Thoughts and feeling

A look back at 2020 – The year that slowed the world

Since we started blogging in 2017 , we have never really done a review at the end of each year – a look back at the last 12 months in travel, life and on the blog, to see what’s changed and remember the people and places we have come across along the way. Some years have been more memorable than others, but there’s no chance any of us are going to forget 2020. It was the year the world stopped – when travel,work and life as we knew it were all well and truly turned upside-down.

I came out of 2019 jolly and happy after a restful winter of Spanish sunshine. So 2020 was going to be another stunning year. A year of getting back out there, visiting new destinations, enjoying another season at the Old Oaks, building up our blog and working on our YouTube channel. Well that didn’t quite work out quite as planned!

Rewind to the start of January and We were in Benicassim, Spain enjoying the warm weather and bright blue sky’s dreaming about all the possible short trips for 2020 a Year that would see us making the most of the campervan . That added to travels already planned to Get across Spain and back to the ferry home,a trip to London to take part in a small running race, it had all the ingidiegents to shape up to be a pretty good year.

Looking out towards the future in Spain
Dreams of the long sunny travel days

But Covid-19 was somehow already hanging over us, with the news about how an unknown virus was spreading across China.

Looking back in hindsight, was there more to the streets in Bilbao being washed down with disinfectant than just pure civic pride ? – I guess I’ll never know .

And within a week parts of Europe went into lockdown. Shops and restaurants were closed, travel was prohibited, in theory we were surrounded ,every 2020 plan we had started to get cancelled.

Little did we know when we tapped out a post about closing the campsite and going into Lockdown back in March, that we would of ended up not leaving the UK for the entire year , almost unheard of for us and not travelling further than we could walk for three months.

2020 ended up for us like so many others as the year of staying home, of lockdowns, tiers and ever-changing restrictions. Of Zoom quiz nights[thanks Street Striders], Clap for Carers, toilet roll stockpiles, sourdough starters and daily walks.

Our leap of faith‘s Michele  attempting to bake home made scones for the first  time, lack any equipment they came out very nice
Home baking attempt No.1

It’s certainly been a rollercoaster of a year, we are very lucky many Full Time vanlifes were left high and dry looking for somewhere to hunker down and stay safe, for us we were able to stay put on the 5 star campsite, just without any guests. But this still brought about an odd set of emotions from Frustrating, scary, lonely, bizarre and boring at times – and sometimes all at once, 2020 has been a true reflection of how much we are Soulmates as well as husband and wife.

Of course we are grateful to have made it through in one piece when people have lost loved ones, jobs and livelihoods. But what’s it’s like being a blogger who hasn’t done anything ?

Tempting as it might be to write 2020 off as a bit of a disaster, it’s actually had some really good moments.

The first UK lockdown really limited what we could do – you could only leave your house to shop for essentials or for exercise once a day. So we spent a lot of time at home, fulfilling all the lockdown clichés from baking and home hair dressing to and inevitably failing in the big plans to learn a new language, that’s still in progress!

One you daily exercise used to be about and about on our bikes enjoying the Somerset levels
Thankful for the ‘Somerset Levels’ on our doorstep

But although we’ve been more distanced from friends and family and spent more time just the two of us alone together than ever before , it’s also somehow brought me closer to people, weird I know . Whether It’s just been passing the time with strangers, I don’t think you realise how insular this world had become, until people are truly alone or making it a year to actually connect with people online (Hello nice people on Twitter) And a few sticker swaps…..

A Sticker from Andy and Michelle at Extreme Motorhome Adventures for our collection ​
A Sticker from Andy and Michelle at Extreme Motorhome Adventures for our collection

With Paul’s London Marathon dream cancalled unsurprising, his determination to get out for a run every day, faltered and it had an unmistakable effect in his general mood, so a new hobby that we could share was found ..

I’ve always liked a walk (preferably on a route involving a pub, who remembers them ?) but lockdown restlessness pushed us to explore our local area, and I fell in love with walking . Over the last nine months We probably followed every footpath I can find from our van out into the hills around Glastonbury, watching the weather, wildlife and landscape change with the seasons, has truly been magical.

There’s something meditative about walking alone, and You can see the benefits, getting fitter and stronger as the weeks went on, reconnections with the world around us.

Somewhere in the middle of this odd year, the restrictions where lifted and we went from living on our own with all the wildlife that had made its way to the Campsite, to boom we were open and flooded with guests. So this is what our season should have been like from the start.

Even when restrictions allowed it, it’s been a balancing act between getting away and managing the risks, the moral compass of whether we should go and the likelihood of trips getting cancelled.

A week end away in Welcombe mouth  in Devon, one of our leaps of faiths only campervan trips for 2020
Welcombe Mouth in Devon

But when it worked out it felt amazing to get away. Although we didn’t manage many trips in 2020, we did a few days of sea air, sunshine, coast walks in Welcombe in Devon . A weekend in Sidmouth and Beer exploring the epic unspoiled coastal town . And an autumnal, wild and windy stay on Exmoor.

Looking back on previous years where we were either doing a trips away or planning our 3 month winter break this year seems like a different world.

Even though nothing was ‘normal’, or we started a ‘new normal’ with masks and social distancing, contact-free check ins, pre-booked time slots for everything – it did give a hint of how wonderful it will be to be free to travel and explore once again

Finally, but definitely not the way it was planned on the coldest and wetest day of the year (well maybe that’s a little over the top) Paul ticked off that bucket list challenge of running the London Marathon, although like most things in 2020 it was Virtual and on this own, but after 26.2 miles he can say his a marathon runner and hopefully he can complete the real thing in 2021

Our leap of faiths Paul with his 2020  London Marthon   Finishers medal
Paul with his 2020 London Marathon Medal

So as we start 2021, what next? With vaccines starting to be rolled out across the world, things are looking a bit more hopeful – but with the UK a week into another lockdown I won’t be making too many plans for a while yet, we do have a 21/22 winter trip dream coming to the forefront of our minds.

Catching up with all the friends and family We’ve missed in 2020 is going to be my big priority this year. But I’ll still be dreaming of sunny days on beaches or road trips through snowy mountain peaks, so who knows…

Right now we should have been cruising in the Caribbean celebrating Paul’s birthday ( one with an ‘0’ on the end), but hey ho

So really this post is to whole heartedly say ‘Thanks so much to everyone who’s joined us on the ride in 2020’ and fingers crossed for the happiest, healthiest 2021 possible for all of us.

Love Paul and Shell x

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