I know 2020 has been a big sack of shit, but there are some good things that happened. So I'm going back through the year and finding some gems that have happened to remind me of that before we say goodbye this crappy year.
1. The Big Garden Bird Watch
In January, Isobel and I took part in our first Big Garden Bird Watch that the RSPB holds every year. We sat in our kitchen for an hour one rainy Sunday morning and looked out of the window to count how many birds landed in our garden.
It wasn't many (I think we had three wood pigeons) but it was still fun and I'm looking forward to joining in again next month. Plus, we might see our new bird visitor who has recently found us. It's a grey wagtail, which I'd never seen before he hopped into our garden. He's been named Bob, because of the way he bobs about the place.
2. Back To The Future The Musical
Back in February, when everyone was still allowed to gather, we were lucky enough to go to the world premiere of Back to the Future The Musical. We'd waited a LONG TIME for it to happen, and we couldn't quite believe Manchester was getting the premier (but it was great. No trip to London. No overnight stays) and it was AMAZING. Plus, Bob Gale signed our special BTTF cover of USA Today.
3. Rock Painting
We decided to spread a bit of cheer during the summer and did a bit of rock painting, which we left outside for people to find. It was a lot of fun, so we did the same thing in October to celebrate Halloween.
4. The Everything Changes But You Paperback
I'd wanted to create paperbacks for my self-published novels, but I was a bit wary as I didn't think I'd be able to pull it off (I'm not good with trying new things!) But I decided to put my big girl pants on and give it a go.
I love the paperbacks of Everything Changes But You so when I released The 12 Christmases of You & Me, I created both ebook and paperback together.
5. Baking Loaves
While everyone was baking banana bread during Lockdown 1, I was craving a slice of lemon loaf from the coffee shop in my local town. So I decided we'd make our own. The only problem was, our local Asda didn't have any lemons at the time, so we swapped them for their green cousins and made a lime loaf instead.
Due to its success, we went on to make two more loaves: a lemon one (because Asda finally stocked them) and an orange one. As much as I was craving the lemon loaf, the lime is a firm favourite.
6. First Drafts
I wrote not one but TWO first drafts this year. The first (for Book 12) was mostly written during Lockdown 1 while home-schooling my youngest daughter, and the second, (for Book 13, which I've only just completed) was mostly written during this year's Nano and finished off in December.
7. Baking Pupcakes
When it was Luna's birthday, I made her a batch of banana and peanut butter 'pupcakes'. They're really easy to make and Luna loved them, so the kids and I made her a batch of apple and peanut butter pupcakes (which are going down just as nicely).
8. Flawed Crocheted Sausage Dogs
In 2020, I made two-and-a-bit sausage dogs ('and-a-bit' because the first was started in 2019).
I'm quite new to crocheting, so they're definitely flawed, but they're unique and I love them.
9. The Garden
Back in 2018, Isobel and I brought a rose bush cutting home from a school event and re-potted it in the garden. It grew taller and produced lots of leaves, but that’s it. Until this spring when it produced a few buds, which resulted in two flowers. I'm hoping we get more next year, plus I've taken a couple of cuttings, which are on my kitchen windowsill.
I spent a lot of time in my garden during lockdown, and it was lovely seeing the bees and hoverflies enjoying our flowers. They particularly liked our forget-me-nots and the cosmos (when it eventually flowered).
We also grew dahlias from seed for the first time. It didn't flower and out of 17 seedlings, only five survived the snail invasion, but it was a lovely thing to do nonetheless.
10. The 12 Christmases of You & Me
In October, I released my eleventh book, The 12 Christmases of You & Me. I'd wanted to write a time-travel romantic comedy for a long time, so I'm glad it's finally out and (hopefully) being enjoyed!
11. Halloween at Home
We couldn't do our usual trick or treating this year, so I made some cards for an at-home version. The cards were hidden around the house and Isobel had to find them and then choose which ones to open. Half said 'treat' inside (so she could choose a treat from the box) and half said 'trick' (which meant she forfeited a treat.
(The real trick was that all cards said 'treat', which she found out at the end when she opened the remaining cards.)
We also did a bit more baking, this time making SLime cupcakes, nicking the idea of the lime icing from our earlier lime loaf, and topping off with sour snakes.
12. Loki's Return
There are some Christmas traditions that we've had to miss out on this year due to Coronavirus, but one tradition that we can keep is our Elf on the Shelf, Loki. He's returned with gifts and silly antics to makes us smile.