32 Challenges are now finished.

I managed to complete 32 Country Pubs and 32 Zines, but didn’t complete 32 Playgrounds in the end (although it definitely feels like I did…)

32 Country Pubs was delightful. I’d forgotten just how much I love a decent country boozer. I had to do a flurry of them at quite a speed in the last month, just to finish. That’s getting older I guess, these challenges get harder and harder. When I started, at 22, it was positively relaxed.

My top 5 below:

32 Zines was good. I ended up batching them and buying a load at once – because they are quite hard to get your hands on outside of east London. Managed to get a good spread of titles and genres, but it feels like a format that still has a lot of headroom.

I didn’t do 32 photos last year (I think because I’ve been doing 1 Second Everyday, and it feels like a duplication) but I miss it, so here it is this year.

1. Potluck Zine, Issue 4: Feast

2. Enjoying Wild Herbs – Nat Mady & Catmouse

3. Art is the thing nobody asked you to do – Babak Ganjei

4. Expressions – The Surrealism of Looney Tunes vol. 1

5. From Gardens Where We Feel Secure – Susanna Grant & Rowan Spray

6. Gather – Rhia Cook

7. West Side Stories – Rough Trade

8. A month of thoughts: Day – Pirrip

9. Home is where the artist lives – Laura Moseley

10. Winter Riding – Pirrip

11. Stitching our stories – Norfolk Heritage Centre

12. Getting Better – Pirrip

13. Finding the Space – Pirrip

14. Many Hands Make a quilt – Jess Bailey

15. Spring / Summer – Pirrip

16. Ennui – Soberland Studios

17. The Craft, a drinking game

18. Drunk In My Pants – Penfight

19. Another Fucking Seagull – Mika Gratzke

20. Spilling the tea: a poirot fanzine

21. The Swinny, a Tilda Swinton fanzine

22. Charity Shopping – Pippy

23. Shuck: Feasting – Ada

24. Council – Pippy

25. ADHD – A zine about mental health

26. Null Point Concept Zine – 008

27. Pencil Revolution – Vol 1 Issue 1

28. Florxl – 002

29. Scratching the Itch – Tim Lahan

30. Opt-Out – Guy Field

31. Birder Beginnings – Sarah E. Hoffman

31. Women in Stem – VickyLikesDrawing

Country Pub #15
The Pheasant, Brill

Drinks & Food: Sunday lunch.
Country Folk: Friendly locals looking out over a windmill.

Country Pub #16
The Hundred of Ashendon, Ashendon

Drinks & Food: Beautiful St John-esque lunch.
Country Folk: Quiet for a Sunday.

Country Pub #17
The Tite Inn, Chadlington

Drinks & Food: Outdoor dinners with parents.
Country Folk: Raised pub garden revellers and dog walkers.

Country Pub #18
The Bull & Butcher, Ludgershall

Drinks & Food: Beer, wine, crisps and apple juice.
Country Folk: Village locals and family playgrounders.

Country Pub #19
The Mole and Chicken, Long Crendon

Drinks & Food: Beer, wine, crisps and apple juice.
Country Folk: Destination drinkers.

Country Pub #20
The Clifden Arms, Worminghall

Drinks & Food: Beer, wine, crisps and apple juice.
Country Folk: Quiet and hidden pub, with one or two afternoon-trippers.

Country Pub #21
The Chandos Arms, Oakley

Drinks & Food: Sunday lunch with parents.
Country Folk: Explorers of the recently-reopened, and extended families.

Country Pub #22
The Akeman Inn, Kingswood

Drinks & Food: Sparkling water and crisps.
Country Folk: Day drinkers, diners and discordant live music.

Country Pub #23
The Five Elms, Weedon

Drinks & Food: Coke and crisps.
Country Folk: Local dinners and Friday night racket.

Country Pub #24
The Bell, Hardwick

Drinks & Food: Coke and crisps.
Country Folk: Village whisperers and empty tables.

Country Pub #25
The Blackboy, Oving

Drinks & Food: Brill Gold.
Country Folk: Friday diners and evening terrace drinkers.

Country Pub #26
The Pilgrim, North Marston

Drinks & Food: Coke and crisps.
Country Folk: Buzzy locals drinking red wine and celebrating the weekend.

Country Pub #27
The Bell, Chearsley

Drinks & Food: Sparkling water.
Country Folk: Fish and Chip Friday lunch pensioners.

Country Pub #28
The Crown, Cuddington

Drinks & Food: Pint of coke.
Country Folk: Quiet, save two locals sat in silence inside, and two arguing outside.

Country Pub #29
The Seven Stars, Dinton

Drinks & Food: Pint of coke.
Country Folk: Busy lunchtime crowd, inside and out.

Country Pub #30
The Old Fisherman, Shabbington

Drinks & Food: Coke and apple juices.
Country Folk: Parents outside, fanning out around the playground.

Country Pub #31
Duke of York, Berrow

Drinks & Food: Sparkling water and scampi fries.
Country Folk: Sunday roasters of all table sizes.

Country Pub #32
The Farmers Arms, Apperley

Drinks & Food: Pint of coke and fries.
Country Folk: Families and friends recounting tales of the previous night.

1. Jubilee Road Playground

2. Trenance Playground, Newquay
(I didn’t take a photo!)

3. Jungle Jacks, Newquay

4. Chartist Way Playground, Corse

5. Riverlands Play area, Henley in Arden

6. Cadbury World, Bournville

7. Jubilee Park, Long Crendon

8. Malvern Park, Solihull

9. Peppa Pig World, Southampton

10. MiniBrum, Millenium Point

11. Kings Heath Park, Birmingham

12. Pittville Park, Cheltenham

Country Pub #4
The Royal Exchange, Hartpury

Drinks & Food: Sunday lunch with family.
Country Folk: Other families and the odd genital-exposing pissed local.

Country Pub #5
The Saxon Mill, Guy’s Cliffe

Drinks & Food: Starters and wine.
Country Folk: Rammed full with sunshine revellers.

Country Pub #6
The Malt Shovel, Barston

Drinks & Food: Date night dinner.
Country Folk: Local diners on a Saturday night.

Country Pub #7
The Bear, Berkswell

Drinks & Food: Kids tea before the rush.
Country Folk: Booked up from 5pm, but empty before that.

Country Pub #8
The Pointer, Brill
(No photo taken – oops)

Drinks & Food: Saturday lunch in the restaurant with kids.
Country Folk: Quiet apart from a few diners, and one old chap reading the paper.

Country Pub #9
The 8 Bells, Long Crendon
(No photo taken – oops)

Drinks & Food: Lunch with the family pre-house viewing
Country Folk: Empty inside, with a few in the beer garden.

Country Pub #10
Coach and Horses, Weatheroak

Drinks & Food: Cheese cob and cokes (on a hangover)
Country Folk: Proper spit and sawdust curiosity with locals to match.

Country Pub #11
The Bell, Langford

Drinks & Food: Best lunch I’ve had all year – St. John in the country.
Country Folk: Pretty empty inside, but outside were plenty of wealthy lunching retirees.

Country Pub #12
The Howard Arms, Ilmington

Drinks & Food: Non-alcoholic beer and sparkling water in the garden
Country Folk: Lucky lunchers in a beautiful pub

Country Pub #13
The Bulls Head, Earlswood

Drinks & Food: Wine, non-alc beer and chips
Country Folk: Terrace gossipers

Country Pub #14
Ye Olde Saracen’s Head, Balsall Common

Drinks & Food: Sunday lunch with family
Country Folk: Family frenzy with toddlers at every turn.

Country Pub #1
The Durham Ox, Shrewley

Drinks & Food: Saturday night dinner and drinks.
Country Folk: Raucous wedding drinkers.

Country Pub #2
The Warwickshire Lad, Wood End

Drinks & Food: San Miguel, sauvignon and chips.
Country Folk: Struggling app-orderers and dog lovers.

Country Pub #3
The Railway Inn, Dorridge

Drinks & Food: Friday night dinner: Steak, Burger, Beavertown and pinot.
Country Folk: Septuagenarian socials.

Country Pub #4
The Royal Exchange, Hartpury

Drinks & Food: Sunday lunch: Lamb and beef roasts, kids lasagne and fish and chips.
Country Folk: Local lunchers and heavy drinkers (including a drunk bloke with his knob out.)

32 Country Pubs
We moved out of London a little while back, and we’re now camped in the Midlands for a little bit. So I want to take advantage of our time in the countryside by visiting 32 country pubs. I’m not going to put any hard lines around what counts as a ‘Country’ pub – there’ll be gastropubs, old man pubs, village pubs and doggy pubs. I’ll call it with each one – but loosely… its pubs in villages and/or nature.

32 Zines and Pamphlets
I’ve loved the re-emergence of independent zines and pamphlets over the last few years. It reminds me a bit of what I was trying to do with Subculture Club – exploring niche points of views that don’t make it into mainstream media. People going deep on very particular subjects. I want to search out and read 32 of them this year.

32 Playgrounds
We spend so much time at playgrounds now – most weekends we visit. But we tend to stick to the same two or three, so I plan on using this year to explore new ones – 32 of them – rather than going to the same one every time. I’m going to include soft play within this – as I can’t rely on British weather right now…

Finished up Challenge 31, but has taken me a little while to write about it.

31 Zoom events were great. I managed to complete it in very good time. There were actually lots that didn’t end up on the list – we really enjoyed a portal into nightlife from the comfort of your own home. For parents of young children, it was brilliant.

Highlights were probably:
Campari Reopens – Panda & Sons:
The first event we did, so there might be a bit of primacy effect in here. But it all felt so exciting – the first time we’d been sent drinks through the post from a bar. And then having the bartender talk us through how to make your cocktails, and show us around Panda & Sons in Edinburgh. It was just brilliant.

Daniel Kitson – Dot Dot Dot:
Just an awesome piece of stand-up / storytelling. We missed the end the first time – the kids woke up – but we bought another ticket and watched it later in the run, because it was such a compelling watch. It captured the novelty, frustration, intensity and despair of lockdown so perfectly.

Notting Hill Carnival – Panology Steel band session:
We actually watched quite a bit of the carnival online, but this session in particular stuck in the mind. We had it on whilst we cooked dinner, and it was such an enjoyable evening.

New album challenge was brilliant – I felt like it managed to shake me out of a rut and get me listening to some new things. I’m going to try and continue it indefinitely. Black Keys’ Delta Kream was a real highlight, as was Laura Marling’s Song for our daughter. Greta Van Fleet’s The Battle at Garden’s Gate was enjoyable, in a guilty pleasure kinda way too.

The Bread bakes challenge didn’t happen. I did about ten, quite quickly, but struggled to get the kids interested, as most of the recipes were too complicated. And couldn’t find time to do it all by myself. Another time, perhaps.

Thoughts on 2020
The Big Stuff:
Well… The global pandemic and three national lockdowns were probably the biggest things… What a year. Wist stopped work. I had paternity leave for a short while. Lots of time with the kids at home, together. It’s been a strange year. Awful for so many reasons, for so many people. But there have been tons of really nice things. Lots to be thankful for.

The Small Stuff:
Think we managed one night out this year. But separately… doh! And one lunch together. Lots of deliveries. Lots of baking bread and walking coffees. Lol’s now talking (non-stop) and baking/painting/drawing/running (non-stop). Ave’s starting to talk (“Ma Ma!”  “Da!” “Wowol!”) and joining in (between mouthfuls). Zoom meetings, zoom quizzes, zoom gigs, zoom comedy and zoom fatigue. Exhausting. Missing friends. Missing London. But we’ve got it pretty good. 


Quote for the year: “Ooh what has someone sent you for your birthday? Oh no, sorry, ignore that, that’s a covid testing kit.”
Books read:  17
Best three books:

Number of photos taken: 7293
Number of songs starred on Spotify: 84
Most listened to track: Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the bed – Pancake Manor
Series watched: The Queens Gambit, The Crown S4, Motherland, Formula One: Drive to Survive, The Vicar of Dibley, Fear City: NY vs the Mafia, Salt Fat Acid Heat, Spaced, The Last Dance, Parts Unknown, Community S1, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Good Place, Tiger King
Album of the year: Laura Marling – Song for our daughter
Film of the year: David Attenborough: A Life on our planetPub quizzes partaken: 6
Pub quizzes won: 3
Trips to the doctor: 0
Trips to the dentist: 0
Trips to the vet: 0
Museums(ish) visited:

New Year’s Resolutions:
Veganuary. Dry January. Headspace. Finish Monthly design projects. Lots of reading. Lots more friends and family.

Number: #24
Name: Sunbury Antiques Market, Kempton
Trade: Antiques
Visit date: 21.07.20
Bought: Two old books

Number: #25
Name: Chrisp Street Market, Poplar
Trade: General
Visit date: 21.07.20

Number: #26
Name: New Covent Garden Market, Battersea
Trade: Flowers, Fruit and Veg
Visit date: 22.07.20

Number: #27
Name: Billingsgate Market, Blackwall
Trade: Fish
Visit date: 23.07.20

Number: #28
Name: Roman Road Market, Bow
Trade: General
Visit date: 07.02.20

Number: #29
Name: Oval Night Market, Bethnal Green
Trade: Food and drink
Visit date: 07.02.20
With: Wist, Lol, Ave
Bought: Loaded Fries, two beers

Number: #30
Name: Netil Market, London Fields
Trade: Food and drink
Visit date: 07.02.20
With: Wist, Lol, Ave