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.

A crochet drumroll moment

I think it was inevitable that I was going to turn out to be a crocheter. My parents were given a crochet blanket for me before I was even born, I think by someone that they knew from church. It was single bed sized and made from many many gorgeous granny squares. They were all different colours and no one was the same as another. I think you could call it eclectic – it just went together.

This blanket became known as blankie once I began to speak, and I couldn’t sleep without it. Legend has it that my tiny baby fingers used to push in and out of the holes in the granny squares even in my sleep and I needed that lovely snuggly crocheting with me all the time. Being single bed sized, it wasn’t practical to take it out and about so my Mum crocheted individual squares for me which were apparently discovered in butchers and greengrocers weeks later around Birmingham after I’d dropped them, presumably temporarily distracted by a pork chop or a plum! I was told recently that when I spent weekends at my Dad and Step Mum’s (I should probably explain that situation at some point) they had no option but to bundle me and the entire bed sized blanket into my pushchair because they didn’t have any of the single squares.

Sadly, this blanket hasn’t survived for me to take photos, although I did still have it (ahem) when I got married, but I do have a replacement which is probably more than twenty years old. Here’s a photo of Olive when she was a kitten curled up on the ‘new’ blanket. Wasn’t she a cutie pie?

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You can really tell it’s a well loved blanket because the poor thing has seen better days, but it still has pride of place on my pillow where my not-so-tiny-anymore fingers may still find their way in and out of the holes whilst I’m reading, possibly!

As a brief aside, I was once told, many moons ago when I was still single, that I had no chance of getting a boyfriend when I had so many stuffed toys in my then flat, and sadly I took this to heart and got rid of many of my beloved childhood bears. I can tell you that this absolutely is not the case, and you should always remain true to yourself, and if stuffed toys (or shoes, or model trains or a life size model of Chewbacca) are in your heart then you should keep them and treasure them and when the right person comes along, even if they don’t love them like you do, they’ll accept them as important to you. I bitterly regret not keeping some of my bears because they had memories attached to them so, while the official line is that I have to keep my blanket because Olive likes to sleep on it, in actual fact, that blanket is in my heart and it’s not going anywhere.

Despite this early granny square start, I didn’t actually learn to crochet myself until I was in my early thirties when hubby bought me this kit by Cath Kidston for Christmas. It’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. It contained instructions on how to crochet and all the materials needed to make a granny square cushion (bar the innards). I loved it and finished the cushion before the new year.

I like to think I’ve improved somewhat since then, although I don’t think my first project was bad at all for a rookie. My love for crochet has certainly grown exponentially since that first time I put hook to yarn.

So, on to my drumroll moment. I talked to you a few days ago about the latest Little Box of Crochet that I received. You can catch up on that entry here if you like. The project this month was a notebook cover and bookmark designed by the wonderful Lucy at Attic24. See her fantastic blog here for oodles of crochet inspiration.

I absolutely loved this project, so much so that I got carried away with actually making it and neglected to check that it was working up big enough. It wasn’t (I think because my tension is on the tight side) so I had to improvise and my finished cover has some rows of treble crochet to make it fit, but I’m still super happy with it and can’t wait to start using the notebook to record my wips (work in progress) of which there are soon to be many because I have soooooo many creative ideas brewing in my head.

Drumroll ……

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I changed the colours of the edging to use more of the colours that I loved most. Lucy added a little flower to her bookmark, but I decided to make a tricolour circle instead to echo the shape of the beautiful little button. I hope Lucy and Amanda (of Little Box of Crochet) don’t mind my little improvisation!

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I just love all the colour in this post. How lovely to see my first ever project right next to my most recent project. I’ve really enjoyed meandering through my yarny crochet memories while writing this. I have absolutely no doubt that crochet is with me to stay now I’ve found it.

Well, I’ll let you go now because I need to go and start my next project. I think I’m going to try some corner to corner crochet which I’ve not done before. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. TTFN.