Many moons ago, I made a list of places to go, recipes to try, hikes to fill my weekends with and the like. ‘Cairngorms.’ ‘Seven Sisters hike.’ ‘Run a half marathon.’ ‘Bake a vegetable-based cake.’ ‘See Les Misérables.’
I didn’t want 2020 to slip through my fingers.
But 2020 had other ideas.
‘The best laid plans ‘o mice an’ men
Gang aft agley’Robert Burns, To a Mouse
Go awry they did, those plans – as, I’m sure, did many of yours. Ta-ra, Caledonian Sleeper and the Cairngorms. Hello (again), Cambridgeshire – and many-a cycle ride around the fens. So long, South Downs. Plans to relocate went out of the window. Even the oven called it a day on us. (Fortunately, it’s now up and running again after two trips from British Gas.)
But it’s not all bad.
Enter, ‘The Glad Game’. Eleanor H. Porter was on to something when she wrote Pollyanna a little over a century ago: Pollyanna’s game is the precursor to gratitude journals. It’s a way of finding the light amidst the shadows; the silver lining to every cloud. Here are some of the little things that have brightened up the last few months . . .
I ran the Cambridge Half Marathon – and finished it in 02:12:54. Looking back, it’s slightly surreal: the event went ahead and two weeks later #StayHomeSaveLives became our way of life. I forgot all about the impending pandemic and helped myself to a jelly baby halfway round the course from a bowl that hundreds of other sweaty and/or snotty hands had probably dipped into. Oops.
I’ve seen Cambridge without hordes of tourists. And yes, it was utterly bizarre not seeing another soul on King’s Parade in the early days of lockdown.
I’ve read books that have sat on my TBR list for far too long. Books like Unnatural Causes, Hired and The Five. True, I’ve not read as many as I might have on my usual commute – but I’ll take fewer books and more sleep over spending three hours a day in a sardine tin on wheels.
I’ve squirrelled away more money, as I’m not having to buy a season ticket to travel on the aforementioned sardine tin on wheels.
I’ve had more time to try out new recipes, and bake tried-and-tested favourites. I’ve made toffee crisp bites, fridge cakes, coconut slices, a raspberry tart, a courgette cake and a batch of dark chocolate and raspberry brownies. Oh, and a lemon tart. Which I forgot to add sugar to, so it bore more resemblance to a quiche. Whoops. I’ll have to give it another go sometime.
I’ve salvaged this year’s tulip and daffodil bulbs, so I can plant them again in the autumn.
I’ve clocked up over 1,000km on my bike, and explored new pockets of Cambridgeshire, Essex and Suffolk. Although the roads are getting busier again, and some routes are now off-limits, the empty roads at the start of lockdown really helped me gain confidence on my bike.
I’ve discovered heaps of cracking series: Friday Night Dinner (thanks, Vicki). The Americas with Simon Reeve. Thirteen. Rillington Place. The Missing. The Great British Sewing Bee (thanks, Hannah). Quiz (thanks, Lori). Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back. Remarkable Places to Eat (thanks, Mum). Cardinal.
I’ve had great fun doing virtual Brownie meetings. The ‘Be Well’ theme proved surprisingly straightforward to adapt – and ‘Cyclist Says’ (complete with actions for putting on your helmet, signalling, switching on your lights and stopping at lights) proved very popular! We also held a Guinness World Records-themed evening, and challenged the girls to put as many socks on one foot as they could in a minute, balance spoons on their faces and blow a pea as far as they could (amongst other things). We rounded the term off with a (virtual) visit from Essex Reptile Encounters, which was great fun. I especially liked the red-eyed tree frog and the chameleon!
I’ve quizzed. And quizzed. And quizzed. (Haven’t we all?) I’ve learnt lots of new trivia and nuggets of information, and I’ve had great fun compiling my own quiz rounds. (My TFL stations in emojis round was my favourite.) I love watching Only Connect, Pointless, Eggheads, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and the like, so regular quizzes with friends and family were a highlight of lockdown.
I’ve seen more wildlife on my doorstep, from moorhen chicks to muntjac deer. How adorable is this little ball of fluff?
I’ve spotted more Dinky Doors in and around Cambridge.
I’ve done a long-overdue spring clean and cleared out a lot of junk. One (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure – as we’ve discovered over the past few weeks. We’ve passed a TV that channel-hopped by itself, a guitar with a duct-taped hole and a set of blinds we picked up for free but found no use for and various other things to new homes, thanks to Freecycle and Gumtree. There’s nothing like an impending moving date to spur you into action.
I have good days (most of which feature sunshine, fresh air and chats with friends and family) and not-so-good days (most of which involve grey skies and pondering what the future holds), highs and lows.
But I’ve hit the point where I can see light at the end of the tunnel – and the faint outline of an abode which isn’t crawling with ants, woodlice and slugs.