Yesterday, Storm Christoph, which has been battering and flooding many parts of the UK, brought us a dramatic combination of rain, wind, thunder, lightning, snow, bright sunshine and then a great sunset. I suspect that we might see a similar drama in events and a variety of ups and downs in 2021 as we wrestle with the coronavirus pandemic, the impact of Brexit and the normal hurly-burly of life.
Currently, the rather boring but necessary lockdown continues and Winter life revolves around meals at home, shopping for them, walking the local lanes and fields, reading books, listening to the (voluminous and ever changing) news, watching TV dramas in front of the woodburner, and sleep. But the delivery of vaccines is providing some hope that, in a few months, we will be able to resume adventures around the UK and meet people normally again.
Yes, there are new variants of the virus and, yes, the death rate will rise yet further before it subsides, but there is expectation now that the current pandemic will pass (or, at least, become a lot less disruptive) during 2021. Of course, I am dearly hoping that is the case. However, I also hope that the Government does not hide behind an effective roll-out of the vaccines (assuming they manage that). We must learn, and make transparent, the lessons learnt from doing almost everything too little and too late to combat the virus. After all, this is hardly likely to be the last pandemic we need to deal with and we need to do far better next time.
Against the uncertain backdrop of pandemic and Brexit, it is hard to set concrete personal resolutions for the New Year. The lockdown has induced a gentle lethargy in me (I’m one of the lucky ones). I think it is going to take the fine Spring weather and an end of the lockdown to generate some proper enthusiasm to break that ennui. So my resolution process this year is really to just continue on the path set over the last couple of years.
For example, I will maintain my target of walking an average of over 15,000 steps a day. Apart from a bit of garden pottering, that is really my only substantive exercise these days. So, it’s good that I exceeded that target again in 2020 and I plan to do so once more in 2021. That should be achievable, and be thoroughly enjoyable to achieve in our lovely countryside, provided I stay healthy. Hopefully, many of those steps will be taken a little further afield than was possible in 2020.
The 2020 resolution achievements I proudest of in 2020 were those relating to increasing alcohol-free days and reducing average alcohol units per day. I beat my target of 40% alcohol free days by more than 10% – well over half or 2020 was alcohol free! I also thrashed my 10% reduction target of decreasing my alcohol unit intake. My tracking on the Drinkaware app has shown that I managed a 35% reduction in alcohol compared to 2019 and I now average 22 units/week.
That still leaves me well above the recommended limit of alcohol intake (14 units a week); so there is more to do. However, there is a balance to be struck here. Until I really can’t drink whiskey, wine or beer for precipitate health reasons, I need to weigh the benefit to my feelings and mental health with the physical risks of exceeding the rigour of what is recommended. So many pleasures have been curtailed during this pandemic, reducing further the pleasure I get from what is now a relatively occasional drink is not in my set of 2021 targets. I will just aim to at least repeat what I achieved in 2020 – that will involve will power sufficient to be challenging enough.
That, plus the continuation of walking, should help with my perennial objective of getting my weight below 11 stone. By the week before Christmas, I had managed that. However, for the second year in a row, the combination of mince pies, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, brandy butter and a major Christmas dinner – lovely as that all was – tipped me over the edge of the 11 stone marker just before year end and just as it did in 2019. My resolution this year is to reduce my weight to such a degree by mid-December that I can enjoy those Christmas excesses without jeopardising target achievement.
Other resolutions from last year have been a bit of a washout. I failed to listen to the news on the radio less and listen to music more. There was just so much news from the pandemic, to Trump, to Brexit, that I just couldn’t stop taking it in. Plus I failed to reach my target of reading 20 books (I managed only 13, a poor show given how much discretionary time I now have and how much I enjoy good fiction). I resolve to do better in 2021.
Long-Suffering Wife and I failed, for obvious reasons, to achieve our resolution to get out together around the UK more. We made it to Belfast for the first time but other holidays to Cornwall and Wales were planned then cancelled. This year, when the virus allows, we will revisit Belfast where Youngest Son is establishing himself, and visit Eldest Son in his new home in Edinburgh. We also have booked, rather ambitiously, a family Christmas on the west coast of Skye; if that comes off, the world really will have returned to something like normality.
This time last year I said in these blogs: “I think that 2020 is going to be a far better year than 2019”. In some ways it was in that we had no sons in near fatal accidents. Now, I really do think 2021 will be far better than last year but who knows what it will throw at us. Good job my resolutions are not critical work targets that must be met; I can relax, be flexible, go with the flow and just be content with pushing myself just a tiny bit.