2020 – The Year We Never Expected

2020 – The Year We Never Expected

What a weird year 2020 has been. I certainly never planned for this year to play out like it did. I never expected to spend the majority of my year riding a static bike around the virtual world of Zwift. I never expected to be still in full-time training, still aiming for the Tokyo Paralympics. However, although it all went a bit crazy, there have definitely been some positives, benefits and interesting experiences throughout. I want to take the time to bring together some of my highlights and provide a year in review.

At the start of the year I set myself 3 goals, you can find them here. I haven’t quite achieved cooking a roast dinner but I have made progress on this one. I can now say I have roasted a chicken on the bone, thanks to Adam Reid and his cook at home Great British Menu box. This was one of the positives to come out of the first lockdown. Chefs showing initiative and creating cook at home experiences. I’m a big fan of these and hope that they continue, even when the hospitality industry can return to being fully open.

I have started to make my own scones. Only cheese ones so far, I’ve not attempted sweet ones, but I love my simple cheese scone recipe of flour, yogurt and cheese. They work really well with soup. I will attempt sweet ones when I have people round to share them with, but until we can socialise again, I’m going to hold off this one.

Home-baked cheese scones.

Thanks to social distancing I’ve not been able to achieve my third goal of learning how to prepare seafood, however another bonus of the lockdown cook at home experiences is that I have at least removed a cooked lobster tail from its shell. My favourite cook at home experience was from Dean Banks and his Haar at Home experience. Yes there was a bit of squealing and cringing as I opened the box to discover the lobster tail but I got over my fear of shells and tentacles and things. A step in the right direction.

Although dining out has been limited this year, I’ve still had some pretty incredible experiences. Before Covid was a real issue, Neil and I spent a weekend in Paris sampling some tasty treats. You can read about our foodie adventures in part 1 and part 2. Another highlight of my 2020 dining out experiences has to be at L’Enclume, a Michelin 2 starred restaurant run by Simon Rogan. Neil and I managed to squeeze it in to celebrate our wedding anniversary, just before the start of the second lockdown.

A selection of Michelin quality dishes from the tasting menu at L’Enclume.

One of my biggest blog highlights has come from my post about cookbooks I would like to be able to read. During lockdown I discovered an exciting website called CKBK which is a massive compendium of recipe books in E-book format. This makes them accessible to people like myself who can’t read text. I compiled a list of books that I would love to see feature on CKBK, one of which being Nisha Catona with her Mowgli street food recipes. I am delighted to see that two of her books are now available and can not wait to try her recipes in the new year.

Thanks to Covid and having not much else to do other than stay at home, I’ve had a lot more time on my hands to cook. This is a definite positive as it’s meant I’ve come up with and been able to share lots of new recipes. Some of my favourites include:

Smoked salmon strawberry salad, creamy tarragon chicken and vegetables, and this cheese, peach and quinoa salad. I made a lot of salads this year and took a lot of enjoyment from trying to incorporate different types of fruit in to them. Nectarine, peach, strawberries, melon, grapefruit and pear all got used at some point.

Another favourite recipe is this fish barley paella which came from a blind moment, when I got my risotto rice and barley confused. A not so positive blind moment from this year was when I accidentally roasted my wooden spoon with my vegetables one evening. Thankfully the meal was salvageable, so we could laugh about it. The spoon turned black, but still lives to tell the tail.

Roaster vegetables with a roasted wooden spoon.

At the start of the year, when the plan was to race at the Paralympics in September, before having a few months off to assess and reset, I signed up to a wine tasting course. I hoped to further my knowledge, with the prospect of going in to the industry post sport. It was due to take place through November, and although we were in lockdown, as it was classed as education, it still went ahead. I debated whether it was a wise thing to do while I am still in full-time training for the postponed Paralympics in 2021, but I decided to go ahead and I’m really glad I did. It was a really good distraction during the second lockdown, giving me something to focus on and a sense of purpose. The course I did is level 2 wine, run by the WSET. I sat the exam earlier this month and as of yet have not received my results, but am hopeful it went well. 

Towards the end of the year I have gone a little quiet on the blog. If I’m honest, I’ve been struggling a little for inspiration. I hope that I get some soon, but if there is anything you would like me to talk about, then please do get in touch. I would appreciate the help. 

Thanks for reading and all the very best for 2021.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *