Looking back on 2021 — Part one

I always feel as though I need to round off a year with a blog post. I need that full stop somehow, and if ever a year needed a full stop it was 2021. So here is my post looking back on 2021.

On a personal level I fell off the blog cliff. It was neglected and mostly ignored. In my head I was favouring instagram and trying to post over there more, but in reality I just wasnt really feeling posting anything. Safe to say my mental health was pretty low and whilst I didnt really make a secret of that I dont think I really confessed just how bad it was until the very end of the year. It boiled down to exhaustion I think. That pure mental exhaustion of over thinking a whole load of stuff, whilst trying to be a positive person online. An online world that is changing, it is all about podcasts and Reels and I am not really interested in doing either of those. Plus we werent really able to travel much so alot of the things I would normally talk about were missing. All of that means it would be easy to write off 2021, but in reality there were some lovely bits, and those are the bits I want to share.

January

We started January by going back into lockdown. Restrictions said we couldn’t meet as more than two people outside, work from home and schools were closed. There were almost daily press conferences from the PM, Rishi Sunak, Pritti Patel and Matt Hancock (remember him?!)

Necessary but depressing because we had hoped that Coronavirus would have been left behind in 2020. How wrong we were that here we are in 2022 and we are still feeling the affects.

We were lucky that we were in a bubble that allowed us to spend time with little Lily, and I was able to meet my mum or dad for a walk. Coffees in the woods became a treat we savoured, and even though we couldn’t go far Bruce and I still tried to get out and about. We had tickets for the light show at Wisley so were thrilled that was still allowed to go ahead. We also discovered our local canal a bit more and loved having snow and not having to worry about loved ones driving in it.

Twelfth night came and went with a pile of present still under the tree for the loved ones we couldn’t see. How little we knew in January that they would still be there at Easter.

February

Days out in February revolved around the mile walk to our pub in the woods who were doing take away coffees in the absence of being able to do anything else. The hospitality industry was on its knees and it was heartbreaking to watch. Or late afternoon wanders in nearby Farnham along empty roads where we knew we wouldnt bump into anybody, it was nice to find areas locally that we hadn’t found before.

I decided to get out more and try to clear my head on a daily basis. I will never be a jogger but walking is something I do enjoy and it did work. A few highlights this month were water spraying up the trees on the main road into town then freezing, I dragged Bruce away from his desk to come and have a look. He was thrilled, as you can guess.

Nationally over 9 million had the vaccine, we became aware of the South African variant, and with travel red lists and quarantine in hotels we were told not to book holidays. It all felt really depressing to be honest. But on the upside there was a tweet about baked beans on Weetabix that went viral and made us all laugh. We needed that.

March

The beginning of the month saw schools reopening again, and by the end of the month we were allowed to meet as two families, or up to six people outside. We were still in our childcare bubble so were able to hang out with Lily, and grandad had a lovely afternoon watching football with her, he will make a Man City supporter of her yet. The Easter bunny also paid us a visit, long story! And I got my first dose of the vaccine, a huge day and I was so proud that I had done my bit to help keep everybody safe and seeing a route out of this. March 23rd was the first anniversary of us all being plunged into the first lockdown and it hit me hard that we were still there essentially. The first one had been easier as we thought it was a means to an end, yet here we were a year later with restrictions still in place and the only escape I could do was by buying a bag with that emblazoned on the front.

We did manage to get our cloakroom decorated (well our hugely talented son in law did) and finally I have the books wallpaper up that I have wanted for years. We also got out to Mottisfont, one of our favourite National Trust properties for a wander in the garden with my old bestie Annie when restrictions were eased to allow two households to mix outdoors from the end of the month.

April

After waiting 18 weeks I finally got a haircut. I cannot tell you how happy that made me. I am a regular, every six weeks, kinda girl and to miss three appointments meant I had the hair of a shaggy dog and hated it. I also hated that my gorgeous hairdresser had been unable to work for all that time. Yes furlough was a thing but tips weren’t and I am sure many people in the beauty and hospitality industries relied on tips every month.

Beauty being open again also meant that pubs and non essential shops could reopen this month, though weddings were restricted to 15 and funerals only 30. Even the Queen had to abide by this rule when she said goodbye to Prince Phillip, something we would later be reminded about when it came to light a year later No 10 were seemingly ignoring these rules and having “cheese and wine” events in the garden. To say the country was livid in January 2022 would be an understatement.

I also got out again, this time to Exbury Gardens, again with Annie, for a Cornish pasty and a walk. It was glorious. As was walking to the pub one night for a drink and coming across the local herd of cows who graze on the common. Not what you expect to see on the outskirts of a very suburban town and literally at the end of our road. April was also the month for blossom to start appearing, giving us hope that spring was coming and we might finally be out of all the restrictions and be able to return to normal life. How wrong that was but at least back in April we had hope.

I also had chips on the beach with Helen, and Lily got her first pair of grown up shoes. Banana bread was a plenty and our landscaper arrived to extend our patio. We figured if we couldn’t go abroad this year we would make the most of what we had and get the garden sorted after 15 years, and I am so pleased we did. Whilst we couldn’t really socialise as much as we wanted over the summer it was lovely that we knew as soon as we would be able to we now had a patio big enough for grand events.

May

Gorgeous May. Lily turned one, and pubs and restaurants were allowed to reopen (with table service only) and we were all allowed to officially hug our loved ones again. “Significant life events” were allowed to have up to 30 people so we had a birthday party for all the people in our family with a May birthday, in an igloo in the garden. It was perfect. Except for the weather but nobody cared since it meant we could all be under one roof, albeit plastic. Different story by the end of the month though as it was so hot Bruce bought a portal air conditioning unit for our office.

That got used twice

It being birthday month I whisked Bruce off to a fancy pants hotel for a couple of nights, only an hour away as we didnt want to be too far from home and he didnt know where we were going until we got there. “Head towards Slough” was all I told him. It was lovely to get away from the outside world for a bit and get back to exploring, even it was only Windsor that we have visited so many times before. We did also discover the hotel had its own cinema. So we hired it, invited over two good friends who lived down the road and watched Ghostbusters whilst eating socially distanced burgers. It was brilliant.

Our garden works continued too. The patio was finished despite there being a national shortage of cement and everything else (blame Brexit / lack of lorry drivers / lack of paper bags for the cement / HS2 / home improvements galore) you name it it got blamed in 2021. Two pallets of plants arrived, hundreds of them and with much excitement my parents like a pair of demons got to work planting them all over a couple of days (staying in the nearby Travel Lodge in the process), ably assisted by a tiny apprentice in a splash suit. We also had Bruce’s mum down for a couple of days and escaped to a National Trust garden for a wander which is always lovely.

June

The beginning of June and half the adult population had received their first dose of vaccine and for the whole month we were wondering if the promised easing of restrictions we were expecting on 21st June might happen. It was a week before that date that finally heard that easing would be delayed until 19th July. Pubs were still table service only, international travel was still severely restricted, theatres running at 50% capacity, and only 6 could meet indoors (and 30 outdoors). Wimbledon got to go ahead though. Which made no sense to many of us, they could have more than 30 people in the crowd but we cant have the same number in our garden. it all seemed so unfair. But then so much of this has been unfair hasn’t it? Oh and whilst we were all socially distancing and not seeing our loved ones at the end of the month it came to light that our very own Health Secretary had been having an extra marital affair with an aide.

Seriously you couldn’t make this up.

The sun came out in June and we got to enjoy our garden and our new table, and Bruce got to prove just how big the new patio is. Lily continued to charm and amaze us all with her generally just being an absolute superstar. And we got away for a weekend on a narrowboat. We stayed in a hotel for the night before and then spent a day navigating locks in Wiltshire with my parents and sleeping onboard theirs before heading home the following day. It was only two nights away but it was fabulous. We walked miles, learned to navigate locks, catch up with friends of theirs on another narrow boat and just hang out. Even if it did rain.

For the final six months of the year, head over to Part Two of my 2021 retrospective

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