Normally I write a post reflecting on the past year around this time. Reflection on what is good and bad. Did one for 2019, 2018 etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. But I don’t think that I really want to do that for 2020. It was a difficult year. For the world, COVID-19 made it that way. The worst I had from COVID has been through lockdown and generally not doing as much as I would like; others had it much worse and I can’t complain. MS had more impact personally but there has been enough reflection on that. This time I want to look forward. On to 2021.

A Slow Start

But, let’s face it, 2021 is going to start much as 2020 has been. COVID 19 is still very much here and vaccination will take time, although hopefully the rate of infection will be reduced as more get vaccinated. So looking forward perhaps has a realistic start point of March or April 2021. At the earliest.

Looking forward is just not as easy as it usually is. Always a note of caution. Insert ‘hopefully’ before everything written below.

Mountains and Sh*t!

Screw it, though. I am just going to to look forward no matter what the delay.. Of course, for me the act of looking forward involves the bike. And mountains!

It’s not like I stopped cycling in 2020. Luckily the Dutch version of lockdown encourages exercise. Sensibly, solo and no risks that may lead to a visit to an overstretched emergency ward. But the challenges of 2020 did not happen, for obvious reasons. No mass events, very difficult to travel. I have been lucky enough to keep cycling. But I need the challenges. I need that feeling of achievement I get from them.

A flick back through the entries in this blog shows how important they have been. A statement about how MS does not stop me from doing something physically difficult. It is not about fighting MS, that’s an uneven battle and against a foe that…. is invisible and unpredictable. It is about what I can do in spite of what I have. That feeling……

I need the mountains and all the sh*t that comes with it. Training, pain, doubt. Achievement. Col du Tourmalet is back on the agenda for this year. Looking forward to it.

Broadening the Horizon

As said above, though, the issue in the last year has been actually getting to where the mountains are. Travel has changed with COVID-19. Everywhere is further away. When something is gone you realise how much you miss it and how lucky you are to be able to do it during ‘normal’ times. Many, including me, forgot that getting away is a luxury. COVID-19 is reminder of the fact that it should be special.

It will take awhile for travel to reach it’s previous level. There is also the positive side of this in the reduction of environmental impact. We are all going to be travelling less and that holiday far away will be a little more difficult to arrange. It will also be more special, for me at least. The chance to broaden the horizons. It is a luxury and I have been to spoilt for too long.

The Freedom to Do Something….. Or Not

The horizons closer to home have also been more closed off in the last year. I walked past a closed cafe the other day and suddenly found myself thinking that I felt like a coffee and cake.

Not something that I normally want to do. Nothing mysterious but just something that, when it is there, you think you can do it anytime. Suddenly it’s impossible. Then you notice it. The freedom to do something or not is gone. And I would like the freedom to buy a coffee. Let’s face it, they will need all of our support.

Concerts! Please?

Elbow, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Suede, Thundercat, Thurston Moore. Among others. Postponed. I need a good concert. No hidden deep reasoning here. I just need a concert, simple as that.


Concerts mean being around people. The friends you meet and catch up with beforehand, all of the fellow concert-goers crammed in to the venue….. Now, everyone seems so far away.

In normal times I am a primarily a homeworker with a pair of days per week for the office. On those two days I have a lot of contact with others, of course. A lot of social alongside the professional. A quick break by the coffee machine to keep the mind fresh. Life is not only work, I miss meeting friends at a concert or a bar or restaurant or at their homes or just bumping in to them on the street.

And then, in the course of one day in March, all that was gone. Even the visit to a friend’s house become a little fraught, a little nervous, even before restrictions came in about the number of people that you could have as visitors at one time. On-line meetings help but it is not the same.

In the end, everything I am looking forward to needs people. Cycling up a mountain, going to a concert, ordering a coffee from someone. I’ll look forward to seeing people again,

Back to Normal?

Even when the vaccine starts to weave its wonders, how long will it be before things return to a semblance of normality? When everything becomes possible again will everyone be ready to go straight back to ‘normal’ themselves? Although some have ignored COVID or dismissed it with some deranged conspiracy theory, the impact it has had on many is fear. The need to keep distance, wear a mask, stay away from crowds. Normal interaction with others has suddenly been a threat, How long will take for that feeling of threat to go away?

Still, after the complexity of 2020, it feels good to simply look forward! 2021, you may have to take your time but get that door open!


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