2020 Visions

Since starting expatsteveblog I have always published a yearly review, which typically features the various trips I have taken throughout the previous 12 months, and other highlights of my year; but 2020 …. (desperately trying to resist the temptation to say something about this being like no other) …. has ensured that for the bulk of it my feet have been firmly on the ground, and that I have become a ‘homebody’.

I was trying to think of a single photo that describes 2020 for me, but rather than select just one, I felt the triptych above says a great deal.

The Boarding Card – this year I took 4 flights, 2 in January (an overnight trip to Berlin), and 2 in February (a 3 day trip to Dubai), this boarding card is from the last of those flights, which was from Dubai to London on 20th February. In the past 15 years I have probably taken an average of 50 – 60 flights a year, so if someone had told me that this flight would have been my last for the year, I would never have believed them, but here I am, 10 months later, totally grounded!

My first grandchild – by a country mile, the highlight of this year has been becoming a grandparent, and welcoming my granddaughter Eden into the world. Eden was born in October, a precious gift from Jamie and Rachel – in the 2 months since her birth, her smile has bought us all such joy.

Working from home – another cliche of this year has been ‘the new normal’, and one aspect of this new normal has been the need to work from home. Mrs E has worked constantly from our study since early summer, she starts at 9, and I barely see her until at least 6 when I have to sound the dinner gong to get her to stop! I too have recently started a new project, one that would normally have required me to travel to a client site, but it’s now so different, and we have had to learn to manage by working remotely. Our cat Truffle however has other ideas, and as can be seen in this shot, she likes to sometimes disrupt our work at home routines!

It is also a year in which I have found it difficult to find inspiration for blog posts, even to take photos, hence my output in both areas has been woefully small, so for this review I decided to simply share my top ten favourite shots from amongst the few that I have taken.

My trip to Berlin in January started the year in fairly normal fashion, a busy business trip which also allowed some time to explore the city – this shot features ‘The Cube’, a futuristic building that really intrigued me. Its amazing lines, shapes and reflections had me staring in awe for a long time; what a sight to be greeted by as you leave the nearby Berlin main railway station.

In late January, having returned to the UK the previous month, we settled into English country life by renting a small cottage in the village of Staplefield in West Sussex. As the virus took hold, and the word ‘lockdown’ was introduced into our vocabulary, we found that our decision had been an excellent one, as the peace and quiet of the village meant it was the perfect place to have to endure these new restrictions.

Having a pet was an experience that was very new to me, Truffle came into our lives the previous August whilst we were still in Dubai, and we of course wanted to have her with us as we settled back in the UK. Like us, she has adapted well to her new surroundings, and also the concept of seasons – being a Dubai cat, she had never really experienced the cold, she certainly knows what that is now!

After the first lockdown, our first trip out was to London to visit the Tower of London in the warm summer sun; after a fun few hours exploring its wonderful rooms, we went to the nearby Wetherspoons for lunch – I was drawn to this view of the bar juxtaposed with the famous ‘Walkie Talkie’ building – 20 Fenchurch Street.

Walking was a big part of my Summer and Autumn – living in the heart of the Sussex countryside there are great opportunities to explore the woodlands. The next few shots were taken on some of these rambles

Dillions Vineyard, very close to where we live

Nearby, at Nymans Woods

Leith Hill

Crawley’s Tilgate Park, as the autumn colours were on show

In between the various lockdowns and tier levels that we have entered, left and re-entered, we managed a few other day trips – one to Lewes, the county town of East Sussex, with its famous Castle, and to Brighton Marina and its surrounding area.

So as this challenging year finally draws to a close, let’s hope for a truly happy new year, and the gradual return to whatever normal will become for us in the coming months.

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