Though I only managed to do half of the things on my 20 For 2020 list, I wanted to look back at the 20 things that actually happened which I didn’t plan for.
I didn’t fly at all during 2020! This was my main goal for 2020 … of course it was meant to be a bit more of a challenge, but it worked out well. The plan was to embrace taking the train to South of France, Germany and to the Netherlands on a number of trips.
I finally had enough patience for baking – from Milk Bar’s Birthday Cake to hazelnut cake and the lockdown classic banana bread. Now that I got a proper digital kitchen scale for Christmas I’m looking forward to make even more things.
Finished Breaking Bad. A show I started watching 3/4 times over the years but couldn’t get through because it’s not a show I want to watch after a long day at work followed by a commute and cooking food. But turns out that minus the commute it was actually doable, and well worth it!
For a long time I just wanted to watch as many movies as possible at the London Film Festival and this year I managed to watch 11! And all of them without having to queue in the cold or getting annoyed by people talking.
Made Sunday Roast from scratch – from the gravy to the Yorkshire puddings and the stuffing … it was worth it and Easter Sunday Roast was one for the books (or blogs in this case).
Learned a few guitar chords. I’m still on 4 chords and need to keep practising before I continue with the remaining ones and get my first virtual gig booked in.
I also perfected my latte and mocha making skills. Now I know the skill and cleaning that goes into making one cup I’m never going to complain that my mocha or latte is too expensive or takes too long.
I didn’t follow the courses I wanted but before the lockdown I did follow two useful lunchtime workshops that were organised by my office building. One of them was making your own natural clay mask. I’ve purchased the ingredients and have been making my own masks to give my skin some much deserved love.
And then just in time for the first lockdown there was a fermenting 101 workshop which turned out to be a fun lockdown hobby. The fermented cabbage I made went well with Dutch mashed potato and a side salad with Bosnian bean soup and various stews. Ferment to extend!
I also started an Etsy shop to sell my some of my Polaroid prints. Starting an Etsy shop has been on my maybe someday list for a while and that someday happened to be in November. It’s closed for now as I’ve sold out of my first batch, but I’m planning to put on some London and Paris ones up there in the future.
This year I found the time to move all of my photos to one external hard drive, instead of having them on seven different ones. I also organised them by year and country and feel very content about it now.
Then I tidied up my computer desktop. It was getting embarrassing and was long due and now I just love staring at it.
I tried so many hobbies that I’ve been meaning to give a shot over the years, but never went for it. Turns out it takes a pandemic for me to sit down and try to be creative. My favourite new things have been pottery and cross stitching.
Then I went on and designed my own cross stitch pattern, in Excel of all places, which was such an amazing from someone who can never translate what’s in my head to what I’m trying to make.
Workwise, I adapted to working from home and aside from my day-to-day tasks, I led three roundtables at a virtual conference, gave a virtual talk and organised a virtual workshop.
I also expanded some of my other skills and did a Coursera on Tableau as well as some other random courses. I found it hard to work on them after a long day on the laptop, but being able to implement things for work definitely encouraged me to continue.
Visited a panopticon prison! When I was studying in Breda, my university was close to a panopticon prison and I’ve always wanted to have a sneak peek inside. Luckily for me the prison closed a few years ago and has been turned into a place for team building type of games. And yes! I got to play in the actual dome and the ground during a bachelor party.
Visited York Cold War Bunker. Just outside the city centre I had a tour through Cold War bunker that was built in 1961 to monitor nuclear explosions and fallouts in the event of nuclear war. Rather small, but a very thought-provoking venture underground.
In 2020 I watched more movies directed by women. With so many streaming services it gets hard to pick something to watch. But what has worked for me in the picking process is having a theme. I shared some of the gems I saw in this list.
Oh and you know, I made it through a pandemic. And with only seven breakdowns.
The second lockdown is coming to an end! This one felt much longer than a month, but I managed to keep myself busy – I crossed off everything off my November list and some more..
Oh did I watch Christmas movies! I saw Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Sweater, Deliver Before Christmas, Christmas in Vienna, On The 12th Date of Christmas and Happiest Season. It was especially fascinating seeing how Hallmark made it work while filming during COVID. Christmas in Vienna made surprisingly good use of the city locations and local food – I can’t wait to go back to Vienna.
I cooked and baked! Including those delicious cinnamon, ginger and cloves filled Dutch kruidnoten I talked about here. I also supplemented my batch of the tomatillo-based Mexican salsa verde, which I could write a whole post on how amazing it is. But my favourite dish this month has to be the Japanese Katsu Curry that went great with the gyozas I made last month (which defrosted perfectly).
I also did an online Tea Tasting with Bird & Blend that was organised by the events team of my office building. Not only did this workshop have my name written all over it, but as it was Bird & Blend, I was very excited for this one. During the tasting we learned to look at things like leaf types, liquor and aroma and I discovered new flavours that I want to get next time I’m in Angel, where they have a shop. If you’re still looking for gifts or stocking fillers for tea lovers I can highly recommend. They have a wide selection of unique tea blends that make great gifts no matter what the season. You can also order a kit that will give you access to an online tasting. My top tea tips are the Gingerbread Chai, Campfires and Vampires and Fireside Snuggles varieties.
I usually save my Cheese fondue for December, but why wait in these unprecedented times? The Cheese Bar does a mouthwatering one that comes with everything you need to make the actual fondue and potatoes and bread to go with it. If you want to add some extra things to your cheese experience, I can suggest steamed Brussels sprouts, meatballs from the Vegetarian Butcher (though I’m sure any would work) and tenderstem broccoli, which all go perfectly.
On my initial to-do list I had folding my Ghibli origami, but instead I ended up doing origami during a workshop with Traverse & Paperboyo for the Korea Tourism Board. I can imagine how hard it is to come up with blogger events for tourism destinations, but they did an amazing job with making it relevant and practical. In addition to the classic crane bird, we also learned how to fold a Christmas tree and a star. I have some Christmas paper leftovers from previous years and am looking forward to transforming them into some festive star ornaments.
The day before lockdown I went out to go sweet chestnut hunting in the woods. Then I got a roasting pan, some wood and roasted a batch every Sunday. There’s just something about starting a fire, roasting and peeling those golden goodies that really warms my heart.
Walks around the block were a bit hit-and-miss this month. The one big park near my house was packed with joggers and cyclists, but thankfully other routes made up for it. The most surreal thing I saw was a fox that was chilling around, not intimidated by people until they came across a dog who was not a fan and they ran off rather quickly!
How have you been handling lockdowns and restrictions where you are?
While other countries are slowly opening up, London is still a few weeks behind and has only started loosening the lockdown restrictions. My motto over the last few weeks has been ” if this lockdown isn’t the time to take up a new hobby, I don’t know when is” so I’ve indulged in quite a few at-home activities in the last couple of weeks.
I’m really not good with crafts and can never translate what’s in my head to whatever it is what I’m making, but my craving for new things to do was so high that I ordered a pottery kit from Sculpd and managed to actually assemble two pots. And it was a great way to kill a Bank Holiday weekend. There is still enough clay left for a few more sessions, so I’ll be making a hug buddy for the current one.
I wasn’t going to buy books this year because my to-read pile was getting out of hand. I read a few classics and mixed it with whatever Prime has for free and after seeing The Flatmate everywhere I gave in and bought it on Kindle. It’s so not for me, I can’t even get through it as a hate read. Probably the worst £3 I spent in this lockdown.
Last year I bought a mini set cross stitch set because I wanted to check of embroidery would be for me and this kit looked very accessible. It ended up untouched on a shelf, but then I found the kit a few weeks ago and it’s definitely keeping me occupied for a few hours and to practice mindfulness.
I thought I had crossed it all off in the first few weeks, but cooking kept me busy. The last few weeks I’ve found joy in making things from scratch: everything from pizza dough, to pasta and tortilla wraps. So far, I’m most proud of my white pizza sauce creation, while the corn tortillas can use a bit more work.
Play Animal Crossing
Just like 11 million other people I found an escape in my paradise island, where I pay off my mortgage to a racoon, try to beat the stork market and check in on my island babies Deena and Bones – who tell me how amazing I am at all times.
Learn to play guitar
I tried to learn to play guitar before, but it never really went anywhere. I’ve got a guitar, a patient teacher and all the time, so I thought.. why not? I’m on 4 chords at the moment and going strong despite my fingers aching a bit, sooooo who wants to start a band on Zoom?
Watch movies & shows
Of course there’s always time for good old TV. I’ve noticed I’m tilting more towards watching shows rather than movies. So far I’ve finished Never Have I Ever, Unorthodox and Silicon Valley, and currently I’m watching Superstore and Succession. Movies I’ve enjoyed are the Lodge, How To Train Your Dragon Trilogy and Kikujiro.
Have you taken on any new hobbies?
It’s been four weeks since quarantine or ‘lockdown’ started here, so it’s time to post about some things I’ve been doing to stay sane, get purpose and create a sense of routine.
Baking & Cooking
Oh, I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen, because slow cooking is not only slow, but also comes with a lot of washing up and cleaning. Of course, I jumped on the baking and cooking from scratch bandwagon and made banana bread, Yorkshire puddings and bread. Other things I’ve been doing include pickling and fermenting leftover carrots, cabbage and cucumber. Now I need to find some recipes to go with that.
Growing & Regrowing
I bought an asparagus fern a few weeks before quarantine as I’m meant to keep something alive for my 20 for 2020 list. So far so good! I also went ahead and planted some seeds, including those peppers you get at Wahaca. And then there’s regrowing vegetables from scrap: celery, spring onions, leek and lettuce. I’m also trying coriander for the first time. In a week or four I’ll have the most random meal.
Movies & Series
I’ve binged Tiger King, finally gotten around watching Silicon Valley and getting through a lot of films. And most of them have been disappointing and I don’t even wish my worst enemy having to sit through many of them, though I’m sure they have the worst taste in music. Can recommend Gretel & Hansel and Motherless Brooklyn though. I expected to do more binge-watching, but I stumbled upon Animal Crossing and have been running around my island weeding the place, picking up twigs and bothering my other residents.
Supporting The Locals
I’ve enjoyed coffee beans and Oatly Barista from Lumberjack so I can make my lattes and mochas, a Patty & Bun lockdown survival kit as a pay day treat…and for this week I’m thinking of ordering something fiendishly good from the Cheese Truck…
On & Off The Blog
I have only published three posts so far, but I’ve been working on old blogs. In January I started refreshing my Amsterdam posts and so far I’ve replaced a lot of the images, lengthened posts and updated info. This quarter I’m tackling my Awesome Things I’ve Seen & Done in London posts and fixing broken backlinks across all pages.
Which brings me to taking time for photography and getting to know cameras and lenses better. And for some reason capturing my culinary creations, my improvised desk and other random moments helps me process.
What hobbies have you taken on during the lockdown? Would love to hear for inspiration.