What kept me going in 2021

Matt 4 min read
What kept me going in 2021
Photo by Markus Winkler / Unsplash

I’m in no doubt that 2021 was a challenging year for many of us, multiple lockdowns, COVID anxiety, mental health issues, travel disruptions and the world seeming to lurch from crisis to crisis. As I did my end of year reflection, I made a list of the things that helped me get through a troubled year.

  1. Lavazza Rossa - not just the coffee beans, but the morning ritual of a coffee before starting (or leaving for) work.
  2. Strava - recording my ‘daily’ walks and holding me accountable for doing some exercise. I managed 1685km in 2021, which helped with both physical and mental health. Aiming to beat that target and consistency in 2022.
  3. Coal Drops Yard - a week back in the UK to see family and friends, and this place was a highlight of the trip. A shopping and food destination in the nightclub I used to work at.
  4. Bob Mortimer / And Away - lovely autobiography by our new national treasure - I recommend the audiobook if you can, to hear it read by the man himself.
  5. Vinyl Records from Spindizzy and VinylVinylVinyl.ie - two of Irelands finest vinyl shops kept me supplied with records for mindful listening throughout the year. Thanks lovely people!
  6. French Dispatch - my favourite Wes Anderson film so far, funny, beautifully shot and a great cast.
  7. Janssen Vaccine (and all the vaccines) - I’ve never been relieved to get an injection before, but my jab in May was a huge step
  8. Dune - such a visual treat, with some superb acting.
  9. Stephen Fretwell / Busy Guy - a constant companion in the summer of this year, looking forward to hopefully seeing him live in 2022.
  10. Mare of Eastown - appointment TV starring Kate Winslet, kept us on the edge of our seats for 7 weeks.
  11. Chirpomatic - Shazam for birds - downloaded this app to identify the many birds I can hear from our balcony, helped me identify a skylark in Phoenix Park. Uses AI to do magic on any bird that you can hear.
  12. Douglas Stuart / Shuggie Bain - the best fiction I read in 2021, the Booker Prize winning story of a young man coming of age in 1980’s Glasgow. Brutal and touching, it’s a super story.
  13. Fesshole - a random, anonymous confession tweetbot. Not for the fainthearted, but I have belly laughed so hard to this throughout 2021.
  14. The Times / The Guardian - my daily news reads, but more importantly my daily crossword fix. Both available on apps.
  15. The Power of the Dog - standout performances from Benedict Cumberbatch & Jesse Plemons, a useful reminder of what great acting is all about.
  16. Clark - Playground on the Lake - my album of the year, electronica on a grand scale, gets better with every listen.
  17. Desert Island Discs - still the best radio show on the airwaves, a weekly check-in with all that is right about BBC Radio 4. Highlight Shows in 2021 - Jack Thorne, Michael Holding, Paul Costelloe
  18. Adam Buxton Podcast - getting better and better with every listen, funny and insightful interviews with interesting people. Highlight shows in 2021 - Jim Moir, Tommy Tiernan, Roisin Murphy
  19. Glen Hansard at the National Concert Hall in Dublin - my first and only concert of the year, felt really special to be back in a big space with live music.
  20. Evans and Peel Detective Agency Bar - another good memory from our week in London, this very cool ‘speakeasy’ bar with live music and and a fun 1920’s vibe in Chelsea. Highly recommended.
  21. Scarfolk - sometimes the fiction is closer to the truth than you think. Dark humour.
  22. Magnet - simple Mac app that allows you arrange your windows, added to a bigger monitor = instant productivity gains
  23. The Ice Hotel in Ballina, Co. Mayo - specifically the Chill Spa. Another short trip away, this time to the West Coast of Ireland, we treated ourselves to an unusual bathing experience - outdoors, overlooking the River Boy
  24. Gabriel Byrne / Walking with Ghosts - another autobiography, an excellent read about life and times of a fine actor.
  25. Taskmaster - still one of the silliest and funniest TV watches.
  26. Eufy Robovac - bought ourselves a robot vacuum cleaner, both convenient and FUN to watch as it stumbles around our living area like a drunken bear saving us a job.
  27. Succession - essential TV, can’t wait for season 4 to drop in 2022
  28. Matthew McConaughey / Greenlights - a third autobiography in my list, but this one coupled with some great self-help and motivation, also a lot of fun! Another one that I recommend on audiobook, read by the actor himself
  29. Another Round - funny as hell, perfect pick me up for a dull winter evening.
  30. FX Buckley in Dublin - an impromptu lunch in the city centre was a milestone day this year, my personal favourite steak place in Dublin.
  31. Electronic Sound Magazine - the only old-school paper magazine that I still read, this is my monthly insight into the music I love the most.
  32. Online Quiz League - in the age of lockdown, the OQL has been a weekly sanctuary for quizzers the world over. My lovely team has been playing for a couple of seasons now, and we have a fun time every week. This is a great way to stay sane.
  33. The Random Restaurant Bot - this lovely little Twitter account shares a random restaurant from around the world every hour, I love checking this.
  34. Off Menu Podcast - simple premise, with maximum laughs each week. Listen to interviewees choose their favourite starter, main course, side and dessert in an imaginary restaurant, served by a genie. Highlights have included : Miriam Margoyles, Bob Mortimer, Emily Atack
  35. Writing my weekly newsletter - the kick off to my week, and some amazing connections to new friends. I’ve loved it, and I hope you’ll join me in 2022.
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