The early months of 2022 were ugly. Grey and cold.
It’s easy to forget how much Covid dominated our lives at the start of the year. Even though Plan B was in full effect, some people (including me) were at the end of their ropes with punitive lockdown rules. Masks were still a fact of everyday life, and dirty looks for those who chose not to wear them were commonplace. Of course, I complied but was secretly desperate to escape this tyranny. Thankfully, the government lifted Plan B measures on 27 January.
On the homefront, we started 2022 as we always do with a walk around Swanbourne lake in Arundel with friends. I love this tradition, and I love these people. We need to spend more time with them.
But in the east of Europe, something dark was brewing. In the closing days of February, Russia started its “special military operation” in Ukraine. A grinding, bitter drawn-out war ensued. Selfishly, I worried about a nuclear war.
My mom had spent some time in the hospital at the start of the year but seemed to be recovering well. However, when we went to visit my parents for my mom’s birthday, it was clear something wasn’t right.
In early March, mom started an extended stay in the hospital. Not that we knew it yet, but she had a rare four-in-a-million disease called dermatomyositis. Over the following months, she was prodded and poked with all manner of investigation so that the doctors could give us a diagnosis. All the while, her condition deteriorated to the point where she could barely move. In her own words, she felt “like shit.”
The NHS is an extraordinary institution, but it’s only once caught in its various pathways that you see how truly broken it is. We were passed from one professional to another with little information transfer. The professionals relied on my dad and me to fill in the blanks in their handover notes. My mom would have found it completely impossible to navigate alone.
After recovering from a bout of Covid, I drove to the Midlands to visit my mom in the hospital. I distracted myself from overthinking by walking and became fascinated with my hometown.
At work, the project I was working on for DLUHC drew to a close. It was somewhat of a surprise to pass our beta assessment. In retrospect, of course, we were always going to pass. Our phenomenal team had worked hard to make the service simple. I’m also incredibly thankful that the project allowed me to finally work with one of my oldest and dearest friends.
No year would be complete without a family trip to Center Parcs. This year we spent four glorious days in Longleat Forest.
Summer started with a bang! Well, for Katie, at least. She spent a long weekend in Morroco with friends while I solo parented.
Later that same month, the weather in the UK went nuts. The thermometer topped out at 40°C, far hotter than Morroco only a week before. For us, it meant enduring several uncomfortable nights, but it was far more serious for some.
Thankfully, the heat had subsided when we boarded the ferry bound for the Isle of Wight. Even though it is on our doorstep, we’d never holidayed on the island before. I loved this holiday. The kids had a brilliant time; therefore, we had a brilliant time, too.
From the Isle of Wight, we drove to my parents. My mom was finally out of the hospital, and spending time with them was fantastic.
We returned home for a final few nights. Four days later, we moved house. Finally! From the first offer until completion took almost two years. In contrast to the slog of actually buying the house, the move went smoothly. We’d paid the removal company to pack our old house. This service is indispensable for an easier life when moving; anything that makes the process easier is worth every penny. That said, I don’t want to move house often. Without our brilliant friends—who helped by unpacking most of our stuff—I think we’d still be living out of boxes now.
We settled into our new house, but everything felt new and weird. Roo especially struggled with missing her old house. Katie and I didn’t move as kids, so we don’t know how best to help her. We paid a decorator to repaint their rooms so they’d feel like they had their own space. Rootwo thought we were still on holiday and kept asking when we would return home. Bless them. It’ll take a while.
I went to the Guardians of the Galaxy Secret Cinema in London with Luke and Tom.
Paul and I took our annual cycling trip. This year we navigated train and ferry to the Isle of Wight, where we schlepped up and down mountainous hills to a caravan park in Bembridge.
In October, Rootwo was three. We took full advantage of a bigger house and garden a threw a party. We hired a bouncy castle, and Katie made all kinds of dinosaur-themed food. Later that evening, some of our new neighbours came around, and I tried to ride on top of the bouncy castle as it inflated.
The weather remained warm into late autumn. This was just as well, given that energy prices rose sharply. Then, in early December, the weather turned, and Britain froze.
We spent Christmas with family. It was lovely to spend time with my parents. What a year they’ve had. I’m happy to report that my mom is doing much better and could even enjoy our traditional festive visit to the zoo.