10 of the best things about 2020 — really — and why we need to keep them up in 2021

We seem to have brought the worst of 2020 into the start of 2021 — so let's make sure we carry on with the good things which the last 12 months brought us.

‘Events, dear boy, events,’ as Harold Macmillan perceptively said, will destroy the best-laid hopes and plans. They also make us re-evaluate. The events of 2020 have made us look anew at everything, from relatives, friends and neighbours to food, health, travel and green space.

Will we learn from it or will we revert to our impatient, commuting, polluting ways? Here are 10 things to keep up in 2021, as named in the leader article for the January 6 issue of Country Life.

Local shopping

Corner stores, village butchers, farm shops and enterprising delivery services were the much-deserved winners of 2020.

Local supportiveness

By Easter, many country churches, village pubs and regional theatres will be on the brink. We’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Working from home

We won’t all be able to do it all of the time, but finding a balance will breathe new life into rural communities, reduce stress, improve quality of life — and air — and put fewer cars on the roads and bugs in public transport.

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Once we got to grips with the technology (‘Click on unmute, yes, that’s the microphone symbol at the bottom…’), we had things to look forward to: speaking to friends, bridge, singing, keep fit and regular family contact. Virtual communication seems to engender respect and discourage shouty-ness; it’s certainly ushered in a new era of civility in politics, which we hope will last. And when it doesn’t, there’s always the mute button.

Talking to people

There are few plus points to a pandemic, but it broke down barriers of reserve and often meant help came to those who needed it — the elderly and isolated — before they had to ask.


The hunger for far horizons and constant sunshine is natural and understandable, but airport queues won’t be missed and Britain has its own beauties. The ‘Secret Britain’ article in the January 6 issue of Country Life names 50 such wonders, every one of them off the beaten track and away from the hordes which can swarm the best-known sights.

Saying thank you

It’s to be hoped we never again take postmen, rubbish collectors, shop workers, nurses and bus drivers for granted.

Remembering the bereaved

It’s never a good time to lose someone dear, but the austerity funeral was one of the lowest aspects of 2020.

Respecting the land

The countryside we came to treasure this year is not there by accident; it is loved, managed and planted by landowners great and small. Shamefully, for some, the only rewards were heaps of litter and rudeness.


We know Country Life readers like a quiz at the best of times, but it’s become a brilliant focus for family Zoom gatherings and stops conversation drying up. Everyone learns something, from the theme song of Frozen to the definition of a dwarf planet.