What 2020 Taught Me

2020 was full of memorable moments. Most weren’t the sort I usually reminisce over – hikes, trips away and the like – but they were memorable moments nonetheless.

Moments that sparked laughter, or joy.

Moments that, in a normal year, would be long since lost to the murky depths of my memory.

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Cambridge Chronicles #6 | September 2020

I was struggling to find words to describe the past few months, to piece together how life as we know it became life as we knew it.

And then, on an episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? of all places, along came this quote:

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

I could, so easily, write off this year. I’ve seen only a handful of friends in person this year; I’ve not seen my parents or sister since Christmas. I’m still living in Cambridge (which is picturesque and rather nice sans touristes, but not somewhere I’ve ever felt especially at home). I’ve not gone on a single hike.

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The Glad Game

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.

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My Bookshelf #14 | June 2020

Blink and you’ll miss it. That’s 2020 for me – and for you, too, I imagine. (I can’t be the only one looking at a sea of blank squares on the calendar and wondering how it’s the end of June already.) Although I’ve not motored through quite as many books as usual, I’m not short of gems to recommend. Dip in – there’s something for everyone on this shelf – and share your recommendations in the comments.

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Alphabet Adventures: An A-Z of Adventures at Home

Life as we know it has changed, almost beyond recognition, in the space of a few short weeks. Staying at home – day in, day out – and only venturing out for food supplies or exercise is strange. Seeing Cambridge sans tourists on said outings is stranger still. Like you, I have good days (which mostly involve baked goods, calls with family and friends and sunshine) and bad days (which tend to feature stress-inducing supermarket trips and runners who don’t seem to know what two metres looks like).

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My Bookshelf #13 | March 2020

What a month it’s been. Exactly a month ago, I was admiring King Tut’s treasures at the Saatchi Gallery. Today, I’ve read a few chapters of Unnatural Causes, been on a rather brisk walk across Grantchester Meadows for my daily dose of exercise and eaten half a packet of Tangfastics. Pre-lockdown, I found some gems in Cambridge’s charity shops: Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild; The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion; Celeste Ng’s début Everything I Never Told You; The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling); and Peter Crouch’s autobiography How to Be a Footballer. I also stocked up on books from Cambridge Central Library, and bought a copy of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd from Heffers (ahead of what turned out to be our first virtual book club). Wherever you are, I hope you’re keeping well. If you’re after some book recommendations to get you through the next few weeks, you’ve come to the right place.

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Cambridge Chronicles #5 | March 2020

Some months flew by; others crawled. (And now? The UK is virtually grinding to a halt and we’re down to our last six loo rolls. Not words I ever thought I’d type, it must be said.) I’ve spent some lovely evenings with work friends, including a delicious (and very reasonably priced) meal at Cookhouse Joe. I followed that particular meal up with a detour to Carnaby Street: their Christmas lights installation, a collaboration with Project Zero, was something else. Closer to home, Laurence and I (finally) went for food at The Blue Ball in Grantchester, saw the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Feast and Fast exhibition, and returned to the ADC Theatre for Footlights Spring Revue 2020: Crossed Wires.

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2019’s Memorable Moments

2019 sped by, and was gone in the blink of an eye. (I’m sure the older I get, the faster time goes.) Chers lecteurs, thank you for taking time out of your day to tune in to the various adventures – on home soil and abroad – I’ve chronicled this past year on La Grenouille Anglaise. Without further ado, here are some of 2019’s most memorable moments.

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My Bookshelf #12 | December 2019

I’ve only read a handful of books over the past three months; fatigue from my (too) long commute set in and had me reaching for the crossword or a copy of Time Out instead of a book, and a string of busy weekends left me with few opportunities to re-stock at the local library. That said, those I did find time to read were well worth the brainpower – and the three titles below are my top picks. If you’ve got any recommendations, I’d love to hear them in the comments. Merry Christmas one and all, and until next year!

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