Seems a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it? “A 2020 Life Update”. NOTHING BUT EVERYTHING HAS HAPPENED.
Around the world, we’ve all been through the same thing this year, to a greater or lesser extent. I don’t really need to go into it in much detail; I’m in the UK (London), so we were put in lockdown in March, and restrictions have been slowly easing in the last few weeks – pubs and restaurants could open from last weekend (with guidelines).
I figured I’d give a little life update mostly as I haven’t written a blog post so far this year, and although there hasn’t been much travel, life still goes on, and this will be a bit of a round-up of where I’m at right now.
Pre-coronavirus: what happened, and what was meant to happen
Luckily, I got one trip in before the world shut down. I went skiing in Andorra with my boyfriend and two of our friends. It was only for a long weekend, sadly, so I would have loved more skiing, but at that point we were under the impression our annual leave and money would be spent elsewhere! It was a great few days and a lot of fun, although if I went back I think I’d take it a little less hard on the last night…
In March, Alan and I were supposed to go to Australia, returning to Melbourne (our old home and where we met) and staying with friends, going on a little excursion to the Great Ocean Road, visiting other friends in Canberra, then heading to Perth and driving to Exmouth, where we’d swim with whale sharks, explore, etc, etc, all of the fun things. About a week before we were due to leave, Australia announced it was closing its borders. That’s mainly where our scramble to rearrange and get refunds has stemmed from. It was a pretty special trip we had planned, both sentimental and new, so it was a huge bummer. But hopefully we’ll get to go next year… we have our fingers crossed.
Nothing in the rest of the year was so meticulously arranged as Australia, but we had planned to go to San Sebastian for Alan’s birthday in June, and were/are meant to be (I just don’t know anymore!) going to LA for Thanksgiving in November, where Alan’s brother lives and his parents would have joined/will go, too. We were also meant to go to my cousin’s wedding in Prague in October, but that has had to be postponed for obvious reasons.
As sucky as everything Covid-19 has been, I’ve actually loved many aspects of lockdown. I love working from home, having more time to do admin/house bits, spending more time with my cats and Alan, usually in the garden – basically embracing a slower pace of life.
I often feel so busy and exhausted after being at work, coming back from work, then making dinner, that I don’t feel like I have a lot of time to do much else in the evening, but that’s changed in lockdown. I’ve been able to pick up my guitar again, read a lot more, do more yoga, and get a bunch of gardening and baking done. I often feel at a loss when I don’t have time to partake in hobbies – interests and hobbies are a really essential form of individuality and self-care for me – so to have more time for them has felt very therapeutic.
I am getting antsy and would like some more changes of scenery, though. During lockdown, running has been my way to get out – I was meant to do the Hackney Half Marathon in May, but that’s been cancelled. I carried on doing the training for it anyway as it seemed silly to just stop it completely. I think I’ve now completed three half marathons now, just in my own time and route, nothing official. I’ve gone through phases of feeling great about my running, and more recently feeling down on it. So I hope to be able to keep it up for next year, and improve on my time!
I have a Goodreads challenge to read 30 books this year. My reading intensity goes in waves depending on how busy I am in other parts of my life (pretty logical), so I’m not sure if I’ll make it the whole way to 30. But the main reason for setting the challenge was to make me read more, which I’ve definitely achieved so far.
These are some of the books I’ve enjoyed: Educated by Tara Westover; Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan; Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier; Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo; On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong.
Since the Black Lives Matter movement has come into the spotlight, I’ve been making more of an effort to educate myself and read more BAME authors. Obviously there’s Girl, Woman, Other I just mentioned, and in terms on non-fiction I had read Reni-Eddo Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race a couple of years ago. I’m now reading Natives: Race & Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala, and have more lined up.
I’m not the greatest podcast listener; to be honest, I really struggle with balancing it alongside reading a book and listening to music. It’s also quite difficult to listen to anything that requires my attention throughout the day as a lot of my work needs my focus – it ends in editing very unsuccessfully and missing out on what the podcast has said. Useless!
But I’ve enjoyed getting into a couple more lately. I’ve finally ventured into the true crime genre (I already enjoy TV in this realm, but had never tried it out on the podcast platform) – I sped through the first season of Serial, and have just finished the first season of In the Dark. If you have any suggestions in this area, please do let me know. I’m very behind with the trend so practically anything goes!
I’ve also started listening to Zach Braff and Donald Faison’s Scrubs rewatch podcast, Fake Doctors Real Friends. To be frank, it’s really them just talking bollocks for almost two hours, sometimes with a guest from the cast or crew, but I like hearing their stories and it gives me a laugh. The love they all seem to have for each other is lovely to witness.
Most people who know me know I love my plants. I wouldn’t say I’m the most green-fingered person out there – my knowledge is certainly limited and I’ve not got a perfect track record by any means – but I find it cathartic. I’m definitely better with house plants than garden plants (there are seemingly so many more variables that can affect them!) but I’m giving it all a go.
Outside: I’m most proud of my lupins, my sweet peas and my sunflowers. I’ve also just bought a banana plant (one that can resist a bit of cold come winter) that will get nice and big in time.
Not plant-related, but I’ve finally got a bench for the garden and some seat cushions, so I’m hoping our garden gatherings can be a bit more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
Inside: my two bird of paradise plants (two different varieties) are always a big focus as I cheer them on and am in constant disbelief at the size of the leaves one keeps growing. I’ve got a coconut palm that I hope I can keep alive, and my alocasia zebrina plants (they look like they have zebra/tiger stripes on the stem and their leaves sort of look like arrows) are getting wonderfully out of control. My mum has given me a new hibiscus cutting, which already has some buds on it (I already have one she gave me that has deep red flowers; this new one has white/pink ones). I have a dwarf banana plant inside which arrived in rough shape, but with some TLC is looking less bedraggled.
Without bars and restaurants, we’ve been trying out craft beer deliveries – from our local craft beer shop Hop, Burns and Black, mixed boxes like Beer52, and direct from local breweries like Gipsy Hill Brewery, Brockley Brewery and Canopy; gin deliveries (concocting our own cocktails); baking – see the rainbow cake I made for Alan’s 30th; and local food delivery. Alan and I genuinely have a lot of fun trying this stuff out so it’s been a nice way to spend our time in lockdown.
I’m not sure what will happen for the rest of this year – I just have to accept I won’t know until quite soon beforehand. I’d really like to travel abroad, but I’m unsure how comfortable I feel with it yet.. we’ll see! I certainly hope to be able to go to the US for Thanksgiving, and if not, squeeze in some other trip before the end of the year. For now, it’s home and local life! I’m also planning to get on top of updating the blog with previous travels I haven’t yet posted, like Morocco, another Prague trip and the Andorra ski holiday.