A year of swims (and the 2021 playlist, etc)

At the start of 2021, I set myself outdoor targets. I was about to go back into working and studying (this time absolutely fully online, because we’d been locked down again), we were still in the middle of very-low-daylight hours (usually this doesn’t bother me as much but fuck me, lockdown makes it debilitating), and I’d had a bit of a messed up few weeks anyway. So I decided I had to go for a swim or a dip at least once every month, and walk 10,000 steps at least 4 times a week. These were fairly arbitrary goals, especially the walking. But the point was to get into the habit of going outside and doing stuff instead of wallowing in my 29 square metres, particularly in the darker months.

2021 was weird and hard. I think even more so than 2020. But the combination of being sort of used to that already (fun!) and getting my ass outside and into the water as much as possible meant I handled it better. I think I did at least. Also I got to swim a lot. That was the best part of this.

I achieved my swim target! There were a few weeks I fell down on the walking, particularly when the clocks went back again as you can see. But I also started the coast walk halfway through the year. And according to the stats on my phone, my average steps were 9,312 per day in 2021 compared to 6,536 per day in 2020. Clearly it worked.

I will not be tracking either of these things going forward, but I don’t need to. I’ll be swimming and walking as much as possible forevermore. I recommend it.

As is tradition, here’s my playlist for the year. It’s long and all over the place. It is again influenced heavily by 6Music DJs, and also by whatever I was watching.

I watched Soul and the episode of Song Exploder on ‘Hurt’ pretty close to one another, and I was struck by how the piano in the music from Soul echoes the piano in ‘Hurt’. Also I haven’t listened to that song in YEARS (I’ve heard the Johnny Cash version more often recently) and I forgot how incredible it is. Also there’s even more Trent Reznor on this list because I hadn’t realised he’d done a cover of one of my favourite Bowie songs.

There are a bunch of old favourites on here that were just things that got stuck in my head at certain points. ‘March into the sea’ pops in every time I get back on the coast walk. ‘Mull of Kintyre’ because Hannah and I went to Machrihanish the weekend after I turned in my dissertation and drove/hiked out to the Mull of Kintyre lighthouse and you sort of have to listen to that song. I’ve watched a lot of McCartney content this year too.

We have Bill Callahan back, hooray! And Gabriels, who I will hopefully be seeing this year because I’m in love with them. ‘Fable of the Urban Fox’ by Arab Strap is such an incredible song. Sometime in the middle of the year, Cerys played the Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington version of ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing’ and it made me want to dance for the first time in I don’t know how long. So I did. Badly. In my kitchen. And ‘Kansas City Riffs’ was the first thing I danced to at the one Edinbop social I went to. Real social dancing for the first time in nearly 2 years. It felt like some kind of dream. The next week was cancelled.

In podcast land, I really loved How to Fail with Elizabeth Day and iWeigh with Jameela Jamil.

I said last year I hoped I wouldn’t smash through my reading goal quite so hard this time around, and I did not. I simply met it. Which is great. This was partially due to the mind-bending nature of masters’ study, but also because a lot of the books I read this year were just a bit… eh. Not bad, but not as consistently incredible as what I was getting into last year.

Anyway, top picks that WERE very good:

I also read/re-read all the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books which was an excellent plan.

You can see my full 2021 list on Goodreads.

I’m not going to speculate on 2022 here. There seems to be little point. My target for the coast walk is to get as far as Inverness. It might happen. It might not. Doesn’t much matter as long as I’m doing something outside. And yes, I did start the year with a dip.

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