travel musings

2021 Challenges (oh yes, I’m doing it)

I’m sure you’ll all agree with me when I say the best word to describe how I feel about 2021 is apprehensive.

Normally in my yearly round-up posts, I set out some goals for what I want to achieve in the upcoming year. And while I touched on some goals, they were general goals; not necessarily to achieve in the next few months. Because I’m sure you’ll understand as much as anyone that 2021 is not really a year for setting goals if we have no idea what we’ll be able to achieve by the end of it.

I can’t possibly set international travel goals. I feel, again, apprehensive about setting domestic travel goals. We haven’t even been allowed to leave Edinburgh since October, and it’s unlikely we’ll be able to leave in the next month or so, either.

South Queensferry on New Years Day

But I’ll tell you what. I’ve been so frigging down in the dumps for the first 10 days of 2021 (something to do with repercussions of leaving a beneficial union, witnessing an attempted fascist coup, and still being in this never-ending pandemic), and I think setting some challenges for 2021 will help me get my focus back and maybe even help me feel better about things if I feel like there’s something – just anything – that I can control.

So here are a few ideas I have in mind:

Climb the Three Peaks

No, I do not mean the Three Peak Challenge. I’ll be happy with one mountain within 24 hours, thank you very much, let alone three.

But at some point this year, I would like to climb all three separately – that is, Ben Nevis in Scotland, Scafell Pike in England, and Snowdon in Wales. I was hoping that I’d have Ben Nevis under my belt by now, but with a lack of motivation and the addition of constant travel restrictions, it just didn’t happen in 2020. I am way too unfit to even attempt any of them right now.

Which brings me onto:

Do at least one 2-week fitness challenge

…and try to carry on afterwards, too.

Yes, I want to become one of those incessant losers that starts exercising in January and has given up before we even get to February. Except, 10 days into January, I haven’t even started, so who’s the real loser now, huh?

In order to be able to climb three mountains (and in reality, I’m aiming for a few more than that!), I really need to get my fitness levels up. There are a few nice walks to do around here, but I’m heading more into home gym territory. Guys, I even bought yoga leggings a couple of days ago – I’m serious about this! (Shame our treadmill is currently in Orkney!)

I’ve been checking out a few YouTubers – if you have any recommendations, do let me know! I’ve noticed a lot of 2-week challenges, and I’m determined to throw myself in and complete one of them, and hopefully get myself into a routine whereby I actually exercise for more than two weeks.

It’s not just about fitness – I have undoubtedly put on weight, given that I am increasingly having to breathe in to fit into my clothes. Problem is, and I’m not being funny – I really can’t afford a new wedding dress.

So my third challenge is:

Make sure I can fit into my wedding dress

I haven’t actually tried my wedding dress on since March last year, but I still need another fitting for the hem, so I actually need to make sure I can fit into it before June.

Which makes my exercising regime slightly more urgent, I guess.

Me at Stari Most bridge, Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Travel to two countries

Wow, guys, I’m really pushing the boat out with this one. I was scared to set any international goals, but I’m feeling hopeful that over the upcoming months, things will get better. After all, people did manage to travel for a couple of months last year, and I don’t just mean pre-pandemic.

Obviously I won’t beat myself up if I can’t do this one, but I thought two would be manageable even if they’re right at the end of the year once everyone’s vaccinated (then again, that timeline is based on our government, and we all know their track record on keeping promises, Mr Oven-Ready Brexit Deal, Everything Will Be Back To Normal By Christmas).

Iona or the Caribbean? Hard to tell with these beaches. Iona, Scotland

Visit five islands in Scotland

You may remember from my last post that one of my lifetime goals is to visit every visitable island in Scotland.

Well, I’ve decided visiting five of them this year would be an achievable goal.

We’ll most likely get out to some local islands like the Isle Of May in the summer, and Inchcolm Island which houses an abbey. The boat to Inchcolm literally goes from South Queensferry, so if we don’t tick that one off the list this year, we will have gone wrong somewhere!

So that only leaves three, and good lord if I don’t get up to Orkney this year, I might go mad. I haven’t been up there since April 2019! Plus I am determined to get back to Skye this year, especially as Ash still hasn’t been there.

Other contenders are the Isle Of Arran, and the Isle Of Lewis & Harris. There are a couple of other easy ones we could get to, like Bute or Lismore. So actually, I think five is definitely doable.

And let’s not forget – last year we visited four islands in a weekend, so anything is possible!

Buachaille Etive Beag, Scotland

Tick ten walks off my WalkHighlands list

I got very bored in our last lockdown and ended up adding, err, 63 walks to my wishlist on the brilliant WalkHighlands, a free resource for walking trails in Scotland.

I have added many, many more since.

Total achieved in 2020? Four. Oh, well only 60 to go then!

Some of these are really easy, which is why I’ve gone for ten, but some of the walks I’m determined to do are Conic Hill, Ben A’an, and if we have time, the Pap Of Glencoe. Also one of them is Ben Nevis, so would it be cheating if I did that plus nine others?

Cut down on plastic use

This is actually probably my main goal of 2021. I’ve been very aware of our plastic use for a long time, and although I’ve cut down on things here and there, I don’t feel like I’ve made much of a dent.

I truly believe it’s extremely difficult (maybe even impossible?) to live a completely plastic-free lifestyle, but I want to focus on single-use plastics and also buy non-plastic alternatives where I can.

Here are some examples of what I’ve been doing:

Buying non-plastic homeware – having moved into our new house, I’ve been determined to buy metal or glass instead of plastic where possible. For example, our toilet roll holder is metal, where we could have bought a plastic one, and we’ve bought glass, metal or ceramic jars for everything in the kitchen.

Beeswax food wraps – this is a relatively new concept to me, but I’m so glad I’ve discovered them! Beeswax food wraps are the perfect alternative to cling film – something I’ve hated using for a long time – and are great for wrapping up things like half an onion or an open block of cheese, and also sandwiches etc. This means they’re not only an alternative to cling film, but also tupperware. Plus – they’re so pretty! I went for the ocean range from Bee Bee Wraps, which includes puffins and whales!!

Buying loose fruit & veg where possible – we actually find this quite hard for certain foods, as supermarkets wrap virtually everything in plastic now. I find it infuriating. I found loose mushrooms recently which I could put in a paper bag, and I kid you not, it’s the first time I’ve been able to do that in years. We really need to start going to markets and farm shops, but typically there’s a farm shop only a few miles down the road from us – but it’s in a different council area, so while we’re in lockdown, we’re not allowed to go. When buying loose fruit & veg, I also never use plastic bags for them – always a reusable fabric one, or a paper bag if available.

Ecobricking – I’m very new to ecobricking, and I’m not even sure if I’m doing it correctly. I still need to find somewhere local that’s collecting them, but in the meantime, it’s compacting our non-recyclable plastic waste into small bottle-sized areas. If you haven’t heard of ecobricking, it’s a fantastic initiative whereby you put all your plastic into bottles until it’s completely full, at which point it can be used as a building brick. It’s genius, but there are a few things you need to know before you start. You can find out more about it here.

There are plenty of other things we do, like obviously reusing carrier bags as much as possible, and using more fabric and canvas bags instead. We wear fabric masks (honestly, the amount of disposable masks I’ve seen blowing across roads and parks is unbelievable), I can’t remember the last time I used a plastic straw, I take flasks instead of disposable coffee cups, and we go for cardboard packaging over plastic packaging where possible. I’ve got a subscription for laundry tablets which are eco-friendly and come in recyclable cardboard packaging (click the link for a free trial – P.S. it’s a referral link).

That said, there’s still loads we could do. I’d like to start taking tupperware to the shops to buy meat, rather than buying a bunch of chicken breasts in a single-use plastic tub each week, move to plastic-free toiletries where possible, and we might even start making our own bread once we can justify buying a bread making machine.

I don’t have a quantifiable goal for this, but I just want to try and get our plastic usage down as much as possible.

Camping in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Blogging goals

I’ve never really set proper blogging goals as I don’t do this for money, but I feel like I should this year. After all, being that this is a travel blog, I’ve been feeling pretty demotivated, and even so, I wrote a lot last year! Yet now I’m feeling more demotivated than ever, so here are a few goals –

  • Write at least 3 posts per month (I’d like to aim for weekly but I’ve already lost on that front!)
  • Reach 5000 followers on Twitter
  • Reach 1000 followers on Instagram (maybe I should actually post some photos on there?)
  • Get more posts ranked on Google

I did actually have a goal for last year to get all my pins and internal links up to date, and I’ve mostly done this, but I’ve got a few of my oldest Asia posts that I still haven’t got round to updating. Maybe I’ll get those done soon!

Anyway – I think that’ll do for a year where we have literally no idea what’s going to happen! I meant to set some financial goals, but we’ve been spending money like water recently what with moving into our new house, so I haven’t even had a chance to think about that.

So tell me – have you made any goals for this year? Do you have any New Years resolutions?

15 thoughts on “2021 Challenges (oh yes, I’m doing it)

  1. Personally, I’ve stopped doing resolutions a couple of years ago, as I believe that one shouldn’t wait until a new year to change oneself, and rather it’s a constant process that occurs throughout the year (i.e. you can make resolutions any time of the year, really!). But I will say that a “goal” of mine is to partake in Dry January, and that’s about it. There’s no way I’ll be able to travel internationally this year, due to the COVID-19 situation of the US (and this past week’s fiasco at the White House doesn’t help), but I hope that I can do something towards the end of this year locally, whether it’s to explore a different neighborhood of Los Angeles or even head to a different US state. It’s all wishful thinking, but I hope this coming week will be a better one for you, Clazz. Things will look up!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Totally agree with you on resolutions, I’ve never done them for that reason! A few years ago I set myself some “challenges” and found that it really helped me focus, which is something I’ve lost of late. I wasn’t going to bother this year but I thought it might help me get out of this slump! Good luck with Dry January, I think everyone here has given up on the idea of that already! Fingers crossed things get better sooner rather than later as I am going mad (you may have seen my Facebook post lol). Take care of yourself! x

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jonno, it’ll definitely be a challenge and will be dependent on restrictions too! I think it’s doable though. Most of it is walking and hiking! And if you think about it, that’s only one a month, some of them are only a couple of miles whereas others are mountains. 🙂 The islands will be day trips/weekend breaks – and countries, well, who knows?? Hope you are keeping well, I know things have been a bit up in the air for you recently.


  2. Great set of goals! I especially like the “reduce plastic” ones. We use the beeswax wrap and these stretchy silicone bowl covers so we almost never use plastic wrap (I think you call it cling wrap??) anymore. We also use reusable canvas totes at the store and mesh produce bags. Those plastic, single-use produce bags at the store are the worst! When eating at casual restaurants that might give a straw, my challenge is to remember to tell them “no straw” when I order. I hate it when a restaurant takes off the straw’s paper (except the top where your lips go) and put it in the drink. Well dammit, now it’s going in the garbage whether I use it or not. At least if they just give me a paper-covered straw and I leave it on the table, they can reuse it. But really, straws are such a waste. Just drink from the damn glass! I wish they were outlawed. I also wish my city would charge five cents for each bag we use at the grocery store. I think Ireland does that. So smart. If there’s anything that will motivate the masses to bring canvas totes, it’s a surcharge on paper and plastic!

    Anyway, I’m rambling. Good luck with your goals. They sound totally doable. Oh, and I almost forgot, if you’re on Facebook and want to be invited to the kickboxing group my gym instructor runs, PM me. She requests $3-5 per class (Paypal) and her classes are all very challenging: kickboxing, Tabata, weight lifting, pyramids. However, I’m sure there’s plenty of free stuff out there. I know how expensive new homeownership is. You’re probably bleeding money!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh thank you! I really like the beeswax wraps, I wasn’t convinced at first. They’re good for covering bowls too but I like the sound of those silicone covers. Yes, we call it cling film, although I try to avoid using it at the best of times – we use tin foil more (which is recyclable). I agree about straws – I’ve noticed so many places don’t use them at all any more, and when they do, they’re often paper ones. And we pay 10p a bag in the UK now I think! It used to be 5p. It’s definitely stopped people using them anywhere near as much – the problem is, half the stuff in the supermarket is still packed in plastic!

      Kickboxing sounds fun – one of my friends used to do a class in Vancouver and she loved it. I think I’ll stick to some YouTube videos for now but might be up for some classes in the future!

      And lol, I’ve got a folder in my favourites called “things to make me poor” and there’s an entire subfolder of house stuff LOL. We’ve got all our furniture now, there are just neverending little things to buy!


  3. Sound like some really achievable goals here. I want to get up the three peaks at some point too but like yourself, probably not wise to do it all in 24 hours haha. Hopefully you can squeeze in some travel too, 2 countries and a few islands should be achievable enough 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve got some great goals here – I always prefer goals to resolutions. I love my beeswax covers and recommend them to everyone. I bought my first one in a little gift shop in Anstruther and have bought others from Amazon since then. I always used to get in a tangled mess with cling film and these are so much easier to use as well as being better for the environment. I’ve got silicon covers for dishes as well now and recommend those too. I hope you can achieve your travel goals for this year too. Out of the 3 peaks, the only one I’ve not done is the one in my own country about 2hrs drive away! Maybe that should go on my goals for the year and I can meet you at the top!


  5. I used to want to do the Three Peaks Challenge, but in all honesty I’m very glad I did them on separate trips… means you can enjoy it in daylight and finish at a local pub (in normal times, at least!). I had ‘bag another Munro’ on my wishlist for last year, but for obvious reasons that never happened… hopefully I’ll manage one this year! The view from Conic Hill is beautiful, and there’s a fab ice cream place in Balmaha (hopefully it’s still there post-lockdown). I’ve also been trying to cut down on plastic waste/unnecessary packaging over the past year. Luckily, there’s a greengrocer’s nearby so that makes it an easier to commit to buying loose fruit/veg (bonus, it’s often cheaper too). On the homemade bread front, have you tried soda bread? It’s a doddle to make – only needs about four ingredients, mix everything together, no kneading involved and stick it in the oven. The challenge is resisting the temptation to eat it straightaway, as it crumbles if it’s still warm when you slice into it! 🙂


  6. These look like realistic goals for 2021 – it’s great that you’re setting some! I’m terrible at actually writing out my goals and tend to make them rather vague. The exercise challenge is one I tried last year to get in shape for summer hiking in Hong Kong. I like the BBG workouts by Kayla Itsines, but they’re not free. My husband likes the Train Like a Warrior workouts by Conor Sloan on YouTube. They look really intense!


  7. Loving these goals! You’ve got personal, professional and even a few travel goals in there for good measure. I’m thinking these are very much attainable!


Leave A Comment After The Tone *beeeep*

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.