Normally, I round off the year with a month-by-month breakdown of memorable moments. But, much like last year, by the time December rolled round, I couldn’t remember for the life of me what I’d done in January. Or February, for that matter. (Other than pack our life in Cambridge into boxes and move it 300+ miles up the A1, that is. More on that below.) So I decided to take a slightly different approach. I’ve broken the year up by numbers – some big, some small – which together paint a picture of 2021.
2… CITIES LIVED IN. In February, we swapped Cambridge for Edinburgh. We knew we didn’t want to stay in Cambridge (the total absence of hills and extortionate house prices meant it was a non-runner in the long term), but plotting a route out proved more challenging and time-consuming than expected. We got there in the end, though, and Edinburgh feels more like home than Cambridge ever did.
13… BOOKS READ. Which is more than I remember reading, it has to be said, though admittedly most were read pre-PGDE. Gone (for now, at least) are the days of devouring books on my commute, but I’ll take a twenty-minute bike ride over an hour on a train any day of the week. Here are my top picks:
The Salt Path – Raynor Winn. This is so beautifully written you feel as though you’re walking the South West Coast Path with Ray and Moth. More importantly, The Salt Path challenged my assumptions around homelessness by illustrating how the roof over someone’s head can be so cruelly and quickly snatched away. It’s an inspirational story of how two people, who’d lost their home and been confronted with a terminal diagnosis, sought solace in nature and forged a route forward.
A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson. In a nutshell: down-to-earth, very readable, and utterly hilarious. I can’t say I’d be signing up to hike the Appalachian Trail though. Too many trees for my liking…
Lingo – Gaston Dorren. Lingo is a whistle-stop tour of sixty European languages – from the giants (French, Spanish, and the like) to the less widely spoken (Sami, Faroese, Cornish and Manx, to name but a few). I particularly liked the sections at the end of each chapter which highlighted words in that language which English had adopted in some shape or form, and a word or two which the English language is sorely lacking (‘Jólabókaflóð’, or ‘Christmas book flood’, in Icelandic is a word I need in my life!).
3… BOTHIES: Corrour Bothy, Hutchison Memorial Hut and Callater Stables. We camped outside the first two, and slept in the third. My auntie and uncle gave us Geoff Allan’s Scottish Bothy Walks for Christmas, which will come in very handy when planning future hiking trips!
23… MUNROS. We’ve both said we don’t want to end up climbing Munros for the sake of it, but I like keeping a record of which ones we’ve done and when. Highlights: Ben Vorlich, Beinn Mheadoin and Carn a Gheòidh. Honourable mentions go to Braeriach and Bynack More.
2… JABS. (I’ve now had the booster and four days later my arm is still feeling sore. I’d rather that than catching You Know What though.)
3… VARIETIES OF VEG GROWN. Well, two successfully: runner beans and courgettes. I didn’t have any luck with the tomatoes; third time wasn’t the charm.
15… JARS OF JAM. Or thereabouts. We spent an afternoon picking raspberries, strawberries and blackcurrants at Craigie’s PYO, and spent the following day turning them into jars of raspberry, strawberry and mixed berry jam. Whilst visiting my parents, we also gave gooseberry jam a whirl.
1… MOUSE. Spotted in the garden, not the house (phew!).
52… LESSONS TAUGHT. When I graduated, I had no intentions of returning to full-time study. Fast-forward to June 2020, and a Quarter Life Crisis (of sorts) hit. I enjoyed working with authors to develop educational resources, but I missed seeing them in action in the classroom. I fine-tuned my personal statement, requested a reference from my line manager (which at the time felt like the most nerve-wracking bit of the whole process), and then hit submit. I’d forgotten just how tortuous the process was – a solid six months of waiting for invites to interview, waiting for offers, waiting for my fee status to be updated – but it was worth it. I started a PGDE in Secondary French with the University of Edinburgh in August 2021, and am thoroughly enjoying it. If the fifty-two lessons I taught on my first placement taught me anything, though, it’s that teachers learn as much from their students as they teach them.
498.29km… HIKED, predominantly in the Pentland Hills Regional Park, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and the Cairngorms National Park. Some pushed us close to our limits (I’m looking at you Cairn Toul), while others like North Berwick Law were very low-key. I’ve got a handful of adventures from the year just gone still to share, so stay tuned!
30,239m… ELEVATION GAIN, of which 18,370m whilst hiking and 11,559m whilst biking (and a measly 310m from a very small number of runs).
2… JIGSAWS, and a third in progress. Van Gogh’s Starry Night just might be our most challenging 1,000 piece jigsaw yet…
24… BLOG POSTS. Not quite the once-a-fortnight schedule I was aiming for but given I wrote next to nothing for the first five months on the year and very little whilst out on placement, I’ll take that.
Bonne année à tous mes lecteurs ! Thanks for taking the time to visit this little corner of the internet over the past year, and for sharing slices of your adventures with me on your own blogs. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2022.