2020-21 is a period few will forget: so much upheaval in so many ways, too many lives lost and sickness and hardships endured because of the covid-19 pandemic. Huge and widespread changes in behaviour were needed and the size of areas we could move in was much reduced. For me it’s been a year of being alone a lot, working from home and missing family and other loved ones, but despite some frustrations and tears, I’ve remained healthy, able to do and enjoy my job, able to keep in touch with those that matter to me most, and for that I am very grateful.
Outside of work, I did many things I would otherwise not have done. Indeed the need to spilt working from not working became more important when my home became my office and I learned to down tools more fully each day and on weekends than I’ve managed before. Here seems as good a place as any to record and value the recreational things I’ve done in the last 12 months. A celebration of the good things, so they are not forgotten amongst the rest. Of note is that, despite the physical isolation due to covid-19 restrictions, many of these things involved others: gifts received or made and given, shows watched as a geographically separated group, equipment loans, letters, discussions about things to do or done, and socially distanced adventures. So much gratitude to family, friends and colleagues.
There have been other significant events and important times – my birthday celebrations included – that are too personal for this post. Missing from this too are the many online and fewer in-person conversations with family and friends that have been so important to me. This post is a series of lists (Making, Watching, Reading, Cooking, Listening, Exploring, Buying, Challenging, Observing, Growing) and links with some photos thrown in for good measure.
- Masks made using these instructions and pattern (no printer needed) with Morris’ Allotment fabric
- Viddy pinhole camera which I was given years ago and finally assembled and learned to use
- Converted my kitchen into a darkroom to make photographic prints, using lent equipment (thanks Wes!)
- Embroidery project was finished on some towels, that I started two and a half years ago for a newborn
- Christmas wreath made with real holly with berries
- Snow queen and a choir of snow angels
- New cushion covers for outdoor furniture including press studs, for a gift
- Assembled London landmarks from paper
- Learned to crochet and made a very small scarf
- Recorded Heroes, Close to you, and All I want for Christmas is you as part of Couch Choir
- BBC4 Life Drawing Live
- Built a Where’s Wally jigsaw
Watching TV and movies
Watching theatre, readings and interviews
Reading (*still reading, **to read)
- Many lone and socially distanced walks round Milton Keynes (home), most starting from my front door and exploring new paths. I didn’t record how far I walked in 2020, but I walked 550 kms in January to March in 2021.
- Marston Thrift, Rushmere Country Park, Marston Millennium Country Park and Salcey Forest are a short drive away, and a place to meet others for socially distanced walks
- Foraging chestnuts, cherries, elderflowers, blackberries, apples etc often helped with choosing a route or destination
- Used the Footpath Map to find many places to walk around Alnwick (support bubble home)
- Naturetrek UK Day Trips: The Northumberland Coast and A day with small mammals (Hampshire)
- A New Year’s Day dip in the North Sea
- Floors Castle gardens
- A giant spoon tweet sparked a hunt for this sculpture
- Northumberland coast castle spotting: Warkworth, Lindisfarne, Bamburgh, Dustanburgh, Berwick upon Tweed.
- Daily walks meant I saw many things I might otherwise have missed: a young robin, buff-tip moth larvae, wood ears, turkey-tail fungus, oak leaf miners, a badger skull, lichen worlds, the beauty of frost, a hare skull, mating snails, elephant hawk moth caterpillar and more
- Comparison of current flowers in June with those in Edwardian times using a book I was given
- I kept a list of birds and animals that I saw in the third lockdown
- My allotment plot was a marvellous place to go through lockdowns as well as supplying lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. I’ll write about it separately, but the video below shows some of the produce from the plot and nearby foraging at peak harvest time.