2020 sure was interesting. We’ve all had to adapt in some way; we’ve learnt more than we expected about ourselves, our colleagues and collaborators – especially what the inside of their houses looked like! But we’ve also tried new things, as individuals and as a team. And we have put together our favourite activities. We have shared them with you below and hope you’ll find some inspiration for the year ahead. Even more, we hope you will have a healthy and prosperous 2021.
#1 Turn a walk into an adventure
I would strongly recommend a visit to some of the wonderful walks through the woods around Hertfordshire. When the pandemic made playgrounds off limits, my kids and I often did our outdoor exercise in Mardley Heath and Sherrardspark woods near Welwyn. Of course, a 5 and 7 year old will only be entertained by trees for so long, but as luck would have it, almost all woods in Hertfordshire have monsters lurking in them, terrorising local villagers (and dog walkers). Armed with our weapons (any stick that looked vaguely like a sword) we made it our mission to find and defeat them. I suggest finding a walk local to you, or come to Hertfordshire. Just keep an eye out for monsters!
Suggested by Lindsay
#2 Discover the truth about data
Data is the new oil, fuel of the fourth industrial revolution. Data changes everything, from finance to fashion, entertainment to elections. ‘Show me the data’, Jerry Maguire would say, not ‘show me the money’, if the 1996 hit movie was rebooted. If you find some time, why not discover how today’s data-driven world was created in the 1950s by well-meaning social scientists with troubled marriages and IBM mainframes. Think Facebook is scary? Check out ‘Simulmatics’, whose astonishing story is told by Jill Lepore in If/Then: How One Data Company Invented the Future.
Suggested by Monique
#3 A quick dip to revive and refresh
I’ve recently discovered the power of cold water immersions and can highly recommend doing one either with friends or family. The hardest part is getting in, but once you do it’s the most incredible feeling ever, simultaneously exhilarating and elating. A unique and wonderful shock to the system that leaves you feeling surprisingly calm and happy for hours. That connection with nature is so important for our mind and body. Take some time out to experience it and make a splash – you’ll love it!
Suggested by Monique
#4 Write a letter to yourself
I started 2020 by confidently announcing, “This year will be my year!”. Well, we all know how 2020 went down. But to be honest, any year is your year if you make it so. Any aspirations, places you want to visit or things you want to do can still be done. So why not write a letter to yourself? Put down everything you wanted to do and achieve in a letter and put it in a safe place. You can even write down your feelings, discomfort, retrospective thoughts. Bad times don’t last forever, and when you take it out in a year’s time, you’ll realise you have come further along than you thought you would have!
Suggested by Michelle
#5 Try The Queen’s Gambit
Never having played chess in my life, it’s ironic that I’ve fallen in love with the TV series The Queen’s Gambit. Beth Harmon is an orphaned chess prodigy who becomes the world’s greatest player. Throughout her life she struggles with emotional problems, drug and alcohol dependency.The story wonderfully demonstrates the balancing act between achievement and addiction and between being a genius and struggling with mental health.I also love the fact that a young women breaks the ‘rules’ in the male dominated chess world and gets recognised for her supreme intelligence by her peers. Definitely a great series to watch before the second season starts. And no, I’m still not playing chess.
Suggested by Esther
#6 Wreck havoc as a goose
Let go of your sensibility and create chaos in a quiet neighbourhood as a bothersome goose in the Untitled Goose Nintendo game. You can go around with a fellow goose and lay waste to a farmer’s land, steal his carrots and his hats. You can test your stealth skills by sneaking into a pub in a box; alarm neighbours by secretly swapping their items around. It’s such a goofy game but surprisingly stress relieving as well. We’ve all had a bit of a tough one this year, I think we all deserve to be a bit silly. So, if you’re looking to do something where there’s no boundaries on recklessness, I would highly recommend this game.
Suggested by The Unknown Gamer
#7 Eat, drink and be merry
Make canapés and eat them with a neighbour over the garden fence. Cook something special for people you care about as you bask in the company of your bubble. Enjoy all your party favourites from chestnuts to cheeseboard, pigs in blankets and chocolates. And do try English sparkling wine this year – I’m really into it! (Full disclosure: I helped pick the grapes at Breaky Bottom last year.)
Suggested by Alison
#8 Be taught by an octopus
One late evening last year I stumbled across a quietly haunting documentary on Netflix called My Octopus Teacher. It tells the true story of a burnt-out cinematographer who finds joy in life again by striking up – I’m hesitating to say it, but there is no better word for it – a friendship with an octopus. The story is beautiful, immersive, heroic and incredibly moving. In its quiet, unassuming way the film has an intensity that has stayed with me to this day. If you find yourself with some time, I recommend it. It might move you more than you’d expect.
Suggested by Gilmar
#9 Do something a bit old-fashioned
2020 didn’t offer much, but it did reinforce the importance of friends, family and oneself. Technology has helped us to remain connected to our loved ones, but you never know what the person is feeling after the screen turns off. This was a constant dilemma for me last year, especially on special days. Eventually I started making handmade gifts. Not only was it fun but seeing the joy in the recipient’s face is more than worth it. Why not try and make something for your loved ones and even yourself this year? Creativity is boundless; be it a scarf, a batch of cookies or even a small drawing, I’m sure whoever receives it will love your present more than you ever know.
Suggested by Michelle
#10 Surprise a stranger with kindness
It’s getting frosty outside!Grab your shovel and grit an elderly neighbour’s driveway. Let someone cut in front of you in line or give way to somebody when you’re driving. Remember to smile… or simply pay somebody a light compliment (try not to make them blush!) Doing something for somebody else but expecting nothing back win return can feel great. After the year we’ve just had, you never know how much a little act of kindness could mean to somebody.
Suggested by David
#11 Go on a vision walk
Set aside a couple of hours to go for a walk somewhere that is visually inspiring or relaxing for you. Perhaps in the countryside, or in a part of a city you find particularly beautiful, or a neighbourhood you may want to move to. Go with the intention of day-dreaming about your future. Don’t plan a particular route, instead set out with the idea of being guided. Follow your nose and go where your instincts take you. Be curious as to what comes your way, people, animals, particular items or messages in some form or other. After your walk reflect and make some notes to any ideas or visual images that came to you during this walk and see how these could fit within your vision for your year ahead.
Suggested by Emilie
#12 Turn to poetry!
When you’re lost for words, poetry can be a way out. In March, when we realised there would soon be a lockdown, we decided to document it by writing a daily Haiku. We wrote poems for 75 days and the resulting collection paints a vibrant picture of our thoughts, hopes and concerns as we worked from home while outside nature blossomed. A Haiku is simple in format: five syllables, followed by seven, followed by five. Just try it, just like in real life, it’s the restrictions that make you creative! You can find a selection of our lockdown Haikus here.
Suggested by all of us at GW+Co