For a number of years I’ve posted new year’s resolutions on the Themself, along with reflections on how I’ve got on with them. I didn’t do that last year, even though I was sure that I had. 

Making Resolutions

There’s been a theme to previous resolutions, they’ve covered reading, writing and being healthier. The theme is about being a better person, although there’s a level of subjectivity about what constitutes ‘better’. On the whole being happier with who I am is probably the thing I should have sought.

I’m not going to make retrospective resolutions for 2020, the whole point of making new year resolutions is setting yourself some aspirations for the future. As I write 2020 is a few days from being history. Thankfully.

Reflections on 2020

Global pandemic and massive recession aside, things haven’t been all bad about 2020. Clearly that’s a specific perspective based entirely on my family’s experience. While 2020 is far from being my best year, and I’d rather not repeat it, it has helped me realise just how fortunate we are. So many people have had far worse years than we have had. I wrote almost daily about our family experience in the first lockdown from March-May. 


It’s been a mixed year. I seriously tried hard to be healthy, to eat properly and to get exercise. For the most part it has worked, although the pandemic and associated lockdown made it harder than I would have liked to get exercise done.

I spent a couple of days in hospital in early March, with a couple of weeks off work afterwards because of a second bout of sepsis. It wasn’t as bad as the first time round because I recognised the onset and took myself home from work. My wife met me off the train and drove me straight to the hospital. That said one of the consultants tried to discharge me the same evening because the medication had worked when she saw me. Thankfully my wife knows how to deal with that sort of thing.

On the plus side I’ve lost rather a lot of weight (for me) in 2020. I’ve gone from 13 stone 6lbs at the end of 2019 to a low of 12 stone 1 lb on Christmas Eve 2020 (although I’ve put on a couple of pounds over the festive period). You can see a couple of plateaus on the chart that sort of correspond to the national lockdowns. 


Like nearly everyone else we’ve spent a lot more time at home this year. I’ve missed going away and doing things. That said I’ve also enjoyed staying in and doing things around the house and in the garden. Towards the end of the lockdown we spent a lot of time in the garden. Things were cut down, dug up, planted and built. Areas that have been neglected for years were made over. We finally got a replacement shed and sorted out the clutter in the potting shed.

London Victoria station at 0732 on Tuesday 13th October 2020, usually there would be hundreds of people flowing past here.  (Photo: James Kemp)

This hasn’t been visited much in the autumn/winter though. It’s been rather wet and we’ve not felt quite so inclined to go into the garden to do things. Some of that has been that we’re in a new routine of school and work. Apart from me everyone else gets to go out for some of the working day. 

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to work from home. I’ve been in my office once since I went home sick on 10 March. That was a voluntary trip in early October and the main purpose was collecting the contents of my locker. I no longer have physical ties to an office, other than the one in my spare room. I’ve also worked out that I can probably afford to retire when I hit 55, although some of that depends on how well the UK economy recovers from the twin impacts of covid and leaving the EU. 


Dressed for the Christmas Lights walk with Woodhouse Troop, 5th Reigate Scouts (photo: James Kemp)

I think the biggest thing that helped me get going again was scouting. For a couple of years, since I helped to start the third cub pack at 5th Reigate Scouts, we’ve planned to start a second scout troop. The chosen date was St George’s Day – Thursday 23rd April 2020. Unfortunately this was in the midst of the first lockdown. However we joined the original scout troop (now named Battlebridge Troop so we can differentiate) on zoom for April, May & June. I worked closely with Graham, the Battlebridge scout leader and we were the first troop in the county to get our risk assessment for face to face scouting approved when the restrictions relaxed. 

We managed a few local walks, keeping well apart and staying outdoors. Then we put the marquee up, without it’s sides, in the grounds of the scout hut. This meant we could keep on meeting even if it rained. Over the summer we ran some skill days for small groups, and did backwoods cooking and knife skills. 

In September Woodhouse Troop had its very first meeting as a troop, all the other meetings having been jointly with Battlebridge (we ran 3-4 repeats for 12 scouts of the other activities, none exclusive to either troop). We had 11 scouts present, and recruited a 12th while playing rounders in the local park!

We’re back on zoom, although we managed a fab walk around Merstham to see the Christmas lights before we went from Amber to Red in December. 


As always I started the year intending to read a lot of books. When the pandemic hit though I lost all enthusiasm for reading. It was really hard to concentrate. So I sort of stopped reading for a bit. It took a couple of months, but I’ve managed to read quite a bit of fiction, although almost no non-fiction. 

This year I’ve finished 20 books, and started another half dozen or so that I’ve not quite finished. 


Like with reading it’s been a lot harder. Apart from the reportage blogging, I’ve not written as many blog posts. That said, I did join Write Club Surrey, and have written a number of short stories for them, and I also managed to write over 20,000 words in November as a nod towards NaNoWriMo. I decided to finish off the second draft of my fantasy novel, by writing in the scenes that I knew needed to be added, and also fleshing out some of the bits I wanted to re-write to make it better. 

Some links for things I’ve written in 2020

I’ve also written a story for the January 2021 session, but it’s not on my blog yet. Maybe next week! [UPDATE: now linked above because it was written in 2020.]

Resolutions for 2021?

I’m not entirely convinced of the wisdom of making resolutions for 2021. It seems like the unpredictability is going to continue. That said I think that there are a few things that I think might help. 

  • Always make sure that there is something to look forward to. 
  • Keep the scale of ambition realistic (given what I know I can control)
  • Keep up the exercise/activity.
  • Make the most of the situation, whatever it is.