2021: A Year In Review 

My nine most liked Instagram posts in 2021.

2021 was a somewhat better year than 2020 was. Even though the Coronavirus pandemic was still ongoing, there was the occasional moment where people online continued posting things I didn’t like (I have since unfollowed some of these people), I lost a family friend and I had some frustrating and overwhelming moments, I got to spend more time with my family and get out and about more in the latter half of the year. 

Here is a month-by-month lowdown of 2021:

January 

At the beginning of the year, I decided to take each and every day as it came due to a lot of things having gone awry in 2020. 

England entered its third overall full-on lockdown since the Coronavirus hit the U.K. at the end of January 2020 (please read my blog post about what I thought of it as well as local lockdowns, Lockdown 2.0 and the tier system) and while I felt more relaxed about it to begin with since I wasn’t planning on seeing any friends or relatives then, I saw some social media posts that I thought were just as negative as a lot of them that I saw the previous year in light of the lockdown (I ended up hiding these posts from my feeds and unfollowing one person who made them). 

My new iPad Air in Sky Blue

I lost motivation to post new pictures on Instagram for nearly 2 weeks (I still added to my stories during this time), but as soon as I picked up my new iPad Air, I decided to share photos of it on social media. 

I felt stressed in the last week of January due to the electrician turning up without support staff informing me in advance while I was volunteering from home. I also decided to take control of my finances and I did this by only sticking to essential purchases; cancelling certain subscriptions and memberships; and opening a savings account on top of my current account.

Me with 2 of my Christmas presents from 2020

In more positive news, my dad turned 60 this month and to celebrate, I took part in a virtual decades quiz with him, my mum, my sister and a family friend (RIP). Besides the virtual quiz, I have started taking part in Zoom webinars with my agency again and filmed my YouTube video about the Christmas presents I received in 2020. I have also had my flat professionally cleaned for the first time since 2019 and I vowed to have it professionally cleaned once a month.

February 

My SimplyCook Nasi Goreng

I spent most of the first week of February in my flat because I felt unsafe to leave my flat due to a minor incident that had happened just outside of my block of flats the week before. During this time, I made do with the food, household products and toiletries I already had and bought some more the following week.

The electrician finally fixed my socket that my fridge-freezer was originally plugged into. In the third full week of the month, I felt that I had seen the same old thing day in day out and saw some things online that I didn’t find particularly inspiring. The week after, I had racing thoughts about the rest of the year and had some cooking disasters. 

My card with my first COVID-19 vaccine written on it

On the plus side, the British government announced a roadmap out of the third lockdown and I had my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

March

My new blue chequered bedding set

This was a very reclusive month for me because I didn’t feel like leaving my flat for a whole week, especially if my energy dipped on two of my days off from volunteering. I lost the motivation to write a new blog post this month because I was disheartened about the attention my blog post from the previous month had received. 

I decided to volunteer on flexible days rather than my initial Mondays and Tuesdays due to agency staff hosting a lot of webinars throughout the year and I also became overwhelmed with my volunteering in terms of my colleagues seeming to ask me to do different tasks for them at once. 

A sign promoting my new local shop

As for more exciting news, a new shop opened near me and I restarted my Ocado Smart Pass subscription due to the manager of my block of flats allowing certain delivery drivers to deliver my food shopping to my flat (delivery drivers followed safety precautions such as not entering my flat), especially if it is bulky.

April

My Hotel Chocolat Easter Egg

I spent another Easter without my family due to some lockdown restrictions still being in place in England, but I still spoke to them on Skype while they were away in Tenby on Easter Sunday (because they live in Newport, Wales, they were allowed to travel anywhere within Wales at this point). They also very kindly sent me some money to put towards an Easter egg. 

The chocolates inside my Easter egg

I also spent some days away from social media, my e-mails and consuming the news due to being overwhelmed by the news in terms of twice-weekly lateral flow COVID-19 tests in England and the passing of a major public figure. Unfortunately, having my e-mail notifications turned off during one weekend had caused the support staff in my block of flats to become increasingly concerned about me for not responding to their e-mails. In all honesty, I was just as concerned about them not responding to most of my e-mails during the week as they were about me not responding to theirs. One particular e-mail response from staff caused me to have my worst meltdown since December 2020 (it turned out that the staff had a lot on their plate at the time they sent the responses due to the manager of my block of flats working on another site for a fortnight). 

The invitation to my cousin’s wedding and my RSVP

I made the difficult decision to not attend the wedding of one of my cousins at the end of July due to feeling very anxious about mixing with larger groups of people during the pandemic. When I saw that certain aspects of the wedding had gone very well, I partly regretted not attending but the other part of me was glad that I had kept safe. My other cousin who got married in July didn’t invite me or some of my other relatives to his wedding, but I wasn’t bothered because it probably would have involved larger groups of people mingling. 

My friend from down my street texted me for the first time since Christmas 2020 to check in with me. I took a COVID-19 PCR test at home due to coughing on and off since the third weekend of April and my result was negative. After the test, I had put my coughing down to a sudden change in the weather. 

May

A COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test strip that shows a negative result
My card showing my first 2 COVID-19 vaccines
My haircut in May 2021

I started taking regular COVID-19 lateral flow tests in the first full week of May and I had my second dose of the COVID-19 Pfeizer vaccine. I also had my first haircut of the year. 

My at-home birthday afternoon tea. Photo credit: Penny Slocombe
My 34th birthday cake
Some of my 34th birthday presents

Due to the relaxed lockdown restrictions despite fears about the Delta variant of the virus (there were hardly any cases in Wales and my part of London at this time), I got to spend my birthday with my family. Even though I found my stay overwhelming at times probably because I hadn’t stayed with my parents since September 2020 at this point, I had a lovely at-home afternoon tea, some great gifts and an easy-going birthday McDonald’s. I also visited my parents’ allotment, chatted with my paternal grandparents outside their house, visited a garden centre, volunteered from my parents’ house, went shopping in Cwmbran and watched the Eurovision Song Contest. 

I went back to blogging after a three-month break and started writing a series of posts about the Bunty for Girls 1999 annual. 

June

My new yellow floral bedding

This was a difficult month for my family and me due to it being the 21st anniversary of my maternal grandma’s passing and the first anniversary of my maternal grandad’s. 

Swedish meatballs on my new Scandi floral tablecloth

I was also anxious earlier this month because I got confused about how long the professional cleaner cleaned my flat for and I didn’t like what the manager of my block of flats said about the condition of my flat before the cleaner cleaned it in an e-mail to my mum. It was then that I decided to take his observations on board and make my kitchen look more tidy in a creative way. 

The Buzz Bingo club in Borehamwood and my bingo touchpad

One thing I did for the first time since 2019 was meet some friends at my bingo hall. I won £60 while one of my friends won £50.

July 

Roast chicken dinner

There were some days this month where I lacked motivation, especially with the heatwave.

I began to express doubts about the Gran Canaria trip again, so my parents and I agreed to postpone our trip to the following year and I decided to stay at their house in the autumn instead. 

Ruby Chocolate Frappucino and Strawberries and Cream Muffin at Costa Coffee

Things mostly looked up this month. Two of my cousins got married in the last week of the month, some handymen fixed my bathroom window and I met up with my friend from down my street for the first time in a year and a half. 

August 

Me with some of my 34th birthday presents

This was a very busy month for me, especially in the second half. I had some extra bits of volunteering to do, filmed a video of my 34th birthday presents and late 2020 Christmas presents and answered some questions for a dissertation that a student my dad knows was completing. I also received the sad news that the friend who had participated in online quizzes with my family and me had died suddenly. As a result, I decided to take some time away from Facebook and Facebook Messenger so that I could focus on the extra volunteering and the dissertation research as much as possible. 

Squash and pepper pasta

Just like the support staff in my block of flats showing concern for me not replying to their e-mails back in April, my parents were worried about me not responding to their Facebook messages in August. At least my parents were more understanding towards me not replying to their Facebook messages than the staff were towards me not responding to their e-mails.

September 

Family afternoon tea in Caerphilly county
Escape Rooms Cardiff. Photo credit of the picture of my family and me: Escape Rooms Cardiff
Jane Austen Centre, Bath
Sally Lunn’s Bunns, Bath

I stayed with my parents again this month. It wasn’t the easiest of stays due to feeling overwhelmed from visiting someone else’s house for Sunday lunch; my MacBook Pro not switching on (this was especially frustrating because it limited my ability to volunteer; edit and upload videos for my YouTube channel; and publish blog posts) and finding the Escape Rooms Cardiff disappointing. Some highlights of my family stay were shopping in Cwmbran and Newport; having my hair cut; afternoon tea in Caerphilly County; visiting Costco in Cardiff; and my trip to Bath. 

Birth announcement of Ella, the daughter of my cousin, Lewis, and his wife, Megan

Also this month, my cousin and his wife welcomed their new baby girl about a month before her due date. They already have a son who was born in 2019.

Noel Fielding’s Lion A Hard Mane is Gonna Fall in Piccadilly Circus, London. This was my favourite lion in the Tusk Lion Trail.

I took part in the Tusk Lion Trail in Central London this month. It was a fun trail where there were lion sculptures from Covent Garden to Green Park.

Queue for petrol outside my local Shell petrol station

I volunteered in a designated office space for my neurodivergent recruitment agency just for one day while my MacBook Pro was being repaired. Volunteering in the office space wasn’t easy because the latest version of Adobe Creative Cloud wasn’t compatible with the 10-year-old desktop Mac, so I did some social media and blog work instead. The journeys to and from the office space were rather hellish due to the fuel crisis.

October

My profile picture on my agency’s website

I got my repaired MacBook Pro back and spent a lot of time editing a backlog of webinars for my neurodivergent recruitment agency. I also decided to take a break from Skype video calls with my parents because I thought it would be beneficial for my personal mental well-being.

My personalised Wild Deodrant rainbow case and a Wild refill

Further to my volunteering, I ended up swapping a day due to feeling under the weather and not having slept very well on my planned volunteering day. I put my feeling and poor sleep down to feeling overwhelmed due to my colleagues asking me to do individual tasks for them (I guess I only did those tasks to please them) and getting used to a new colleague’s ways of publishing blog posts for the agency. 

November 

My photo travel mug and ergonomic mousemat from Smartphoto.com

I took a short break from Facebook and Instagram at the beginning of this month because I think it’s a good idea to take breaks from social media every so often. I also decided to only do Skype video calls with my family on special occasions because I felt that they hadn’t always worked out and I get more done in the day without them. 

Jacket potato and butterbean bake, one of my favourite meals my mum had made years ago.

In the second week of this month, I became confused and frustrated when the support staff in my block of flats told me that some people from outside might be doing fire safety and maintenance checks in flats on one of my usual volunteering days. It turned out that the people from outside had only tested the main fire alarm system for the whole block of flats and hadn’t told staff that they would only be doing that beforehand. The support staff also said that they would test my smoke alarms in the evening, but they didn’t. It occurred to me that the support staff were busy with meetings that day. I was especially frustrated because I missed out on a webinar about a topic that I’m particularly interested in (luckily, my colleague recorded the webinar), but I’m glad I could swap my volunteering day to make up for lost time.

One webinar recording didn’t go to plan due to my colleague’s internet connection being unstable. Despite this, I managed to edit a watchable version of the webinar. The following week, I returned to the office space to see what the recording quality of another webinar would be like there (I brought my own MacBook Pro because it is more up to date than the desktop Mac in the office). While the playback was mostly smooth, there was the occasional part that froze or lagged. My colleague suggested I record webinars over an Ethernet connection rather than over wi-fi in future.

My COVID-19 booster vaccine card

With regards to COVID-19, I began to feel concerned when the Omicron variant of the virus from South Africa hit the U.K. I was especially worried that it could affect my plans to stay with my family over Christmas and New Year (I missed out on seeing them in person last Christmas due to the Alpha variant) and take part in social activities. At the end of the month, the NHS COVID-19 app told me that I needed to self-isolate for 10 days because I had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive for the virus. On the flip side, I had my COVID-19 booster vaccine as well as my flu jab this month.

December

My Hotel Chocolat Caramel Chocolate and DegustaBox advent calendars for 2021

I spent the first 10 days of this month in self-isolation. During this time, government advice to work from home was announced in light of the Omicron variant, which is one guideline I actually don’t mind because I had got used to volunteering from home since March 2020. I also created an online petition to make the NHS COVID-19 app more accessible to neurodiverse people. As the app notified me of my close contact testing positive for the virus, I misinterpreted the question about being fully vaccinated on or before 14th November to include my booster. Since I didn’t receive my booster until 27th November, I answered, “No.” People online told me I didn’t need to self-isolate if I had been fully vaccinated, but I decided to do so anyway to be on the safe side, especially if I didn’t know whether my close contact had the original form of Coronavirus or the Omicron variant. My self-isolation led to me missing out on my Christmas get-together with my agency and postponing my optician appointment until the new year. 

My bed at the Warner Leisure Hotels Holme Lacy House Hotel
My stocking fillers for 2021
Me with my sister, Penny, on Christmas Day
Mum and Penny on Christmas Day
Dad and my brother, Adam, on Christmas Day
My Christmas turkey lunch at the Warner Leisure Hotels Holme Lacy House Hotel

Despite anxiety and confusion as to whether government restrictions would be imposed over Christmas and New Year (some were imposed in Wales, but they didn’t affect my family and me while my block of flats went into its own lockdown towards the end of the year), I went away at both my parents’ house and the Warner Leisure Hotels Holme Lacy House Hotel to make up for the hotel closing in 2020. Although I found the trip quite stressful at times and thought that some hotel staff and guests were not following COVID-19 health and safety regulations, I felt that they did follow them for the most part while the food and entertainment were very good on the whole (please read my TripAdvisor review of this trip). 

Like with 2021, I do not have any specific goals for 2022. I will take each and every day as it comes again.

GOODBYE 2021, HELLO 2022!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored blog post. All photography is my own unless otherwise stated.

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