Even in January we occasionally get beautiful, sunny days. When that happens, we try to get out for a walk before the rain sets in again. The Rine is one of our favourite spots.
A lot of rain this winter meant the turlough was full and we took advantage of a windless day to do some kayak exploring.
Some of the crew are not entirely okay with kayak exploring and have a tendency to abandon ship. Very wet labradors then need to be rescued and hauled back aboard.
Late winter colours in the Burren. Little did we know we were about to be locked down for three months...
Still, even confined within a 2km radius of home, there is lots to explore near the Perfumery. This a glacial erratic just a few hundred metres from our home.
And we have a large supply of diverse stone walls to examine and marvel over.
It felt very strange to have the doors of the Perfumery closed and no people about at the time of the year when we would normally be abuzz with activity.
April. Still locked down, still plenty of water in the turlough, Able Seadog Lana getting more comfortable with life aboard ship.
Having a Tearooms fully stocked with essential ingredients, including sacks of flour, was definitely a plus during lockdown. Breadmaking replaced breadwinning as my daily work.
The major problem with making your own bread each day is that it is extremely hard not to just eat the entire batch as soon as it comes out of the oven!
Each winter Sarah our amazing gardener pots up hundreds of bulbs to brighten the garden in the spring. Each day as I walked over to my office I watched the green spikes getting taller. It was odd, knowing there would be no-one around to enjoy their beauty. We gave many, many pots away to our neighbours, friends and staff.
Getting the dog out for some exercise in the sunshine. Lockdown, very mysteriously, coincided with the longest, unbroken spell of beautiful sunny spring weather I have ever seen in Ireland. It certainly made it easier to bear.
After a long and arduous hike, the dog remained untired but the hoomans were exhausted.
Mail order went _bananas_ during lockdown. Bananas. I have never packed so many boxes. When we shut down in March I was worried about all the stock we had made for the summer going out of date. By May I was wondering how on earth we were going to keep up with demand!
We had to bend the child labour laws a little and recruit extra hands to pack gift boxes. Actually Céleste is one of the best packers we have. Very neat and precise. Also willing to do almost anything to avoid Zoom lessons...
It was so rare to see a plane overhead that we would stop to take photographs of contrails.
With several hundred daffodils and tulips outside the door, our vases were never empty.
Needless to say, demand for hand soap and castille soap went through the roof.
It was like Christmas. Sacks and sacks of post going out each day.
One evening in early summer a friend of ours took us to place where you can sit quietly above a badger set and watch them emerge as it gets dark. Quite magical.
We got a new kitten...
... not everyone was entirely thrilled about it. 'Lana's Tail' was voted 'Best Kitten Toy of 2020' for 23 consecutive weeks.
It had been a few years since I'd seen any bee orchids near us, but this year I saw several. Possibly because of the good weather or maybe just from being out and about a lot more.
Adventures on the tropical waters of Lough Bunny, where we paddled to a little island and picnicked in true Swallows-and-Amazons fashion.
Céleste discovered a love of snorkeling this year.
And the frigid Atlantic waters did not deter her and many, many other Irish kids from braving the waves this summer. In fact, the beaches were packed with people doing all sorts of activities this summer. It was like going back to the 80's!
The Burren looking very lush.
'Eating out' for the first time after 5 months! We had delicious, delicious vegetarian sushi from Wa Sushi in Galway.
My big discovery this year was Wild Atlantic Seaweed Baths. This is hands down the very best way to soak in a hot tub: edge of the ocean, amazing views, piping hot sea water - bliss. Even in October!
Fanore beach in a big storm. We went down to look at the waves.
And that is where we leave you. Looking out at the ocean and looking forward to the coming of a new year, when life might return to something more normal. Perhaps we will have a deeper appreciation of life's small, everyday pleasures after we've been deprived of them this year.