2020 hey… ?
It’s always fun to look back on a year and see what I got up to. This year has definitely been about 90% more sedate than the last few (see 2019 and 2018 here). I still managed to get in two trips abroad, in January, and have thanked my lucky stars for them ever since.
2020 has given me time to sit back and evaluate my work, and my processes. Without jetting off around the world I’ve had the time to set up my new site, Day Out in England, which is doing better than I imagined (!) and I’m hopeful for the potential traffic being allowed out in 2021 will bring.
This year has given me time to look over the 900 posts on this blog and delete about 200. I’ve learned so much about blogging (even after 9 years!), and I’ve had the time to explore more of the UK, and even more of my adopted home county of Hampshire too.
I look back and I’ve definitely got off very lightly with 2020. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster at the time but I only have to look around to see people a lot worse off than myself. For me, it’s been… ok.
In travel thanks to the virus I missed out on planned trips to Cornwall, to the Scilly Isles, to Granada and Albania, to the Lake District, to Slovenia and to Jersey too – if it’d been previous years it would’ve been a lot more though.
The worst part has been not being able to physically see friends and family – I haven’t seen my brother and sister in law since last Christmas. This has been such a unique year to be alive and we’ll be talking about it for years to come, I’m sure. And suffering the consequences.
The way we work and travel is changed forever – it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in 2021.
2020 in Blogging
You’d think with nowhere to travel to I would’ve written less, but this post marks my 100th on the site THIS YEAR. Crazy when you consider I’ve almost done 100 on Day Out in England too.
I’ve definitely worked too hard this year!
One of my sanctuaries this year has been working on my blog though. Honestly, I don’t know what I would’ve done with the hours if I didn’t have all these words to write and photos to organise.
I get lost in it.
I’ve had a few wobbles this year, wondering whether I should get a job for someone else. I even had an interview for a role at Portsmouth University – but the whole process showed me that blogging is exactly what I want to do, and where I want to be right now.
It’s been hard to see my blog flat line in numbers.
I’ve been working on this for almost nine years now, and so to be on 70% LESS traffic than last year is sad. At one point I was earning $2 a day on here. I need Asian travel and festivals to come back!
My favourite posts this year have been on my 2020 adventures – Japan at the start of the year, my September road trip to the Outer Hebrides with Helen, and my Norfolk road trip with Ben, and our amazing Dorset weekend too.
I went to three countries in 2020, all of which I’d been to before – Japan, Bulgaria and Scotland.
I’ve been relatively quiet on social media this year, if I haven’t been travelling. Travel has obviously been quite a contentious issue this year, and I just found for my own sanity it was better for me not to see people flouting the rules on Instagram, and no one needed to see me sitting around my house for the 15th day running.
Next year I’ll be all over that Instagram with fun adventures though!
My 2020 in Travels and Adventures
JANUARY: Skiing in Bulgaria
First up in my 2020 monthly countdown, one of two abroad trips I managed this year – BULGARIA. Very lucky, I know.
I actually missed my flight out and ended up spending the night in Gatwick Airport, in Jamie’s deli. Ready for the next one at 5am. Not a good start to a trip.
Danflyingsolo and I were invited by @snomads to experience their budget skiing holidays. We had a really fun week in the mountains. It was boozey – that rakia is tough. As well as skiing we made the most of the apres, went bowling, sang karaoke to all of Bansko (badly), and made some fun friends.
It was Dan’s first time skiing, and he didn’t *quite* take to it. I’ve been many times but for some reason kept freaking out on the mountain, fearing the height and being by myself. I vowed to do more things that scared me in 2020, and get back to some brave solo adventures.
LITTLE DID I KNOW what the year had in store…
FEBRUARY: Loving Japan
I was just back from an amazing trip in Japan. Just before I went a friend sent me a message to be careful of this new virus spreading from China. I literally dismissed the text as soon as it came through and barely paid it any attention.
By the time I came home from the 10-day trip, the news was FULL of it. It’d been Chinese New Year while I was in Japan, which we now know was a super spread weekend.
This ended up being my last trip of the year – so glad it was such an amazing one to one of my favourite countries. I spent the week in the Kansai region and stayed the night in a temple, tried paper making and sweets making, ate some fabulous Japanese food, went to Hogwarts, had my own private onsen, tried Kobe beef, and went up the impressive Harukas 300 skyscraper in Osaka.
Now I look back and wish I’d stayed longer, but, who knows what could’ve happened. This was to be my last ‘normal’ trip for god knows how long. Out with a bang!
In February I also went to one of the best parties I’ve ever been to on the new Virgin cruise ship, fitted in a day in Windsor and went to a travel conference in London. Seems mad when I look back that we were just expecting the virus for a few months and we’d be back to travelling like normal….
MARCH: Cornwall and the Scilly Isles CANCELLED
March 2020 was meant to be great.
It started with a wonderful weekend in the Cotswolds with Ben. We found a great deal at the hotels and loved road tripping around. It totally lived up the hype.
The last week was meant to be spent in Cornwall with my family for Mother’s Day, with my brother and sister in law from Barcelona, and then a week in the Scilly Isles by myself. But, it didn’t happen. We had an amazing house lined up, and held out right till the last minute. But it felt too dangerous to go down, and my brother’s flights were cancelled anyway.
So the day before (the 21st) we cancelled. And the 23rd we were on lockdown in England. We made the right decision, but I’m so gutted we didn’t get to do the trip.
By the end of the month I was desperately trying to find toilet roll, manically digging up my garden and playing my flute out of my office window a la Italy. Such a vibe.
APRIL: ZOOM, ZOOM, ZOOM (and my garden)
April was Zoom quizzes, Zoom chats, being glued to the news, earning $2 a day from my blog and endless Southsea beach walks. I woke up one day after a particularly boozey quiz the night before and just cried in the kitchen to Ben. WTAF was happening?
I threw myself into doing my garden, by myself. I smashed down brick walls, dug out bags and bags of soil, arranged to give them away on Marketplace, and then sourced hard to come by sand. Socially distanced queueing outside B&Q will definitely be a lockdown memory for me.
The weather was stunning in Southsea though and the gins and beers were going down a little too easily. I read somewhere people were treating lockdown like an all inclusive holiday at home, and realised that was me.
I felt comparatively lucky to be spending lockdown in such a beautiful part of England. This year has definitely given me a huge appreciation of where I live. Although I do now feel like I’ve walked and cycled EVERY street here.
MAY: Panic and more cancellations
May passed in cutting my own hair, baking cakes, drinking, and panic.
Festivals were getting cancelled. I started to look for new work. My phone is full of screenshots of jobs and courses, which, it turned out I didn’t have the passion to pursue.
Instead, I started to really go for it with my new site. I was determined to get it making money over the summer.
People were slowly starting to emerge again and I have photos of Southsea Beach about three days apart – one so much busier than the other. In fact, Southsea got busier than I’d ever seen it.
JUNE: Paddleboarding in Hampshire
After not seeing my parents since Christmas, we agreed to meet halfway in Oxford and had a boiling hot picnic in a field.
After that I started to really take notice of my eating. I’m all for body positivity but I was starting to put weight on quickly thanks to the drinking, and eating to get through it. I found the Second Nature healthy eating programme and managed to lose almost a stone over the next three months, without having to give up too much. Just what I needed.
2020 was definitely the year I learned to cook!
I bought a paddle board, and a drone, and decided if I couldn’t travel anywhere – they’d be my new hobby. Both turned out to be wonderful investments. I joined the Southsea Paddleboarding Club and got my drone out at any opportunity.
JULY: Day Out in England reaches 16,000+ sessions
In July my second site, Day Out in England, finally took off. I managed to get it on an advertising network, Mediavine, and could start earning a few dollars a day. This was a very big deal for me – it had been the goal when I started and I was thrilled to make it 5 months after setting it up, and two months of working hard on it. So happy and proud of myself!
I whooped in the car park when I read the email I was through. Mediavine gave me such lovely feedback that I actually printed and put in my office.
With the hotels opening, mum and dad came to Southsea for a few days and we went to the New Forest, where I spent as much time as possible over the summer.
AUGUST: Dreamy trip to Dorset & the Co No Working Club
Things *kinda* felt like they were getting back to normal a *bit*, with the Eat Out Help Out (ffs).
Ben and I met Helen and her husband Matt in Glastonbury for a weekend, which was great fun. I mean it did piss it down and we ended up breaking down in Longleat Safari Park on our way back, but hey ho #2020.
In August Ben and I went to Dorset – a real 2020 highlight. We spent a few days exploring Weymouth and West Bay, and went out to Portland Island. We stayed at the fantastic @holidayoutbuildings and they set up an incredible picnic for us. There was so much to do in Dorset, and so many reasons to get my drone up. Now I’m so grateful we managed to get out on an adventure or two.
I also did a day trip over to Ryde, on the Isle of Wight. The Duck Restaurant was just something else.
I started up the ‘Co No Working Club’ which became a lifeline for me. Me and a few other freelancer ladies in Southsea would meet weekly at the pub to take advantage of their three-hour coffee morning for co working deal.
Making more friends in Southsea has definitely been a huge positive from 2020. It was so hard before, what with seeing the world and all.
SEPTEMBER: Norfolk and the Outer Hebrides
I started to panic that the summer was coming to an end and I hadn’t done anything. So, I booked a week camping in Norfolk with Ben, and a week in the Outer Hebrides wild camping with Helen.
SO. GLAD. I. DID. THIS.
Both Norfolk and the Hebrides were stunning. Seriously beautiful. I couldn’t believe the beaches on the Western Isles of Scotland. We had sun but the wind was unreal – not good for camping. My tent is still broken, in the loft.
Neither of us really knew what we were doing in Scotland. It was kinda last minute, but with not many people around, we felt like proper explorers. Loved this trip so much.
OCTOBER: A surprisingly brilliant birthday
My birthday fell well this year, in October. England was fairly open. I went to a drag quiz with @em_luxton and @danflyingsolo – drank far too much, just like old times. I went to London to see friends and go to the Tate, went out with Ben in Portsmouth, and the weekend after even went to Windsor for the weekend with my parents. So lucky and glad we fitted this in.
So many plans fell through this year but I have a lot of gratitude for the fact these ones happened. Did NOT know what November and December had in store!
NOVEMBER: Walked the lockdown away
The second lockdown started in England, but with no limits on exercise, and so I walked the Solent Way, in day trips. I also walked round Hayling Island (see video), did some walks in the South Downs and generally wandered around the coast of Portsmouth.
It was a slow month to start, and then all of a sudden disappeared.
I just worked hard, redecorated my kitchen, and looked forward to Christmas…
DECEMBER: Ending the year on a high, and a new baby
December was so up and down. Like the rest of the country I was pinning everything on spending Christmas with my family. And then Boris cancelled it all.
I don’t blame him for the last minute decision – it had to be done. I blame him and his cronies for the absolute shambles in the months leading up to it. With Brexit and our handling of the virus, I’m not surprised Europe looks down on us right now.
The best housemate I’ve ever had (@em_luxton) moved out. And so it’s just me and Ben with a big lounge I’ve enjoyed updating.
I will miss her but it’s the start of a new exciting chapter in both of our lives – growing up! I predict lots of Dorset for me in 2021, now that I have a free place to stay.
Best moment of 2020 till last though… I’m now an AUNTY!
The little light at the end of the 2020 tunnel was born on 16th Dec, my niece Elianna. Haven’t seen my brother and sister since last Christmas as they live in Barcelona. Not even once during pregnancy 😥. So I can’t wait to see the THREE of them loads in 2021.
In the end Christmas flashed by in zoom calls, epic meal times and worry for everyone and everything… but now it’s done. We have the hope of 2021 on the horizon. It’s got to be better, right?!
2020 is obviously going to be a year that’s talked about for years to come. Films, books and songs will have been written to keep it in our minds forever more. We have lived through a huge historical event that’s going to deeply affect our future paths.
When I look back on this year there has been one calming constant. Just one in a year of craziness, of rollercoasters and ups and downs, of worrying about everyone else – and that’s my boyfriend, Ben. He has remained calm when it’s counted, strong when I’ve needed it, supportive through the work and family worries, and given me space when I needed too.
Even after 3 years together, before this year we hadn’t spent more than a month (maybe even 3 weeks) continuously together, thanks to my work. Now we’ve enjoyed 10 months – bar my week in Scotland – living and breathing the same space.
I know I’ve been tough at times.
But this year has shown many of us that the really important things in life cannot be paid for – travel, going out, restaurants they’re all fun, and nice to haves – but it’s our relationships with ourselves, our partners, friends and family that have shone for me this year.
I feel stronger for the few assurances that this year has given me.
Plans for 2021
Still top of my list of countries to visit is Jordan. Almost booked a trip in the Black Friday sale but chickened out – thankfully, given the travel updates since then. Right now I can’t really imagine travelling, but with the vaccine there’s hope. Although my 0% faith in the government kinda dulls it a bit.
First up on my travels for 2021 though: a trip to Barcelona to see my niece. Can’t wait, just don’t know when I’ll be waiting till.
Also on the horizon:
– I want to go to Cyprus and just lie on a beach for a week.
– My friends and I had a road trip in Albania planned this year so it’d be great to get that in for 2020. I even have hotel credits along the route.
– Maybe a road trip in Slovenia?
– I’m excited to see more of the UK too – both for Day Out in England, and because I want to spend some time in Wales, and see more of Scotland!
– Would love a little road trip round the Netherlands.
And, god, JUST ANYWHERE THAT ISN’T MY HOUSE.
I’m saving for something pretty BIG in March, so we’ll see what happens with that first.
I hope this year hasn’t been too awful for you, and you’ve managed to find something positive in it. Thanks so much for reading my blog in 2020. There’ve definitely been more than a few days where I was ready to give it all up if it wasn’t for the 30% of you that stuck around.
I hope 2021 is a great one for you, and Happy New Year!