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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. 

Travel:

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
With:
Bought: Two old books

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

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

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

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

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
Bought:

Coronavirus really did a number on my challenges this year. I was making good progress on markets – only 7 to go out of 30. I’m pretty sure I’d have made it if we hadn’t gone into lockdown. I was behind on the health challenge. In my head, I was hoping for a late flurry of activity that coronavirus ruined, but deep down I know I was too far off to finish it. Soup I managed to finish before the close.

I’m going to give myself a 3 month extension on finishing the markets, to make up for the 3 months indoors. Hopefully feasible, but we’ll see.

Regardless, we’re now way past June and I should really have started on this year’s challenges too.

Because everything is still semi-shut (I know I know some might say half-open) I’ve been more reclusive with my choices this year – as I’m not sure how much we’ll want to be out and about. But they should still be fun and will give me a focus for trying new things, even if they’re more home-based than usual.

31 Online Events
When lockdown happened, Soph and I signed up to a few zoom experiences and really enjoyed ourselves. Providing this sort of thing continues, I want to do 31 this year. I’m going to be consciously quite loose in how I define the parameters here, as things keep evolving and changing. But essentially, accessing some element of culture from the comfort of your own home, that was previously reserved for those going out. From bar zooms to ballet, evening classes to lectures.

31 Bread Bakes
When sourdough mania hit in March, I’m afraid to say I was one of those brandishing their banneton basket. I’ve made quite a few decent loaves since then but have stuck to a relatively standard formula. So, this year I aim to branch out beyond Gellatly’s sourdough recipe and try some different bread bakes instead.

31 Albums from 2020 / 2021
Something funny happened over the last two or three years. I stopped listening to albums. And I stopped listening to new music too. Both were unintentional – a product of having no time to sit and listen to something from beginning to end, and also the bitesize listening that a platform like spotify encourage. But it’s disheartening, nonetheless. So I’m going to listen to 31 albums released in 2020 and 2021 – from start to finish.

Num: #25
Type: Mushroom Soup with truffle
Brand: Daylesford
Score: 1/5

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Num: #26
Type: Rocket and Pea Soup
Brand: Daylesford
Score: 4/5

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Num: #27
Type: Brocolli, Pea and basil
Brand: Souplogie
Score: 3/5

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Num: #28
Type: Spicy Corn Chowder
Brand: Daylesford
Score: 5/5

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Num: #29
Type: Warming Parsnip Pilaf
Brand: Glorious
Score: 2/5

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Num: #30
Type: Chicken Minestrone
Brand: Daylesford
Score: 5/5

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