2021 in Review: 10 Things I’m Grateful For (And My Best Laid Schemes of 2022)

Almost Ginger blog owner in Victoria Street, Edinburgh

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It’s New Year’s Eve. I’m spending it with my beloved (AKA craft beer), lying in bed watching my favourite film of all time, When Harry Met Sally (1989). There’s an Isle of Skye candle burning in the window and maybe I’ll be able to see fireworks bursting skyward from the park nearby at midnight.

I don’t believe in making every single New Year spectacular or noteworthy. I prefer to enjoy and savour special moments whenever they happen to occur throughout the year. And truthfully, this is how I would be spending my New Year’s Eve even if I didn’t have Covid.

Oh, yeah. I have Covid. Did I not mention that?

Thankfully, I haven’t passed it onto my friends and family *knock on wood* and I have extremely mild symptoms. Though I do take a big sniff of my lavender essential oil bottle and a long, deep inhale every now and again. Just to make sure.

Almost Ginger blog owner looking at craft beer in the Black Isle Bar, Inverness in Scotland
One of my favourite photos of 2021, me with several of my loved ones

Despite ending 2021 and beginning 2022 in Covid Jail, I’ve had a Very Good Year. A respectable 7/10. And since we’re still very much in the middle of a raging pandemic and everyone’s hanging on by a thread, I’m chuffed with that.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been a few dark moments in 2021. I’ve not managed to kill off the villain in this chapter of my story yet (I call him “loneliness” though he goes by many names). But I can often shake him off by spending quality time with good friends (both fiction and non-fiction).

The Future with a capital “F” still makes me anxious on occasion. But I don’t have to have my sh*t together by the time I’m 30, right? That’s a cruel societal prank, I’m sure. Because that age is rapidly approaching and my sh*t is all over the place.

So, I’m happy. All things considered.

I always like to take the time to pause, reflect, and give a big kiss goodbye to the year before leaping into the next one. These are ten highlights from my 2021 and a few thoughts about what I hope my 2022 will look like. Yes, I’ve started “making plans” again. I’m an optimistic daftie.

1. Having Time to Write Blog Posts and Ease Into My New Job

This is a highlight but it’s said through gritted teeth. Am I grateful for having the time to write 86 blog posts this year and get to grips with having some semblance of a steady income for the first time since 2017?

Yes, absolutely.

Am I grateful for anything else about the four-month lockdown at the start of 2021 and celebrating yet another full lockdown birthday? Other than lowering Covid cases and saving lives?

No, I’m f*cking not.

In 2020, my blog pageviews plummeted and I started this year with 10,000+ monthly pageviews. That’s way smaller than my highs of 20,000+ in 2019. But by working my arse off and publishing three times a week for four straight months, I hit a high of 47,000+ page views this month. It’s still around 15,000 fewer monthly pageviews than what I need to join the Mediavine ad network and gain a decent side income, but I’m super pleased with that growth.

December saw me celebrate one year working for an SEO company as a freelance Content Writer and it’s been awesome. I’ve been able to work as much or as little as I want, whenever and wherever. And I’m very happy to stick with this job in 2022!

Collage of four photos from the Cumbria coastline in winter
The only photos I took January – April were from my morning walks

2. Vaccine, Va-a-accine (To the Tune of “Maxine” by The Traveling Wilburys)

Obviously, a highlight of 2021 is getting the Covid vaccine! Not once, not twice, but thrice.

Yes, I still caught Covid. But as I said, I’ve had next to no symptoms. I have a little bit of congestion, a tiny sore throat, and a bitty baby cough. Who knows how severe my illness would be without the vaccine? I know that the pandemic has felt like one sh*tshow after another BUT, I’m thankful for the medical community for everything they’ve done (and continue to do) as a result.

Collage of Almost Ginger blog owner wearing masks

3. Six Fantastic Weeks in Edinburgh During the Spring

So, what did I want to do straight after the four-month lockdown in the UK? Well, I’ll tell you, kids. I wanted to go back to my favourite city.

Some of you might know I volunteered for three months at CoDE Hostel – The CoURT in Edinburgh’s Old Town at the end of 2020 through Workaway. It’s such a great hostel, but my shiny new remote job was more than enough to keep me occupied. So, I stayed at CoDE Hostel – The LoFT (same hostel, different location) in New Town for six weeks while working remotely.

Did I make up for the four months we spent in lockdown during those six weeks? Oh boy, did I.

I visited approx. 6,734 museums, went to pubs with my pals, read in cafés and parks, watched films in independent cinemas, and walked up all seven of Edinburgh’s hills and sometimes I worked. I visited Doune Castle and Glasgow (for the Outlander locations) on day trips, too. I had a fab six weeks and it was the best place to spend my spring.

Nights Spent Away From Home (Total So Far): 43, 1 Place

Collage of Almost Ginger blog owner in Edinburgh

4. Our Epic Summer North Coast 500 Road Trip

I literally spend two nights back home with my parents in Cumbria before joining them on our epic summer road trip at the start of July. The North Coast 500 road trip has been on my bucket list since I created it and it was even better than I imagined.

For seven days we saw castles, coastline, coos, beaches, fishing villages, lighthouses, and plenty more. I am famously an awful driver (amongst certain circles) so I couldn’t have gone on this trip without them and I’m lucky that my parents are great to hang out with and don’t mind hanging with me.

I’ve written an entire blog post about the trip so I won’t prattle on about it again. Let’s move on!

Nights Spent Away From Home (Total So Far): 50, 7 Places

Read Next: North Coast 500 Itinerary: Our 6-Day Detailed Road Trip Plan

Collage of Almost Ginger blog owner and sites on the North Coast 500

5. Spending Quality Time With Friends and Family

When I think back over this year, I think of watching Eurovision at Steven’s house less than a week after it became legal again. I think of my bestie coming up to see me in Edinburgh for an amazing girls weekend. And I think about dropping in Robbie’s shifts at a coffee shop for the most beautiful flat whites, practice walks with my dad (more on that later!), Lakeland walks with Stevie, and lots of other highlights.

They fill me with all the warm fuzzies.

Particularly in July, I spent a night in Manchester eating vegan pizza and playing pool with my Uni friends Mao, Anthony, and Sonny. And the next night, I headed down to the Midlands to see my beautiful friend Iola and her beautiful little kitties. I hadn’t seen them since 2019 or earlier and don’t want to leave it that long between catch-ups again!

And in August, my Mum and I finally got our night in Ambleside to celebrate my 27th birthday. Yes, I might’ve been 28 at the time but I don’t look a day over 26 anyway… *cough* right?!

Nights Spent Away From Home (Total So Far): 53, 9 Places

Collage of Almost Ginger blog owner with friends

6. Picking Up a Wholesome New Creative Hobby

My mental health took a wee dip in August. Well, a bigger wee dip than what is normal for me. I felt very lonely, undeserving of love, and had some unfinished business with coming out the year before.

I think back to how I would have coped with these periods in 2015/2016 and it would have been to binge-eat, self-harm, and think unhelpful, damaging thoughts. Nowadays, I ask, “okay bestie, how can I be kind to myself and give myself what I need? What is a positive change I can make in my life?”

I don’t know quite how I found cross-stitching from there, but I did.

Cross-stitching is the perfect creative outlet for me. My job and my side hustle are somewhat creative but they’re also very similar and laptop-dependant so I needed to add something different into the mix. I wanted an easy, creative hobby that I could do while watching movies that would stop me from looking at my phone. And I’ve always loved sewing. Et voila!

I’ve completed three patterns so far and I am hooked.

Collage of cross-stitch progress "keep going" pattern

7. Walking 84 Miles Along Hadrian’s Wall Path

Did you think I’d walk 84 miles across England in September? Because sure didn’t!

I first found out about the Hadrian’s Wall trail during a spontaneous visit to Housteads Roman Fort in November 2020. “That’s pretty cool,” I thought flippantly as I took note of the arrows pointing walkers in the right direction. My interest piqued again when I watched actor Robson Green’s Channel 5 show about walking Hadrian’s Wall.

But my fate was sealed when I mentioned walking the walk to Ben, a fellow remote worker I initially met at the hostel in Edinburgh. Our paths only crossed over by a week in Edinburgh, so we didn’t stay in touch. But serendipity brought us to the Black Isle Hostel in Inverness at the same time again.

Two months (and a couple of practice walks with my Dad) later, we walked the wall together.

I’ve written three blog posts about the experience: this Hadrian’s Wall Packing List post, a Hadrian’s Wall Accommodation Guide, and this Hadrian’s Wall Essential Tips post. But if you don’t want to read three lengthy articles, just know it was fun and challenging and awesome.

Nights Spent Away From Home (Total So Far): 60, 15 Places

Collage of Amost Ginger blog owner walking Hadrian's Wall

8. Birth of My Littlest Nephew

A couple of weeks after I returned from walking Hadrian’s Wall, my superstar sister gave birth to a second gorgeous little monkey, Theo. At three months old, his hobbies include smiling, napping, and being a little charmer. I feel so fortunate to be an auntie and watching Max and Theo blossom is one of my life’s greatest joys.

Collage of Almost Ginger blog owner with her nephew

9. Spending Autumn Back in Edinburgh

I ummed and ahhed for ages about where to spend my autumn. Spain was on the cards for a while but it was looking pricey. Plus, I wanted to see my friends in Edinburgh again. In hindsight, I spend too long at home over summer and got bored, then too long in Edinburgh over autumn and got burned out. The borders were also wide open for this chunk of the year and I should have gone abroad somewhere.

But life’s just one big learning experience, eh?

Despite my regrets, I still had a lot of fun during these two months. I returned to CoDE Hostel – The CoURT and actually managed to work a decent amount (unlike my *ahem* six weeks in Edinburgh during spring…). Cinema trips, reading in cafes, walks through the park, and drinks with friends were all small joys I enjoyed again. I also had two friends from Cumbria come up to visit me, too, which was so nice.

I made an effort to venture on more day trips this time and visited Queensferry, St Andrews, Dunfermline, Stirling Castle, and a few other places. In future, I want to keep visiting Edinburgh and taking day trips (I can’t wait to go back!) but with a “little and often” approach. After a while, I lose motivation to explore new places and I never want that to happen with Edinburgh.

Nights Spent Away From Home (Total So Far): 123, 10 Places (2 days less than 2020)

Collage of Almost Ginger blog owner in Edinburgh

10. Reading a Book for Every Week of the Year

The final big highlight of the year was reading 52 entire books. 52 baby! Can you believeee?

I smashed my 2020 goal of reading 24 books (I read 28 in the end), so I upped 2021’s goal to 36. Well, safe to say I crushed that one. So, I’m upping my reading goal again in 2022 with the hopes I’ll obliterate it. I know for some people that reading becomes a chore if they set goals, but reading is almost always a joy and it completely focuses me. It calms my mind, I enjoy it, and it helps me be more creative.

As a writer, I see reading as fuel. I can’t put words out if I don’t put words in. Does that make sense or is that the biggest pile of bullsh*t you’ve ever heard?

The number of films I watched this year has tanked but it just goes to show that you cannot do it all at once and that’s okay.

P.S. Follow me on Instagram @almostgingr for book updates! Keep me accountable!

Collage of books

Potential Events That Might Occur in 2022, Maybe

Apart from my reading goal, I did not even attempt to make plans or set other goals for 2021. Somehow, I still managed to have a great year. But for 2022, I’m being a silly optimist and I have a few goals/plans in the works that I’d like to share.

Yes, even some (lol) overseas travel plans.

  • Read 52 books
  • Complete 6 cross-stitch patterns
  • Watch at least 208 films (including every Pedro Almodóvar and Wes Anderson film)
  • Complete The Photography Institute’s Lightroom photo editing course
  • Complete The Photography Institute’s Travel & Landscape course
  • Travel to Spain in February for an English language exchange program (this is a particular lol)
  • Travel to Iceland in March on a press trip with Jet2 and see the Northern Lights
  • Finish redecorating my bedroom at home
  • Travel somewhere for my 29th birthday in April
  • Celebrate my parents turning 60!
  • Travel around East Germany and Czechia and attend Traverse 2022 in September
  • Reach my savings goals
  • Keep going on long walks
  • Visit more Harry Potter filming locations in England
  • Start contributing to my retirement account
  • Publish blog posts (as and when)

If I wrote another 86 blog posts in 2022 and updated a few old ones, I could probably increase my pageviews enough for the ad network to accept my blog. But the money I would gain from advertising would not be worth the income I would lose spending that time creating the content.

And I’m not going to set myself up to fail by overpromising.

I want to complete saving for my safety net (almost there!), buy a new laptop that I’m desperate for, and start contributing to my personal retirement account. Then I will shift gears back to blogging. I had to become an adult sometime (she says with “redecorating my bedroom at my parent’s house” on her list of goals).

This doesn’t mean I won’t still write posts! But I’m taking my foot off the brake for 2022 and just cruising for the first half of the year (if you wanted another car metaphor). Travelling and education are also going to be bigger priorities in 2022, and those require £££.

So, those are my goals and plans for 2022! Come back in exactly one year if you want a big laugh.

Happy New Year 2022, everyone! I sincerely hope that despite everything, you had a positive 2021 too. Sending you warm fuzzies, big hugs, and cold beers (metaphorical, of course). 

4 thoughts on “2021 in Review: 10 Things I’m Grateful For (And My Best Laid Schemes of 2022)

  1. Jess says:

    Loved reading through your recap Rebecca! I’m glad you managed to have several wins in such a generally crap year. Maybe not 2022, but perhaps in 2023 one of your goals might be to come to America and be hosted by the French Toast Sunday crew while stateside 🙂

    • Rebecca says:

      Aww thanks Jess that’s lovely of you to say! I really hope you had a good 2021 too. It’s absolutely in my plans to go to Baltimore, 100% within the next two years because it would be soo great to see you all again!

  2. Danielle says:

    Hiya! I’m sorry to hear that you’ve struggled with your “loneliness” this year because I (and I’m sure many others) think you’re pretty darn ace. 👌 My inbox is always open if you need a chat! This is quite the list, so many things to be proud of! I thought I’d been good by managing 27 books in 2021 but you’ve blown that out of the water! Very happy to see that you’ll be attending traverse 2022, you were missed in 2021!

    • Rebecca says:

      Thank you sooo much Danielle! 😀 Absolutely, so many people have been dealing with things in the last couple of years that they’ve never had to deal with before. Hey, 27 is amazing! It’s all relative – I used to watch 400+ films every year but now that’s swapped out with reading I’m lucky if I make it past 200 haha. There are only 24 hours in a day! Yesss I’m so pleased I’ve got my Traverse 22 ticket, and SO pleased you’re going again! Will be amazing to see you!!

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