The Bloke asked me the other day of my opinions of the last twelve months. Admittedly, my initial thought was to respond with “dumpster fire.” On a general day to day basis it has been tough. Working from home sometimes means that it is difficult not to get into your own head and can feel like you’re spending 24/7 within the same four walls, and during moments of extreme stress there is little escape. However, amidst the lows there have been a number of highs.
The start of 2021 was indeed a dumpster fire of epic proportions. Within the first month The Bloke got covid (this was before the vaccinations were available) and was incredibly ill for weeks while being quarantined upstairs, two family members had heart attacks (both are thankfully doing okay), the roof in the kitchen started caving in after five years of asking the landlord to fix it and when I lost my temper he put our rent up in retaliation. A few weeks later I had to have a tooth removed – a small filling fell out just before covid hit in 2020 and dentists were closed for months – and after a year the tooth became so damaged the only option was to take it out.
It was a worrying time, but everyone is now fine, the landlord eventually got the roof fixed (it took him several months and because he had left it for so long he ended up having to replace the entire thing) and things slowly started to get better. Work was insanely busy, my client list grew massively and I threw myself into it. This was both a high and low point – I’m lucky in that I have generally worked with fantastic people and I’ve had loads of fun creating content for a whole range of subjects, but I’ve also had quite a few less than positive experiences. Being self-employed has many perks, but sometimes you have to take some knocks and learn some lessons. As a result my terms of service is now rather long.
In June my friend got married, a year to the day after postponing her wedding. It was a beautiful day – she looked absolutely stunning and the weather, food and guests were fabulous. I was so pleased for her and her now husband – she had been through so much and was still heavily restricted in what they could and couldn’t do, but it was perfect.
Also in June my mum came to visit. It was the first time that I had seen her in person since March 2020, so I wanted to make it special. I booked us a hotel room in the centre of Birmingham and we spent several days shopping and eating at some of my favourite restaurants, I took her to see the Van Gogh exhibition at the Hippodrome and we drank champagne from the terrace of Marco Pierre White while watching the sunset over over the city. It was so nice just to be able to take things at our own pace while walking round in the glorious weather with no responsibilities or things that we needed to do, even if it was just for a few days.
Varying levels of restrictions were still in place throughout the year, but The Bloke and I still managed to have some lovely day trips. We walked through the lavender fields in the Cotswolds and spent the day at Formby Beach, both on sunny hot days in August. We went on several date nights in Birmingham as things began to open up again, eating at our favourite restaurants and watching comedian Chris Ramsey at Symphony Hall – a gift from our friends when they weren’t able to go. I have lived in Birmingham for 20 years now – I fell in love with the city on my very first visit all those years ago and it’s a love affair that has continued ever since…
In September I celebrated my 40th birthday a few months early with a four-day trip to London. I had planned it much earlier in the year when we were still on lockdown after discovering that hotel prices were insanely cheap, reasoning that the weather in September would be much nicer and the schools would have opened for the autumn term so it was less likely to be busy. It was fabulous – I mapped out a bunch of places that I wanted to visit and we managed to do everything on the list and more. The Bloke spoiled me with afternoon tea at Sketch, we went to Highgate Cemetery, ate french toast at Crome, photographed the views from the Sky Garden and explored areas of the city that we hadn’t visited before.
In November I turned 40. After my trip in September I was expecting it would be a quiet day, but I was spoilt rotten with calls, texts, cards and gifts and The Bloke covered the living room in balloons, bought me pancakes and waited on me hand and foot.
In December I took my mum to York for her birthday, just as Storm Barra decided to hit the UK. Suffice to say, the first day was spent battling our way around York in the middle of gale force winds and driving rain. Thankfully, it had calmed down the next day and we went to Christmas in Narnia at Castle Howard. My mum has always wanted to visit since watching Brideshead Revisited in the 80s, (there are some scenes from Bridgerton filmed there too) and it was completely stunning. Each room had been painstakingly decorated, and the weather was extremely kind to us. After walking round the house we sat by the lake for a while just taking the view in – definitely one of the highlights of the year.
And of course, there has been the theatre. Lots and lots of theatre. After over 500 days since the theatres were closed, they reopened again with a vengeance and The Bloke and I saw 14 shows in just four months, some of which I was seeing for the third and fourth time. My favourites? Rock of Ages (still amazing after the 4th time of seeing it), Rocky Horror Show, Bedknobs and Broomsticks (this really surprised me at just how good it was) and Jersey Boys were definitely at the top of the list, and we finally got to see Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the show that was on stage when lockdown was announced, and it was a joy. Additionally, The Alexandra Theatre gave me the opportunity to interview some of the actors involved in the shows – Drag Queen Ra’Jah O’Hara from Death Drop and Norton James from Jersey Boys.
Some incredible memories, and another reminder of how lucky I am.
The biggest thing that I have missed in 2021 is the blog. The fact that this is my 29th blog post for the entire year says a lot about how little attention I have paid to it – to put it into context, I created 200 posts in 2016. Taking annual leave over Christmas allowed me to get back into it and just write for the fun of it, and I had so much fun. I want to change that next year.
The Bloke and I will be spending tonight doing what we we always do – eating a mini buffet of predominantly fried party food, watching films and waiting for the fireworks.
Happy New Year to you all – I hope 2022 is a good one.
How are you spending new year? let me know in the comments below!
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