On the 2nd of January we got out for an amazing walk up Turlough mountain. Céleste led the way, incentivised by promises of hot chocolate at the top. It was a gorgeous day: clear skies, warm sunshine. One of the paradoxes of Irish weather is that you're as likely to have a t-shirts-and-shorts day in January as you are in August!
We continued to get spells of clear, sunny weather during the month and we managed to get some very nice pictures and video footage of the Burren from the air in the beautiful, golden winter light. You can view it at this link. The Rine (as it's known) near Ballyvaughan is a fantastic place for a walk at any time of the year.
We'll skip over February and move along to St. Patrick's Day. St. Patrick's Day in Ireland is traditionally known for being wet and windy. However nice the weather might've been the day before, it will definitely be raining during the parade. The local parades in the small towns and villages around the Burren are always fantastic, not least for their sheer, dogged persistence in the face of howling gales and torrential rain. Horses, dogs, dancers, tractors - there's always something to see.
The Burren is still largely in its winter plumage, even in late March. It is usually April before you see the first gentians, early purple orchids, new buds on the trees.
A mysterious thing happens to our supply of organic free-range eggs at Easter. It seems like the Easter Bunny somehow manages to sneak a tiny chocolate egg or two into each box. Céleste wised up to this last year and now exhaustively (and delightedly) searches each consignment!
In Dublin for a meeting, our little i3 met its twin sister. We've had our electric car 2 years now and we couldn't be happier. It's a joy to drive, cheap to run, wonderfully quiet (as a passenger) and only gets serviced every 2 years! What's not to like? We're glad to see lots of new EV models coming onto the market. Once you've driven an electric car for a while, it's very hard to imagine driving anything else.
In May, Cate ran a soap making workshop for our local Beaver troop which was a great success. It's important that we create a steady stream of young and upcoming soap-making talent to feed into our factory...
The completion of Spring for me is when the new leaves come out on the ash trees. Within a week we go from bare branches to this gorgeous, light green canopy overhead.
May also brought a short spell of settled weather during which Ralph headed off on one of his kayak-camping trips amongst the islands off the Connemara coast. The west coast of Ireland is fantastic to explore when the weather's like this: white sand beaches, clear turquoise waters, and not a soul around. Of course, the weather isn't often like this...
Someone new joined our family this summer. Small, black, furry and very cute, Lana is our new black labrador. Marmite and Pinecone were not exactly thrilled with this development. Especially the cat flap sharing. Not to mention having some new four-legged friend with a strong interest in their food bowls.
Lana was very excited to go for walks in the turlough with Céleste and Ralph... until she met the horses. The horses, in turn, were very curious about this tiny black horse and kept wanting to sniff her, but Lana decided the only safe place was under Daddy's tripod where they couldn't get at her.
In June, Céleste and Ralph finally got their tree house project finished. What began the previous September as a few beams tied between the trees with some planks for a floor had evolved into a full on house-in-the-sky over the winter, with working windows and doors, insulated walls, cedar cladding, and a tin roof. Céleste helped with the construction, measuring, marking, sawing; screwing things in with the electric screwdriver and generally being an architect's client-from-hell with a list of 'essentials' and a continuously changing project plan.
In the end it seems like the best thing about the treehouse is climbing up onto the roof where you're another 8 feet higher with an amazing view through the treetops and a vertiginous drop all around!
Another project that had been a long time in the pipeline finished in June when we expanded our single, very popular Rose Facial Serum into a range of four serums across the four scent families. All the same natural serum goodness but now in 4 great scents!
In July we held a press day at the Perfumery to celebrate the launch of the Burren Perfumery's products into the Avoca chain of stores. We invited key journalists from the Irish beauty press and gave them a day of talks, walks and workshops at the Perfumery. Despite it being a pretty dismal summer this year, we managed to get a whole day of sunshine which really made things go well. All the journalists were super-nice and it was a lot of fun.
Lana quickly got bigger over the summer and discovered a talent for photo-bombing the family photos. She gets on really well with Céleste, both of them have a liking for rough-and-tumble play. And as she got bigger and more confident around the cats, Lana tried to involve them in her games. With limited success it must be said, and the occasional sharp paw to the nose.
The Mail Order Department of the Perfumery is really just a table stuck in the corner at the back of our tiny warehouse. You knew that, right? The only requirement for working there is that you have to wear a stripy shirt . Like, eh, a convicted criminal or something...
August, mostly rainy, but then we occasionally got beautiful clear evenings with warm light. This is a drone shot of one of our favourite mountains (hills!) in the Burren. You can see two sort of big notches that break the long stone wall. These are called 'Léim an Púca Mór' and "Léim an Púca Beag', which roughly translate as: 'The Big Goblin's Jump' and 'The Little Goblin's Jump'.
In September, Lana discovered that with great cuddles comes great responsibility. Including dressing up as the Easter Labrador, if that's what Céleste has in mind for you.
Though there are compensations to being Céleste's companion. Lots of walks, and not too far for growing puppy's legs.
I went caving for the first time ever in October. Not without some trepidation, but it was actually very interesting. I can kind of see why Ralph likes it. Kind of...
We had another bumper year for hawthorn berries. Good for the birds to get through the winter. And this year for the first time we have seen red squirrels in the trees around the Perfumery, also fond of haws it seems.
Also in October, we hosted chefs and other attendees from the Food on the Edge symposium in Galway. We provided our homemade cakes, brown bread and local honey and Brian O'Brien from our new local coffee roastery, Anam Coffee, supplied the coffee (and the coffee making expertise!). Brian has been our coffee supplier at the Tearooms this yer, creating a special blend for us and ensuring the grind is always fresh.
Hurricane Ophelia swung by in mid-October but managed to skirt the Burren. It was windy, but we regularly see much more wind in the winter here. We went out for a walk in the afternoon to see what it was like.
Last days of the Tearooms for this year. We kept the Tearooms open a month later this year, before switching it into our winter mode.
And that's pretty much it for our look back on the year to date. Now we will hunker down for the winter, light the fire, take the dog for long walks, pack mail order shipments and wait for Spring!