Thursday, December 31, 2020

Review of 2020 - 5 positive things

As it's New Year's Eve, I thought I would close out 2020 with a blog post. While it's a hard year to review, for fairly obvious reasons, here are 5 things that made my year a bit special. 

1) February's Five Football Saturdays

It feels like a long time ago since I was freely able to go to football matches. Although the pandemic derailed my matchgoing last season, and has meant I haven't been to any games this season yet, I still feel pleased about getting to a game on all five Saturdays in February. This can only be done in a leap year, and only when the 1st and 29th of February are Saturdays. 

I blogged about the games I went to here

2) Achieving a collecting target

On 9 May I started a blog about baseball cards featuring the Padres greatest ever player, Tony Gwynn. I set myself a target of collecting 394 cards featuring him - in honour of his batting average in 1994, when he recorded a modern day record of .394. On 7 October I completed that mission. I've actually exceeded my target by some way and have now blogged well over 500 different cards.

3) A surprise knock at the door

Quite unexpectedly my former colleague Sean, who now works for Diabetes UK Cymru, knocked on my door and presented me with a Diabetes UK Cymru Director Award for Campaigning and Influencing Change. It was both unanticipated and humbling to receive that recognition and in the middle of a tough week, work-wise, it was a timely encouragement. 

Sean also took a photo of me and stuck it on Twitter. I'm holding up a planter that came with the certificate. In hindsight I could have posed a bit more elegantly. At least Sean timed his call when I'd just had a haircut and wasn't sporting Lockdown Hair!

At the end of October many of my NHS Wales colleagues were successful at the Quality in Care Diabetes Awards. There's a full write up here. One of the projects I've been involved in was shortlisted. It's a picture book about a dinosaur who has diabetes and the two girls who wrote it were also given special awards - which I was really happy about.

4) Dwi'n wedi dysgu Gymraeg 

I started learning Welsh in September 2019. In January this year I sat an exam and passed my Lefel Mynediad (Entry Level). I then went on and completed the Sylfaen (Foundation) course, most of which had to be taught on Zoom. I didn't find the remote learning as good as the classroom experience. 

I didn't enter for the Sylfaen exam because it would have been on a date I was supposed to be at Hampden park for a Euro 2020 game. That game didn't happen... and neither did the exam!

I have really enjoyed learning Welsh. It's a challenge because languages were never my strong point, but I am able to write the occasional email in Welsh now, and have some very basic conversations. I can also understand a bit of the commentary on Sgorio when watching the highlights of the Cymru Premier games, although I have a bit of a way to go before I'm able to follow it properly. 

5) An unusual Christmas

I blogged a couple of months back about "Lockdown freedoms", which were some of the good things about this horrible year. I worked from home from the middle of March. Although I miss my office colleagues and seeing people face-to-face, it does mean I have had lunch with Cathy nearly every day.

Another bonus for us was planning to have Christmas at home. In the 22 years we've been married, we had only spent two Christmases at home. Once we had a last minute change of plan when I was really poorly with a terrible bout of 'flu. And two years ago we had Christmas at home with my sister-in-law as Cathy recovered from surgery.

We decided a few months back that the most sensible course of action that was least likely to be derailed by events, was for Cathy and me to plan to have Christmas on our own at home - for the very first time. As it turned out, this plan worked out best for everyone. My brother's family expanded with two new children in November, so they needed some space. My foster-sister was given an appointment for dental extractions two days before Christmas and needed my Mum to go and stay with her to help with childcare. (They travelled up on the day the Tier 4 restrictions came in and Scotland closed its borders about an hour after Mum arrived in Edinburgh!)

So Cathy and I had our Christmas together, just us. And you know what? It was lovely. We had a leisurely time opening presents. I made a roast dinner. We went out for a little walk in the afternoon. We watched the new Pixar film, Soul, on Disney Plus in the evening. And it was just really nice and relaxing. 

So, looking back on the year, there have been some good times and I've managed to achieve a few things despite the best efforts of a nasty virus. Even the small wins are wins. 

Meanwhile, to kick off 2021, I'm planning on doing my Annual Christmas Card Audit for the 9th consecutive year! So keep an eye out for that...

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