20 awesome things about 2020

Friday 26 March 2021
Pandemic anniversary reflections from a Scottish food and travel blogger. Aberdeenshire based content creator Foodie Quine reflects on 20 awesome things about 2020. The UK’s lockdown forced us all to change the way we shop, cook, eat and travel. With supermarket shortages, restaurant closures, stay at home edicts and travel restrictions our relationship with food and travel have undoubtedly changed forever.

When I first started pulling together this post in December I was optimistic that 2021 would be a fresh start and that all that was bad about 2020 could be put behind me. Alas 2021 had other ideas so I'm only getting around to completing it now as we've hit the one year anniversary of lockdown. Fingers crossed that brighter days are now on the horizon both physically and metaphorically. Apologies for the self indulgent nature of these ramblings. I guess I just wanted a permanent reminder for myself that not everything about 2020 was a complete disaster and that there were some positives that will hopefully continue. 


As part of a campaign with Albert Bartlett potatoes I hosted a lockdown dinner party with a difference - with one of the guests being none other than Michel Roux Jnr. In addition to the Michelin starred chef were fellow Aberdeenshire foodies Kerry of Documenting My Dinner, Nikki of Nikki Eats the World and Paul Morrison of Tall Pauls Food Life.

We all cooked up a Sunday Roast and sat down together via Zoom where we were somewhat starstruck to have none other than Michel zoombomb us and judge our efforts as part of the Lock-in Cook-off. Our worthy winner as judged by Michel was Paul who scored a perfect 10. Joint second place for the rest of us with none too shabby 9's. A fantastic lockdown experience that I'm not likely to forget in a hurry.


2020 was the year where all of a sudden when it came to attending events location didn't matter. Through the power of Zoom I was able to participate from the comfort of my own kitchen in amongst others a Seafood Supper Club with The Kilted Chef, a Hainanese Kaya cookery class all the way from Food Playground in Singapore, St Andrew's Day Scotch Lamb curry cookalong  with Tony Singh, Lunch with Tom Kitchin to celebrate the launch of Compass Group Scotland, cocktail making classes and a festive Comte Cheese and Port tasting. Long may this trend continue and allow me to attend events like these that simply weren't possible in precedented times due to geography.



We celebrated three lockdown birthdays in 2020. An 18th, a 16th and a 21 again...
For my son's 18th we dined in a dome at The Chester Hotel and were able to have a small celebration in the garden with food from Smoke & Soul. My daughter's 16th was more restricted but she was able to have one friend for a sleepover and for my own birthday we escaped for a glamping trip to the fantastic Boutique Farm Bothies Dairy at Denend. The teenagers celebrated with cakes from The Cupcake Stop while I opted for a grazing box from By Platter.


A retweet on Twitter from Sam Heughan which to date has reached over a quarter of a million people was more exciting for many of my followers than it was for me. I've never watched Outlander and would have no idea who he was if he turned up on my doorstep. 


For many of us our gardens became a welcome respite during lockdown. I certainly managed to grow my best ever harvest of fruit and vegetables in my raised beds. Firstly seedlings, then tomatoes, chillis and cucumbers took over my summer house. Turns out that repurposed take away beer containers from the local pub make excellent flower pots. I even jumped on the stone painting trend to make some fruit and veggie markers. Last year's success have spurred me on further. Seed tatties are currently chitting, Foodie Loon has made improvements to the raised beds and I'm looking forward to growing even more of my 5-a-day.


The Haven Community Larder has been a lifeline to many in the past year, myself included as a volunteer. Set up in May 2020 as a means of addressing increased food poverty and insecurity in the Stonehaven area as a result of covid, it operates very differently to a traditional food bank model. The underlying ethos is 'give what you can - take what you need.' The larder is open to everyone with no referral required. Visitors are able to choose exactly what they require from our shelves and fridges. Regular shifts and bulk shopping for the larder has become part of my weekly routine and been a great boost to my own mental health. Forcing me to get out of the house and doing something worthwhile particularly when my own work had all but entirely vanished. There is no 'typical customer' at the larder. Old people, young people, families, couples, single parents. Many people who by their own admission would never have thought they would be struggling with food insecurity. Moving forward the larder continues to develop with Roots to Resilience cooking and growing projects and increased partnership working with the local community to ensure its sustainability.


2020 was the year when rainbows took on a new significance. I created one with my cookbooks (search #rainbowcookbookshelfie on Instagram for others who joined me) and much to my daughters embarrassment drew a huge one on our driveway with chalk. The day rain washed it away was a sad one. (I suspect she may have purposely squashed a spider...)

8. BBQ

With my 'BBQ Boy' son home from Uni and the favourable weather we barbecued even more than usual. Alas for the vast majority of the time it was just the four of us. Hopefully this summer will bring more opportunities for barbecues with friends. 


Child labour was enslaved to build both a bar and a potting table from discarded pallets. With paint in short supply the rustic look was most definitely in. Can't wait to get the back garden bar reopened and put some of our cocktail making skills to use. 


As and when it was allowed we escaped our own four walls for some Scottish Staycations. These included Findochty, Dingwall (with day trips to Ullapool and Dornoch), Glamping at Greencraig Pods near Buckie, St Monans and an awesome Zero Fox Campervan trip to Grantown on Spey and Royal Deeside. We really do have some amazing places to discover on our own doorsteps here in Scotland and it's likely we will be doing more of the same this year. (I've already booked a weekend in a bell tent at Greenhillock Glamping in Forfar) 


Never has the sound of the doorbell ringing been more exciting than during lockdown when local producers and food businesses quickly adapted their offering to provide contact free doorstep delivery services. To try and help folk track down what was available in Aberdeen/shire I created a blog post - Shop Local & Home Delivery During Covid 19 Lockdown - which I regularly updated for 3 months. It received thousands of views and many of my followers told me how useful it was to them.

Big shout out to my own personal favourite home deliveries of lockdown from Seafood Bothy, Cove Honey Bees, Wark Farm, Foodstory, Meet the Meat and Shorty's Ice Cream.

Covid certainly changed how we all shopped. When the usual supply chain broke down across the country food and drink producers and retailers stepped up to the mark. Please continue this local support and direct connection with going forward. #StayLoyalStayLocal


Booze definitely got many of us through lockdown when drinking at home became the new going out. Doorstep beer deliveries from our local pub, DIY gin and whisky tasting with friends via zoom and brushing up our quarantini, mixology and cocktail making skills. Midweek drinking was very much deriguour in 2020 and is something I really must wean myself off this year!



Yes we made the ubiquitous banana loaves but we also baked so much more - brownies, blondies, scones, pancakes, biscuits, fudge, muffins to name but a few.  Some for ourselves and some for doorstep deliveries to friends and neighbours. I also hosted online baking sessions for Maggie's making Mountain Cafe Granola and for Befriend A Child making Tunnock's Teacake Rocky Road. 


When you can't go out for a meal the meal comes to you. The scales and jeans have shown that there's definitely been a wee bit too much of this! Highlights included Afternoon Tea from Almondine, Muchacho Taco Boxes, By Platter grazing boards, breakfast munchie box (with beer!) and Country Flavours of Alford afternoon tea and cheeseboard.


At the end of 2019 we purchased two beachfront holiday rental apartments in Stonehaven and after fully re-decorating and refurbishing them we were looking forward to welcoming guests. Alas 2020 had other plans and due to a myriad of complex reasons unfortunately we were unable to access any financial support. However when restrictions allowed we were delighted to welcome guests. Feedback and occupancy was excellent and we are cautiously optimistic for the staycation summer of 2021.


2020, the year of the bread flour shortage when we all decided to start making our own. In my case it's my son who is the breadmaker and he kept us well supplied with sourdough loaves, rolls, donuts, hot cross buns and more. Alas the sourdough starter headed back to Glasgow with him when he returned to Uni however I'm hopeful that he might be persuaded to share a blob of it with us and teach his sister what to do with it.


During lockdown Cranhill, Muchals, Newtonhill Beach and Chapelton Trail were our lifesavers. We felt so lucky to live somewhere that allowed so many opportunities for both scenic and socially distant exercise. When restrictions allowed we headed further afield to amongst others Slains Castle, Balmoral Pyramid & Cairns, Scolty Hill, Cove Beach, Tappie Tower, Seaton Park, Fittie, Old Aberdeen, Cruickshank Botanical Gardens, Tillydrone Tower and Torry Battery.
Fit Tae Dee and Walk Highlands were great resources for finding local walks. 


If ever there was a campaign that backfired this was surely it. When restrictions allowed we did however grab any opportunity to eat out with both hands (only once during the actual campaign!). Indoors and outdoors, with or without alcohol we dined at a huge variety of places including Maryculter House, The Creel Inn, Sushi Box, Bonnymuir Green, Seafood Shack, Highland Farm Cafe, East Pier Smokehouse, Coffee Apothecary, Pizza Punks, Ramen Dayo, Silver Darlings, Cafe Boheme, The View, Pigs Wings, Shamrock & Thistle, Tarmachan Cafe, The Chester Hotel, The Old Pier and Brewdog. Pretty much without exception I was impressed with the policies, procedures and innovations in place to minimise covid risk to staff and diners. Who would ever have thought we'd be accessing menus on our phones via QR codes and having our foreheads scanned before dinner. 


At the start of lockdown we were somewhat restricted with what meals we could click and collect or have delivered. (The joys of living in the Shire as opposed to the City.) So we got inventive and cooked up a storm at home. The deep fat frier, which normally only puts in an appearance once a year took up permanent residence on the kitchen worktop. Items on the menu included - Wagamama Chilli Squid, Fish & Chips, Sushi, Brewdog Wings, Raclette, Asian Hotpot and a full on grazing table for our wedding anniversary. 


How did we get to 20 so quickly? Time for some honourable mentions for the best of the rest and some welcome glimpses of normality.
  • Big shout out to Mimi Hammill who even in the midst of a global pandemic and homeschooling whipped me up a new 'stay home' logo.
  • It's clear to see why my sister didn't win the Gingerbread House competition on Kirstie's Handmade Christmas with her 2020 offering.
  • Press trip to the Sandman Signature Spa. Who knew you could relax in a mask?!
  • Road Trip to V&A Dundee for the Mary Quant Exhibition
  • St Machar Cathedral ceiling scaffolding tour
  • Working from 'home' in 210 Bistro
  • When you and you friend buy each other the exact same card from Juniper Press.

This is not a paid/sponsored post however some of the collaborations, items and events mentioned were part of paid campaigns or were gifted. 

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