penultimate point for this week is a promise of better things to come. I’ve been struggling with the cyclical nature of life this week as I always do at new year (the best way I can describe it is that, for me, life’s like a game of snakes and ladders and I make really good progress all year but then at midnight on new year’s day I land on that really long snake at number ninety nine and slide all the way back down to number one and have to start again!) However, the circle of life is also represented in these daffodils starting their ascent back into the world, bringing with them their beauty, heady scent and, most importantly, hope. You can see a hint of them pushing through the Cyclamen too. I’ll try to remember this when January threatens to bury me with its cold and dark gloom!

I’ll finish this week with my Curly Red (Leucothoe axillaris) which has lived up to its name for the first time. It’s currently back in its pot because it didn’t fare so well when I planted it out. I might put it in a nice permanent pot when I can bear to spend long enough outside! There’s so much that needs doing outside (see the weeds in the backgrounds of most of these photos), but I’m definitely a fair weather gardener.

Hope everyone returning to work next week (even if it is just in your spare bedroom like me) does so with minimal ‘ugh’ and that 2021 brings everyone lots of Six on Saturdays (check out the Propagator), good health and a vaccine so we can start building a new normal.

Six on Saturday 19th December

Wow, it’s been so long since I wrote a post that I’d almost forgotten how to! I haven’t intentionally neglected my blog, I just seem to have either been busy with other creative pursuits or too dog tired to string two sentences together. I slept really well last night though, and I’m buoyed by the knowledge that I only have two working days left before I can sleep for twelve whole days should I so desire!

First up is my Rhododendron that I snapped up from the sale table at the garden centre that is half a mile from home. I went up during the first week that they were allowed to reopen and this beautiful girl was half price even though she was still in full flower. I popped out to the garden today for the first time in ages (too cold and soggy for my liking!) and noticed loads of buds on the Rhododendron. I’m still not sure that I’ve planted it in the right place, but time will tell!

Along similar floral lines, as we pulled on to the drive this afternoon after making my penultimate Christmas present drop of the year, I noticed that the Azalea that somehow manages to stay alive underneath our hedge without the slightest bit of attention is flowering. I think it’s an Azalea anyway – we inherited it with the garden. Lovely splash of colour in an otherwise grey world.

Number three sees us return to the back garden and my namesake, Fuchsia Delta Sarah. I think it’s named well, because like me, it’s clearly stubborn and is forging on with its flowers. It didn’t flower profusely in the summer, but is hanging in there now. Well, why not deny winter is happening if you possibly can? I certainly would if it wasn’t so flipping cold.

More seasonally apt is this Hellebore. I’m sure it’s called Christmas something or other. I’ve got the label somewhere, but I’ve got a snoozing pussy cat on my lap so I can’t go and verify. I love how the light’s caught it in this photo. No filter needed!

My Ornamental Kale is still looking beautiful. I know I shared this in a previous Six, but I couldn’t resist taking a snap of it with the rainfall glistening in its midst. It’s such a stunning colour and really brightens up the catio that it hangs on.

Finally I’m ushering you back to the front of the house because, you know, in the current climate and us being in tier 3 and all, you really shouldn’t be in our back garden. Also, I’m fishing for advice. Does anyone know what this is? It’s really big and voluminous. I’m pretty sure I weeded it out in previous years before it could flourish so it must be pretty determined! This year I left it to grow through the summer and it’s gone from strength to strength and has now produced these pretty, and very Christmassy I think, berry-like fruits. It may well be a weed, but it’s welcome to stay – I like it.

That went quickly! I must make more of an effort to pay attention to my blog. After all, it’ll soon be summer and there will be more to write about, I’ll have regained my effervescence and hopefully (please, please, PLEASE) Covid will have beaten a hasty retreat.

Oh, almost forgot – don’t forget to check out the Propagator for more Sixes. Until next time, I bid you fair adieu! Stay safe out there.