Lockdown Birthdays for all

I bought Ady a t shirt for his birthday way back last May saying ‘2020 lockdown birthday’. They were quite the fun thing then although I remember thinking when I ordered it in April that there was every chance we would be out of lockdown before his birthday and the joke might fall flat….

Davies’ birthday in September was not actually that lockdown-y. We had Megan here, we’d not long returned from a trip to Ireland and had a trip to Edinburgh planned for a few weeks hence. It was that brief window of thinking things may be returning to some sort of ‘what used to pass for normal’.

That Edinburgh trip never happened. Neither did the surprise Edinburgh weekend in December for Scarlett’s 18th. Because by then she was having a lockdown birthday of her own.

And now I’ve had one too.

My birthday, as is often the case, was a white one. More heavy frost than ice at ground level but with plenty of snow up on the hills around us. It was a gorgeous sunny day with bright blue skies and the sort of crisp clear ness you only get at this time of year.

I was about to leave the house for a birthday swim when a friend messaged to ask if I wanted a socially distanced exercise swim buddy so we arranged a spot to meet and when we arrived we found another two friends having their own socially distanced swim already in the loch. They are much faster, stronger swimmers than us anyway but we did call across the loch to each other and managed distanced helloes on the beach afterwards. That was unexpected and special.

We got home and Scarlett had put up the Birthday Bunting so my birthday was officially declared started and I was presented with my cards and gifts. I got lovely hand made cards from Davies, Scarlett and Megan, along with a couple of nice gins and some lovely chocolates. I also got a new (to me) waterproof camera. A gorgeous notebook arrived from a Rum friend and a swimming friend gave me a sketchbook. All very thoughtfully chosen, given with love and very gratefully received.

In the style of Dr Seuss by Davies
In my happy place by Scarlett
A few of my favourite things from Megan

We made the most of the sunshine by heading out for a walk at a nearby beach. It was frosty and cold but beautiful.

Back at home Ady and I did some rejigging furniture to create a better side table next to where I sit and made a hole to put all the chargers for my phone, chromebook, camera and tracker watch (my Christmas gift) through. I talked to my parents, enjoyed reading all the birthday messages I was sent online and then had a delicious steak dinner.

Followed of course by birthday brownies. The perfect day.

Perhaps if it had not been lockdown we would have gone out for lunch? Maybe my swim would have been with a group of friends instead of just one and we could have hugged or even just stood closer to each other?

There have been times during this circle round the sun between my 46th birthday in January 2020 and this birthday when I was worried that the people I celebrated it with would not even be around – with me here in real life or around me online and by telephone. The sun shone. I was showered with love, good wishes and gin.

I really hope that now all four of us have celebrated a lockdown birthday the circle is complete and Ady’s birthday in May allows for all the things that were missing in our last birthdays. But this one still managed to be a happy one and for that I am truly very grateful.

Solstice, Christmas and New Year

Way back in the summer when we were missing seeing friends Scarlett and I hatched a plan to hold a festive open house at some point in the week before Christmas, possibly on the solstice. We thought we would invite all our new local friends and work mates to come to our house for festive food and drink. We had plans for mulled wine, nice music, maybe a fire pit as it grew dark…

I’ve thought of her and I talking about that plan several times in the last few weeks. Smiling a little at our naeivity in believing back in the summer that life would have returned to any sort of normal just yet, feeling happy that we had such a long prospective guest list given we’d only been here just over a year when we were talking about our plans, feeling amused that our one big wish really once we moved here and suddenly had all this space was to be hosts as often as possible and how the very window when that all started to fall in to place became the time it was simply not something we could do.

In fact the week before Christmas was actually slightly fraught. A computer problem with our car which had baffled two local garages and a local friend with some technical knowledge and a whizzy gismo which we’d hoped would if not fix it then at least diagnose it had all failed. So with an MOT looming which would fail with this particular dash board warning flashing up we had taken the car to the nearest specialist dealer in early December. Which happens to be nearly 100 miles away, so the best part of a 200 mile round trip – and six hours driving. We had driven all the way there, sat in the showroom with high hopes of a speedy fix only to be quoted a very large sum and told they didn’t have the part in stock so we’d need to come back the following week.

Which we did, having reframed the situation as at least something out of our hands and to be made the best of. So we managed to do some Christmas shopping while in the city, treated ourselves to lunch and marvelled over the last time just the two of us would have been out doing Christmas shopping, realising it would have been 21 years ago before Davies was born. Then we got a phone call to say the car had not been fixed and it was going to need further investigation and would we be prepared to take a courtesy car home instead. The following week we were told the new part had been ordered but was not expected to arrive until February!!! Then, in the style of a Christmas miracle we had another phonecall to say they had sourced the part, fitted it, MOTd the car and were able to deliver part way down to us if we could meet them.

Again, we will gloss over the massive amount of money all of this cost and focus on having gotten our car back months earlier than anticipated. By happy coincidence a Rum friend I had arranged to meet on Solstice day as she was bringing her children to the mainland to see Father Christmas had left Rum early due to likely ferry cancellations and was available to meet up when the car was being delivered. So we managed to make that trip into town a worthwhile one too – even more so because Ady came so I was able to drink cocktails with my friend over lunch because he was happy to drive me home again. Silver linings…..

Which freed us up to celebrate solstice in our usual way with an outside fire and some candlelit exchanges of how nature has blessed us this year. I had been up at first light hoping to see the sunrise but it had been a cloudy start to the day, my solstice swim was also cloudy but as the sky grew dark for the longest night we were suddenly treated to a lovely colourful sunset as the sky cleared, the moon rose and we were able to see stars and the great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter. We had the telescope out to see the craters on the moon and it was a lovely evening.

Seeing in the light – mug of tea at sunrise
Seeing out the light – bonfire, sparklers and candlelit blessings at sunset

Ady’s work rota was very well timed with his four days on, four days off pattern meaning he had 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th December off so we enjoyed a lovely Christmas Eve making and decorating Christmas crackers, watching films and eating nice food.

Christmas Day itself was a wet day but we managed a dash outside in our Christmas jumpers to snap our traditional photos. We completed a 1000 piece Christmas themed jigsaw puzzle, spoke to family on video call and ate even more lovely food.

In line with children not being children any more, ecological and environmental conscience and matching wants to needs the pile of gifts under the tree this year was probably the smallest ever. Wrapped in fabric (which was folded back up again afterwards for using again next year, and the year after that…) and mostly items to be consumed, used up or otherwise sustainable.

New Years Eve was spent gathered watching the various TV seeing in of the new year including Hogmanay with Susan Calman, which was very exciting because we were part of the virtual audience for it when it was recorded a short while ago. It had been great fun celebrating New Year slightly early as part of around 100 other audience members all via zoom. Everyone had been told to bring along something to toast the new year in with and there was proper Auld Lang Syne dancing and cheers-ing at ‘midnight’. We saw Deacon Blue and Amy McDonald sing and various Scottish celebrities were either in the studio or on zoom call in too including Karen Gillan and the winner of GBBO. We really enjoyed the rewatching and were delighted to spot ourselves as part of the giant mosaic audience too.

We also watched the fireworks / drone display at midnight on BBC which never fails to make me slightly teary but this year really had me dripping into my prosecco. What a year 2020 was eh? So, so many memorable moments, good, bad, remarkable, amazing and awful.

New Years Day marks both my parents wedding anniversary -49 years for them this year and Davies and Megan’s anniversary of being a couple – 2 years for them this year.

I saw off the slightly woolly remnants of seeing in the new year with a bracing swim. It had not been arranged as a group swim like we did last year when there was a large number of us, piped in to the water and retiring to the local pub for hot soup afterwards this year. But around 8 of us were there at the same time, a few family members were also around and so a socially distanced swim (very easy in a great big loch) happened with us circling the boat moored in the loch where someone lives, so he came out to his deck to wish us all happy new year and then rowed to shore to join us for soup and cake around a small bonfire on the beach afterwards. A couple of passing walkers called over to say Happy New Year and chat including a lovely older gentleman who said it was the first time he had talked to people in weeks and it had made his Christmas. I’m certainly not advocating general socialising but I could also very much see the huge benefits which this rather impromptu gathering generated with everyone outside and very much keeping their distance from each other in the sunshine.

Who knows what 2021 has in store for us. I suspect nothing any less memorable than 2020, but hopefully with the balance tipped further towards good things. Happy New Year to all our readers.

Bad, Good, Learned in 2020 and hopes for 2021.

2020 eh- that’ll be a year no one ever forgets won’t it?!

In the very early part of the year we managed fairly usual stuff – a trip to London to take in a show, meeting up with friends and visiting family, going to an award winning restaurant and generally gallivanting. We sort of expected that to set the tone for the year and had a full calendar of events booked with theatre tickets for Glasgow, trips to Northern Ireland, visits from family, cinema trips, new volunteering opportunities, trans-Atlantic travel for Davies and further round the UK travel for Davies and Megan already booked in along with semi made plans for other adventures. By March it was clear that few if any of those things would happen and the world grew smaller with every new press conference or breaking news story.
Plans were postponed, put off again and finally cancelled. In so many areas we felt educated, enlightened and in possession of ever more horrifying yet informed facts. In others we felt less and less in control and more suspicious of what we were being told. In so many ways we came to realise and understand that what a bit of knowledge really offers is a window on quite how ignorant you are…
There were glimmers of grabbing chances where we could – a snatched trip to Northern Ireland, a masked up visit to a half empty cinema, Megan managing to spend half of this year here despite her being able to leave looking quite uncertain (not a problem as far as we’re concerned, the home office and her visitors stay restrictions may prove to disagree…).

Many people have wished this year away. I am disinclined to ever wish away what you have right now just in case what follows is even worse. I am also aware that nothing is forever. This too will pass. Meanwhile 2020 was not just an ordeal to have lived through, it was also a year of our stories, our history, our lives. Despite what didn’t happen and maybe because of what did we emerge in to 2021 having had our bad times, our good times, things we learned and our hopes for what the coming year may bring us. Here they are:


* It has been really hard to see how selfish some people have been during a crisis. For example the panic buying during the early lockdown. While I understand that people are trying to protect their family and acting like that because they are scared it is still disappointing to see that people think about themselves and don’t consider others.
* Although we have a good life and go to lots of cool places it’s been really boring not seeing friends and making plans. We are used to a quiet life with lots of interesting things planned to liven it up. Not being able to do things like tours when we go to cool places, or meet up with others has been really hard.
* We didn’t manage to get to Rum at all this year. While Rum is not my home any more it still feels somewhere I am closely connected to having lived half my life there. I have things I want to get from the croft but also I want to spend time there. Covid / boat schedules / not endangering people from the island meant we didn’t get there at all in 2020.
* I’ve been disappointed and angry this year in how our government have treated us. When Dominic Cummings broke all the rules and so many people wrote to their MPs we were basically told to be quiet by the prime minister. To realise that the people in charge don’t respect us, won’t properly look after us and we don’t have much power to change that is hard to take. Also watching other authority figures / people in power in other countries – for example the police in the US it has been really obvious that there is such abuse of power and people feel they are better than others just because they have a badge or job title.

* While I talked about people being selfish during lockdown we also saw a large amount of people being selfless and going out of their way to help others, even if it put themselves at risk.
*Dear Evan Hansen – the stage show in London we saw in January. It feels so much longer ago than 2020! It was an amazing show and we saw it with amazing people, the whole trip was a lot of fun.
*Getting Luna cat. My Mum has wanted another cat for ages and it’s always lovely to have another pet. Although Luna has a way to go before she is totally settled in it is clear she will be a part of our family.
* Enjoying my Mum being free to hang out during lockdown. Although it was sad to have so many cancelled plans we were also able to make last minute decisions to go and explore locally. We did loads of cool walks together.
* I feel this has been the year that environmental stuff has really started to come into people’s awareness. One because people had wildlife and nature more in front of them with quieter roads, less pollution and so on and another because of David Attenborough’s work. I hope that people who had been so used to living busy lives in big cities may not be so prepared to go back to those lives now having stopped for a while this year.
* My birthday video. Although it was sad not to spend time with far away family and friends the video they all made me for my 18th was amazing and helped make up for not being together in person.
* I participated in the Inktober challenge this year, doing a piece of art every day in October following a prompt. Mummy and Davies did it too and it was fun doing it alongside others and comparing art work with them.

* I learned so much about civil rights and racism this year. As a white person, living in the western world I was previously blind to how much of an issue it is.
* I have watched loads and loads of documentaries this year, on TV channels like Smithsonian, Yesterday and True Crime. Many of them were from all around the world and I have learned so much about nature, history, geography, architecture, the world, crime solving and how that actually works in reality rather than dramatised shows.
* I’ve done a lot of online learning as a volunteer for the Cats Protection League. While I am a new volunteer and have not done much other than training yet I have covered a lot in the training about cat behaviour, infection control and working with animals in those conditions.
* Daddy and I set up a new satellite dish and box which meant lots of working out the tuning and using new technology I’d not done anything with before.
* About American electoral elections. How different they are from the UK but also the various details around them.

Hopes for 2021:
* spend more time with my friend Elinor – either online (always with hopes for better internet) or in person when pandemic related safety allows.
* I hope that the new awareness of environmental issues that people have translates into real change rather than a flash of intentions before people return to their old normal.
* I’d like to see more stage shows. We managed one this year back in January but other things we had planned were cancelled. I hope in 2021 we are able to go back to the theatre again.

Special bonus wish for 2021 – I’d like to visit somewhere not in the UK, although I don’t want to use air travel, so it would need to be by boat. I’d like to see more wildlife that we don’t have in the UK.


* My experience at border control coming to the UK in July. It was probably the worst thing I went through this whole year.
* Having anxiety surrounding Coronavirus in general. In the very beginning I was incredibly worried about it.
* A lot of things that were going well for me early in 2020 all stopped due to the pandemic. Examples include socialising at college, going to the gym and going to the library all felt like achievements I was doing well with but were taken away with lockdown.
* I feel that I still have aspects of my anxiety which hold me back. Things that I wish I was not afraid of but still am even though I have been trying to work on those.
* I had lots of plans for this year and being stuck not able to go to places has meant so many of them have not happened.

* Being stuck at home has meant I have gotten into lots of new TV shows and video games. When so many things were taken away this year it was nice to still have new fun things eg The Umbrella Academy, The Good Place, Hannibal for TV and Animal Crossing and Smash Bros for games which are also multi player games which I can play with friends.
* That I got to stay here in the UK with the Goddards for such a long stay. Early in the year it seemed like I might not get here at all but I have been here since July.
* I feel that I have made good use of the extra free time I have had this year when I might have been studying or having a job to think more about my future and what I might want to do.
* A highlight of this year was early in 2020 when I was in a Philosophy club at school where there were really good tutors and interesting people. I really enjoyed spending time talking about deep topics and the thinking around it. I got close to the professor who taught and led the club and was doing really well in school.
* Our trip to Northern Ireland in August was one of the biggest adventures I have had this year. Everything there was fun and new and a really good experience.

* I have been with Davies for 2 years now and learned more about making a long term relationship work. I’ve never been with anyone for this long and working through difficult patches and working out how to deal with things has been new.
* Spending a long time here has taught me lots about how another family does things and the ways in which they operate differently. My family is very religious so a lot of our house revolves around religion so it has been interesting to stay somewhere that is not the case. My family also does not eat together every day so that has been nice to be a part of too.
*I have learned a huge amount about political topics – how black people are treated, the Black Lives Matter also led to lots of other civil rights and minority groups, how the pandemic was managed. Also about presidential elections – it was my first year voting anyway but this year was a very educational one for everyone watching the US elections.
*I have done quite a bit of independent learning and research this year on world history and geography, ancient history, different languages and while I have mostly just touched on lots of subjects I am really enjoying learning more. My grandfather is an American History teacher so it has been funny following a bit in his footsteps.
* This follows on to further learning about my own ancestry after I did a DNA test last year which gave me some ideas about my genes. I did some looking at my own family history and family tree and started putting together stories of the people who were my ancestors.

* I have a few hobbies that I think I would like to do and I would like to try and at least see whether I want to do them. They include crochet, ukulele and cooking.
* I hope that after Biden takes office in the US things will improve. Obviously the Coronavirus but also that people begin to do things better in the US and while I sincerely hope that happens in my life time I really hope I start to see change in the coming year. I also hope that maybe can be part of that change. This includes subjects like BLM, corona vaccine and environmental issues. It is good to see more awareness of this generally including in places like social media and I hope to play my part.
* I really want to improve my communication and confidence in talking to others. I also want to carry on with self improvement in general.

Special bonus wish for 2021 – I really want Davies to come to America so I can show it to him. I also really want to see more of the UK with Davies too.


* Disrupted plans generally due to Covid – instantly springing to mind are: my friend Ben visiting in April, going to the US in the summer, a trip to Edinburgh in October, a trip to the south during the summer.
* The stall on my new business. The stresses around the phone calls and meetings with the job centre, creating art I don’t have my heart in and not having opportunities to sell art.
* I have not achieved or accomplished all of the things I had hoped and planned to. While some of them were not possible due to the pandemic others were things within my own control.

* Megan got here at all and that she has been here for so long. It’s nice having her here, although we have not managed to do the travelling and exploring we had hoped and planned we have been able to spend all this time together.
* The London trip in January – the show (Dear Evan Hansen) was good. I always love London and it’s good to visit and see what has changed.
*The Northern Ireland trip in August – seeing friends, taking Megan there.
* I got another excellent result for my studying in 2020 with a distinction again for a second year. The module I began in 2020 for this year is really interesting content too.
* I have done more art this year than have done in previous years. I’ve bought new art materials and done lots of experimenting with them, I did Inktober in 2020 and I have filled 5 sketch pads with my art.

* In early 2020 I bought an app to help me learn the keyboard and spent a lot of time practising. While I have not been spending as much time in the second half of the year I have retained the skills and got some basic music reading .
* US election process and politics in America and the UK with covid and Brexit. I increased my understanding of other political ideals such as communism, democracies etc.
* Black Lives Matter, racism and civil rights. I learned a lot online and from the general coverage on the news coverage of the riots.
* I learned quite a bit about religion this year. While I would always consider myself an atheist anyway I now feel that I have learned enough to understand why and be able to explain it, to myself and others.
* I have learnt a lot from my studying obviously. I have learned the actual content but also more about what areas I may want to study further or eventually look at careers in.

Hopes for 2021:
* I want to do more art this year.
* I really enjoyed working on Scarlett’s birthday video and would like to do more of that this year and post videos to my youtube account.
* To pick back up on the keyboard learning and carry on improving with that.
* I hope to continue doing well with my studying.
* I want to revisit my business plan and tweak it more towards the types of art I really enjoy doing and the markets which exist for making money from them.

Special bonus hope for 2021 – to travel with Megan, either in the UK, the US or both.


* Not seeing family or friends for the last 9 months and the general restrictions caused by the pandemic.
* We have had to spend a massive amount of money on our car in the last part of 2020. It was frustrating not to be able to sort it out ourselves as we have previously managed with technical or mechanical things in our Rum life. Despite best efforts this was beyond us (and ended up being beyond several mechanics too to be fair!).
* Christmas 2020 was very special because we got to make the absolute most of our new mainland life with Christmas parties, socialising and special events. I was really looking forward to doing that again, particularly as we are even more settled here now.
* General cancelled events that we had planned and were not able to go to.
* That we didn’t get over to Rum, both because I miss it but also because there are things I would like to bring away to here.

* Visiting Pitch restaurant in February. It was my Christmas present from Nic and was a surprise. It was a real treat to go, to meet Kenny Tutt (the owner, and winner of Masterchef 2019) and felt even more special as the world locked down just weeks afterwards.
* The London trip to see Dear Evan Hansen. The story of the show was so powerful and the acting was really good. We had super cheap seats with restricted viewing right up in the very highest level which almost made it more special.
* Nic and I went to Inverness (mostly related to the expensive car saga mentioned before but still…) just the two of us and did Christmas shopping, had lunch out and really enjoyed being able to be together just the two of us and meander around enjoying the day.
* My job. While it’s been a crazy year to start working in social care and for the NHS I absolutely love my job. I am proud to be part of the organisation, I enjoy getting to know my clients and helping and I am also proud of myself in less than a year to feel confident in dealing with what ever situation happens to crop up next.
* I loved our lives on Rum and I will be forever pleased we did that. However I also love the contrast of how we live now. I love my daily baths, I love having heating and power and I love going outside to put the chickens away in the evening and looking back into the house to see the lights on and people sitting or busy in the various rooms of the house.
* Despite the lack of real life mixing and mingling this year I really feel we have become part of our local community. People know us and often chat about Nic swimming or her writing in the paper, I regularly drive to work waving at numerous people as I pass them and it feels as though we have made friends here.
* I have invested in lots of smart tech for the house to control plugs, lights and music. I really enjoy tinkering about with it. I also set up our TV satellite with Scarlett and that gave me a real sense of pride.
* To have gotten to a secure financial place where we could choose to give up some of the extra jobs we were doing.

* I have obviously learned a huge amount of new skills and lessons through my job, many of which will be transferable skills to take with me elsewhere if we decided to move on again.
* As a result of my job I have really familiarised myself with the local area and gotten to know where we live now in a way I had not before.
* From a second trip to a stage show I have learned that actually I really love them. I would have previously said I would never be interested in something like that. I am very visual and enjoy TV and film with all the special effects but being introduced to a whole new genre of entertainment and being blown away by how much I enjoyed it has been a big new thing to embrace and enjoy.

Hopes for 2021:
* To have a photograph published somewhere.
* To have a go at home brewing.
* To get disciplined at studying for a qualification related to my job.
* To have another meal at a swanky restaurant.
* To get over to Rum and collect things I want here.

Special bonus wish for 2021 – to visit the arctic circle.


* It is a nearly a year since I saw my parents. Despite having spent a decade living far from them I still rely quite heavily on having real life time with them at least twice a year. We annoy each other, are quickly reminded of what we dislike about intensive time in each others company and just as speedily forgive, forget and are comfortable with each other again. These are the people who made me, not being able to hug them, particularly in such difficult times is incredibly difficult to bear. My parents are in a vulnerable category for the virus, my Mum had it fairly on in lockdown which leads me to hope my Dad did too and they are therefore carrying immunity. Nothing I can find assures me of this though and being 600 miles away and unable to do anything either on a practical or actual level to change that is hard to deal with. It is by far the toughest personal bit for me of this year.
* I miss people generally. While we have managed to have friends to stay and to visit with people during allowed moments of this year I have still very much missed actual time spent in the company of others. Even the allowed times spent with friends, like my regular swims are hard for feeling that a hug or a touch of a hand is dangerous when it is so much of how I usually interact with my fellow humans.
* I dislike having an empty calendar for the year ahead – and for so much of the year just gone. I love having loose plans and vague notions of things we are going to do and firming them up. I like having proper plans and things to look forward to. I like being able to make the most of all the opportunities life offers no matter what our circumstances. 2020 has allowed for very little of that. I had such great hopes for Davies and Megan’s big summer of travel, such plans for celebrating Scarlett’s 18th birthday with surprise trips and meet ups with friends. Having to dismantle and cancel and pack away things I had been hugging to myself as things to look forward to was hard.
* I would echo what the others have said about being sad not to have got to Rum this year. It was even harder to see such a spotlight on the island with the new families moving there and reading about them discovering their new home while we have not been able to get over and spend any time somewhere that still feels at least partly home to us.

* It would be really easy to focus on what has been hard about 2020, because certainly a whole lot of it was very hard. However I spent a few hours sorting through online photos of the year while making photo calendars for my parents, for Davies & Megan, and for Scarlett as Christmas gifts. Then for a general Goddard family calendar month by month for our lounge as I always do. For not one single month did I struggle to find photos which made me smile. I have my children and Megan here with us and another whole year of memories and happy times spent with them. One of my biggest skills I think is in making the best of where I happen to be right now and that proved a very useful skill in 2020. I am pleased to have seen how it had rubbed off on the rest of my family too.
* Art. Both Davies and Scarlett have mentioned Inktober and I also participated in that and really enjoyed it. It came after joining in with a swimming related art challenge where a whole group of wild swimmers collected together to create collaborative sketchbooks which we contributed to and passed on, finally getting a book which contained the collective art work of 10 people. I became friends with the people above and below me in the exchange, developed new art skills and really enjoyed the challenge. I also ended up doing a more or less daily shell art creation on the beach near our house during the first lockdown when I would gather shells and pebbles and create a new piece of ephemeral art each day and photograph it. The photos and the musings surrounding the art remain but the art itself was washed away with the moving tides. I got a huge amount out of that project.
* Swimming continues to be a huge highlight of my life – both in terms of the connections it has given me to local real life friends and wider virtual swimming community friends but also the connection to the natural world and the more or less daily pause button getting in the loch allows on other world stuff for me. I have participated in various challenges and continue to be in the water, currently often breaking through ice to do so, most days.
* This year could have been dire for us as having only been back on the mainland for a year when lockdown hit all of the various casual, self employed and zero hour contract work we had been doing came to an abrupt end. Holiday cottage cleaning, youth work, community centre supervising and freelance writing for the local paper all ceased more or less straight away. Fortunately Ady had just begun a proper contracted post with the NHS and a brief burst of work with the paper for me followed by a couple of months of average zero hour contract work on the furlough scheme for me got us through the early half of the year. Shortly afterwards two of the voluntary jobs I had been doing translated into paid opportunities and are currently my main work. While circumstances were kind I am also prepared to take some credit for having been both canny and skilled at what I was doing for nothing in encouraging people to value it sufficiently to start paying me for it.
* I mentioned it before in our bad, good, learned of lockdown but being part of the Great British Home Chorus and contributing to the CD which was released is also a big highlight of my 2020.

* I joined the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) in the middle of this year and signed up for a whole range of training courses with them. Throughout September, October and November I was doing at least one course most weeks and I learned a huge amount. I learned many useful skills and tips and help with direction on freelance writing work. I also learned some of the things I already know and the value of them.
* As a Home Educator I have long since learned that we never stop learning and this year has been no different in offering myriad opportunities to continue my education. My paid work has taken me to learning more about mental health issues, world issues have led me to learning more about civil rights, body positivity and world politics, my now adult children continue to teach me about environmental issues, gender politics and more. I have consciously acknowledged and owned my ignorance in some areas and strived to educate myself further with reading books, seeking out alternative views, opinions and lifestyles and being better at shutting up and listening as well as understanding when it’s not about me and when it really is and how to step up to that.
* Not a surprise at all but in creating a growing area here in our garden I learned a whole new list of lessons about growing food in new circumstances. Challenges around soil type, irrigation, pest control were all new and different again to what I had faced on our Sussex allotment and our Rum croft. I will take those lessons forward into next year and see what I can improve with that knowledge over and above the classic ‘what you have learned from growing things in 2020 was simply what 2020 offered in terms of growing things’.

Hopes for 2021:
* I am looking forward to seeing my parents, my brother and his son, my sister in law and her children and hugging them. I hope it is not too long before I am able to do that.
* I hope Davies and Scarlett are able to make their way further into their young adult worlds and fledgling lives with their independent hopes and dreams.
* I would love to have a more productive growing season here in the garden and produce more crops this year.
* I want to progress further with my writing. I am working with a mentor and have plans for a book. While it would be amazing to hold a printed copy of that book in my hand at this stage I will say that my hope is to finish writing that book and have someone else at least read it.
* I would like to complete my current swimming challenge (which is a winter related one with specific monthly distances) and to have achieved further progress with my swimming in terms of challenges related to distance / time / temperature / frequency (I’m being vague because none of the swims I would usually have signed up to attempt have been announced due to uncertainty about what 2021 has in store – all of the 2020 swims I signed up to complete were cancelled).

Special bonus wish – last year I wished for some sort of noteworthy positive adventure whether it was a trip or wildlife encounter. With all of the others citing visits to different continents I would echo them in hoping that some sort of exciting travel adventure presents itself this year.