On January 2nd this year, Matt Mullenweg encouraged people to get blogging,
Write for a single person. Share something cool you found. Summarize your year. Set a blogging goal with reminders. Get a Gutenberg-native theme and play around with building richer posts. Start a nom de plume. Answer daily prompts on Day One. Forget the metaverse, let’s hang out in the blogosphere. Get your own domain!
Reading that reminded me that I haven’t written on curnow.org for some time. I used to ‘summarise my year’ pretty regularly – albeit in different ways – on here. In 2021 I tried the weeknotes format but it didn’t really work for me. In December 2020 I posted a 10 Year Instagram retrospective and, earlier that year, looked back on the handful of tweets I posted in 2019.
I wrote 2018’s Annual Report at the start of 2019 and took a moment to look back on my 2017 Reading Challenge the year before. Previous annual(ish) reviews were photography based, the last one of those was My 15 for 2015 posted at the end of December 2015.
In the spirit of ‘hanging out in the blogosphere’ and because I have previous writing to point to, on January 4th this year I gave myself 27 days to compose something to summarise 2021. Clearly, I missed my own deadline but these are the words I’ve put together since then.
2021 was an odd year. Like many others I began the year back in a London COVID-19 lockdown dreaming of freedom in spring. I took part in a virtual escape room in March which was fun but not as much as the real thing. And nowhere near as fun as the summer of normality which followed a few months later.
I got my first vaccine shot in the early part of the year but it took until April 15th to be able to go out and see people. I met some friends for an outside meal. I have two memories of that evening: that it was fun to be able to talk to people across a table but it was cold. I bought a jacket with an in-built, battery-powered, heating element to get me through that – and a couple of similar – evenings.
This year I continued a trend from the first months of lockdown in 2020: going on local history walks. On one of them, we tried to find the site of the Craig Telescope but I am not convinced we ever did.
The year opened up from June and I was able to get to the Isle of Wight for a holiday and there was a family trip to The Lake District. Later in the summer I got to see AFC Wimbledon’s new Plough Lane stadium which was fun and I hope to see a few more games this year. By the time the weather was getting colder again there was a trip on the Caledonian Sleeper to Fort William which was wonderful but my overriding memory is of rain.
All the socials
I didn’t really tweet much in 2021. I think I was trying to avoid doom-scrolling about the pandemic. I appear to have enjoyed The Masked Singer last year (as I am in this year). I also noted that I, finally, killed off a couple of experiments I had been running for ten years on local tweeting. The local engagement was fun but it was time-consuming and when I moved house I gave up and a couple of accounts just became automatic re-tweeters. I don’t think it’s a good use of Twitter. I had always planned to write more about those experiments but I think their time has been and gone. Still, it was a fun side project for several years but I am glad it’s been put to sleep.
It's time to say goodbye to @CommonIdeas. In 2009 I set up a Twitter account for the area near where I lived as a way of sharing local news. It's been running from an automated search for local news for a couple of years since.
— Jon Curnow (@curns) August 6, 2021
I ended 2021 tweeting about Stretchy Pants which is a much more relevant topic for this time of year.
On Instagram there were 16 grid pictures vs 104 stories. So I guess the story format wins. Yet again the algorithm chose my Top Nine but I got to pick my story highlights.
If I had to pick my favourite photographs, I’m not sure what I would pick, but I do like these three night shots; although my favourite photo didn’t get to Instagram.
I tried quite hard to complete a full year’s photo journal with Blipfoto. It’s an excellent and, I think, unknown photo sharing site that I briefly used many years ago but came back to during the pandemic. I started 2021 strongly but my continuous burst really ended in September. I’m not sure what killed it off but I am back trying again in 2022.
As a result of working at home I probably listened to more music than I have done in previous years. Last.fm says there were 9,456 scrobbles. Contemporary country music is the genre I am listening to most at the moment. It’s interesting to see what the various services say about my top artists:
- Last FM says Miranda Lambert was my top artist of 2021 while Famous Friends, Chris Young & Kane Brown, was my top track. They also say that 59% of my listening was new tracks which I found surprising.
- On Spotify, I apparently played more Luke Combs while If I Didn’t Love You was the most played 3 and a half minutes.
- Apple Music agrees that Famous Friends is my most played song but makes it way too hard to figure out who my most played artist was for me to bother with for this post.
My 2021 Media Diet only included three films. I can’t choose between them because they were all perfectly passable ways to spend a couple of hours. So, in the order that I saw them (with a short review):
- In the Heights (Good, but I preferred the stage show)
- Free Guy (Good, but felt a bit familiar)
- No Time To Die (Good, but some of the action scenes went on for too long)
Of the films watched on a TV screen I am finding it hard to pick a favourite. Perhaps honourable mentions for The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Wonder Woman, My Octopus Teacher and Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary.
I went to theatre five times but two visits were to see things I’d seen before. I saw Declan Bennett twice; once in his one man show, Boy Out of the City and once in Carousel at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in August. Both were excellent.
I did write about my failure to meet my GoodReads Reading Challenge as an end of year post to Blipfoto. I read two books, 767 pages and listened to five audiobooks. I’m pretty disappointed with that and I aim to do better this year.
This year, I started listening to the Strangerville story-telling podcast. There are over a hundred episodes to catch-up on. It’s really great.
Out and about
Swarm, by Foursquare, doesn’t give me stats anymore about the number of check-ins. I’m guessing it’s way down because of the pandemic but I’d be interested in comparisons with previous years if anybody knows of simple tools to query my data let me know. On the other hand Google tells me that the total amount of travel in 2021 was equivalent to 19% around the world. I find that quite a surprisingly high number (or, perhaps, my sense of the distance around the world is skewed). Mind you Google says I walked a total of 783 miles this year while Apple thinks that was 1008 miles. The lesson here might be to not trust the trackers.
The pandemic has changed the ways a lot of us have been working. In November we tried an experiment and spent a month working from an Airbnb on the Isle of Wight to see how well that would work (turned out pretty well, really). I hope to do that again this year.