We started the year in tier four restrictions; we couldn’t go anywhere, and we definitely could not see anyone. It both blew and sucked.
Instead of our traditional New Year’s Day walk with friends, we took a family stroll along the sea-front. Roo and I searched for fossils in the boundary stones between Littlehampton and Rustington beaches.
The rest of the month was a heady mix of bored parents and frustrated children. There are limits to the entertainment power of cold beach walks and dance parties in the kitchen.
We continued February like January: desperately concocting new ways to entertain the children. We spent most days outside, in various parks and woods.
As an indication of the banality of our lives, one highlight was losing a kite up a tree only to be retrieved a week later by our friend Kamran. We’ll be telling that one for years to come, I’m sure.
Boris reintroduced the “rule of six” so we could now meet more people outside. I must admit we’d been less careful this time, even daring to meet some friends outside. But as things slowly started opening up, I had a growing sense that the worst of it might be behind us.
It helped that the weather was unseasonably warm. The news was full of “idiots breaking social distancing regulations”, but I had a certain amount of sympathy for people desperate to escape.
I also found new resolve in my training. I joined Aaron’s remote programme and started eating better, drinking less and exercising more. Kamran helped kickstart my effort by taking me on a 25 km Megawalk™️ over the South Downs.
It was Easter. We had a lovely meal with family and friends.
I turned 41 and celebrated in style by hosting a few pals for drinks in the garden. Katie was kind enough to solo-parent while I sodded off on my bike for a long jaunt over the downs.
Restrictions eased further, and we had our first proper day out at Leonardslee Gardens. Rootwo was a bit of a sausage, but it was glorious to feel normal again.
We also brought a house. After months of scoring Rightmove, our lucky break came when an agent mentioned: “something new was coming on next week”. We offered the total asking price at the viewing.
Roo turned six; we’d organised a small party with five of her friends in the garden. The rain was unexpected but didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for the bouncy castle, and Roo had a brilliant time.
I had my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, aside from a sore arm, I didn’t suffer any noticeable effects.
We had enjoyed days out and time with friends. Towards the end of the month, we finally got to see Katie’s sister and family. It was lovely watching Roo and Rootwo playing with their cousins.
We finally got to see my parents for the first time since August 2020. It was the first time they’d been to our home in well over a year.
I was doing well with my training, dropping almost 6% body fat. I started to see my abs and could lift heavier weights and run faster. If I never achieve this again, at least now I have photographic proof that I was once in shape.
At the beginning of July, Katie decided to throw herself down the stairs. She ended up in the hospital, where they feared a broken back. Thankfully she was OK but hobbled around on crutches for a few weeks afterwards.
The rest of the month was somewhat better: The fair came to town, and Rootwo was fascinated. I had to take him on the plane ride several times.
We saw my parents and visited Twycross Zoo. The staff kindly loaned us a wheelchair for Katie, who struggled to walk. It gave her a new appreciation for the people she helps daily at work.
Parkrun was back! I somehow managed to scrape 13th position in just under 22 mins. Not my best, but not bad.
After an impromptu trip to Halfords, Roo got a new bike. No stabilisers; she just went for it, and—after several false starts—she was off. We were so proud of her! I’m hopeful of many family bike rides in the future.
We went to Centerparcs with Katie’s family, a trip we’d postponed for 18 months. Katie’s back was much better, so she could enjoy the holiday entirely. And, oh boy, did we indulge. The kids had a wonderful time; they delighted in one another’s company.
The housing market in England in August 2021 was insane. Driven by people’s desire to escape smaller homes, detached houses became rarer than rocking horse shit. This demand created a turbulent market. So we were equally dismayed and unsurprised when our house purchase fell through.
Luckily, we were able to salve our disappointment with a break in the New Forest with my Mom and Dad. We had a wonderful couple of days before I dropped a glass frying-pan lid on my foot.
When I woke the morning after, the pain was extraordinary. Thankfully, the wait in the local A&E wasn’t too long; but I wasn’t brave when they cleaned the wound. I spent the rest of the holiday hobbling around in my Dad’s old sandals.
My Dad and I flew a virtual Boeing 747 at Shoreham airport. He was the First Officer; I was the captain. Bloody hell, it was fun.
Paul and I made our (now) annual cycling trip to the New Forest. This year we abandoned the tents and stayed in a cottage.
Rootwo turned two, but rather than the party we’d planned, we all had fun at the PCR testing centre. Poor little man wasn’t well at all, and after testing positive on a Lateral Flow Test, we all isolated while we waited for the PCR results.
Two days later we were free! The PCR was negative, and Rootwo started getting better. Another few days past and the news was suddenly replete with stories of false-negative test results. Oh dear. I guess we’ll never know if he had it or not.
Thanks to a well-timed letter to vendors, the house purchase was back on.
We attended the Littlehampton Bonfire Parade. It was as hectic as always, but Roo seemed to enjoy it. Rootwo is too little, really, but he didn’t complain too much.
After almost three years of contracting, I took a full-time position. I joined Made Tech as their first UCD Principal. I’m still working with DLUHC - but in a much-expanded role.
Following Paul’s mantra of moving slowly and fixing things, I gave my website a facelift. Nothing too major—mainly accessibility and typographic improvements.
Under the bonnet, things changed dramatically: I rewrote the entire codebase on Eleventy 1.0, resurrecting the diary and adding a new notes section. I can now post short, tweet-like updates via Indiekit; these syndicate to my micro.blog and Twitter feeds.
We experienced “Condition: Omicron” in December, which almost shit all over everyone’s Christmas plans. Boris held his nerve and refused to order a new lockdown. It’s currently unclear to me if this was wise.
We saw Santa twice: Once at Amberley and again at the Wetlands. Both were wonderful, with many heartwarming expressions on the kid’s faces.
Katie and I had a night in a hotel. We were so grateful to Katie’s sister and family, who looked after Roo and Rootwo. It was glorious to spend time together.
The end of the year ended with my mom in the hospital. She’s on the mend now, but it was all rather worrying.
Cases of Coronavirus have reached record heights, and we wait with bated breath to see what will happen in the hospitals. I’m still hopeful that 2022 will be the year we learn to live alongside this horrible virus.
Happy New Year, everyone.