Ten things I was grateful for in 2019

Apart from bookcases, which are in constant demand in this household, here are ten things which I was happy to have access to this year. I'm not including any affiliate links, y'all can search them out for yourselves!

1. Bicycle (and paraphernalia)
Nothing - and I mean not a single thing - makes me as happy as my bike. Commutes become adventures / therapy. A metropolis becomes a playground. Mine's a 2018 Cannondale Synapse, but all the bikes I've loved before delivered just as generously.
Honorable mentions in the paraphernalia category: RedShift aerobars. I've gone through several cheaper options before settling on these for my training. No regrets.

2. Coffee Dripper
Coffee and I go back a long way, and we've been through several more or less convoluted ways of working together. At last, I settled on something simple, cheap, and great. Filter goes in dripper, coffee goes in filter, water goes into coffee, coffee goes into cup. I'm using a plastic Hario dripper now - any one of these will do.
Honorable mention: hand-crank burr grinder. Fresher coffee and arm workout in one.

3. Vegan Boots
This used to make me dubious - can you really beat leather? As it turns out, you can. Vegan leather is just as durable and waterproof as the real deal, and it comes with the obvious feel-good benefit. The Doc Martens, which I wear, have taken a beating on London streets through this winter, and they're doing great.
Honorable mention: Doc Martens "For Life" - this used to be a great buy-once, lifetime warranty deal. Real leather, but really durable. Shame that the Doc Martens company decided to stop producing them.

4. Q-tips
I want to share with you a secret to making any hotel, inn, AirBnB etc. feel a hundred times more luxurious. It's not about free fast wi-fi. It's not about posh restaurants or huge bathtubs. It's not about the view.
It's the fact that you leave complimentary cotton buds in the guests' bathrooms. That's all there is to it, really. :)

5. Laptop
Libreboot is freedom-respecting boot firmware. This means that from the moment you power on your computer to the moment you switch it off, every backdoor and non-free piece of software and firmware has been removed. My Lenovo X200 came pre-installed with a pretty awesome Linux distro, a truckload of RAM, a nifty SSD, and no shady pre-installed stuff. It's been working like a dream ever since, and it's helped me understand more about free software, too.

6. Cast iron teapot + tealight warmer
The ultimate hygge accessory. We are officially old.

7. Earplugs
These guarantee a good night's sleep and a relatively peaceful train or plane journey. I didn't use to enjoy sleeping with them, but now I get the appeal; London is horrible for noise pollution. Sadly, I can't go for the re-usable ones without risking an ear infection, so for now, I'm stuck with the single-use variety.

8. Hiut jeans
Seriously now - buying a pair of jeans from a UK manufacturer with a cool story to tell - that's a good thing in itself, and then the jeans come with lifetime repair guarantee and are seriously comfy.

9. Gryfnie hoodie
"Gryfnie" means "dope" in Silesian. Gryfnie is also a company from where I gew up, which promotes the Silesial culture, language, and way of life. They do this in new and creative ways - which is different from the old, pompous, museum-like approach to any local culture shown in Poland previously. Case in point: a Gryfnie hoodie, which has a seriously rad logo, Silesian language printed on top of it, and is comfy enough to come with its own postcode.

10. Custom fit condoms
If you have access to a penis, do it a favor: don't make it wear anything that doesn't fit its size. MyOne is a brand I ended up with. Once you enter your, erm, measurements online (possibly the only time it ever makes sense to do so), they deliver quickly, and nothing is ever the same again.

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