January 2021 Favourites

Well, that month was a long year, wasn’t it? I thought January might be relatively quiet compared to December, but it was clearly very difficult for 2021 to get steady on its feet amongst the fallout from 2020, for reasons that we’re all too familiar with from the news.

January also marked a significant milestone for me, as it’s now 10 years since my father passed away. It’s amazing how quickly that time’s gone, when it inevitably dragged so much at first. And after all these years, not a day goes by when he doesn’t come to mind for one reason or another, he’s always present. I get my sense of humour from him, and he was always supportive and encouraging and fun to be around. That’s him you can see behind little me in the header image for this post. As I haven’t had any reason to take interesting photos myself lately, it seemed appropriate to use one of him on this occasion, and I dedicate this post to his memory.

And in the present, Captain Sir Tom Moore has very sadly passed away at the age of 100. He was one of the brightest lights of the pandemic, raising nearly £40 million for NHS charities, and his positive attitude to life filled us all with hope and motivation at a time when we really needed it the most. So he will be very dearly missed, and his charity foundation will undoubtedly continue to do lots of great work in his honour in the years to come. Condolences to all of his family and friends and everyone who came into contact with him. And thank you Captain Tom for everything you’ve done. We will walk on through the storm, with our heads up high and hope in our hearts, thanks to you. RIP.

Still, despite all of that, there is also much to be happy about. Green shoots of hope and positivity are breaking through, and I have some good news of my own to share in this post, along with the usual rundown of entertaining things that I’ve been enjoying. And none of it is sponsored or gifted as usual. So let’s crack on with it, and I hope you enjoy this month’s post and video!

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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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Christmas 2020 Favourites

Happy New Year! Well, as happy as it can be in the circumstances. It was a strange and difficult Christmas without a doubt, not the sort any of us wanted, and it’s going to be a hard winter for many, especially now we’re in lockdown again. There’s a big ray of hope with the rollout of the vaccines though, so the future’s looking good, and many thanks to all the health workers who are doing their utmost to dish them out as quickly as possible.

My thoughts also go to everyone in America after the recent terror attack amid the fallout from Trump’s defeat. Biden’s inauguration on January 20th can’t come soon enough. Best wishes from across the pond, stay safe!

Those challenges aside, however, I hope you were able to find some enjoyment and comfort during the festive period, insofar as the rules allowed in your part of the world.

Mum and I are doing fine, I’m pleased to say. We’ve enjoyed lots of nice treats, and have had plenty of fun things to watch and listen to, all of which has been a welcome distraction from the news. I continued to have a few long walks around my local area during December as well, as that was the only way I could get out and about, so it was important to make the most of it. Mum’s had a bit of fresh air too of course, but doesn’t go on the long hikes like I do, and we’ve made sure she stays well away from other people apart from her sister (and even then they keep their distance at the front door, she hasn’t been in the house).

So we did pretty well this Christmas despite the limitations, and here’s my festive post and video to round things up. I’m not going to mention absolutely everything we filled our stomachs with, or every little bit of entertainment we watched or listened to, as this update’s long enough as it is. I’m just going to mention my favourite things, as is the purpose of these posts. Nothing here is sponsored as usual, and any gifts are just from friends, not the people behind the products. So I hope you enjoy!

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Lockdown Favourites – Weeks 17-19

Hello again. I hope you’re all keeping safe and well. Many of the restrictions are being eased at the moment, which is good, but a few are also being reimposed as and where necessary. So please keep taking all the necessary precautions that we’ve all come to know so well, including the new requirements for wearing face coverings (which are perfectly safe and there are valid exemptions, including for some disabled people). And do be aware that the self-isolation period has been extended to 10 days in England if you have symptoms or test positive for the virus. We mustn’t let our guard down now.

I have started going out a bit more regularly again, in this lovely hot weather we’ve been having, particularly for some nice walks around my local area. I’ve also been to my local supermarket to get a few things for the first time in 12 weeks, and had no problems there. I was in and out very quickly, with a mask on of course, and it felt very safe. And that was just during normal shopping hours on a Saturday, not the priority slot for disabled and elderly customers (which I’m very glad they’re still doing). So things have really settled down there, and all the hard working retail staff deserve a lot of credit, among the myriad of amazing people who have kept vital services operating in recent months.

But perhaps most importantly, I’ve finally got my hair cut! Even if it doesn’t look much from the photos, I can tell you it feels so much better, it’s much more manageable now. And everything was done safely – we now have to book appointments with our hairdresser instead of just walking in (and it doesn’t have to be far in advance, we got a slot within a few days), plus they’ve got hand sanitiser for customers, the staff are wearing visors and there’s a stringent cleaning routine.

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I do intend to venture back into the city as well, now that we’re allowed to use the Tube again. The last time I travelled on the network was March 14, nearly 5 months ago. But I have been keeping an eye on the situation. And because TFL have a very strict cleaning regime with no reported problems, there’s lots of travel advice on their website, the passenger numbers are still relatively low, others I follow on social media have recently been getting back on the Tube and other trains and feel safe doing so, and I’ve acquired face masks and bottles of hand sanitiser, I do feel it would be safe to travel at quiet times to see what it’s like. So if things continue to be alright, that’s what I intend to do during August. Hopefully that’ll enable me to start meeting up with friends again too. And, incidentally, talking of meeting special people, congratulations to Captain Sir Tom Moore on receiving his knighthood recently!

But of course, I’m still keeping myself happily occupied at home as well, so I’ve got various bits and pieces I can mention from the past few weeks in this latest post and video, none of which are sponsored or gifted to appear here as usual. So I hope you enjoy!

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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 6

Well, April flew by didn’t it? It seemed to for me anyway. Everyone’s perception of time is rather weird at the moment, but it can be explained by science at least. Of course, for those going through a particularly rough time at the moment, time will be dragging much more slowly, so we must be mindful of that too. So, as always, I hope you’re all keeping safe and well, and getting any support you need, and you have my sympathies if things have been particularly difficult for any reason.

My mother and I are continuing to do fine, and it’s now been just over a month since I last left the house. I could go out for a bit of a walk if I wanted, but I feel happier staying at home to protect my mother. Given that she’s elderly and blind, and that we as a country have been going through the peak of the virus in recent weeks, I don’t want her to end up on her own in hospital where I can’t visit her, nor would I want to get myself into the much less likely (but not impossible) position where I’m in hospital and she’s left at home on her own. So it’s worth the sacrifice to keep her safe. If I put on a little bit of weight, or my hair ends up like Brian May’s, so be it, it’s worth it.

And I’m still passing the time in various ways. Work is continuing to keep me busy, as is blogging, and I’ve continued to find plenty of entertainment to enjoy as well. So here’s my latest post and video recap of what I’ve got into or discovered this past week. As always, there has been no sponsorship or gifting here, and all opinions are my own. So I hope you enjoy!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 5

We’re now into the second month of lockdown, with many of us still adjusting to this temporary ‘new normal’. It still feels surreal, and puts everything in perspective, that a microscopic virus can temporarily shut down the entire planet in a matter of weeks. It’s a stark reminder of how powerful nature can be.

But we will get through it, and we are making good progress, very gradually. We just need to be very careful, and ensure that we continue to stick to the rules. The lockdown measures are working without a doubt, and now is not the time to be complacent and too hasty about lifting them. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. So I hope you’re continuing to keep safe and well. And again we must give the usual heartfelt thanks to all our NHS heroes, care staff and critical workers.

And now here’s my latest weekly recap, with a video as usual, of what’s been keeping me occupied recently. I haven’t been paid or gifted for anything mentioned here, and all opinions are my own as usual. So I hope you enjoy!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 4

Hello again! As always, I hope you’re staying safe and well, and are getting any support that you need right now. Remember to check out my Covid Resources for lots of information and ways to stay occupied, which I’m constantly updating. And huge thanks as always to all the NHS staff and other key workers who continue to go above and beyond to keep us healthy and the country functioning.

I don’t know about you, but to me it feels like time is moving more quickly again, after the month of March felt like a year. Maybe it’s because I was already used to homeworking and spending a lot of time at home, and because I’m finding plenty of ways to stay busy and entertained. But in any case, here’s my latest post and video update on the things that have caught my attention in the last 7 days. None of this is sponsored or gifted, and all opinions are my own. So I hope you enjoy!

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