Friday 31 December 2021

Reflections 2021

It is odd to have had recent conversations about how we miss 2020 because at least we had optimism then.  This year has been more stressful with continual cycles of hope and despair.  At the end of last year, we had a handful of covid cases in Melbourne and were looking ahead to better times.  As the end of 2021 is upon us, 2022 does not hold any such promises.  We know we can fit in good times here and there, as we did this year, but that the challenges with covid keep coming.  Swimming in the outdoor pool bookended the start and end of the year.  Here are some more things that happened this year:

New bike shelter.  Old car broke down on the freeway.  Knitting.  Purchased new car.  Face masks.  Sourdough baking.  Cinema.  Hand Sanitiser.  New shower screen.  Ocean swimming. QR codes.  Postponing events.  Jigsaw.  Lockdowns.  Streaming TV series.  Vaccine strollout.  Spotify.  Sylvia started high school.  Farmers Markets.  PCR tests.  Missed birthdays.  Ash Barty winning Wimbledon.  Walks with friends.  Our cat, Shadow, seriously ill with kidney damage.  Earthquake.  Pub lunches.  Remote Schooling.  Quarantine.  Twitter.  PPE.  Chatting with neighbours.  Vaccine certificate.  Reading.

Notable deaths included Christopher Plummer, Desmond Tutu, Andrew Peacock, Joan Didion, Prince Phillip, Eric Carle, Lorrae Desmond, Stephen Sondheim, Bert Newton.

I did not go on holiday anywhere in 2020 so I really appreciated that we had time out of lockdown this year when I was able to travel.  In January, Sylvia and I had a lovely holiday staying in a farm cottage just outside Yarram.  It was exciting to be on a plane again in April when I flew to Sydney for a two day meeting.  And in December after 2 postponements, I stayed down at a quiet area of the Mornington Peninsula at Shoreham with work colleagues. 


We learnt to make the most of being out of lockdown, helped by a highly vaccinated population towards the end of the year.  It felt amazing that I could eat out at cafes, go to the beach, visit art exhibitions and go to the cinema.  Even driving to places outside Melbourne felt like an amazing taste of freedom.

We had been working from home since March 2020 so it was really exciting to be back in the office in January 2021.  Team work is so much easier when you are in the same room.  We still had days working from home but it was great to spend more time chatting over a pub lunch than on a zoom call. 

However we had four lockdowns, the longest in the second half of the year.  Melbourne had the dubious honour of being the city that had spent the longest time in covid lockdowns.  Sylvia enjoyed being in year 7 in the classroom but struggled with remote schooling.  Then she was in quarantine twice as a close contact.  Everyone was over video link ups.  Everyone was over lockdowns (not just those out protesting).  I've never known a time before this when I knew so many people with so many mental health problems, including children.  Everyone has their own story of their struggles.

Our great hope was vaccinations.  This was seen as our path to freedom but it also was a cause of much contention.  Though our Prime Minister said it was not a race, it was.  We were comparing ourselves, state to state, nation to nation, rich to poor, healthy to immuno-compromised, old to young.  The anti vax and anti pandemic legislation protest marches in Melbourne, as well as corrupt and lying politicians was a lowlight of the year (as well as the desperation of people in the evacuation of Kabul airport in Afghanistan).  The bravery of women like Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins gave us hope that there might be something done about systematic sexism.

The delays to the vaccination roll out in Australia meant longer lockdowns in Melbourne, less time to recover before Omricon hit and less trust in the federal government.  It was not surprising that wealthy nations focused on their own vaccinations and failed to give enough attention to supporting developing countries' programs.  More surprising is that politicians thought that vaccination made it ok to put the economic concerns before public health.  While vaccinations have made it easier to live with covid, we have still had challenges of vaccines waning and the constantly emerging variants (hello Delta and Omricon).

One thing I learnt during our long lockdown in 2020, was that we needed to pivot to keep in touch with friends.  I've missed having people over for a cuppa or a meal but I have enjoyed all the walking I have done with friends around suburban streets and parks.  I've also moved from long emails to short texts to keep in touch as my energy waned.  While I didn't bake much, I it was nice to do some baking that I could share when I met up with friends. 

But I missed some people who were outside our Melbourne metropolitan area, especially family.  When I saw some of my siblings on Christmas day it was the first time I had seen them in the flesh since June this year.  I still don't know when I will see my sister who lives in Ireland and I am aware of many people around me who are separated from family and friends who lives far away.

Favourites of 2021:

A pandemic makes me appreciate the good times I was able to have in 2021.  So I feel fortunate to share some of my favourite things that happened to me this year.  Much of it was inside the home due to lockdowns but there was a bit of fun out and about.   The first meal I mention is one that I didn't photograph or blog but it was great fun, because I have never had a meal where we each have a hotplate in front of us to heat the broth to cook my meal.  It was like restaurant theatre.  I also enjoyed it hugely because of the kindness of my colleagues with whom I shared the meal in looking out for me both as someone who does not speak Chinese and also as a vegetarian.

Meal out - No 1 Delicious Hot Pot and BBQ, 551 Swanston Street (03 9349 1358)

Restaurant dish - Vegan cheese, figs and greens at Transformer

Cafe - Boot Factory

Fiction book - Future girl by Asphyxia

Non-fiction book - Eggshell skull by Bri Lee

Newly released film - The father

Aussie tv series -  The newsreader

International tv series - Only murders in the building

Aussie current affairs - Insiders 

International current affairs program - The Last Leg

Spotify song - I'll take lonely tonight by Tim Minchin

Favourites in 2021 cooking and baking:

My blogging energy was pretty low this year but it feels good to have a blog in this time of so many scial media platforms.  Of the 54 posts this year, only 21 were recipes.  A lot of posts were photos relating to covid and street art.  Sadly I had more opportunity to take photos on bike rides than to share special food with friends and family.  My cooking energy was also down so it was great to have blogging to help me continue to learn and be inspired, as well as the extensive archive that I consult from time to time.

Savoury bakes - Baked curried sausages (vegetarian)

Savoury stovetop - Vegan pad thai with besan omelette

Salad - Sweet potato buckwheat and greens salad

Pastry dish - Cheese and potato quiche

Sweet no bake - Licorice allsort slice

Sweet baking - Sourdough cinnamon scrolls

So 2021 has been a tough and tiring year.  But I am grateful for all the support I have had this year, all the kind words, the meals shared, the company and help in many ways.  Blogging has changed so much in the 14 years since I started.  It is good to see that there are still some brilliant blogs out there for when I find the time to visit other blogs.  And I hope to be sharing more good food in 2022 on this blog. I wish you all the best for 2022.


  1. 2021 has been so hard for you guys. It continues to be hard all around but that's great that you got to have a holiday. We've got to grab little joys when we can. Happy New Year Johanna!

  2. Best wishes for 2022, Johanna! We have some common favourite media moments in 2021 - we enjoyed The Father, The Newsreader, and Only Murders in the Building very much too. This post has also reminded me to revisit your pad thai recipe - the besan omelette element looks great!


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