As I’m writing this, I’m finding it challenging to accept that my 2021 has already been and gone. Sometimes, I still feel as though the millennium has only just happened, and I’m still a teenager.
What can I say about how you have treated me?
There have been ups and downs. More ups than downs in a lot of ways, actually. However, as is often the case, I will undoubtedly look back and remember the rough times we had more easily than the good ones.
After working solidly prior to schools returning with my union hat on, the government did a u-turn, and schools were open for certain children only, having been placed in lockdown once again but expecting schools to be business as usual. While it was challenging in many ways and being in school during this time meant my health was more at risk than previously, I didn’t mind it as much as previously. In addition, my girls had a more even balance of home education, meaning I didn’t feel the pressure quite as much as I had in 2020. I was also blessed with the opportunity to have my first vaccine against Covid-19 at the local hospital because of my work; this felt very emotional, and at least one tear fell.
For some daft reason, I thought it might be ‘fun’ to sign up to do another half marathon. My previous one (the Great North Run in 2017) was an interesting experience. Having done nowhere near enough training this time around, I figured I could just go at my own pace. Up until mile 7, I was doing alright. Each mile was 11 minutes and something seconds, which wasn’t too bad. Sub-12 minute miles for 13.1 miles in total could have got me a finish time of around 2 hours 30. Unfortunately, injury struck, and I felt terrible. However, the stubborn northerner that I am, I refused to give up. I jeffed the majority of the rest of it – far more walking than running, though – and my finish time was 3 hours 10 minutes. Although Colin’s time said 2 hours 55. Either way, I did my best, and I felt crap at the end of it!
Having escaped my 2020 birthday being in lockdown by just a few days, this time around, I was faced with a bland birthday. However, I felt the love from my partner, family and friends… all good!
Lots and lots of bike practice for the kids. They all got new bikes for Christmas, and the weather was lovely enough to head over to the rec on plenty of occasions to build confidence with the bigger bikes. We also managed to go swimming as a family for the first type in absolutely ages. Oh… and I was back in my happy place of Zumba – outdoors and a little nippy at times, but I smiled the entire way through the classes. Finally, one of the children’s favourite memories was sitting outside in the garden at night, toasting marshmallows on the chiminea – such simple pleasures.
This month, we finally had our long-awaited haircuts. My daughters and I all had a lot chopped off, going from very long to shoulder length. Everyone was thrilled! It was also this month that I became a nanny tutor for a lovely boy. We enjoyed several outings to the woods and Gressenhall museum.
This first point really spans both May and June… but we will go with June. Legoland!!! We took two of the girls and both boys away to Legoland using our Merlin passes. We stayed in a hotel near Heathrow airport and had such a wonderful time. It was boiling hot and we were grumpy with each other at times because of it, but it was such a brilliant couple of days that they were begging to go again. This month also saw the tentative return of birthday parties – TWO of them! It made me feel quite emotional to see the children having some form of normality with their friends once again – although we didn’t blow out candles on cakes and we still took loads of precautions to make it as safe as possible.
We finally managed to get to London to visit the other grandparents – who the children hadn’t seen since 2019! They had a wonderful time, although getting used to the noise and how busy things are there was a challenge for a couple of them. We also managed to visit Dippy when it visited Norwich Cathedral – I think the girls were more interested in the tunnel of fish that you had to walk through before reaching the colossal dinosaur though!
Another birthday… this time Colin’s youngest and we headed up to Scotland for a week, which coincided with it. On the way, both the left indicator and the turbo went on my car. Certainly not the easiest or more stress-free of journeys, but we got there in the end with an overnight stay in Middlesbrough, which allowed me to see my bestie (who I hadn’t seen since our Valentine’s Day trip to see the Who in 2020). Although the weather was poor, I had to spend a significant proportion of time finishing an assignment for uni and I chipped my tooth (on a pork scratching!), it was lovely to get away.
Once back in England, Col and I also sneaked away on a couple of occasions to the coast – dipping my toes in the sea makes me feel so calm. We ended August with a fantastic trip to the banger racing in King’s Lynn. It was our first time, but we embraced the immense amount of dust, incredible noise and the volume of people, having a wonderful day!
Before heading back to school, we took a trip to Cromer, on the hunt for the recent Banksy addition. I love walking along the seafront, dreaming of owning a beach hut and sitting looking at the sea for hours on end. We also ventured up north for a gig – live music was back in my life! Colin has always wanted to see the Specials. Until the tickets arrived a couple of months beforehand, I had completely forgotten that I had booked this during the no-live music depression of 2020. It was a fantastic gig, and we stayed in a quirky property close to the dome with my bestie (twice in a few months!).
My eldest’s birthday and a normal party for her after the 2020 disappointment. She invited her closest friends over for an afternoon tea party, and hearing the laughter and seeing the smiles were just beautiful moments. The following day, on her actual birthday, we travelled to Great Yarmouth with her grandparents. There, we visited the Sealife Centre and went on the observation wheel (I haven’t mentioned before how much I despise heights – but I did it for the birthday girl!). She had a wonderful time, and we did, too. Later in the month, the local pumpkin patch opened, so we went along. I bumped into people I hadn’t seen in years, and the children all chose a pumpkin to take home in preparation for Hallowe’en.
Finally, we ended October with another family holiday – this time with all of the children. We returned to Butlin’s and had the best (though somewhat stressful!) time. For me, Dick and Dom’s DJ Battle was a highlight… though I am certain my girls would say it was the numerous Skyline Gang performances that we endured!
This was a fairly quiet month for us, though we did take a trip to High Lodge where we enjoyed the music trail and all the play equipment. It was great to get some fresh air as the weather had been rather cold. Definitely the least busy time in my 2021!
AKA Shedcember – the month I had been eagerly awaiting as part of my 2021 plans since the tickets were bought months previously. I have to admit to having intense anxiety about being around so many people after protecting myself and the vulnerable around me for so long. However, we managed to stand somewhere that felt ok and I made sure I wore my mask whenever I moved from my spot. I had a couple of ciders for the first time in ages, too, so those helped to calm my nerves.
The Lottery Winners as support were phenomenal. Of course, Shed Seven were incredible, as always. It was also my partner’s eldest’s birthday and we celebrated with a party at Battlestation Activities, which all the boys loved. And for my partner’s birthday, I booked a surprise getaway to Brighton and a lock-in at Alcotraz. What a wonderful escape!