travel musings

An Update On My 2021 Challenges

It’s about six months since I announced my goals for 2021, and if I’m honest even though I’ve been slowly working on them in the background, I had forgotten to check in on how I’m actually doing with them. Having decided to do a progress check post for the half-year mark, it’s with some trepidation that I’m writing this as I just assume that I will embarrass myself.

It turns out, however, that I’m not doing too badly?

Let’s take a look…

Corpach shipwreck, Fort William, Scotland
Ben Nevis peeking out from the clouds

Climb the Three Peaks

Haha. Yes. Great idea. Let’s start on the one that I have achieved NOTHING on.

We even went to the Lake District last month, but it was a brief trip and I had no time to scale a mountain unfortunately. It’s probably for the best, as I think I still need to build up some fitness before I take on Scafell Pike.

I do, however, have plans for Snowdon. Unfortunately our only trip abroad has been cancelled at the end of September, and rather than risk booking another flight, we’ve decided to meet a couple of friends for a delightful weekend in Wales, followed by a few days on the Isle Of Man (also to see friends). I’m determined to climb Snowdon on the trip – I’m just hoping the weather holds up. Frankly, I’m not doing it in the rain. I would get zero enjoyment out of it.

Hopefully I’ll be able to tackle Ben Nevis before the year is out, but I haven’t got any specific plans yet.

Do at least one 2-week fitness challenge

Right, so

I haven’t done well on this one either. I started a couple of challenges but I just could not get into the routine of working out at home. It’s possibly because I really struggled with the latest lockdown (all four months of it). At one point, I was barely showering, let alone getting a yoga mat out and doing sit ups.

It also took me a long time to even start because back in January, as you can imagine, everything for home work outs was sold out. That’s probably the same in any normal year, but add in a pandemic that was forcing everyone to be at home, with no gyms open… anyway, excuses aside, I just suck at this. And this is exactly why I’m doing this post, because now I’m motivated to try again.

Now that the weather’s nicer, I might even force myself to go for a run?? Who am I kidding?!

If I can’t fit into my wedding dress, I might have to wear this instead!

Make sure I can fit into my wedding dress

I just want to bury my face into my hands. It’s a good thing we’ve postponed the wedding again, isn’t it?! (Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say.)

I hadn’t tried my dress on since March 2020, and like a lot of people I’ve piled on the pounds in lockdown. The good news is since trying it on last month – and I can at least fit into it, it just doesn’t do all the way up – I’ve been on a strict diet and I’m about half way towards my goal already! I think it’s safe to say I’m determined to win this one.

Two and a half months to go. Let’s do this!

Travel to two countries

Despite a major setback, I’m still hopeful for this one.

Back near the start of the year, I finally cracked and booked some very cheap flights to Italy for the end of September. As the vaccine roll out has progressed and news came out about travel restrictions lifting for some countries, I became almost optimistic that the trip would go ahead. Then everything changed. Then again. And then again (our government is really great at doing that, which is about the only thing they ARE good at). Unfortunately, due to the rest of Europe opening up while Covid rips through our population YET AGAIN, easyJet have moved most of their planes out of Europe and have cancelled loads of UK flights. Including ours.

Rather than re-booking some different flights, we’ve cancelled the trip and booked a UK trip instead, which is exactly what they want us to do. Can’t be spending our money in another country when our economy is this screwed, can we now?

However, it’s looking like we WILL open up international travel at some point. Most likely in time for when we were meant to go, which is typical, but I’ve still got at least a week of holiday to take at work, so I’m saving it for a trip abroad later in the year, or possibly even two long weekends.

To be honest, I just think it’s mad that it was easier to travel abroad last year.

Quiraing, Isle Of Skye, Scotland

Visit five islands in Scotland

Well, this list hasn’t been looking great so far, so I’m pleased to say I’m 95% sure we’re going to complete this one! By NEXT MONTH, no less!

So far, we have been to two out of five, and we have another two booked with a third in the pipeline. The two have been Orkney (my first trip home since April 2019!!) and Skye.

We’ve also booked a trip to the Isle Of May at the end of this month to see the puffins, and we’re hoping to get to Inchcolm Island this weekend if the rain ever stops.

And finally, we’re headed to Lewis & Harris next month for a few days! I’m really excited for this trip as it’s one of the last absolute-must-do places for me in Scotland.

Dun Na Cuaiche, Inveraray, Scotland
Dun Na Cuaiche, Inveraray – photo is from yesterday, which must be the quickest I’ve uploaded a photo on here!

Tick ten walks off my WalkHighlands list

My previous post says I have 63 walks on my list. Can confirm it’s now closer to 80…! You can see my full wish list here (it includes walks I’ve already done as, apart from hill types, they don’t actually have a way of ticking them off so I’m keeping them there for reference).

Anyway, I’m doing pretty well with this considering it’s only been two months since we’ve been allowed to leave Edinburgh to do any of these. I’ve done five from the list so far, plus a couple of others that I don’t actually seem to have on the list.

These are the five:

As you can see, most of them are short walks except Stac Pollaidh, which still isn’t a huge hike by any means.

Pretty sure I’ll be able to complete this challenge easily!

Cut down on plastic use

I feel like I’m taking a few steps towards achieving this. We’ve started visiting our local farm shop for some of our fruit & veg that would normally be in plastic packaging from the supermarket. For produce from supermarkets, we don’t put any loose items into bags.

One thing I haven’t started doing yet is taking tupperware for meat and deli items. I find that a lot of our plastic now is the meat packaging, so I really need to start doing this.

I rarely buy lunch when I go into the office once a week, which is good as I would normally end up buying a drink in a plastic bottle. I’ve barely bought any plastic bottles this year except for milk, and although we could actually get glass milk bottles delivered, we just don’t drink enough to be worth it. I keep a cup at work too, so I never buy takeaway tea etc.

I outlined a lot of things I already do in my original challenges post, so not much has changed on that front, but one thing I wanted to mention again is beeswax food wraps, which are the perfect alternative to cling film and even tupperware. They come in different sizes so they’re great for anything from wrapping leftovers to covering bowls and also wrapping chopped veg, and they also come in different designs which means you can get lots of pretty ones! I love ours from Bee Bee Wraps.

I’ve also got a cupboard full of plastic that I’ve been meaning to cut down into ecobricks – something I just don’t get around to remembering to do! I’m trying, though. I’ve filled a couple of bottles.

If you have any tips for other ways to cut down on plastic, or alternatives to plastic, let me know!

Knockan Crag, Assynt, Scotland

Blogging goals

Write at least 3 posts per month

Before I talk about how much I’ve failed on this one, please let’s bear in mind that in the original post, I was talking about how we might not be allowed to leave Edinburgh for the next month. It ended up being FOUR MONTHS. So I think I can forgive myself for having almost zero content to produce.

Even so, I’ve averaged two posts per month, and given that I’m planning to ramp it up quite a bit now… hopefully it’ll be achievable soon if you average it out. Is that cheating?

Another thing I want to do is get back to posting on a regular day – I’ve almost always posted on Sundays, and in case you didn’t know, it’s now Monday (if this is a surprise to you, I’m so sorry). As was last week’s Skye post. The Skye post ended up taking me a lot longer to put together than I expected (I started it on the Friday!) and I sometimes find myself racing at 11.30pm to finish uploading photos for a post to get it out before midnight, HAHA! I need to be more organised!

Reach 5000 followers on Twitter

I’m currently approaching 4000, so that doesn’t seem too bad? It would have been good if I had… er, made a note of how many followers I had at the start of the year. I think it was about 3000 though, so I might actually be on track for this one? According to my analytics, I’m averaging over 100 new followers per month, and recently closer to 150, so I’m not sure if I’ll hit 5000 by the end of the year – I might have to give it a push!

Go follow me on Twitter for some extra ramblings!

Reach 1000 followers on Instagram (maybe I should actually post some photos on there?)

Well, well, well. I actually posted a photo on Instagram! In fact, I posted TWO! I also made a joke about it on Twitter which gained me quite a few followers from there. But I’m starting to think perhaps I need to post more than two photos to make a real impact? Anyway, I’m almost on 900. I think I gained about 50, which works out as 25 per photo. If only it was as easy as that, huh?

Go follow me on Instagram for pretty Scotland photos!

Get more posts ranked on Google

A handful of my Scotland posts have been doing really well on Google! In fact, almost all of my Google traffic now comes to Scotland content, which is nice. SEO is something I really need to work on more, because as much as I understand how it works, I never want to just write for an algorithm, and my stubbornness will almost certainly be my downfall to finding success.

These are some of my best ranking posts:

I’m actually pretty pleased with this as my Isle Of Mull post especially is one of my favourites (as well as being about one of my favourite places!) and I didn’t even put much thought into SEO on it. Far and away the most popular is the Edinburgh restaurants post so I might start doing more posts like this? I’ll try not to become an SEO robot, I promise!

Colinton Tunnel art, Edinburgh, Scotland

On that note, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to all of you for actually reading my words and especially those of you who always comment on my posts and engage with my content. I know I’ve been a bit rubbish recently at replying (you might have noticed that I’m suddenly replying to two-month-old comments!) but I want to get on top of this because I do appreciate all of you!

I’ve also just realised (right before hitting “publish”) that this is my 250th post on the blog! Madness.

It’s been quite a journey, and never something that I’ve taken seriously enough to become much more than a hobby, but I’m glad to say it’s never become a chore and I still love creating content about our incredible world and my crazy adventures within it.

Hope everyone’s doing well, staying safe, and managing to get out and explore a little bit more.

Until next time! (Which might even be this week.)

5 thoughts on “An Update On My 2021 Challenges

  1. The pandemic certainly has put a lot of our aspirations and goals (especially travel) on the back-burner. Based on the posts of the hikes and sightseeing in Edinburgh you’ve been publishing recently, I think you’re doing well with travel, even within the confines of your home country! Not going to lie, coming up with new travel content has been difficult this past year, so I’ve just been writing miscellaneous, travel-related posts with the occasional destination post from a trip I did YEARS back. Things are looking up, to say the least, and I’m sure that, at least by early 2022, an international trip is on the horizon for the both of us. I’m especially excited to see how your wedding goes, as that’s a milestone even bigger than any trip could be! Take care of yourself, Clazz!

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  2. I think you’re doing amazingly on your goals. Also I have no idea what SEO even is, so I just write what I like and hope for the best – probably not doing myself any favours there!!! 🙂 I’ve just followed you on Instagram too – I feel like that’s the only platform I really know how to use and was the first thing I joined, before even starting the blog 🙂

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  3. Congrats on all your successes and hang in there with the others. We just got back from a trip to California and I brought the laptop along with the intention of keeping up on blogs, but that didn’t happen at all. Now I’m WAAAY behind and trying to catch up. You’d think I’d be better in summer with no teaching to do, but that’s when I have time to really dive into books! I just need to retire so I can have a hope of keeping up with it all. Anyway, it’s great that you have goals and make an effort to keep track of them.

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  4. With all the lockdown shenanigans this past winter, you’ve done so well to accomplish this much! I’ve done the Three Peaks (though not all in one day… I used to want to, but I now think rushing from one to the next would’ve taken some of the enjoyment out of the experience!), and would recommend starting with Snowdon as it’s the easiest of the three. Of the three routes up/down I’ve done, the Pyg Track has been by far the best (in terms of views, and also fewer people compared to the Llanberis Path). Hope the weather plays ball for you! I didn’t know you could make a wishlist of hikes on WalkHighlands… that sounds like a very handy way of logging routes 😀 Ugh, SEO. I feel you! Much as I’d like more people to stumble upon my blog, I just can’t bear to litter my posts with the keywords and things the powers that be stick higher up the search engine results 😂 Like you, I’ve found the odd post has done well without me having paid any attention to SEO. Congrats on the 250th post, too!

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