2020 - The Year of the Pandemic and Brexit

Newhaven Mermaid with Covid Mask

It is the end of the year and I am looking through my photos on flickr to select my photo of the year. It is a good time to reflect and the photos remind me of all the things that happened this year. This is obviously the year of the Covid Pandemic and Brexit. Both are massive catastrophes that will shape our lives for years to come.

Covid19 and Brexit provided the background global shittiness that characterised 2020. However, on a personal level 2020 was actually relatively good.

The year started with a trip to Aberdeen to visit friends. We hadn't been up there in a while and it was nice to visit again. During the February holidays we took the train to London, mostly to see the Tutankhamen exhibition but also to enjoy the buzz of the capital. By that time the pandemic was rapidly approaching and we wondered whether we would be able to go. London was already strangely quiet. Again, we hadn't visited London in quite a few years but I was struck for the first time how different London is. It's not as shabby and run-down as the rest of the country including Edinburgh (or at least the central bits we walked around). It also oozes the splendour of the imperial spoils. The exhibition was fantastic and I enjoyed our little trip but as always I was quite happy to leave again to head North.

Just before the pandemic lock-down we went on another strike for our pensions and working conditions. We striked for 14 days. I am not so sure how effective the message was and whether we achieved anything. However, as on previous occasions it was a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues. It is quite ironic that it takes a picket line to get us to chat. Towards the end of the 14 day strike the main topic of conversation was Covid 19. I never made it back into the office apart from brief visits.

Before lock-down started we ended up in 14 days of self-isolation because Felix showed some symptoms. We were pretty sure it wasn't Covid19 but you never know. Once we were ready to re-emerge from our isolation, Edinburgh was in pandemic lock-down. Initially town was eerily quiet. Over the coming months life slowly returned. The Meadows were busy with people enjoying the Scottish summer. We went for lots of lovely walks and bike rides. Life slowed down. The festival was cancelled and the tourists mostly stayed away. Edinburgh actually became very pleasant. I do realise that we are incredibly privileged: Both Rowan and I have jobs, we have our own flat with enough space for the four of us including a work space each. Rowan finished her training as Early Years Practitioner and found a permanent position in a nursery a nice bike ride away. In many ways the pandemic didn't change our lives radically (see Small Edinburgh Part 1 and Part 2). We don't own a car and our normal day-to-day radius is limited to what we can reach on foot or by bike. I also very much enjoyed my regular lunch time visits to the cemetery across the road to look for insects.

Work from home is pretty good. We stuck to our usual coffee times and kept our 11 o'clock slot to virtually meet. Most of my work can be done remotely and in many ways the lack of disruption is quite good. Speaking to someone was fairly straight-forward using teams. Occasionally, I had to go to King's Buildings to prod a server or two. I managed to mostly complete a project I had been working on for a few years to convert our School storage to using CephFS. After the summer when the kids were back at school and Rowan back at work, I had to watch my work time. It was just too easy to just work and do nothing else. Especially when the days became shorter I made sure to go for an expanded lunch time walk. I am not so sure about the amount of the time the kids spend on computers. It is really difficult to offer an alternative since pretty much only walks are available. The thing that worries me most about computers is that they mix work with leisure and it is not clear how much time we all spend on what. I suppose that's the new world and we all have to figure out how to live with it.

Edinburgh City Council was busy to build temporary infrastructure to support Spaces for People. Much of it was long overdue and hopefully will become more permanent. Unfortunately, we had to mourn the deaths of a few cyclists that were killed during collisions with cars. Also a 6 year old boy was run over and fatally injured on the pavement of Morningside Road. Further afield the killing of George Floyd lead to Black Lives Matter protests even in Edinburgh during the pandemic.

We did manage to visit Rowan's family on the West Coast. We had a lovely trip to Benmore Botanical Garden. We got there via the Rest and Be Thankful just the week before it closed again due to landslides. Otherwise we mostly explored locally. Leith Walk was a popular destination - mostly so I could checkout the progress of the tram works. The archaeological dig on Constitution Street was very interesting. We did also manage to see the Harryhausen exhibition at the Modern Art Gallery.

I very much missed visiting my family in South Germany. We haven't seen them in over a year now. I also miss taking trains and going a bit further on occasion. I do feel sorry for the kids, especially the older ones. I guess I should say young adults, who miss out on socialising, going out and exploring the world. My life is established. It doesn't matter so much if I have to hunker down for a year or so.

Brexit came back towards the end of the year after it had been overshadowed by the pandemic. I have sat down to learn for my Life in the UK test. I kind of enjoyed the test in some strange way, probably because it predictably enraged me. I finished all the paperwork to become British and my application was accepted. I now just need to wait for the ceremony.

I hope that 2021 will be as relaxed as this year, hopefully with a resolution to the Covid 19 pandemic. We will see how the vaccination programme pans out. I suspect that we will spend another summer in the UK. The world events of Brexit and the new US president will rumble on without any notice of us. I do hope that there might be an easing of Covid19 restrictions in the not too distant future and that we we will be able to see friends and family again. I must admit that I am looking forward to the spring and mini beastie safaris in the cemetery across the road.

I am wishing you all the best for 2021.