2020 in review

In 2019 I zigzagged around Europe and even further afield. I thought this year would either be much the same, or completely different. It was completely different - but in an entirely different way than I what I expected. But that was the case for everyone, right?

I posted to my site 4,394 times. I posted 6,017 individual photos into 11 different albums.

tl;dr

Goals for 2021: Make the most of Fife. Spend time with my IRL friends again, IRL. Try to make myself useful in the local community, and online communities.

Words

I wrote 345 things. On my site I posted 282 short notes or commentary with photos, and 63 longer articles. I also logged non-blogpost writing 29 times. These all comprise approximately 59,593 words in total (9,010 off-site). That's a mean of 162.82 words and 0.94 posts per day.

I wrote about 156 different topics, with the most common being life (122), travel (74), week in review (49), food (40), albania (34), hacking (31), vegan (29), ods (27), coronavirus (27), crochet (24), covid19 (21), and uk (16).

My NaNoWriMo project was Dumping Sky. I didn't write anything else, or finish any previous projects. Again.

Travel

I stopped in an all-time nomadding low of 6 different countries, none of which I had never been to before. A long stay in Albania was a goal I overachieved on, with 149 nights in total. Pre-lockdown I spent 13 nights in Turkey, 2 in Greece, 3 in Bulgaria and 16 in Switzerland (11 of these on a Vipassana meditation retreat). And 177 in the UK by the end of the year.

I spent 6 nights in total sleeping on public transport (long distance buses). Apart from that I slept in 25 different places. I spent the most time in short-term rental accommodation - in Albania and the UK - which was 246 nights. I stayed with family for 52 nights, friends (including couchsurfing and housesitting) for 34, in Vipassana accommodation for 11 (but moved rooms twice..), hostels for 9 nights, and hotels for 8 nights.

Not the most effective year for travel. I'm pleased I was in Albania in March when the European lockdown hit, because it meant I was stuck in a sunny place, in a nice apartment, right by the sea. I try to avoid touristy hotspots or 'seasonal' towns in the main season, so I was also very privileged to enjoy Sarandë in the middle of summer but without the usual masses of tourists.

After overstaying my Albanian visa, I did make an attempt to get overland to Greece, and considered trying for North Macedonia. But ultimately I finally had to return to the UK; the unpredictable border closures (oh and the rampant coronavirus) meant travelling overland was next to impossible, so I had to fly.

In total I spent 1 month, 1 day, 7 hours, 9 minutes and 25 seconds in transit (this includes walking between places), logging 82 journeys. I took 34 train journeys, 34 local or long-distance bus journeys, shared a rental car 3 times (I didn't log car trips with friends and family), bought metro/tram tickets 3 times, took 2 ferries, 1 cable car, 1 taxi, 1 flight, and bought a bicycle!

When I wasn't on the move, I spent:

Work

Work hasn't changed much. I still work 3 days a week with Open Data Services Co-operative. I started trying out different patterns of engagement with internal Co-op-running work vs. development / client work and found that if I spent larger blocks of time on each rather than the 50% split each week I function a bit better. I was fortunate to see my colleagues in person in January, because all of our other in-person meetups were cancelled after that. I'm also fortunate that we collectively acted fast to enstate special provisions when lockdown started: including unlimited paid leave for any reason related to the pandemic and a guarantee not to reduce pay or cut jobs for a period of time. We were also fortunate to not have to transition out of an office like many people did, so for a lot of the time it was just business as usual (besides the baseline anxiety we all had).

I also continued to contract approximately one day a week for Digital Bazaar, working on things related to the Decentralized Identifiers Working Group. As last year, this came in bursts. This year though there were no conferences or face-to-face meetings to attend :(

I joined the W3C Inclusion & Diversity Community Group - which I'd been in before, but was booted when my affiliation changed and I forgot to re-join - and went to some meetings. I also started to get active in the Social Web Incubator CG again, and did some infrastructure/admin for the Credentials CG.

Code

Green squares from github

Github counted 946 'contributions'. This was 64% commits, 13% code review, 6% issues and 17% pull requests. I don't see any patterns or anything significant. As usual you can see NaNoWrimo in November.

Stuff

I purchased or otherwise acquired something on 495 occasions, spending a total of approximately €10,653.71. I used 9 different currencies (GBP, USD, ALL, EUR, HRK, CHF, RON, BGN, TRY). This is an average expenditure of €29.11 per day, €204.88 per week, or €887.81 per month.

I spent €5,021.09 on accommodation, and €1,449.62 on transit. I spent €1,557.15 on groceries, buying them 121 times. I bought food that was ready to eat on 147 occasions, spending €1,589.74; 56.5% of the time this was in restaurants and 42.9% to take away.

I gave €465.99 away in donations, or spent it on gifts (but I didn't log this accurately; only occasionally when I gave cash to people on the street, or my Patreon payments which is about $15/month). I stopped counting donations under my monthly budget, so they are not included in the overall total.

Some things I acquired the most often were food (147), groceries (121), restaurant (83), transport (79), takeaway (63), and accommodation (58).

On 35 occasions I got something for free. I expensed €109.13 of stuff for work. The most expensive thing I bought was One month's shelter in Kirkcaldy (€611.73) and the cheapest thing (which wasn't free) was - just like last year - toilet use in Arad bus station (€0.21). I spent on average €21.52 per purchase.

Money saved on eating out and living cheaply in Albania was rapidly reclaimed by the cost of living (and partially supporting my brother) in the UK. Even so, I came in under my €1000/month budget overall this year.

January: Cold

I spent the new year with new friends in Bursa (Turkey). After staying up all night, I got the worst cold I've had in years and couldn't get out of bed for a few days. The weather was cold and my house was freezing. Instead of going south, I went north back to the UK. First I met my Co-op colleagues in Manchester for our quarterly meeting. Then I arranged and attended a pre-wedding get-together (a "stag don't") in Perthshire. I found out one of my friends needed a kidney, and began the process of finding out how I could donate mine.

All January posts. Weeks in review:

February: Also cold

Then I was the Best Man at K and M's wedding in Cornwall.

I headed back to the continent again, stopping in Switerzland for a Vipassana retreat, and then spent some days with friends.

I had a route south planned through Italy, but diverted through Croatia at the last minute due to the impending lockdown in Milan. A good decision. Little did I know what the rest of the year was bringing.

All February posts. Weeks in review:

The Long March

Not long after I made it to Sarandë, Albania, the pandemic hit Europe. I had been expecting to stay for a month, but when April rolled around borders were closed and curfews were everywhere. I consider myself very fortunate to have been in a lovely apartment, right on the sea, in a fantastic climate. I managed a couple of relatively local adventures, and met a nice expat community.

There I stayed. I got back into crochet, and started baking a lot. As spring set in, I swam in the sea every day.

Finally, in July, my appointment for tests for kidney-donor eligibility was rescheduled to August. I broke the no-fly rule to return to the UK (if not foolhardy, it would have been impossible by land at that point, anyway).

All March posts. Weeks in review:

All April posts. Weeks in review:

All May posts. Weeks in review:

All June posts. Weeks in review:

All July posts. Weeks in review:

August and September: Still March

I spent precisely the last two weeks of my twenties in government-mandated isolation at my Mum's house in the Lincolnshire countryside. Turned 30, and reviewed the last decade. Then I spent a day at Nottingham Renal Center, having lots of tests.

During a window of eased lockdown, I spent more time in Edinburgh, house-sitting and visiting friends. Expecting to need to stick around for kidney donation, but needing to be by the sea, I made plans to move to Fife for a bit.

Then my friend got a kidney from another source. This was great news! I could leave, but.. European unpredictable border lockdowns made travelling more complicated than I fancied, and family concerns made me want to stay in the UK for longer.

All August posts. Weeks in review:

All September posts. Weeks in review:

October to December: Life in Fife

So I rented a flat with a (medium-distance) sea view in Kirkcaldy, Fife, and my brother moved in with me. I bought a hammock stand again, and had to get a bit of furniture. Fortunately the secondhand shops and Freegle network are here are great! We went on loads of hikes, and enjoyed surprisingly glorious weather and a coastline that leaves me regularly breathless. Bonus: I started to meet the local eco communities here, and have really fallen in love with the place.

My Mum has sold and is in the process of moving out of my childhood home. So I'm glad I got to spend some time there earlier this year, as lockdown means there's no way I'll be able to go back again before she hands the key over to new owners. I'm not that sentimental about it, anyway. I might have been not long ago, but these days I am an unfeeling orb of detachment :)

I took lots of time off in November to make more time for NaNoWriMo, and though I didn't end up writing much, having more time to rest after an a hectic and/or anxiety-filled few months was amazing.

Discovering newly available headspace, I stood for election in the W3C TAG, which turned out to be one of the most competitive elections ever. At the time of writing, voting is still open.

It got cold quite sharply mid-December, but an advantage of being in Scotland over Turkey or Greece at this time of year is that the housing is actually designed to handle it.

Renting for and feeding two has taken me regularly over budget in the latter part of this year, but it was offset by how little I spent in Albania. I'm working on a plan to rectify this in the medium-term.

All October posts. Weeks in review:

All November posts. Weeks in review:

All December posts. Weeks in review:

Reflection on 2020

Compared to the past

Maybe next year I'll make this table into a pretty chart.

2017 2018 2019 2020
Posts total 4,656 4,817 4,974 4,394
Photos posted n/a 9,520 9,032 6,017
Coffees (total / mean per day) 471 / 1.3 431 / 1.2 484 / 1.3 462 / 1.3
Nights on transport n/a 31 17 6
Nights with friends n/a 56 60 34
Nights with family n/a 24 24 52
Time in transit 1mo 13d 23h 15m 45s 2mo 26d 6h 56m 21s 2mo 10d 14h 9m 12s 1mo 1day 7h 9m 25s
Time in restaurants 17d 2h 37m 3s 21d 17h 44m 22s 26d 16h 16m 9s 5d 20h 30m 19s
Time exercising 4d 9h 26m 58s 2d 1h 10m 2d 20h 8m 10s 4d 4h 6m 59s
Time in meetings 3d 1h 28m 6d 4h 45m 59s 19d 0h 13m 12s 22d 3h 12m 0s
€ per month n/a 923.39 1,074.90 887.81
€ accommodation n/a 4,175.61 5,080.86 5,021.09
€ per night accommodation n/a 11.44 13.92 13.72
€ eating out n/a 3,012.56 3,367.91 1,589.74
Words ~159,492 122,401 95,722 59,593
Topics (by tag) 237 217 153 156
Countries visited 13 24 22 6
New countries visited 4 13 8 0
Nights in the UK ~month 34 37 177

Exercise was up but transit and eating out was down... for some reason. Sarandë and Kirkcaldy got labelled 'home' pretty quickly, as is my Mum's house (where I grew up), explaining that massive bump. I started logging long hikes as 'exercise' so there may be a historical underreporting error rather than an actual increase in exercise. Because I certainly dropped the ball on running and yoga this year.

At this time last year, I was looking forward at 2020, expecting to either visit many new places around Eastern Europe, or go back to the UK to donate a kidney. I was not expecting to stay virtually stationary, make a potentially significant career move or find somewhere to invest all of my savings. Everyone who had plans for 2020 found their lives completely upended this year. I've got off pretty damn lucky.

Though I find myself pining for travel and idly browsing wikitravel or airbnb every few days, I also appreciate the extra mental energy I've gained from not constantly planning and moving. I am grateful for having been able to see friends and family this year, and in particular for being able to spend more time with my brother than ever before. I can hardly believe my good fortune at the geography and community I find myself amongst in a place I chose to move to fairly arbitrarily.

I've been able to live more closely in accordance with my values here: minimising waste and shopping locally. This can be hard in the Balkans, when there are limited grocery options, fewer recycling facilities, and old ladies at markets who force upon you plastic bags at every turn. It's also harder when moving frequently as I'm less able to buy in bulk. Shortly after moving, I got a supply of empty jars from Freegle and friends, and shop almost exclusively at the zero-waste shop in Burntisland, and the local high street market. Okay, I go to Morrisons as well, but only for absolute necessities (and cheap vegan cheese. Nobody's prefect alright).

I'm not sure if I've particularly missed eating out. It was quite a significant hobby when travelling, but since I also love to cook I haven't noticed much. I get takeaway from the local vegan-friendly cafes here sometimes because I don't want them to shut down. I've resisted the urge to look up how my favourite vegan places around Europe are doing because I expect to be distraught and find out lots of them are gone for good.

Last year I wrote that I wanted to start logging my journeys properly and generate a map. In the last week of this year I finally found time to tinker with sloph, and have done it! Data is up to date for 2020 and a smattering of existing logs from the past. It helped that there wasn't a huge amount to backfill for this year.. When I'm low energy I'll be filling in gaps from previous years, using my ActivityPub C2S-ish travel logging client.

2021

I hestiate to make predictions! Realistically I'm probably not going to be able to travel again until I can get a covid vaccine, though it worries me a bit how long that might be. And my brother isn't going to be able to go back to Japan any time soon I don't think. So I'll make the most of my time in Fife for a while longer. I've signed up to volunteer at the local community kitchen with Greener Kirkcaldy - I really hope that can start this month.

I'm going to move again, not far, but closer to the sea and further from town.

Whether or not I get elected to the TAG, I forsee my W3C related activities increasing a bit. I'll probably do more to help with infrastructure of the Credentials CG, and take a more active role in reviving the Social Incubator CG in coming months.

Hopefully as the vaccine gets taken up by the most vulnerable it will be safe to travel locally again, and I can hop on trains to explore more of Scotland. Even better, maybe I can spend more time with friends who I am now finally in the same country as.

🏷 travel life hacking week in review #cooplife w3c 2020 covid19 coronavirus albania uk sloph nanowrimo zero waste quantified self digital nomad ods year in review

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