Farewell to all that

Thank goodness for that.

2020 was a shocker and I am definitely looking forward to a year which isn’t so restricted or under strain. For all the negatives though, I am still thankful for a number of opportunities in 2020…

The joy of cooking

Last year was when I finally got around to learning how to cook properly. With the time which lockdown afforded me, I used Gousto’s recipe service to learn about an undiscovered country of ingredients, techniques and cuisines. I have made pastas, curries, soups, tray bakes and risottos; cooked recipes from India, Italy, China, Japan, Canada, France and elsewhere.

My goal in 2021: I want to take the stabilisers off! I want to keep developing my confidence and go ‘off piste’ without a Gousto-measured set of ingredients.

Getting back in the swing

I stopped playing golf, probably six or seven years ago, because I just got fed up with playing badly. At the time I got into cycling instead and that worked out for a while, helping me get a lot fitter (something I also need to do in 2021). In hindsight though it wasn’t a logical choice: I was frustrated with a lack of improvement but I wasn’t actually doing anything to improve. I was the golfing embodiment of Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different outcomes.

So an initial nine-holes with a friend soon turned into a welcome distraction and addiction. Unsurprisingly though, the game remained initially frustrating. So I did something about it. I started getting lessons and in addition to playing, ideally at least once a week, I also try to get to the driving range to practice. As well as practising what I’m learning in lessons, I also watch instructional videos and try to pick up tips and drills wherever I can. And lo and behold, improvement is coming. Slowly but surely.

Plus I’m also tackling one of my biggest adversaries – my mental game. Less negative self-talk, better expectation management and an emphasis on enjoying playing. Easier said than done, but it is helping.

My goal in 2021: keep improving. I have some short/medium term goals – I’d like to break 100, just once and then regularly. Then, on the back of that, I’ll get a proper handicap, maybe play some club comps and, most importantly, I want to play the Old Course at St Andrews. Once I’ve done that last one, I might just walk away again – as far as I’’m concerned, I will have ‘completed’ golf.

All in quiz together

Everybody was facing the same uncertainty: the country was going into lockdown and we don’t know when we’d be out of it. Peoples’ lives were thrown up in the air, not least their social lives. It wouldn’t be clear when people could see family and friends in the same way again.

What could I do to help people? Organise a quiz.

We did the first quiz on 22nd March, as I was actually recovering from what I reckon was my brush with Covid-19. A dozen or so households gather on Zoom and we started something very special. My partner-in-quiz Paul White and I have hosted over one-hundred quizzes. At one point we were holding them every day of the week. It has become a bit more realistic since then – we now host two per week, with Paul and I alternating from week to week.

With Christmas and New Year plans completely torn up by Covid, we provided quizzes and even an impromptu New Year’s Eve party on Zoom. It has been an absolute blast and a social lifeline for me even if for nobody else.

My goals in 2021: keep calm and carry on quizzing! Normal may return in 2021, we just don’t know if or when. So we’ll keep providing the quizzes, twice a week. I imagine we’ll definitely get to our first anniversary in March.

So 2020 wasn’t all bad, and these are just three highlights. I’m glad it’s over though. All the best for 2021!

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