Thursday, 31 December 2020

2020 in Review

 Jesus Christ, 2020. What a bloody year, eh?

It's funny, and tragic, to look back now on my end of 2019 blog where I was looking ahead in 2020.

I wanted to complete 50 parkuns after running 49 in 2019, and run my 250th parkun. I wanted to run two half marathons after a year off from racing in 2019. I was looking forward to turning 30, having a party and going out with my friends. I'd just found out Phil was taking me to see Hamilton again in April as my Christmas present and we'd just spent £££ on tickets for the Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid game we were going to go to while in Barcelona, the trip my parents had bought me for my upcoming 30th.

It's hard to look back on 2020 and not feel disappointed and furious and sad. 

It feels harder still to look back on the positives of the year. It feels wrong somehow. A year in which so many people have lost so much - friends, family, jobs, futures, Christmasses, weddings, special events they were excited for. 

Phil and I have had our own struggles this year, but in among the darkness, there has been some joy and I am so so so aware of the privilege I have that allows me to feel that way. 

So here are a few little things I want to look back on in 2020:

Getting our dog!


The biggest joy this year has been the addition of Bobby to our family. It's no exaggeration to say we'd been scouring dog rescue sites for a year before we finally found our boy. We'd had so many conversations with Dog's Trust, reached out on so many websites and Facebook pages and while we knew our dog would be out there, we didn't know when it would happen.

I know this is a massive cliche, but before we got Bobby, I genuinely didn't know I could love something this much. He brings me joy every single day. His tail wagging when you walk into a room, how good he is at "wait" before he gets a treat, the way his feet twitch when he sleeps, the little personality traits and quirks we've discovered as we've gotten to know him.

Bobby is a reactive boy and I definitely didn't anticipate how much work a dog like Bob would be, but every single day we make more and more progress. We see how much he loves and trusts us and it makes even the hardest walk worth it.

I don't know what we would do without this wonderful bundle of fur and fun in our lives.

Work on the house


One good think about being stuck inside is that you can do a load of work to your house and nobody sees the mess!

We've owned our house for three and a half years, but we've done more on it this year than I think we did in all the time before combined.

There are only two rooms of our house (the bathroom, which we painted a few years ago, and our living room, which we "finished" last year) which we haven't touched at some point this year.

Some jobs have been smaller - touching up paint in the kitchen and a new sofa and table for the front room, but other rooms have been completely transformed. Walls ripped out of the hall and the third bedroom. Plaster, paint, new floors, work on the roof. New wardrobes, new carpet. We've painted the hall and all three bedrooms this year and three of those rooms were replastered. Three rooms had new floor. We spent all summer building IKEA wardrobes and buying bedding and curtains and cushions. So many trips to the tip and the paint shop and the charity shop and B&Q. 

But we are so so so proud of the work we've done. Honestly, work we probably wouldn't have gotten around to for at least another year. Lockdown gave us time to make decisions, to change our minds, to try things. And with no holiday this year we could put our savings to good use!

There are a few little bits left to do (mostly the spare rooms which we both work in which are a bit bare) but I'm so so so proud of us this year!

Turning 30



Lockdown began on the 23rd March. And one week later I turned 30.

This was full lockdown. Exercise once a day, no shops, one at a time in the supermarket, no garden visits. 

The plan for my 30th had been in place for probably close to a year. On the Friday night I was going to go to Ultimate Power with all my closest friends. Phil and I had a hotel booked and we were going to get brunch at Dishoom.

On the Sunday I'd have a party with my family at my parents' house.

And on the day itself, the Monday, Phil and I would go to a National Trust and I'd wear the new skirt I'd bought especially and then we'd have dinner with my parents.

As you can imagine, this was not what happened.

The weeks leading up to my 30th were awful. We all knew it was coming, but getting asked over and over again when I was going to cancel my Birthday was awful. I was so sad even when I knew it was inevitable.

And to be honest, I was pretty bitter about it for a long time.

But on the day itself, I had the best day I could. My parents' dropped off my slightly-smaller-than-planned cake at the door the day before. Phil decorated the house for me and we did presents on a video call with my parents. We went for a walk. We watched the Champion's League Semi-Final 2019 and Rocketman. I had video calls with our family friends and got a takeaway and drank a bottle of prosecco. I got lovely presents and cards and I am forever grateful to Phil and my Mum for making it the best day it could be!

And after this year I really don't care about being 30 anyway!

A trip to the Yorkshire Dales



Last Christmas, when we had no idea a global pandemic was going to shut the world down, Phil and I bought a lot of people, and each other, experiences. My Mum got a gin making experience, my Dad a trip to the football. Phil got me Hamilton tickets and I got him a trip to the Yorkshire Dales the weekend of his Birthday.

One of these experiences managed to happen in 2020.

It feels so so long ago now that our main worry that weekend was that bad weather might mean the parkrun we wanted to do (the main reason for the trip) would be cancelled and we'd have to do another one nearby. 

Looking back now I'm so glad we got that lovely trip - who would have known it would be our only trip away of the year?

We had such a great weekend. We ate amazing food, went for lovely walks, did the most beautiful parkrun we'd ever done (which would turn out to be one of the last ones of the year...), did some National Trust, went to Betty's in Harrogate for Phil's Birthday brunch, visited our family friends in Leeds and just had the most wonderful time. I'm so glad we got that little weekend away considering what was around the corner!

I read a lot of books



Christ I read a lot of books this year.

My goal was 70 books.

I read double that and then some.

If there is one good thing to come out of this year it is that I read a lot. 

In 2020 I read 142 books.

Because let's face it, there wasn't much else to do!

Reading has long since been my main hobby, and this was particularly the case in 2020, where on many a weekend I'd read a whole book in a day or over a weekend. No commute meant longer evenings and more time to read, and thanks to being accepted to NetGalley this year I found myself with dozens of advanced copies to read.

The end of 2020 also marks 3 full years of reading every single day. I've managed this now every single day since the end of 2017. 

I am so so so so grateful for books and reading in 2020. I really struggled to concentrate on reading at the start of lockdown but I'm so glad I got that spark back after a few weeks!

I'll do a separate blog post on my favourite things I read in 2020.

I kind of ran a half marathon (I got a medal at least)



One of my goals for 2020 was to get back racing, and I was signed up for the Great Manchester Run Half Marathon in May, and planning to run the Manchester Half Marathon in October.

By lockdown in mid-March, I was already 6 weeks into my training and up to 9 miles on my long runs. For a long time I carried on running as normal, and in May kept my distances up by signing up to run 100km in 28 days.

Eventually the race was postponed to September, so I picked up my training again, running over 10 miles in training before the race was finally cancelled.

My place was moved over to 2021 (which seems doubtful now!) but we were allowed to get a medal if we still ran the full half marathon distance. Of course I didn't want to let all that training go to waste, so in July, I ran a full half marathon distance.

It was definitely not a PB, and it wasn't quite the same as running the Manchester streets with thousands of people cheering for you, but I ran 13.1 miles and a I got a medal, so I'm counting that as half marathon number 8.

I ran every parkrun I could possibly run



Okay this one is a bit of a cheat.

In 2019 I ran 49 parkruns. There's a parkrun challenge called "Gold level obsessive" which you achieve when you run 50+ parkruns in a calendar year and I was gutted to miss out by one measly run (to be fair, I only missed 4 parkruns in 2019 - and one was my wedding day and one was during my honeymoon - though we did manage to squeeze one in in Canada). 

So I started 2020 off right - the New Year's Day parkrun double.

We had a chill New Year's Eve and got up early to head to South Manchester parkrun, our original home parkrun when we lived in Manchester. At 9am I ran a PB there and we headed to Stretford parkrun (which became our home parkrun after it started) for the 10.30am parkrun. 

I absolutely loved doing two parkruns in one day (New Year's Day was the only day you could do it, and I think it's being abandoned now post-COVID so I'm especially glad I got to do it!) and was set on a great track record for the year.

I managed to then run every single parkrun of 2020, until it was shut down in the middle of March. So technically I did run every single parkrun 2020.

I was so so so looking forward to getting my 250 tshirt in 2020 (I'm currently on 225) and I really hope I can get it in 2021!

Other nice little things in 2020:

  • Liverpool winning the league
  • Getting really into baking bread
  • Uniqlo thermals
  • Uniqlo fleeces
  • Bamboo socks
  • Yoga
  • Daily meditation
  • Cross stitch
  • Mariokart Night
  • Working from home
  • Sugarhill Boutique jumpers
  • Baked gnocchi
  • Nice walks
  • Our first wedding anniversary
  • Depop
  • Monopoly Deal
  • Netgalley access
  • Ottolenghi recipes
  • Podcasts, always
  • Online courses with Coursera getting me through 3 months of furlough
  • Blogging again!
I'm gonna write another post on my favourite books, films, TV shows etc this year so watch this space for that!

Charlotte x

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

25 Lipsticks of December

I'm not sure if you know this but 2020 was tough. And like everyone else I've been trying to find ways to treat myself in small ways. Last year my Mum got me a beauty advent calendar (Makeup Revolution) and it was amazing - I loved opening all the doors each day to a tiny highlighter or lipstick or bronzer. So in an attempt to treat myself I started to look into beauty advent calendars again.

Now the thing is, I'm kind of not that into makeup. I buy palettes and never wear them, I don't really know how to use highlighter and I still can't do winged eyeliner at 30.

What I do like, really, is lipstick.

So I looked on the MAC website at their advent calendar, justified the price by "this year has been tough and I haven't been anywhere" and then decided to have a think first.

And this was where the idea for my lipstick challenge came from.

The original idea was to buy a wooden advent calendar and get Phil to put one of my many lipsticks in for every day of December. I'd open the door to a lipstick and I would wear it.

Eventually. however, I realised that with one day a week furloughed and weekends spent committed to sweatpants and no makeup, there was no way I was going to wear lipstick every day for all of December. And also some days I would want a bright lip and what if on those days I pulled out a nude?

So instead I wrote out a list of 25 of my lipsticks (yes, I own more than 25...) and allocated them a different day for all of December, and on the 30th December I wore my final lipstick of the month!

I documented my lipstick each day in a Twitter thread, but here they all are together...


Top row: MAC Diva
Second row: MAC Faux, MAC Down to an Art, MAC Rebel
Third row: MAC Ruby Woo, MAC Mocha, MAC Relentlessly Red


Top row: MAC Cosmo, MAC Red, MAC Velvet Teddy
Second row: MAC Please Me, MAC Kinda Sexy, MAC Pink Pigeon
Third row: MAC Viva Glam, NARS Dragon Girl, MAC Nicki Nude


Top row: MAC D for Danger, Soap and Glory Super Nude, Soap and Glory Cinnamon Beige
Second row: MAC Mehr, MAC All Fired Up, MAC Russian Red
Third row: MAC Lady Danger, MAC Hug Me, Fenty Fiery

This was a really fun challenge to do to remind me how many lipsticks I have and how many I've forgotten about! I'm terrible for thinking "the next nude lipstick I buy will be my perfect nude!" (I think my favourite nude is Nicki's Nude and I think I knew that already!). 

There are so many lipsticks here I forgot that I love - Diva is always so much more wearable than I remember, Rebel is such a great colour I always forget about, Relentlessly Red and All Fired Up are both such fun colours for a change from red. I treated myself to Mocha and Down to an Art for this challenge and when they arrived I was convinced they were identical but they look so different on.

This was both a really great and really annoying time to do a challenge like this. Really great because I absolutely cannot stand reapply my lipstick, but also hate it as soon as it starts to wear off, so if I'd been working in the office there's no way I could have kept nipping to the toilet to touch up my lips! However being furloughed on a Friday and having no reason to put on makeup at the weekends meant that I had to do a few days of two-lipsticks-in-one-day to do my challenge in the month.

I think my main takeaway is that I love lipstick. Especially bright lipstick. It's been fun to wear a bright fun colour even on a day when I was only leaving the house to do the dog walk, and it was nice to feel dressed up for a work Teams call. It's also been fun to share my selfies on twitter every day - unsurprisingly the brighter colours got the most attention!

I can't wait to have a reason to wear lipstick to go out again, but until then I'm definitely going to consider a bright lipstick as a pick-me-up, even if it's just for Zoom!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Essential Tools for my Daily Routine - 1 Second Every Day


It was Phil that first got me into 1 Second Every Day, when he started his video on 1st January 2018.

He'd watched a TED talk by the founder and loved the idea of looking back over your year in seconds, so he started doing it himself.

Some days I know it was annoying for him to keep having to record his seconds, but soon enough everyone we knew knew what he meant by "I'm just doing my second" and it was so worth it when we could look back on every month and eventually the year.

So on 1st January 2019, I joined in.

As of right now, I am still yet to miss a day (nearly 2 years on!) . Like with HappyFeed, some days there are perfect moments to capture, and other it's just what I'm reading or what I had for dinner (or, more often than not right now, whatever Bobby is doing). A second is such a short moment in time but it's amazing how much you can capture. I post all my monthly videos on my Instagram.

It's funny how much those small seconds can give you a real picture of your life at any one time. As much as I love the second of our wedding day or our honeymoon in Canada, it's the mundane details of our life which are some of my favourites. Especially at the moment when we're doing so much work on our house it's great to see the transformation!

Like with HappyFeed it's been challenging to come up with things to record during lockdown, quite often it's just our dinner or what we're watching on TV (mostly football) or our dog walks, but it will be good to look back on. Sometimes it's hard to resist the urge to "direct" your seconds, but a lot of the time the candids really work, and I've found it's the seconds where something is moving or making noise that really work the best.

I know Phil is starting to lose momentum after 3 years and this year in particular, but I'm not close to giving up yet, even when there are days when I remember at 9.30pm I haven't done one yet and have to get a second of Bobby!

All my monthly videos are on my Instagram, and I'll post my full 2020 one on my blog at the end of the year.

Charlotte x