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.

Possibly the faffiest thing I have ever done!

We decided to do something outdoorsy today to make the most of the good weather before it slips away for another year, and we needed something free as funds are a little on the low side at the moment. We decided on a walk in Sutton Park. Last time I was in there the blackberries were almost ready for picking so I took some tupperware so I could take advantage.

Every time I go in the park I seem to discover something I’ve never seen before. This time it was a lovely little lake, not much more than a pond really.

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We rambled along in search of good blackberries, and before we knew it we had no idea where we were, and there was no signal so google maps couldn’t come to our rescue! It actually felt quite liberating to be technology free and we just pootled along safe in the knowledge that there were several hours of daylight left and we were bound to emerge somewhere familiar soon.

We did, but unfortunately we still hadn’t come across any decent blackberries! We came out near a mahoosive hill which is part of the annual Great Midlands Fun Run, locally known as the Sutton Fun Run which I’ve done for the past four years. The hill is known as Cardiac Hill, for very good reason and bizarrely along the side of the hill we found the blackberries. They were very small which made me wonder if they weren’t yet ripe, but they came off the bramble very easily so I took the risk. It was a good excuse to take a pause on our way up Cardiac Hill!

The hill leads out of the park, but we soon nipped back in to avoid the boring walk on the road back to the car, and I’m soooooo glad we did. In this post I told you of the ponies in the park but said that I’d never seen one. Well today, we came across loads! What excitement! They’re Exmoor Ponies and they’re gorgeous. They have the most soulful eyes. I was really tempted to stroke one because they look so tame, they weren’t concerned by us being close to them at all, but there are signs telling you to respect their wildness, so I settled for taking loooottttttts of photos of them. I won’t spam you with all of them, but here’s a selection.

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I didn’t come home with the biggest haul of blackberries (do you think the ponies have been feasting on them?) but there were enough to make blackberry cupcakes, and so starts the tale of possibly the faffiest thing I have ever done!

I gathered my ingredients ……

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…. washed the blackberries ….

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….. and got baking.

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So far, so good.

The cupcakes came out of the oven looking and smelling delicious, and then I remembered my animal cutter from Lakeland that I told you about here last weekend. I decided to give it a go.

Oh. My. Goodness! I normally have pretty much unlimited patience with crafty, creative pursuits. Not so with this one. I only did one design and then decided for the sake of my sanity to just make buttercream icing for the rest.

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You can at least tell what it’s supposed to be, although the colours and stripes kind of make it obvious, but it’s not very good. It’s so fiddly to cut those stripes out and then get them to stay in the right place without making them misshapen. Good job the cutter wasn’t expensive because I can’t see it getting much use! You never know, I might get inspired in the future if someone needs a cupcake zoo.

Hope everyone’s had a lovely weekend. Have a great week, and if anyone’s children are starting school, good luck to them.