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Having done a look back at 2020 this time last year, let’s see what the rest of March 2020 2021 looked like. Also see my Stats pages for data about this and previous years.

§ Living here

At some point in the middle of the year I realised that I no longer missed London at least once every day. Which had been normal until some point earlier this year.

Gradually my yearnings for coffee shops, cinemas, museums, and people, had faded away a little. Which is a good sign. I still miss London, but it’s less frequent. It was good to have a couple of very brief visits this year but I know that if we returned there I would miss being here so much.

It still doesn’t seem quite right that I can live in a house in an apparently random rural location surrounded by fields. The rest of my life I’ve sensibly lived within walking distance of shops and public transport. Even in suburban Houston I could walk across four lanes of traffic to a supermarket. This is a beautiful, relaxing and peaceful place to live but it still seems odd to live here, to me, as lovely as it is.

Because of [gestures around] all this we don’t feel as integrated into the place and people as I imagined we would after living here for two years. We’ve met many friendly neighbours while out walking but there haven’t yet been many opportunities where everyone would feel safe spending more time together. Hopefully that will improve (he said, optimistically).

And I almost forgot to say, because it’s become so normal, living here… I miss friends. It’s not like I saw many friends frequently when I lived in London but now it’s very, very rare that I’m anywhere that I’ll see friends from “before”.

A photo of a frosty field with a wire fence disappearing into the distance towards the rising sun
A frosty January morning in the field over the road

§ Web work/projects

I decided this year that I was now, having turned 50, semi-retired from doing web development work. This means:

  • Turning down work that isn’t interesting to me (which I did a couple times more than I would have done previously).
  • Not actively looking for new work or clients (not that I was ever good that anyway).
  • Not getting stressed if I have a long period without any paying work.

Consequently I only did about 33 days of paid work this year (see the chart in Stats). I have one ongoing client who I enjoy doing work for but otherwise have no work plans. And that is very, very nice.

However, that didn’t mean I got loads done with my personal web projects this year. I wrote many tests for existing ones (so I can update them without worrying too much about breaking anything) and tweaked a few things, but the year flashed by before I could get stuck into anything. There are a couple of web projects I’d quite like to make but I’m wary of what a time sink they can be.

A photo looking along a stony ridge with fields below in the distance
Looking along the Cat’s Back in March

§ Acting

I expected that moving here would make it much, much harder than it already was to do any acting, and with the addition of Covid I haven’t even tried.

If I was as committed to acting as many of the actors I’ve met – who really want to do nothing else – I’d maybe have worked on something for myself, like develop solo projects to video and put online. But I’m not. And the main thing I like about acting is interacting with other people. So I didn’t even get involved in the online classes that were available. I did update my showreel though.

I’ve no idea if acting will go anywhere now.

A photo of a farmer sitting on his old red tractor, pulling a trailer piled with hay bales across a field
From an August afternoon spent helping a local farmer get his hay bales in

§ Health

For most of the year I used Apple’s Fitness+ workouts – mostly HIIT and Strength, with a few Pilates and Yoga. I can just about bear the instructors’ perkiness and the tech (Apple Watch and iPad) works very well indeed.

I had been doing 5K runs a couple of times a week but paused those when I stupidly hurt my back and more recently when I did something odd to my right knee, which isn’t yet better.

Apple thinks my general fitness continues to decline, which will be the subject of a future post. Bet you can’t wait!

I’ve had 60 headaches/minor-migraines this year; a new record! Well done me!

I still haven’t caught Covid, yet. I’ve been double-jabbed and boosted which is excellent. I’m still very nervous about doing things involving people indoors though and a little worried it’s going to be hard to ever get back to “normal” again.

A photo with a stony, grassy hump in the foreground, with field-covered hills disappearing into the distance behind.
The top of the Sugar Loaf in September

§ Media

I can’t remember the last year in which I didn’t go to the cinema at all. It was before I was 18 anyway. And there have been no gigs or theatre. The only museum/gallery visit of the year was a hasty walk through the National Gallery.

I’ve read 13 books this year, which is too few. And most of the fiction felt “worthy” rather than being enjoyable. I did briefly catch up on a backlog of magazines/periodicals but it’s got away from me again. Not enough time spent reading.

I just looked back over the summaries of my weeknotes to remember what TV we watched this year, the first year we had Netflix. We saw a lot! And we also saw a lot of things that I’d completely forgotten about. But, the multi-season shows I enjoyed most, and that stuck with me, are:

  • Spiral (the final season, sad face)
  • Better Call Saul (all five seasons)
  • Ozark (all three seasons)
  • Sex Education (all three seasons, but the first was best)
  • Happy Valley (season 1)

And the miniseries:

  • The Queen’s Gambit
  • The People v. O. J. Simpson
  • Maid
  • The Assassination of Gianni Versace
  • The Billion Dollar Code

And the one-offs:

  • Bo Burnham: Inside
  • Together

So much good telly.

We didn’t watch many movies on TV, something I’d like to do more of. The best ones were:

  • Uncut Gems
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things
  • Eighth Grade
  • Rocks

According to I listened to less music this year than any year since 2005. I’m not sure why. Less time spent at my desk? About 8,000 tracks versus 14,000 in 2020.

Chart of 20 artists with the top ten being: Sylvan Esso, Adult Mom; ME REX; Slaughter Beach, Dog; Sophia Loizou; Lucy Dacus; Emma Kupa; Noname; Randolph's Leap; and Hen Ogledd
My Artists chart for 2021 on Flickr (also see Albums and Tracks)

Sylvan Esso were my most frequently-listened-to this year (second last year) because I bought a couple of earlier albums. I wasn’t surprised that Adult Mom were up there too as I listened to both versions of Driver a lot. ME REX cheated by releasing an album containing 52 very short tracks. Still good though.

A photo looking into a valley that's filled with early morning mist, a few trees poking out above it
A foggy morning in October

§ Online

I haven’t made many changes to where I hang out online this year.

I tweeted slightly less (518 times versus 749 last year; down from a peak of 2,656 times in 2013). This Good Life-related tweet was my most popular of the year.

I posted more photos on Flickr (170 versus 94).

Last year I wondered about returning to Instagram, despite not wanting to use any Facebook/Meta products. I did, and it was lovely to see what Instagram-using friends are up to.

I did spend a bit of time, off and on, in the Discord for the excellent Garbage Day newsletter. It’s a nice place, full of interesting chat… but trying to keep up with only a few channels was a time sink I couldn’t maintain. It’s a shame. There are other Discords I’d like to hang out in too but there isn’t enough time.

For all the talk about how the internet isn’t as interesting as in the “Good Old Days”, there are so many places I would happily spend time reading and contributing to if each day was at least twice as long. So many chats, so many forums, so many blogs, so much social media.

I’ve written slightly fewer posts this year (59 versus 64) and posted slightly more links (161 versus 140).

A photo looking over very green fields towards tree covered hills under an almost empty blue sky
A sunny day from a local walk in November

§ Other stuff…

I’ve made progress with playing the piano this year, and can now play a handful of jazz tunes without needing music to follow. More next year.

Learning German seemed like it was making some progress, but I’ve floundered towards the end of the year and I’m not sure if I’ll pick it up again. I think that improving noticeably requires more time and interest than I’ve been giving it for years.

I feel like time has whizzed by without me achieving much, especially given all the time I haven’t spent working or raising a family. Early in the year I did buy some equipment to give $new_hobby a go but didn’t even open the packets until this week.

My time is obviously going somewhere but I’m not entirely sure where.

§ That’s 2021. I’ve probably forgotten stuff but I think we’ll all manage.

I hope you have an excellent and healthy 2022.

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