2020 Review

2020 – the year that nobody wants to look back at. Referring to perfect vision as 20/20 will forever carry a certain irony with it now. And let’s be honest, if you were to try and sum up the year with a word or phrase, there isn’t much that’s family-friendly that truly does it justice – other than dumpster fire perhaps, which I’ve seen a lot of people use very accurately.

Granted, 2021 hasn’t started off any better, but that’s because we’re still experiencing the fallout from the damage caused by its unruly predecessor. 2021 has its work cut out trying to repair that, and it will undoubtedly require the assistance of 2022 and beyond to achieve it. However, 2021 is giving us a lot of reason to be hopeful, so there is definitely light at the end of this long, dark tunnel we’ve all been stuck in.

Normally when I do these annual reviews, I just list things month by month. But as time itself shuddered to a halt and stopped making any sense in March, with all the remaining months rolling into one, I’m just going to summarise things in categories instead. That way you can skim through to the sections that interest you most if you don’t want to read everything. The items mentioned here, and many others, have all been discussed in my Favourites posts during the year, which you can read for a lot more detail.

So I hope you enjoy this post and, apart from the first section, I hope it reminds you of some of the more pleasant distractions from the last 12 months!

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October 2020 Favourites

Here we go again. It’s time for Lockdown 2: Electric Avenue, so the cases don’t get higher. It’s not quite as severe as the first one, with education settings remaining open in particular, but there are still very tight restrictions nonetheless. And it had been inevitable for some time. The use of different ‘tiers’ to set regional rules was keeping the infection rate lower than it otherwise would have been, but it wasn’t quite doing enough to drive cases down. So we didn’t have a choice, sadly, as many other countries have found.

There are still lots of reasons to be optimistic, thanks to the ever-improving knowledge about the virus, the better treatments now available, the developments of mass testing, and the very promising results of vaccine trials. But right now we have to be vigilant to get through the winter safely, and it’s important to take care of ourselves and look after our mental health during this time.

I feel relatively calm about it thankfully, as I’m fortunate to have a steady job, priority grocery deliveries, family support, regular contact with friends, blogging projects, local walks, entertainment, etc to help pass the time. And we’ve pre-ordered our meat for Christmas from a farm we like, so that gives us peace of mind too. I still greatly miss seeing friends in person and visiting interesting places of course, nobody wants this. But right now my mother and I feel safe and comfortable, which is the important thing. We’re more prepared than the first time around, when the uncertainty and panic buying made it really difficult to begin with. So we know we can get through it, having done it once already.

But for many other people it’s going to be a lot harder, due to physical and mental health issues, loneliness, loss of employment and business, financial worries, family and domestic problems, the loss of loved ones from the virus or other causes, and so on. So please do help others if you can, either by direct support or by charitable donations, because every little bit helps. And do also sign the petition by Mind calling on the Government to invest in a Winter Mental Health Support Package.

And if you’re in a position where you’re struggling, then my thoughts are with you, and please know that you’re not alone. And don’t be afraid to seek help or support, there’s absolutely no shame in that. If you’re unable or too anxious to talk to someone you know, then there’s lots of advice and support available from the Samaritans, counsellors, mental health charities, other charities relevant to disabilities and health conditions, support groups on social media, etc. I know it’s easier said than done – I’ve had to confide in friends about difficult things in the past, most of us have to at some point in our lives. But having any kind of support network, even if it’s just one person you can reach out and talk to when you need it, is a massive lifeline. Use it.

And to my American friends, who are going through a stressful period with their election right now, we’re all thinking of you too. You’ve had enough to deal with in 2020 on top of the pandemic as it is, without this in the mix as well. At the time of publishing this post, the outcome is still not clear, but I sincerely hope that common sense and decency prevails in the end. Stay safe out there.

But anyway, with all that said and done, let’s get into my latest monthly update, which is what you came here for in the first place. In this post and video for October there’s plenty to mention as usual, including my latest appearance on national radio, my walks out and about, and the various bits of entertainment I’ve been enjoying. None of it’s sponsored or gifted as usual, and I hope you find it interesting!

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September 2020 Favourites

Autumn is now upon us, as is the second wave of the pandemic, and I know this will be a very difficult period for many, just as the whole year has been. So I hope you’re all continuing to keep safe and well as best you can.

For my part I’m still doing fine thus far, and still keeping myself occupied. I’ve been getting out and about more, and have continued to enjoy various forms of entertainment at home. So here’s my latest post and video roundup, in which nothing is sponsored or gifted as usual. I hope you enjoy!

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Lockdown Favourites – Weeks 13-14

Miraculously we’ve made it to the halfway point in the year, although admittedly it feels like a lot more time has passed. Months effectively haven’t existed for a little while now, with all the weeks just blurring into one continuous sequence. If it weren’t for the titles of these posts, I would have lost complete track of how much time had passed since lockdown started!

So I hope you’re all continuing to keep safe and well. Our lockdown measures here in England are going to be eased significantly further from next week, and the government have ended their daily briefings, but as the virus is still in circulation we all have to remain very cautious. There will inevitably be local outbreaks, which may lead to lockdowns of certain towns and cities as and when necessary, but we just have to hope the entire country won’t be shut down again. The most vulnerable people who are still shielding will have to remain indoors until early August, when they can finally go out again if they feel ready to do so.

Regular readers will know that my mother and I have been voluntarily shielding, even though we’re not explicitly required to do so, for my mother’s safety in particular. The last time I went out, to do a little bit of shopping to top-up an online delivery, was just over 7 weeks ago. And that’s only the second such outing I’ve had over the past 14 weeks. Mum hasn’t been out at all since lockdown began.

However, by the time you read this, we will both have been out together to attend my Uncle’s funeral with my Aunt, so I’ll let you know how that went in my next post. I’m also starting to feel that the time is right to venture out for local walks soon for some much-needed exercise, as it does seem to be the case that being outdoors, socially distanced from others, is relatively safe. But I still don’t intend to use public transport for the time being, even though there are safety measures in place for train travel, as the risks still feel too great and there isn’t anywhere that I need to go. Some museums are reopening, but I’d rather continue to wait before I visit them again, and support them online in the meantime.

So that’s where I’m at currently. But now let’s look back at the past couple of weeks in my latest post and video, to see what’s kept me occupied and entertained, none of it sponsored or gifted as usual. I hope you enjoy!

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Lockdown Favourites – Weeks 11-12

Hey there, hope you’re all continuing to keep safe and well! Here in the UK lockdown has been eased further, including the re-opening of non-essential shops, the compulsory use of face coverings on public transport, and the partial re-opening of schools. So some small sense of normality is returning, albeit with lots of distancing and hygiene measures in place.

I’m still happy staying at home though, because I have no compelling reason to go out and my priority is still protecting Mum by not bringing the virus home. Our shopping’s being delivered every week, and despite the new rules public transport is still a no-go, as it’s only for essential journeys and distancing is much harder on a Tube train or bus. So there’s little incentive to go anywhere. Mum and I will be leaving the house to attend my uncle’s funeral with my aunt in a couple of week’s time, and I’m starting to feel more open to having a socially distanced outdoor meeting or picnic with a friend or two, as that appears to be relatively safe having been aware of others who have done it. But that’s about it.

In any case, I’ve been keeping myself very busy lately. I’ve actually been using Zoom for the first time recently, to talk to workmates, some friends and other people I’ll mention a bit later in this post. It’s strange how I didn’t get asked to do any video calls for the first 2 months of lockdown, then had one last month, followed by loads in June, about half of which are on Zoom. It’ll probably go quiet again in July!

And I’m also busy on my blog too. Hopefully you’ve already seen my Def Leppard – London To Vegas Unboxing, which I produced after they very kindly set me a copy of the box set to review. But if you haven’t seen it yet, do go and check it out. It’s the first time I’ve ever been sent a product to review, and I had no hesitation in accepting the offer as it’s from one of my favourite bands! I also have some other blog posts I’m working on too, by which I mean a couple of big series that should guarantee me regular posts over the summer and beyond. So I’m in no danger of running out of content just yet!

And of course my Favourites posts will continue, now on a fortnightly basis for the time being, as that frees up my time much more. So here’s my latest recap, with plenty to cover, including disability events & discussions, theatre, Blu-rays, comedy, music and more. So let’s get on with it, and I hope you enjoy my latest post and video!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 10

Hello again. I hope you’re all doing ok – especially my friends and followers in the USA, all our thoughts are with you right now. Black Lives Matter and there are many ways to get involved and show your support, while those taking advantage of peaceful protests to cause destruction and misery have no respect for peace and equality. I sincerely hope that stability and civility is restored very soon. We should all be pulling together at all times, but it’s more important than ever during this pandemic.

Here in England, our lockdown has been eased in recent days, even though many scientists, including some of the government’s own advisors, feel too much is being done too soon. And if the experts are wary, then so am I, because I trust their judgement the most. So I’m going to continue staying locked down while we wait to see what happens, and until doctors and scientists can reassure us that it really is safer out there. It’s important for me because I live with my mother, who is elderly and blind, so the last thing I want is to bring the virus home and infect her, so that she ends up in hospital where I can’t visit her. So I’m staying indoors to keep her safe, that’s my priority.

And while I’m doing that, I’m still keeping myself entertained, which is taking my mind off the news very effectively as usual. So I hope this week’s post and video, which as always doesn’t contain anything sponsored or gifted, is a nice distraction for you too!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 9

Hello again, I hope you’re continuing to keep safe and well. It was a strange Bank Holiday weekend for me. It started with the loss of my uncle, although fortunately he didn’t have the virus, and my mother and I are hoping to go to the funeral to support my aunt if the rules allow. And then of course we’ve had the Dominic Cummings scandal, which I’m not going to rant about, suffice to say there’s been a major misjudgement of the public mood by him and the government, they’ve lost a lot of trust and goodwill.

But apart from that, my week’s been fine and I’ve been quite productive, and I’ve also found many more pleasant distractions as always. So I’ll get straight on with this week’s post and video about what I’ve been enjoying over the past week. As ever, there’s nothing sponsored or gifted here, these are all my own opinions. So I hope you find it interesting!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 3

Happy Easter! I hope you’re all staying safe and well as best you can, and that you’ve had a nice break over this long weekend, with plenty of chocolate goodies or whatever you like to indulge on. I think we’ve earned a few treats at the moment. Or if you’re a key worker – including employees and volunteers in the health service, social care, retail sectors and local authorities, among many others – then thank you! You deserve even more special treats than the rest of us!

Following on from my post last week, here’s my next roundup of the ways I’ve been staying occupied and entertained over the past 7 days, including a video as usual. So I hope you enjoy looking through it. And don’t forget that I also have a huge list of Covid Resources that I’m updating regularly, including information, support and entertainment links, that you can check out as well.

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February & March 2020 Favourites

Well, what a year this has turned out to be, huh? Perhaps we should just rename it 2019B or 2019.5 and start 2020 again next January. It’s like we’ve had a faulty software update in the calendar that needs serious debugging and virus-checking before it’s rolled out again.

Obviously I’m not dismissing the tragic side of things by saying that. My heart goes out to everybody who has lost loved ones or been severely affected in some other way, and I sincerely hope you all stay safe and well as best you can. Please follow the guidelines on hygiene, distancing, isolation, etc, because it really will save many lives. It will take a few weeks at least before we start seeing the impact of such measures, but they will help, and we will get through this. Huge thanks to all our incredible health and care staff, as well as the many other people providing essential products and services.

Beyond this introduction, I have no desire or intent to write posts about the situation, as it’s not nice and there’s enough about it online already. However, I have created a Covid Resources page, where you’ll find many links for information, advice and support, plus many ways to stay connected and entertained at home, which I hope you find useful.

Clearly this is going to change what I’m able to do and post about for a while. So in this post and video I want to wrap up my recent museum and theatre visits, as well as disability related updates and TV favourites, for both February and March. That way, I can move forward with a clean slate as I settle into a temporary new routine.

All of which means there’s a fair amount to cover here, making it a good distraction from everything that’s going on. I haven’t been sponsored or gifted by anyone to mention them, and all opinions are my own. So I hope you enjoy!

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January 2020 Favourites

2020 has got off to an enjoyable and eventful start, meaning there’s plenty to tell you about for this past month, including a musical, a comedy show, museum tours, research projects, walks, social events and entertainment.

As ever, I haven’t been sponsored or gifted by anybody in order to mention them here, and these are all my own opinions. I’ve also produced a video to go with this post as usual. So I hope you enjoy!

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