2020 Yearnotes

A bit late, but given 2020 seems to be more a state of mind that’s fine.

Lockdowns at home

Well, I reckon I covered some of this back in November, but if I was going to be locked down anywhere it’d be the home Ann and I have. It’s been good to us. We have regular visits from a woodpecker and a pair of sparrowhawks now, and my study’s working out a treat.

woodpecker on the feeder

Obviously there’s been a lot of homecooking, the range of which has been delightful. Greenfeast got a lot of play, as have all the Meera Sodha books. Supplemented that with orders from 161, our local. They’ve been consistently better than every mealkit or takeaway we’ve had through the year. So good.

I’m gutted I haven’t been able to welcome family into it much though. My Grandad died in the summer, my Gran had a hip operation go wrong, my Dad moved to France. This year in particular I’d have liked to have been around family much more.

Wells Park

Not the major trip to New Zealand we’d expected at the start of the year, but it’s been beautiful watching the local park change through the seasons.


A tough year and a good year. (Generalising wildly…) Spring and early-summer was about tactical product development – work designed to make sure everything stayed stable while we used furlough and kept an eye on what the housing market was going to do. Late summer/autumn we started working on some longer-term projects, developing a solid set of features we can now double down on. “Moving the line of automation forwards” in Swells words.

We’re starting 2021 in a strong position, and given the context of 2020 that absolutely humbles me. I work with very, very good people.

My own habits and patterns have gone through a few changes. Working from home has suited me. I can typically play through more complicated bits of work faster than I used to in an office. Having the privilege of a dedicated office has been essential. If I’d been kitchen-tabling it I think I have done what Giles did and hired some space for typing.

The last month or so I’ve tried to make sure a greater proportion of my time is spent checking in on projects. I’m trying to make sure I have the capacity to steer and input, rather than filling my working hours with small bits of workflow development. The completer/finisher in me definitely gets more satisfaction from making those small changes and shipping them. But it’s not the work I need to be doing. I don’t know how that’ll develop over 2021, trying to actively listen to that though.

Mid-Lockdown 1, we bought a subscription to Spill after a tip from one of the conveyancers. I’ve used it. The sessions I had late summer were pretty essential for helping arrest a burnout cycle I’d entered. I’m proud I work somewhere where mental health support is available.

I’ve worked a few jobs now where the mental health chat has been good, but the expectation is still that folks will suck it up and work through burnout. That doesn’t feel true of Juno. It’s still hard work, and some of that work is still stressful, but I feel okay about asking for help or admitting I’ve reached a limit. (That doesn’t mean I do so quite as quickly as I should… but that’s on me)

Time in front of screens

Yeah… watched a lot of telly this year. Not loads else to do. I went through the Zoom quiz faze, had a patch of having news tabs open a lot, perma-muted a lot of WhatsApp groups… basically checked off a lot of ‘new normal’ bingo.

A lot of comfort rewatching: Taskmaster, The West Wing, Parks & Rec, Poirot. Ann’s now taking me through Schitt’s Creek. Not doing the monthnotes has meant I’m drawing a blank on whatever new things I picked up. I’m dipping back into The Expanse and The Manadalorian. I bugged out of Normal People. Doubled down on Spring/Autumnwatch. I think Chris Packham’s opening monologue from Springwatch had an outsized impact on how I was feeling at the time. That and Daniel Kitson’s lockdown piece. Both of those landed with a thump.

Very few films. Most are much too long. Enjoyed The Vast of Night though, and the usual set of Christmas movies.

My sister’s been teaching extremely chill online yoga classes twice a week since early lockdown 1. That and the oblig Yoga with Adrienne have become a fixture. I feel really good for it. I feel… less inflexible? Not ‘fluid’ or ‘supple’ or anything so graceful. But I don’t have the pain or stiffness I had at the top of the year with it.

Reading’s been all over the place. I raced through Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, a few things the size of To Be Taught, If Fortunate then hit a midsummer wall. A few hobby-related books, none of which had much quality to speak of (not always a given).


Progress on the hobby front has been fitful. I went through a sharp boom/bust cycle a few times, making pockets of progress on things. At the start of lockdown 1 I worked on an old Gorkamorka model – one I’d owned as a kid but never painted – which was super-satisfying.

In September I realised I needed to change up the hobby pattern. I now do around 30mins painting every weekday. It’s sharpened my focus on what I can accomplish, and massively curbed my spending (I used to try and buy my way out of painting lulls, leading to a backlog of unpainted models I was never likely to get around to). That’s resulted in a fully-painted Escher Gang for Necromunda.

I’m now working on a converted gang for a one-off campaign my gaming group might run post-lockdown. Really fun extending my kitbashing skills for it, and it’s nice seeing a few people’s work come together remotely, despite the everything.

What’s next

I was extremely fortunate to have the 2020 I had. 2021 is starting on hard mode though: Lockdown 3 doesn’t seem like it’ll be a short one; colleagues are isolating with COVID; friends are struggling with money – especially the freelancers; family are starting to be vaccinated… but it’ll be a long while before I can see most of them. I don’t know when I’ll feel like I’m in a new year, but I definitely don’t feel like it’s started yet.