Sunrise from Napier, New Zealand
The dawning of a New Year is traditionally the time to look back at the year ending and to look forward to the year beginning.
There is no doubt that 2020 will be a year for the record books, and I for one am looking forward to a brighter 2021 for us all. Last year was an interesting year for me personally, and one full of contrasts.
We started 2020, like any other here in beautiful green Galicia, having drinks with friends. We had planned to go to our local bar for the midnight bongs as they said they were opening (unusual here in rural Galicia). We all arrived, excited, at 11.45pm to find the bar, and our entire town, empty, dark and silent. A swift text elicited the information that they were opening at 2am (dos), after their family meal, rather than 12am (doce). An easy mistake to make even after 14 years here, honest! Luckily we had plenty of vino at home and a lovely New Year celebration followed.
In February, S and I flew to New Zealand to visit friends and workaway on North Island.
New Zealand. A land of contrasts
In February S and I flew to New Zealand to visit friends and workaway around North Island.
We had first discovered workaway.info when we were renovating mum’s casita here in Galicia, some six years ago. Impressed with our rainbow army of helpers from around the world we decided to do our own workaway trip in 2019. So enjoyable was that trip around Japan, Australia, and Chile that on our return we immediately booked to repeat the experience in 2020, though just to one country.
When we dropped mum at my brother’s house in France for the month, little did we know the events which were about to befall the world.
We had a fabulous time in New Zealand
cream horns and giant carrots
We had a fabulous time in New Zealand and declared there and then we would be back very soon. We stayed with both old and new friends, campervanned around the island and did a bit of satisfying building and demolition for our wonderful workaway hosts, one of whom I discovered came from the same small market town in England as me! We were, incredibly, just a year apart at school. How’s that for amazing!
Our flight home on 20th March, was the last one to leave the country. Our short stopover in colourful Bangkok gave us chance to catch up with more family, but masks were in evidence everywhere and freely distributed on the metro lines. It all made for a very strange visit.
Back in Europe things were escalating. Unwilling to expose mum to possible infection from the intrepid travellers, we took the difficult decision to leave her in France with my brother, declaring we would be back once we had self-isolated for two weeks.
That drive back to Spain was the most bizarre we have ever made. I tried to book a hotel, as I normally do, on Booking.com. The first one left us sitting outside for 35 minutes before they admitted they were closed. The second rang me en route to say they could not accept the booking (at least they didn’t take my money as the first one did!). In desperation, and with darkness having fallen, I rang a small guest house in Santander. I explained our predicament to the owner and she assured us she would find us a bed. Although basic, the hostal was clean and the owner the epitome of friendliness. I will remain forever grateful for her kindness that night.
We were unable to return to France for mum in the two weeks’ I had promised due to the closure of all provincial borders. In fact we were not able to make the trip to Irún on the French border, where we initiated a swap for the old woman, until the end of June, some three months later. Mum immediately declared she was staying put from now on!
Since then we have all had a quiet time at home again in Galicia, looking after our allotment and finishing (finally) renovating our stone farmhouse. It has only taken us 14 years so I’m pretty impressed with that!
We have been lucky here that, since that first total lockdown, our rural area has remained at a low level of alert. Bars and restaurants are open and with appropriate care, hand gels and masks, we are still able to have a drink or a meal out. I think that has saved our sanity.
Our rural Galician village
For me too, 2020 was a seminal year. My first travelogue memoir, Plum, Courgette & Green Bean Tart was launched in July and has hit number one in DIY on a number of noteworthy occasions throughout the year! I have had some incredible support for my first published book, especially from members of a wonderfully friendly facebook group called We Love Memoirs, and I am still humbled and honoured by the lovely reviews, emails and comments I have had from around the world.
I also published two shorter memoirs in 2020. Camino is a prequel to Plum. It follows our walk along the Camino de Santiago in 2004 when we first fell in love with this beautiful area. Camino is available as an eBook on Amazon worldwide and is FREE to all my subscribers.
Christmas in Galicia is a short Christmas story which bridges the gap between Plum and my second memoir. There are two weeks of fun when mum stays at the house for the very first time. Christmas in Galicia is FREE until 6th January with every purchase of Plum, Courgette & Green Bean Tart.
This spring will see me publishing my second full length travelogue memoir. Tomato, Fig & Pumpkin Jelly is the second book in my writing home series and has an anticipated launch date of 14th February - an appropriate date as the book follows our attempts to get married here in Galicia. That was certainly a year to write home about too!
If you want to be first to know about these and future publications, and to read chapter one of Tomato, Fig & Pumpkin Jelly for FREE, subscribe to my newsletter HERE. Subscribers get exclusive content via their own Subscriber page so don’t miss out, join now!