Saturday, 2 January 2021

Reflections on 2020 - a Melbourne experience of the year of Corona Virus.

Happy New Year and Good Riddance to 2020.  Last year was challenging but not without some fine moments.  I started the year with an innocent optimism that looks foolish from this end of the year but as well as this year being unprecedented, it was also unexpected.  Who would have expected one year could bring Bushfires, Corona Virus, Economic collapse, so much Zoom, Masks, Lockdown, Covidiots. the Black Lives Matter movement, and our (conservative) Australian government listening to experts, giving so many funds to the unemployed but showing shocking neglect to the Australian tertiary education system.  

This year's reflections are slightly different just as this year was so unusual.  Here is 2020 from perspective of a Melbournian.  As always my reflections aren't brief so grab a cuppa and find a comfy seat!


  • Intense bushfires raged through the country - in Melbourne we were safe from fires but affected by the smoke.  Masks came out as smoke affected people's health.  Fundraisers for the bushfire victims were everywhere.
  • I was still cleaning up after ex-husband E moved out a few months back.
  • Organised a new desk for Sylvia and reorganised my bedroom with better access to my desk.  
  • I was excited to book flights to Scotland to visit family and friends in September.
  • I blogged Vegan Stovies with leftover gravy.  Fantastic comfort food.


  • At work we were concerned by the stories of the Corona Virus from China and for our Chinese colleagues who had returned for Chinese New Year.  
  • Sylvia had a sleepover party for 5 friends to celebrate her birthday.  She was one of the lucky kids who celebrated a birthday before corona virus changed our lives.
  • When my old bike needed too much work, I finally purchased an e-bike to help me ride to work and back and have energy for dinner and bedtime when I got home. 
  • We got a new toilet.
  • I made what was possibly my prettiest salad of the year: Pineapple and cabbage rice salad.


  • At work our boss decided my work group would work from home in mid March as the threat of corona virus intensified.  He was soundly blasted by his manager but about a week later everyone else was working from home.
  • The group set up daily The Age Quiz Zoom chats at lunchtime and Friday drinks Zoom chats.  My team manager set us up to meet by Zoom 3 times a week to catch up on how we were doing and where we were at with our work.  It meant a lot of casual zoom conversations that helped keep me sane at home.
  • The whole country went into lockdown.  Unemployment queues and the word "unprecedented" were seen far more than ever before and the government responded with a generous JobKeeper and JobSeeker payment to keep the economy afloat.
  • Toilet paper became scarce in supermarkets as panic buying hit the country.  Flour was also a precious commodity.  Supermarkets put restrictions on how much of scarce items we could buy.
  • We were watching current affairs on the tv much more to keep up with what was happening with the virus.  More doomscrolling, lots of thumbstoppers!  We learnt about social distancing, elbow bumps, isolation, sanitiser and how to wash our hands properly.
  • As the threat of the virus made me nervous, I postponed our tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  (We are now scheduled for August 2021 after two more postponements.) 
  • I got a flu vaccination for the first time ever!  But isolation meant very few of us got the flu anyway!
  • School holidays extended and brought forward a week.
  • I changed my doctor because my lovely doctor had to cease practicing as she had cancer - and that meant not dealing with patients while corona virus was at large.
  • I posted my Green mint chocolate drip cake, that Sylvia and I made for my birthday lunch during the Summer. I got a cast iron skillet for my birthday which has been a revelation.



  • Screen time increased drastically.  We watched a lot of Brooklyn 99 on NetflixBest fun ever ("title of your sex tape", as Jake might say!)
  • After the Easter holidays, schools commenced remote learning.  I was working from home and having Sylvia home most of the week.  I was glad she could have some time with E. Our regular schedules with Sylvia went out the window.
  • I posted my nut roast with mac and cheese layer that I made for Easter.  It was a quiet Easter with just Sylvia and me together. 
  • Tim Brooke Taylor died of Covid - so sad because I loved The Goodies so much as a kid. 
  • So much rain that by the end of April we had as much rain in 4 months as we had in 12 months in 2019.
  • Supermarkets eased restrictions on what we could buy.  Who would have thought sightings of toilet paper on supermarket shelves would be exciting!
  • I celebrated 13 years of blogging with Sloth cupcakes (and also posted Sylvia's birthday Fondant Black Cat cupcakes). 


  • George Floyd died a cruel death with a police officer's knee on his neck in the USA.  It sparked Black Lives Matter protest marches around the world and a lot of distressing news footage.
  • Lockdown eased enough that I could have a socially distanced walk with 9 colleagues in the Carlton Gardens. 
  • We were queuing for the Farmers Market now that social distancing limited the number of people who could enter.  Upon entering we used hand sanitiser.  Donations at the door were by card not coin.  And there was only food to take away.  No food trucks!
  • I could visit my parents in Geelong again.
  • We discovered mug cakes.  They were a good way to have a sweet treat when we were baking less because there were less people to share with.
  • I posted a fun way to use up a manky banana: Banana katsu curry wih tofu nuggets.


  • School students were back in the classroom in early June.  (The youngest and oldest kids were back in late May but not my Grade 6 daughter).
  • We could sit down in cafes again in Melbourne at the start of June.  I had lunch with my colleagues at Naughtons pub.
  • Black Lives Matter made us think about which statues were and weren't appropriate.
  • I usually ignore adverts for apps but I was tempted by Design Home app. Sylvia and I got quite addicted for a while.
  • Restrictions started easing and then the corona virus numbers started to rise again in Melbourne and that put a hold on the freedoms we had been looking forward to. 
  • I got my first kombucha scoby.  Unfortunately lockdown lack of energy was not the ideal time I had hoped to start making my own kombucha.  After making a couple of ok batches, I let it just keep growing til it had no food left and started to go mouldy.  I hang my head in shame as a kombucha lover.
  • I posted indulgent Black Forest Brownies.


  • In early July, I was lucky to have dinner with my family in Geelong at the Fyansford Hotel.  We had originally planned a home meal but restrictions made this difficult so we moved the dinner to the pub. We had sparklers not candles on my niece and nephew's birthday cake, due to Covid.
  • By mid July we were back in lockdown in Melbourne.  No going beyond 5km of the home and only 4 reasons to leave home (shopping, exercise, medical and work).  School children were home with us again doing remote schooling.
  • I did a Mental Health First Aid course at work.  It was gave me more confidence in talking to people who were having a hard time in lockdown (and I am not sure there was anyone who coped really well!)
  • I learnt to darn holes in my jumpers.
  • We held a socially distanced Lockdown Christmas in July where I made lunch, dropped it off at my friends' places and then we got together over zoom for the desserts.  It was a cheering moment during lockdown.
  • Sylvia and I got a corona virus test.  We were negative.  Not everyone around us was so lucky.  Her school was shut down for a week when a student had the virus.
  • Masks became mandatory when anywhere outside our homes.
  • Sylvia and I started doing Taco Tuesdays.
  • I posted Red and green smoothie bowls - a rare moment of healthiness in a dark dim unhealthy winter of lockdown.


  • I got my full refund for my cancelled flights to Scotland.
  • My niece had a birthday where friends and family drove by to have a piece of birthday cake and say happy birthday.  I lived too far away and had to make do with a zoom chat.
  • I started to go for walks with friends.  (Two people from different households could walk together wearing masks.)  It was a great day when I realised my 5km limit overlapped with a friend's 5km limit and we could go to Princess Park. 
  • At the beginning of the month we had 725 new cases.  By the end of August, case in Victoria finally were reduced to 100.
  • My brother was working in a nursing home that had an outbreak of corona virus which made us all quite worried.  He was lucky not to catch it, though I am sure PPE helped too!
  • I finally posted sourdough Candy Cane Pizzas that I have made for Christmas in July for years but never had the time to photograph well.  NB I kept up my sourdough starter but did not always have much energy for it.


  • We could see the light at the end of the tunnel with our long lockdown.  It was hard being the only one of my siblings and parents to be in lockdown.
  • I had a medical appointment in Geelong and was able to get a permit to breach the "ring of steel" border separating Melbourne and Geelong.  I might have visited my parents too for mental health reasons, even though my permit did not specify this!
  • Helen Reddy died.  A great Australian singer and songwriter that made a huge impact with "I am Woman."
  • I finished reading The Children's Book by A S Byatt that I started in June 2020.  I regret to say I have read less than usual during this year.  But I loved this book that followed some artistic families at the end of the Nineteenth Century.
  • Sylvia started to have the occasional walk with a school friend after about 2 months of not seeing any other kids in the flesh - though there was lots of facetime.
  • I posted Banana, prune and seed loaf when I finally joined the many people making banana bread in lockdown.


  • US president Donald Trump was diagnosed with Corona Virus in another unexpected twist in the odd election campaign (which I followed on a great tv program in Australia, called Planet America).
  • Watched Junior MasterChef Australia to admire all the child cooks.
  • Restrictions finally eased in the middle of the month.  Sylvia returned to classroom learning.
  • The AFL football Grand Final which is always held in Melbourne, was moved to a later date and held in Brisbane.
  • On 26 October we had our first "doughnut" day with no new corona virus diagnoses.  These were soon followed by "double doughnut days" with no new diagnoses or deaths. Such a great feeling.
  • We were allowed 2 visitors in our homes and non-essential shops opened.
  • We made Spoonville characters to take to Sylvia's school's spoonville village.  Craft projects were among the joys of Sylvia doing her schooling from home.  But I had a gutful of long division and ratios!
  • On 30 October, our Victorian Premier finally took a day off from press conferences after 120 on consecutive days.  I have watched more press conferences this year than ever before.
  • I posted a Tempeh black bean taco filling that made a few appearances at our Taco Tuesdays.


  • The USA presidential elections were held with great tension as it took about a week to declare Joe Biden the winner.  (And we are still unsure if Trump will ever concede!)  It was very exciting to see Kamala Harris elected as the USA's first female vice-president.
  • I had a tooth extracted - 3/4 was extracted by my dentist and the next day I had a specialist extract the remaining bit of tooth.  This was followed by quite a lot of pain but has now settled.
  • The "ring of steel" border around Melbourne was removed and I could visit my parents in Geelong and go to the beach in Torquay.  Oh joy!
  • I was diagnosed with low iron and low vitamin D.  Taking vitamin supplements and exercising more has made a difference to my energy levels.  (No more being so tired I had to sleep in the afternoon!)
  • On 11 November I had my first pub lunch with my work team since the second lockdown.
  • Towards the end of the month, we were told we no longer needed to wear masks outside - such freedom!
  • On 26 November, Victoria celebrated 28 days of no new corona virus and was seen to have reached elimination of the virus.
  • An outbreak in South Australia made us concerned that my brother living interstate would not get home for Christmas.  But it fortunately passed quickly.
  • State borders were opened with Victoria.
  • I posted Red velvet cupcakes with eyeballs for Halloween and for a small lunch for our stillborn sons birthday.


  • I finally watched one of the streaming hits of 2020: Normal People. Beautiful and sad.
  • Sylvia graduated from primary school.  It was touch and go if it would be held and whether parents could attend but in the end each child could invite 2 guests.
  • It was odd to go to a shopping centre and see a sign directing us to leave a few steps between each person on escalators, and to realise that I had not been on an escalator for months. 
  • Though our staff newsletter advised us not to hold Christmas parties, we had one for our larger group and one for my team.  It was great to see people I hadn't seen for most of the year and a few I had not met.
  • Sylvia and I had our first cinema visit (to see A Christmas Gift From Bob) since early in the year and had the cinema to ourselves.
  • I was still working from home but have been given permissions to return to the office this January.  My team agreed we would all like to continue with some work days at home, which is good because our office is too small for us all to fit in with social distancing regulations.
  • NSW had an outbreak of corona virus which meant some lockdowns there over Christmas and border closures.
  • In the UK, the first corona vaccine began the roll out.  A sign of hope.
  • Carol services and fireworks cancelled in Melbourne.  Carols by Candlelight went ahead on tv but without a live audience.
  • In Victoria we were able to celebrate Christmas in precious freedom but within days of Christmas there were a handful of corona virus cases after 60 days of no new cases and the restrictions have tightened slightly.  This will be a test of how well our contact tracing system is working.
  • I posted Stuffed Giant Pasta Shells on Bolognaise that I made to use up Christmas leftovers.


The world seems changed in that we are more wary of each other and also more protective.  Screens were king this year (also I should mention more excellent tv shows: The Queen's Gambit, Years and Years). Small pleasures like playgrounds and sharing a lunch seem precious.  My energy was really low and reflected in much less blogging than other years but I have ended the year with more energy, though I am still feeling time poor.  It would be lovely to hope that 2021 will bring us back to normality but it is not a year to feel confident to make predictions.  Thanks for reading.  I hope you had a good New Year's Eve and wish you a healthy and happy 2021.


  1. This is a fun round up - thanks for sharing Johanna.

  2. I know i say it every year, but i do love your reflections and this one, moreso than any x I hear you say good riddance, but i am afraid that its not over and although we are in the middle of a second wave, i fear that there will be a third much later this year. I hope i am wrong. Back to your blog post though, sobering and raised my spirit Indeed. So true in that screens were king this year and agree The Queen's Gambit was v. good. I have only partly watched Years and Years - my cousin has a small, but notable part in it btw! Look forward to your 14th year of blogging. Much respect and love x

  3. Ah, what a lovely finishing photo - a spot I'm fond of. :)

    It's funny you mention darning, because I spent the second lockdown learning how to darn socks!

    Wishing you and Sylvia health and happiness in 2021.


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