It has all the elements of a Greek tragedy: I announce in January 2020 that I am going to finish the National Trust Scone Odyssey in the next 12 months. It's taken me seven years so far and this will be the year when I visit the final 30 properties on my list. Several people politely ask if this is a little over-ambitious. "Nooooooo!" I tell them. "I am going to TRIUMPH in 2020!"
Well, we all know how that ended up. But the motto of the National Trust Scone Blog is "NEVER MIND" and we ploughed on together, facing the ups and downs with as much cheerfulness as we could muster.
But when I sat down with a heavy heart to write up the obligatory review of the year, knowing I'd only managed to eat three official National Trust scones so couldn't even stretch to a top five, I realised how many lovely things had happened in 2020. And it's all thanks to the Sconepals.
So here it is - instead of Scone of the Year, here's the National Trust Scone Blogger's List of Seven Lovely Things That Happened in 2020:
7. The Year of 100% Five-Star Scones
The silver lining to my only managing three proper National Trust scones in 2020 is that all three of them scored 5 out of 5 to deliver my first annus hundredpercentus. I started off at Lavenham Guildhall in Suffolk in January for a perfect scone. I then made it to Wentworth Castle Gardens near Barnsley shortly before everything closed down, before making a bold dash to Stackpole in Pembrokeshire when things opened up again in the summer.
This is how I will remember the scones of 2020 - they were few but they were memorable:
2. The Year Sconepal Ole Kept Our Spirits Up
You know when actors win an Oscar and they shout "I love you man!" at a co-star during their acceptance speech and you think 'oh for God's sake stop being so ridiculous'? Well, when the Book of Scones finally wins the Nobel Prize for Literature I will be shouting "I love you dog!" at Sconepal Ole because he has kept me going this year, quite frankly. His marvellous assistant, Corinne, has shared photos of him on Twitter throughout the year, celebrating VE Day (middle top below), doing a spot of DIY, going to Scotland before lockdown (middle centre and bottom), enjoying the summer, enjoying Christmas, not enjoying a bath, and getting his deserved moment of fame in the National Trust magazine. He has never failed to make me laugh. To Corinne and her husband: a heartfelt thank you for sharing Ole with us.
1. The Year of Amazing Sconepals
Which brings us to the biggest highlight of 2020: the enthusiastic home-baking of scones that took off during the first lockdown. You can see pictures of all 275 scone bakes here. Every single picture was brilliant but three stuck out for a special mention:
The Moomin scone from Catherine:
In all seriousness, I know this has been a very difficult year for many of you. To all affected by redundancy or work shortages, this will not last forever and brighter times lie ahead. Here's to a happier 2021.
Until then, I say a huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone that is part of the National Trust Scone Community. Thank you for sharing your pictures, thank you for making us all laugh and for laughing at each other (in a good way), and thank you for the scones. You have helped to make 2020 bearable for everyone else.