Goodbye 2021…

I always intend to post lots of blogs at the end of the year with lots of big lists of all the things I did and the media I consumed and my highlights… but December is always so insanely busy I never get round to it. Maybe in 2022 I will write them as I go along haha! It’ll just have to be one megapost this year…

This year’s big resolution was to sort the house out. I did not do that and now it is one of 2022’s big resolutions. Other things have just taken more priority.

Business exploded in a good way this year, which means that I’m now working a lot more hours. It’s taking a while to adjust my life to this, and I’m beginning to realise that I can no longer just plan a trip away midweek on the assumption that I won’t have much work to squeeze in. 2022 will be a lot stricter in this regard.

I continued writing and coding text adventures and being involved in the wider interactive fiction community, and managed to release four games for various competitions. My highlights were winning the Scott’s Choice Award from legendary text adventure game creator Scott Adams for Barry Basic and the Quick Escape, and winning PunyJam #2 with Morris, my first ever PunyInform release. I also enjoyed making a short game for ParserComp based on photos of the beautiful area around Causey Arch after visiting it with Mum and Dad, and my first ever attempt at speed IF for EctoComp!

Since October I’ve also been very busy with studying for the TechUP Software Development course. I have learnt a lot of Python and other very interesting things that I will be taking forward as my career gradually transitions more towards tech. (The Python knowledge will also enable me to do some very fun stuff with my game development!)

Running has continued on a more positive trajectory this year, with races and parkruns returning. I am nowhere near as fit as I was in March 2020 when everything shut down, but I have still managed two important PBs in 2021 – I took nearly five minutes off my 10k PB at the Sunderland 10k, and more than 45 minutes off my marathon PB at the London Marathon. I have also completed the second year of my daily run streak today and am hugely proud of that, as it’s been very difficult at times. Finally, parkrun-wise I have visited two new-to-me parkruns (Girvan Prom and Southwark) and earned my V25 t-shirt with my 25th volunteer stint!

As usual, I didn’t listen to much new music, but I absolutely loved the long-awaited new Duran Duran album Future Past, and I was over the moon at finally being able to see them live in Birmingham in September. Geth and I then saw Andy Taylor the very next night back home in Newcastle, and we had a great time seeing Soft Cell in Leeds in November. Lots more COVID-postponed gigs to come in 2022 (and some reviews of the ones I’ve recently attended!).

I watched pretty much zero new TV shows and films this year, though there were a few I added to my ‘buy the BluRay at some point’ list. I did record a lot of stuff on my digibox though! Geth has watched thousands of hours of YouTube channels about gaming and running, and I’ve enjoyed those by virtue of being in the same room. I did enjoy the Strictly series in the autumn, as ever.

I didn’t manage to find nearly as much time for videogaming this year as I would have liked, but there have still been a good few games to enjoy. In addition to playing all the other text adventure games in the jams and competitions I entered (see above – and also finishing off the Adventuron Christmas jam games from last year in January!), I finished Bravely Second in time for the much-anticipated Bravely Default II coming out, played Bravely Default II on and off from February but have still not made much headway ten months later, played the interesting demo of Project Triangle Strategy (set for full release on Switch in 2022 as just Triangle Strategy), finished Final Fantasy I (finally! I will be moving onto FFII for 2022), got very freaked out by Return of the Obra Dinn, got most of the way through The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, played about ten minutes of Pikmin Bloom before deciding it wasn’t for me, enjoyed a couple of old ’90s platformers for Christmas that I’ve loved since childhood, started Braid again (will actually finish it this time!), continued enjoying the lovely meditative filler game Link-A-Pix Colour, and COMPLETED EVERY SINGLE DEMO ON THE NINTENDO 3DS ESHOP (a project I’ve been working on for years). Watch out for next year, when I will be putting some serious effort into finding a lot more time for games!

I have lots of plans and resolutions for 2022, but I’ll talk about those tomorrow…

Winter nails
Snowflake leggings and new silver nails – all ready for New Year.

I’ll do a separate earworm playlist post soon…. maybe (I’m considering starting to log that separately from the blog and doing a yearly chart instead). So far it’s three weeks’ worth of Christmas music and Disney/Pixar soundtracks. I must admit I am looking forward to listening to something else in January in order to clear it all from my brain.

Phone Box Thursday: North Side, Stamfordham

Our final phone box for 2021 is this one that Mum and Dad found just north of Newcastle when visiting us earlier this month.

Red phone box
Red phone box, North Side, Stamfordham, 6th December 2021.

(Coordinates 55°04’32.1″N, 1°87’97.2″W.)

This one still has a phone in it, but also one of those sad little notices saying that the council are considering removing it. Hope an alternative use can be found!

Some fun phone box items to start 2022 next week.

Time for myself

The strange thing I’ve found about this Christmas holiday is that, after a year of nonstop rushing and deadlines, having time to myself is making me slightly anxious because I’m being a perfectionist about enjoying it efficiently! I’m trying to relax a bit more and just go with the flow of what I want to do. Yesterday evening I went back to my Python coding practice, even though that’s technically ‘work’ as it’s part of my TechUp course, because that was what I felt like doing. I’m also planning to make a bit more time for myself in January and February, as I’ll be very busy with finishing the course and I’ll need some relaxing downtime to balance it out.

Switch Lite case
My Switch Lite, charging in its case (its battery was almost flat yesterday). I might play it later, or I might not… it depends how I feel!

More peace and quiet

It’s going to be another lovely day spent doing some gaming! I got back into Braid on Steam yesterday (a game I’ve been meaning to finish for a long time) and am also charging my Switch Lite, as it’s seemingly run out of battery since the last time I used it. I may also be doing some coding later, as Geth got me lots of interesting coding books for Christmas.

Christmas leggings
I’ve run out of Christmas food photos for the time being, so here’s a picture of today’s Christmas leggings instead.

The golden week

The week in between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day is my favourite week of the year. Quiet days with lots of videogaming and Christmas food. (This year I’m going to try and make the following week special too… I never really get the chance to have a ‘birthday week’ as there’s always too much going on with New Year followed by the dreaded ‘back to school’ feeling, but I’m going to try. Focusing on this week first though!)

It’s been so long since my last stretch of free time that I’m a little overwhelmed by all the options, so I’m going to spend this afternoon planning them out so that I’m not dithering during the rest of the week and can just curl up with my chosen books/games/podcasts!

Christmas presents
As a family we were very lucky with our haul again this year. Lots of things to enjoy later this week.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas, while still not fully back to normal, is so much better this year than last. I’m with the family (including my brother and sister-in-law whom I’ve not seen in two years), and that is all I wanted for this Christmas… though I did also get a lot of amazing presents!

Mince pie
The final mince pie picture – one of the ones I made with Dad yesterday, with lots of icing sugar for garnish.

Christmas Eve

It’s been a very long year of work / studying / creative pursuits, but I am finally on holiday. Christmas is the only proper holiday I take all year as business calls the rest of the time! As such, I am really going to enjoy the next couple of weeks. Blog posts will be mostly short but I should at least have a picture to put up every day.

Here’s the first one:

Christmas cake

Dad and I did some Christmas baking this afternoon! I made the cake in November and we decorated it today. We also made some mince pies. I’ve been eating supermarket mince pies all month but homemade ones taste extra special!

Mince pies

Now to settle in for (hopefully!) a much happier Christmas than last year 🙂

(Still no earworm playlist, sorry. Hopefully Hogmanay will be quiet enough that I can get a bumper version posted.)

Phone Box Thursday: Edinburgh Revisit

Dad recently took an updated shot of the West Richmond Street phone box that I originally photographed nearly six years ago, after the Great Winter Run in January 2016. Originally logged here.

Red phone box
Red phone box, West Richmond Street, Edinburgh, 1st December 2021.

The door of the phone box was missing in 2016, so I’m glad that they have since replaced it! Otherwise it looks much the same, with its phone still intact.

One more (new) 2021 phone box to log next week.


I’m still working this week, but I’m managing to get some Christmas celebration done as well. Geth and I cooked our pre-Christmas roast today and have plenty leftovers to eat tomorrow. I made a really nice veggie option that I’ll be making again to have on Christmas Day with the family 🙂

We’re also making good headway through our usual list of Christmas films! Muppet Christmas Carol now watched, and It’s A Wonderful Life lined up for tomorrow…

Mince pie
Here’s an Asda mince pie for the collection.