When your back’s to the wall, you can only move forward. Or ‘Happy New Year’.

2020 – the year we all felt the wall behind us and experienced life as most of us had not known it. I note very few resolutions coming up on my newsfeed – such is the hope embodied in merely the change of date from 2020 to 2021, that that itself is enough of a positive move. Surely things must get better – right?

Well, I’m an optimist, so I’m going to imbue this coming year with miracle cures and unexpected pleasures around every corner, and enough mixed metaphors to force you to swallow hard. The realist inside me – a wizened starving thing – whispers that many of my old favourites like travel and wage increases are things of the past for a long while yet. I’ve stamped the wretched creature down and shut the closet door on it again. And whenever that even worse skeleton looms – the pessimist – muttering things like ‘the end of the world is nigh’, I briskly turn on Netflix and subsume myself in mindless drama there instead. So far it has worked. Like the wee pig in ‘Babe’ looking forward to Christmas, unaware that pork is on the menu, I lift my chin to the blue sky and trill “La la laaaaaaa”.

Life in New Zealand has been pretty good, by comparison. We are of course painfully conscious of the suffering still going on elsewhere, on every level – socially, economically, physically and mentally. A traditional Christmas didn’t happen for many of my friends overseas, and there has been telling lapses in communication from many of my old associates and online buddies. I’m torn between sharing the good things I know about in the hopes of perking people up, or wondering if the sharing of them will only bring despair to those who have endured too long alone and still in the midst of the pandemic. There’s nothing more galling than a party next door when you are grieving.

If you could do with a little light-hearted distraction, then my next few paragraphs will be perky, so read on. Otherwise, I understand if you move straight on without another word. Here’s a virtual hug. { }

We did a different thing this Christmas, and moved out of Auckland to Rotorua to enjoy the celebration at my niece’s place there. Customarily we have it at my sister’s house, but this year loaded enough salads, presents, and festive treats into our cars and took the party to Jemma’s. She and her partner Rafa had decorated the house with lights, a real tree, and Chinese lanterns etc, and it was heart-warming to be immersed in that warm atmosphere for a couple of days. Down here in NZ, being a summer holiday, many presents are beach-themed, and we pushed that even further and had our Christmas dinner as a picnic at the lakeside. Great idea! Cold meat, salads, fruit pies with cream squeezed out of a can. And in between, a swim in the cool clean depths of a freshwater lake. It was not even that busy, so sitting on blankets/chairs on the grass in the shade of the trees with a gentle breeze flowing by watching other family groups doing the same was a treat.

I came home to my new unit, and watered my prolific garden and fell into a state of deep relaxation that is still upon me. I fiddle around with the garden, with cooking, reading, listening to music, and occasionally get my bike out for a ride or go for the walk around the harbour just below my house. I’ve just dismantled the Christmas tree, and put that season away in my garage for another year. NOW I’m revisiting my old nutrition plan and considering sliding carefully back into better habits again.

Yesterday, New Year’s Day, was a beauty. I started 2021 with a crisp walk around the water while the sun was still low, and then at 10am picked my sis up and drove the 10 mins around the bay to Pt Chev, which is opposite the peninsula I live on, with a much better beach. We slid into the still clear waters and stayed there floating and chatting for 30 – 40 mins of bliss. I listened amused to the ladies near me all complaining mildly of the noise of parties from the night before. Then it was home via my old house and the flatmate I had there, who we chatted with for a while, before I dropped Helen home.

I don’t have huge plans for the coming year. None of us know when travel will become easy again, and that was something I enjoyed doing over the last ten years. Actually the next trip I was planning to do was one around New Zealand, and I still intend to do that. I’ll treat it as I did my last two trips around Scotland, and put together a travel book for those who want to come with me (virtually) afterwards. An excellent idea especially since travel has become impossible right now. I do have two other books I have finished, but they need major editing, and I need to find the energy to tackle that. Meanwhile my two days a week at the University still bring in much needed cash, and get me out on my bike traveling in all weather.

I love the lead up to Christmas, which means warmer days, outside barbecues, meetings with friends, trips to the beach or messing about getting the garden going. Once the many Christmas gatherings and work dos are over, and Christmas is past, there’s nothing like the lax feeling that you don’t have to do anything, and time becomes less relevant. Most people have three weeks off around this time, but I save my summer holiday for February when schools are back, and my sis and I will be going north on our camping trip then. The University starts back in two weeks and I’ll be catching up on emails then. In the meantime, this is the most writing I’ve done in some weeks, and I’m comforted to know my fingers still find the right keys without my looking. Whew.

I’m going to go and read a little more of a book I need to return to the library. Here’s the series I’m enjoying right now. I’ll leave you with a glimpse of the last two months and let you sort out the event and the place based upon my narrative. Regard it as a sort of quiz. Happy New Year.


  1. cathy@cowshed.co.nz · January 2, 2021

    Lovely read friend 🥰 Good times!!!

    Look forward to catching up for a coffee when we’re back in Auckland 🤗

    Much love 💕

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carolyn Hepburn · January 3, 2021

    Thanks for the wonderful blog, Jenny. I so enjoy them …. May 2021 bring joy, surprises (good ones only), and things that make you smile.

    Liked by 1 person

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