For the first part of my looking back on 2021 click on this link: Part One
This though is part two of my retrospective for 2021, a year I thought nothing had really happened but when going through my phone looking for those to include showed that on average I took 1100 photos a month last year so clearly some things were happening! And it has been good to look back and confirm that actually whilst we feel as though the world stood still we were still able to get a couple of nights away and to celebrate important dates. Things I will never take for granted ever again.
We spent the first weekend of July in Wilmslow celebrating Mama Barrow’s birthday. Though we were reminded how perilous things are for hospitality when we got a call the night before our restaurant booking to say that a customer the day before had called to say they had tested positive so they were having to shut the whole restaurant until all staff had received PCR test results. Through no fault of their own that restaurant is now closed. Food going to waste, staff at home, honestly it was heartbreaking and they were so apologetic as they knew it was a birthday meal. They did however have a sister restaurant with a private dining room that could accommodate the six of us so we were able to still go ahead but the manager said they abuse they had received from other diners was horrific. Happy to stand on their front door steps clapping for carers on a Thursday but come Friday they are yelling at waiting staff who have had to cancel their dinner plans. Honestly people baffle me.
From 19th July we didnt have to wear facemasks indoors anymore (an idiotic stance if you ask me) and international travel was still governed by a traffic light system. Though you could think something was on the green list but on landing could find its been moved to amber and you there have different restrictions in place.
We had been enjoying the Euros, the sun had been shining and we pinned all our hopes on Gareth Southgate and his team to keep our sprits high, we were in the final! Against Italy. Sadly it didnt go our way but the fact we had got that far was enormous.
There were no limits on the number able to meet after 19th July, or at weddings, funerals and life events.
We made the point of putting the roof on the car down, sticking in a pin in the map and finding a random pub for lunch one weekend and stumbled across a real treasure in the depths of a part of Hampshire we didnt know. Burned our heads due to a lack of sun tan cream but a small price to pay for a lovely afternoon.
We also jumped in the car and did what we do best, headed to the beach to fish and chips one evening. God I love long summer evenings where it doesnt get dark at 3pm meaning we cant do things like this.
Lily had her first visit to Fishers Farm Park and blew us all away with her animal knowledge at 14 months.
We also managed to have our annual trip to the Polo at Cowdray though the weather was against us sadly. So we went down to for an hour to take Lily on the rides and then headed back to my parents for an indoor picnic with the Polo being live streamed from Cowdray. Not the same but if we learned anything in 2020 and 2021 it was how to be adaptive!
Days out, glorious weather and my birthday. August was lovely.
Half of festivals were cancelled and we watched on the TV with horror that Reading and Leeds went ahead. It seemed an insane thing to do but we have spent so much of the year looking on and scratching our heads. It cemented for us that we would carry on doing things we were comfortable with and even if we were permitted to do things we still might not. So we went to Carfest as we had been invited but we didnt stay over. We found a quiet back corner away from everybody to photograph cars and having spent half an hour in a fairly distanced crowd as it got busier we started to feel very uncomfortable so left. To be honest we still have this approach in 2022, we aren’t booking international travel, havent been to the theatre and when we eventually did see Bond it was at midnight with 100 people in a cinema that could have held 500.
Bruce had a bumper crop of chillis having grown them all year and has made some incredible chilli sauce. And we waved goodbye to Betty the Behemoth Bus.
As August is my birthday month I was treated to a surprise night away, even having my bag packed for me. It was a wonderful surprise and we got to see Sherborne where we hadn’t been before. In fact it is only through scrolling through my phone to look for these photos that I realise how much we did.
September was a lovely month, though there was no getting away from the situation we are all still in. There were over 6000 Covid patients in hospital this month and we were being hit with the first wave of lorry driver shortages. We started seeing shortages of foods in the shops because of the supply chain issues and it all felt a bit dystopian. Boris Johnson unveiled his winter plan mid month and it said there wouldnt be any further lockdowns but facemasks are back. Travel fell into red or green, green meant you could go but if you are aren’t vaccinated you have to self isolate for ten days when you get back. It was also announced that from next month we would be able to travel to the US again as they would be removing the travel ban on Brits.
We celebrated Jonnie’s birthday with cupcakes that had toppers of him on then when he was little, made by Caity.
We managed to get away for a week in Guernsey, booked because we could get there without flying and it meant we could catch up with good friends we hadn’t seen in ten years. It also gave us the best meal we have had in years, a take away curry eaten on the beach watching the sunset. We might have travelled but we still wanted to be on our own and not around too many other people! We then drove home from there via Woodbridge (look at a map, go figure, it took hours) and had more chips on the beach. I might have to start a chips on the beach review blog site the way we are going.
Our final escape was to Nottingham for the weekend, the home of lace, to celebrate our lace wedding anniversary. We even found a pub that taps where you could pour your own pints, including one of gin and tonics. It is a surprise we even left to be honest. It felt like it was going to be a long winter and it was good to get these memories in the bank whilst we could.
Lily fed the ducks for the first time, and I walked 5km for First Days charity in just under an hour and raised almost £800 for them, a very proud moment.
Cases are up slightly this month, not surprising after the schools and unis returned really, but worryingly, well for me at least, deaths are still around 100 to 150 a day. The news was dominated by fuel. Or lack of it. Pumps running dry, queues at every petrol station that had any, panicked messages on every Facebook group with people desperate to get some. Stories of people using any container they could to refill their cars, including one idiot using carrier bags. I mean how stupid do you have to be?
We were so glad that my mum’s 70th birthday celebration was able to go ahead in October, complete with fabulous show stopping cake from Cuppies and Cream. Dairy Free but you would never have known, complete with strawberries dipped in vegan chocolate. We met at my parents house though as none of us really wanted to be around other people and it meant we could have a really chilled out afternoon with food from good old Cook.
It was also the month that BlogOn was able to go ahead and a chance to catch up with blogging friends I hadn’t seen in a while, some in years. Always lovely to hear what people have been doing or are hoping to do in the months ahead.
I took Mr B to The Pig for lunch at three hours notice as I had received a gift voucher for my birthday and then we had a lovely afternoon photographing New Forest Ponies roaming freely.
Another weekend was spent with Bruce’s mum in Cheshire where we even got to out for lunch at a lovely restaurant nearby. Looking back it feels like all we did was eat in October!
Halloween was quiet, we didnt have any Trick Or Treaters at the house but we did go and see a lights trail at a nearby National Trust Property, and Lily showed me what messy play was all about one morning. Bliss.
10 million people have now not only been double vaccinated, but triple vaccinated. Isnt science amazing. Omicron became the word of the month as the latest variant, a terrifyingly contagious variant. November for me really felt like it might be the month where we could start believing that 2022 might be somewhere closer to the normal we all craved. Looking back on it I didnt realise just how blue the sky was for so much of it!
We had another weekend in Cheshire and got to sneak off for an afternoon tea (if I dont start that fish and chips blog I am definitely doing one for afternoon teas) at Shrigley Hall where I hadn’t been before. What a view. On the way home Bruce decided we should avoid the motorway and go “over the hills”, what an absolute treat. I got to spend a morning photographing countryside I hadn’t seen before that was breathtaking. Gosh I have missed regularly doing that so much in the past couple of years.
I also got to sneak off to London, and a few days later had my first PCR test. Booked online at 3am, turning up at a car park in Aldershot six hours later. All very well organised (flash your lights if you need assistance), and the results texted to me 12 hours later. Thankfully it was negative.
Then just like that it was the end of the year. We took a few days off to spend a long weekend being tourists in London, walking miles to avoid the Tube and to take in the Christmas lights. It was also the month for the annual arrival of our Christmas tree in a convertible Mini, a monster trifle from my mum and making crackers with my MIL and Lily. Some traditions are important to maintain, aren’t they?
Christmas was lovely, hosted by my parents it was wonderful to be able to get together at the end of what for many had been a really tough year, enjoy a day together as a family (with a couple of absences who we got to celebrate with on FaceTime) with gorgeous wine and food.
France put the UK back on the banned list, making it impossible for Brits to travel to the country, closely followed by Germany. Omnicron was surging but we were told that the best way to beat it was to get boosted. A year to do the day after the first Vaccination was given so was the 25 millionth booster. Lateral flow tests were in short supply though making it very hard for people to get tested and to isolate when they are asymptomatic.
2021 was a mixed bag, though I have nothing to complain about. As hard as I felt it was at times I know it is nothing compared to the year so many have had. I have no idea what 2022 will bring but I am going into it with an open mind and heart.