Updated: Jan 19

What a year. A year of loss, a year of gain, a year of choices and indecision, painful times, happier times. Lots to be grateful for.

January. Lockdown was tough, of course. I was so lucky to be living in a safe and warm home with people I love, and amazing neighbours next door. I continued weekly Zoom writing sessions with friends from the MA. Evening walks at a distance with Dad. Talking about everything. Sunday visits to the market for sugared donuts and cannolis. Freezing trips to the park with Jess and Nyree. Warming up later at home with stew and dumplings and a bubbling hot tub.

February. The air started to lighten up. My non-fiction course began on Zoom. It was like a weekly therapy session with lovely people, all with a different, unique and interesting story to tell. My birthday brought the first sunny day of the year, Dom made the most delicious mussels with white wine.

March was trickier. Lockdown still a thing. Everyone was frustrated. Grandma had a fall and ended up in hospital. Not being able to visit her was horrible. So much time was spent on the phone trying to get through to her. There were some nicer moments too; Seb’s Birthday. Jess made a yummy sweetie cake filled with skittles. Later on, we ordered Calzone from Elliot’s and he devoured a Calzone bigger than his head. Football with Hebden Saints re-started, and watching the games on Sundays was (and still is) possibly the most wholesome thing to do in life.

April. The month we lost one of the strongest, kindest people I’ll ever know, my grandma. Saying goodbye to her at the hospital was agonising, but I can also recognise how lucky we were to be able to visit her, after months of no one being allowed to visit their loved ones. I will never forget sitting with my dad in the hospital room while he sang Little Drummer Boy and played his ukulele to her and she sang along, weak and fragile, still smiling. I also listened to Eamon ‘I don’t want you back’ with my brother in the car on the way there, which is a horribly whiny and expletive song that will now unfortunately always remind me of my sweet dear grandma. I was at my best friend Ruth’s house with some of my closest friends, friends I hadn’t seen all year, when I heard the news. It felt like the right place to be, and I’m glad I was with them.

May-time, and work was busy. I had an assignment for non-fiction to submit, a difficult piece about family and relationships, some parts of it were being mirrored on some level in present-day, and it was so much to digest and piece together, especially while getting ready for Grandma’s funeral. After saying to my tutor I didn’t think I could submit on time, suddenly, something switched in me. I re-drafted and edited like crazy and submitted the assignment the day before my grandma’s funeral, a day early. That felt good, and I know she would have been proud.

June. Started taking Seb to cricket on Friday evenings, sitting in the warm, summer air with friends and watching the kids play and run around in the sun. Dom, who had been suffering with a really bad back, started to feel better, and as his mood lifted with the improvement of his back, I also felt a lifting of spirits. I felt I could be more supportive of my loved ones suffering with their own issues, and I had more space in my head. My sister had a baby the same day as Dom’s birthday, the best present ever, slightly took over his birthday though.

July. School ended and I decided I needed to leave my job and start a fresh. I met with the Zoom writers for the first time ever in real life, and went to meet my baby niece in Glasgow. The train journey was horrendous – busy and masked up and boiling hot, but the niece - oh the niece! She was so small and dinky and perfect. I loved holding her and squidging her and squatting up and down with her in my arms to keep her happy. What an absolute babe. Seb and I went on a beautiful trip to London and Brighton, where we visited Uncle Geoff and Uncle Perry in London, ate delicious food, played Jenga, saw the sights without getting on a single tube to try and avoid Covid as much as possible (27,000 steps in one day) and the following day we got the train with Auntie Maddie to visit Auntie Sue. We went on the pier, ate sea food, splashed in the sea and had a wonderful time.

In August, Dom, Seb and I went on our first ever camping trip. It was cold, wet and slightly dirty. It was also very fun. We had the smallest, most basic tent in the whole of the campsite. Seb LOVED it. We saw castles, we went to the beach, we ate a crab cracked with a rock, bought from the post office, we devoured ice creams wherever we went and we came home feeling internally damp, but close, and prepared for more camping adventures (maybe).

September saw the last day of work at the University, and starting the 300 Days of Writing challenge. I started working freelance. We went to see our first gig in years (New Order) with Beth and Rory, and it was so fun and even better bumping into lovely Rosie Nose and getting an absolutely disgustingly stale and sticky Burger King at the end of the night. I picked up my Austrian passport from the embassy in London, and afterwards went to Fischer’s restaurant for Schnitzel with Sam, Mads, Sue and Dad. I jumped on an aeroplane and went to visit Evie in Romania, where, even at the end of September, the sun was still shining. There was gelato on every street corner, a young boy sang ‘Let You Go’ by Passenger so softly my heart burst. We ate pasta filled with spinach and ricotta and grapefruit juice, fresh and bitter. We relaxed in the biggest spa in Europe. We talked none-stop and it was amazing. I was sad, as always to say goodbye, but excited to start my poetry course the following day, with a presentation about my favourite word ‘f**k’ and favourite poem ‘Now We are Six’.

October. We had to move out of our house to locate a ‘leak’ in our kitchen which had been an ongoing problem. We had expected 2-3 weeks away from home – this obviously led to 14 weeks away from home. This meant staying with different family members for a while, and although it was tricky at some points, I can’t deny how lovely it was to spend more time with my family (although I think my nan perhaps wanted to murder me at times, which is totally understandable). We had a lovely trip away in the Lake District with Mum’s side of the family. Walks, chats and impossible jigsaw puzzles- perfect.

November. Tick tock, tick tock… Still not at home, the kitchen had been ripped out and looked like a dungeon. The cost was ramping up. Every time I returned home I cried with despair. I started working at my dad’s house during the day, Mum and Yaz got Covid and we had to escape as quickly as we could to the nearest empty house – it was like going off to war! I was all over the place and had no idea where anything was or what I was doing. Next up, Seb and I stayed at Dad’s, which was pretty fun. Lots of writing and eating. After ten days, we went back to Mum’s, we’d missed them, and they’d missed us. We played lots of games. Ate lots of chocolate and introduced them to the ‘Firestick’ TV and Yaz to Dexter. Mindblowing!


The final month of 2021. The word ‘Omicron’ on the tips of our tongues. Nanna’s surprise 90th Birthday party – the most special day, she had no idea. Her little face when she saw people she hadn’t seen in over a decade, people she thought she would never see again. Trip to Toby Carvery with family, once Grandma’s favourite place. Planning Christmas. Writing poems. Something clicking about stanzas. Still not quite understanding punctuation… Moving home. Dust, everywhere. Christmas Day in London. Carols on the street on Christmas Eve. That faint, unmissable line on the lateral flow test, just visible enough to really put a downer on Christmas Day. Champagne. New Year’s Eve… All the intentions to stay up until midnight. Writing resolutions. Thinking about the people we've lost. The people we've gained. Reading Harry Potter. Falling asleep with Seb at 11pm… Feeling lucky.

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