It’s been so long since I sat down to write something that it seems my subscription to Microsoft Word has expired. I can’t figure out why I’m locked out of all my Word docs so rather than lose time on it, I’ve just opened up my blog and started typing instead. It’s been a long time since I just freestyled like this though so excuse me while I try and organise my thoughts on the page.
What I’ve been up to lately
So 2020, it’s been a ride right?! It feels like a year full of conversations I never imagined having and as a content writer (a predominantly travel one at that) I’ve been completely overwhelmed by trying to work out what the ‘right thing’ to say is.
At first, I threw myself into writing. I thought I could claw back the page views I was losing on my travel content by writing more timely posts about online classes for toddlers and things to do in my local area. It worked for a little while. Sure, all my stats still dipped but at least I felt useful and productive. And then, the rules changed. A lot. Repeatedly. And everything I’d written in March was out of date by May and I didn’t know if I should spend time updating things that could change or focus on something new.
I was really grateful to have a campaign with Singapore tourism to focus on in July, as well as a cheeky trip to Dorset, but I did have to laugh at the timing, as after weeks of being fairly quiet work-wise I ended up doing a Facebook Live event the night before we moved house. Everything was in boxes (read: disarray) so I set up my ‘office’ in Miles’ nursery, using a chest of drawers and books to prop my laptop up in front of a blank wall.
Then we moved house in August and suddenly days were filled with deliveries and tradies and several furniture fiascoes that made me feel like I was going crazy. A constant stream of masked men came to the house to install loft boarding, or a water softener, or hang curtains and fill holes, and fix things and replace things and all the while I was standing at a safe social distance holding onto a wriggling toddler who is most determined to run, anywhere really, apart from where he’s supposed to be.
A week after we moved house we went to Cornwall. We very nearly canned the trip when we realised how close it fell to our moving day. I had to unpack suitcases I’d crammed with odd sods before I could pack for the holiday and we felt a bit all over the shop juggling jobs at the house and planning a staycation with a toddler in the middle of the pandemic. Luckily, the weather was glorious. We mostly spent our days letting Miles run free on vast, empty beaches and scoffing cream tea whenever we passed bakeries.
Around the same time I started looking into childcare options for the toddler. It surprises no one more than me that I have been a stay-at-home mum for as long as this. I’m more of a delegator than a home-maker and I have nothing but utmost respect for anyone raising or working with toddlers, in particular, as they are a special kind of human! I, of course, appreciate that I am very privileged to have spent so much time at home with Miles while still running my own small business when he sleeps. Seeing him develop into his own little person, with his own likes and quirks and humour and dance moves, has been so special. He’s an excellent mimic and does amazing impressions of all the silly little things we say and do with him. But more and more I feel that, if I’m entirely honest with myself, I’m not giving either my child or my work my best at the minute and something has to give.
Plus, Miles is quite the extrovert. (If we can call a 21 month-old such a thing?!) He loves singing and dancing and running and did I mention running?! He sleeps like a dream but I think that’s because he does not stop moving for every minute that he’s awake. I feel like he’s at an age where he would really benefit from all the stimulation and socialising they get at nursery and I, in turn, would love more than a few hours to think about something other than what I’m making for his next meal.
While making the decision to put Miles in childcare came relatively easy, placing him in a nursery during a pandemic has been rather challenging. Although I started looking for a place in August, as of now I’m still either waiting to hear back about availability or waiting for an out of hours tour to take place.
For a while, I was massively frustrated by the whole process, which was more competitive than I anticipated and much more complicated due to Covid. (Also expensive. I never knew you had to pay to register at a nursery before finding out if they have a place for you!) But as the local cases of Covid are on the rise again I’ve found myself back-pedalling and now I’m not in too much of a hurry for him to go anywhere!
Based on what has happened to friends there is a likelihood that we’ll finally get him started at nursery only for him to be sent home to isolate. I’m also worried about him being in contact with more children/people when he’s spent most of the year just with me and Justin, but I’ve had to ask myself how much of our lives we can or should put on hold waiting for things to get better?!
There’s a lot to consider but, if this year has taught us anything, it’s that everything can change in an instant. So rather than predict what we’ll do, I figure I’ll just update you if and when Miles ever starts nursery. I’m equally excited and terrified at the thought of someone else being responsible for his care. It’s going to be an emotional experience, for me mainly, I’m sure of that.
Buying our first home
On the more positive side, we are so happy with our new home and are absolutely delighted that we finally got to move into it after Covid delayed its completion. It’s our first purchase and after years of rentals it feels so so liberating to put holes in the walls and hang anything we fancy. Sure, 99% of those holes turned out to be in the wrong place. There was the mirror that was too high for me to see in, the TV that gave us neck ache, an artwork that I just wasn’t feeling…. We’ve learnt lots about filling and drilling.
We also had a steep learning curve in child-proofing. New build homes have their door handles a lot lower than period properties so when we moved here suddenly things we hadn’t even considered before were no longer safe. Just for starters, we didn’t have hot water for two days as Miles got in the airing cupboard and changed the thermostat! Also at an accessible level are the fuse board, the oven, the washing machine, 3 toilets (we used to have just one) and the front door. His excitement for so many new buttons and handles was exhausting for two parents who just wanted to get on with unpacking. These days, thankfully, his curiosity for household items is at a slightly more manageable level. And everything that needs to be away from little hands now has a child-proof lock in front of it!
Furnishing the place has been quite difficult thanks to the pandemic though. Almost every large purchase we’ve made has been delayed in some way thanks to Covid, including a bed that the company failed to tell me wasn’t coming even though I’d been all efficient and sold ours the weekend before delivery.
We had an armchair damaged in transit, an incorrect armchair left in the hallway and a dining chair that just cracked unexpectedly. Most of these items I ordered in August for delivery in October and thanks to shipping or production delays they can’t be replaced until December. We’re also still waiting on shutters that were due to be installed this month but have been held up by shipping delays. I can’t wait to see the end of stick on blinds in the bedroom and giving builders an eyeful of my nightwear while making a cup of tea in the mornings.
Of course, in the scheme of things, a little waiting is not important, but I have spent way more time than I would like chasing up items or trying to order replacements.
I usually end these personal updates with details on where I’m heading next and what you can expect to read here. But for the first time in a very long time I don’t have any trips booked and, even weirder, I’m not even looking.
I feel like an absolute traitor to the travel industry and a failure of a travel blogger because right now travel is the last thing I’m thinking about. Due to the personal circumstances outlined above and all the back and forth of quarantine rules, I’ve found it easier just to park any notion of overseas travel for the moment.
We took some fab staycations in the summer I still want to write up and I’ve some personal travel stories that I’d love to take the time to share now but, quite honestly, I’m not going to be hopping on a flight anytime soon. It feels strange to say that but I’ve made my peace with it. I sort of prefer to tell myself we won’t be travelling for a long time than be disappointed if things don’t pan out. That being said, the moment it feels ‘right’, we want to make up for all the cancelled plans and missed moments of 2020 and I’ll be booking and researching holidays with a vengeance.
In the meantime, I do have lots of content about the house, Christmas, local days out and mum life to write up and many things that need improving/updating behind the scenes to keep me busy.
I really appreciate everyone who took the time to answer a little survey I ran on Instagram saying you would read non-travel bits while we navigate the surreal year that is 2020.
But for now, I hope you’re all staying sane and well and that it won’t be too much longer before we’re discussing the incredible adventures we’ve all been on.