Thursday, December 31, 2020

Dear 2020...

Well....... What can you say? What a year, so many things have happened, but first and foremost I want to pay my respects to the ones we have lost this year. Like any other year, we all know someone who has lost someone dear to them. Some of us have even lost someone who was special to them. This year I want to give a mention to Barbara. A beautiful lady who dedicated her life to caring for others, who sadly paid the ultimate price after contracting Covid-19. I remember early morning coffees with her, sitting in the kitchen while her daughter Donna got herself straight after a night out.

Looking back over the rest of the year, it has been a bit of a bitch, but at the same time it was a good one in other ways.

In January images of a massive building site in Wuhan, China went viral. Fighting a new virus, they were building a mega hospital to treat all the patients. Lots of comments about how it would fall down, mixed in with comments of awe at how fast they were building, nothing much more. 

In Feb we travelled to Svalbard for the adventure of a lifetime... Yup, it was that and more. No one thought for one minute that we would end the trip in a SAR Super Puma Helicopter, flying over the baron frozen expanse in the arctic circle, on the way to Longyearbyen Hospital, with Ann having fallen (thrown herself) from a snowmobile, and broken her patella tendon, and patella. 

After an adventure just getting back home, it was time for hospitals, surgery, and the start of a long journey. I took a couple of weeks off work to help at Ann at home, before returning for a week or so. 

When I returned to the office in March, I was there for about a week, the week it all changed. Talk of cases of the new Covid-19 virus starting to spread, the governments of the world all in a spin about what to do. Internal discussions at work soon started, and the letters WFH popped on to the radar of the office based masses for the first time. A week later, a few things moved around, and my home office had popped up. 

It was around this time that daily government press conferences started on TV, and I am sure we were not alone in sitting glued to the TV at 5pm daily to see just how crazy the world was getting.
In April shit was real, numbers sky rocketing. Stay Home, Save Lives, Protect the NHS became the phrase on the tip of everyones tongues.
Determined I was going to end the year fitter than I started it, I begun a health drive.... Didn't last long. Towards the end of April, with the weather improving and Ann back on her feet just about, we decided to get the back garden done. 

As May started, glorious weather arrived, and I for the first time missed being outdoors. I had not ridden a bike outside in forever, but was quite paranoid about coming into contact with people. With that said, the garden work begun, and we met some amazing people, and are very grateful for the work they did. 
I learned how to look after a lawn, and fell in love with cordless garden power tools, and for ready to sell one of my bikes. Marco himself, the original roadie! Went to a great home though.

By June, I finally ventured out on the bike, properly, getting some real miles in. First real ride of my new gravel bike I had bought at the end of 2019. We got a weather station for the back garden, so we could nerd out about the weather, like you do. And finally received the new shed for the back garden, delayed since April due to Covid.  June also saw the front garden get a make over too, and the parking for the cars sorted out once and for all. 
Unrest in Central London as protesters clashed with the police, fed up with the whole "lockdown" situation. 
June was a landmark month, as I sold Bertie the BMW, and waved him off for the last time. 10 years of ownership came to an end, very sad.

July and the weather was still lovely, so more time was spent out on the bike, early morning rides, and some weekends too. I also discovered Step One boxer shorts for the first time, after Ann saw an ad on the TV for them. Masks became a big thing too. For a long time there had been a shortage of the blue disposable ones we are used to seeing in hospitals, but by July many companies were selling all sorts of masks online, and the prices suddenly were not stupid anymore. The must have fashion accessory became.... masks!

In August, I sold my Tacx Neo trainer, what a nightmare that turned out to be, but as a side note, I got to see Jason who I had not seen for months. A socially distanced morning coffee, and it was lovely to do. A cheeky trip to the seaside as restrictions relaxed a little, and "eat out to help out"  became a thing. Definitely realised around this time how much I dislike people (and always have done). We also managed a trip to Wales, a little R&R, but all very different with masks and distancing very much the thing now. We got to watch the RNLI lifeboats launch from Rhyl a couple of times. Anya also caught a squirrel, and killed it (from shock). Bad dog !
Oh, and I got an iPhone 7 !! Told you I would!

September saw Gregg get some new speakers, and while it was being done, me and Ann went for a wander in London, what a ghost town. Last weekend of the summer holidays, and hardly anyone around. Much the same as I had seen a couple of months before whilst riding in town. Bertie was also written off in September, thankfully saving his drivers life in the process. Ann finally started private physio for her knee, and started to see great improvements (Kelly rocks!). And I decided to start a health drive AGAIN!! This time I stuck to it!
More early morning rides into town, and physical exhaustion set in.
I also decided to go full on with a home office set up, as talk started about WFH remaining in place til March/April 2021

By October, the weather was still good, and I was fully submerged in my life of cleaner eating, and working out regularly, trying to find the balance between training and rest. We also decided it was a good time to get the bathroom redone, and did a Facebook consultation to find the most hated colour possible, before choosing to go with it. Poor Lewis had a hell of a week at the plumbing supply shop, as plans changed daily.
I also decided that it was time to get back into running, so started Couch to 5K again, while still following a training regime with the one and only Joe Wickes.

November arrived, and so did the colder mornings, along with an inability to sleep properly. I decided that whatever time I woke up, I would run. Preferring early mornings as less people around, but that became ridiculous, eventually running sometimes at 2am. That said, I got better, and faster, and fell in love with running again. I was losing weight, fast!
Another rare trip into public, this time with Kallik for his jabs, going to the vets was a whole new thing, with distancing, new vet rules etc. Can't say it went well!!
New running trainers, an online session with the RCGP, my first experience with Zoom, and my new wheels from Hunt arriving AT LAST!

And here we are, December. Covid is still very much a thing, I can run properly, and am down to a reasonable weight. Outdoor riding has stopped for now, after one last epic ride in town, and the New Year is upon us, just hours away. Oh and I almost forgot, Ann ordered an electric car!!

So, my take aways from 2020.

1/ Didn't see that coming!
2/ Being anti social is the new normal, I am now "normal"
3/ I love working from home, and am both more flexible and productive.
4/ I still don't like people, but I don't have to see them anymore either, so yay!
5/ 2021 is just a number, more so than most years are "just a new number"

Moving into 2021, I expect very little to change, until at least Spring time, and then will be a very telling time. My main interest is how working will change, or not as my preference would be. I really do like working from home these days. Not only does it make every day life easier, it makes work more bearable from a mental health perspective. I have never thrived in an office, struggle some days being around people, so WFH has been a game changer for me. 
I know it is not for everyone, but sincerely hope that the talk of "the new normal" does indeed include the option to remain working from home. 

Other than that, I really do hope that the world gets a grip on Covid, and those who crave normality, get some sense of that back again. It is not easy for most, being away from the ones they love. I have heard some horror stories of people I know spending months apart from each other, that cannot be easy.
I hope the new normal includes some cleaner incentives. Cycling has blown up around the world this year, roads transformed over night, bikes selling out globally. I never thought there would be a global shortage of bicycles! With supply not expected to return to normal til 2022! Mad, but cool too!

I am not going to end this with Happy New Year, as that is completely unrealistic. Instead I will say what I have said for months now, here's to 2022.. The year things might actually feel a bit more normal again. 

Whatever your take on 2020, try and keep positive, dig through your photos and memories, as I have done for this, and look at the good things, remember the laughter, the silly memes you shared. You were not alone in your anguish, and worry of how things were going. For those of us that made it through the year, lets say thank you to all those who made it possible. The essential workers who kept us moving, fed, healthy, and so much more.

So much that has happened didn't make it into this blog. Those unmentioned are not forgotton. 
Thank you to the small circle of friends who have kept me sane over the past 10 months, with phone calls, socially distanced meetings, and a million lines of messages via WhatsApp etc. Thank you all, I am proud and humbled to call you my friends. 

Happy Friday 1st Jan everyone. Same shit, different date!