One week before Christmas we’re taking a look back over the year that wasn’t.
This time last year, like most people, we were happily getting on with life, blissfully unaware that the world was about to drop a huge C-bomb. We were busy painting bedrooms, buying new curtains and cushions to dress them, designing new signage and generally preparing ourselves to open our doors in early March 2020.
And open they did… for 2 days. Then we closed them again and they’ve remained shut ever since.
March and April passed in an anxious haze. We feared for the health of ourselves and our loved ones. It looked as though the hospitality industry could be decimated as nobody had any idea when things might reopen. In the darkest hours, worried minds raced ahead, visualising Mad Max scenarios after society’s inevitable collapse.
Here are some simple truths we’ve learned during the pandemic.
Time is precious and fleeting.
A global pandemic makes you very aware of your own mortality. It also allowed us time, for once, to stop and smell the roses. Time that was usually spent rushing around, was spent reconnecting (in a socially-distanced way) with family, friends and neighbours. During the summer months, which is usually peak season at the B&B, we had time to enjoy Kerry’s beaches for ourselves. The children made plenty of memories this summer with quality time spent with their cousins on the sand.
Eileen and Noel had the time and headspace to complete their new house build. Many days were spent in the garden; painting walls, pruning and weeding, or playing football. In the height of summer the garden looked superb. I even had time to relaunch my design and copywriting business, which certainly wasn’t the plan this year. And, after 3 years of this new website being live we finally have our first blog post.
But for all this ‘extra time’ we can’t quite believe how fast the year has gone and it’s made us more determined to spend our time well in the future.
Family is everything.
Whether you were forced to spend all of your time with a few family members or were forced to stay apart from your dear ones, 2020 reminded us of the importance of family. Our two boys found a deeper level of friendship after days on end playing with a ball in the garden. With nobody else to play with they got on brilliantly with each other, and their football and soccer skills improved ten-fold. Our daughter loved having her big brothers around more too. We appreciated that we could spend time with Eileen and Noel in the garden and I was eternally grateful for modern technology keeping me in touch with my parents and friends who are overseas.
Things don’t make us happy. People do.
Apart from a weekly trip to the supermarket during lockdown, we barely visited the shops. We practically bought nothing new and we hardly noticed it. We wore our shoes and clothes until they were worn out. The kids made the most of the books, toys and crafts they had at home. We spent time together outside. We walked, cycled, hiked and spent time at the beach. It cost little or nothing but our lives were richer for it. The only thing we really missed was the company of others.
Remember to count your blessings.
2020 put things in perspective for us. Although it wasn’t the year we had planned, we seem to have come through relatively unscathed and, in some ways, better for it. We understand this hasn’t been the case for everyone. People have lost their lives or their health has been greatly impacted. People have lost loved ones. People have been lonely. Some people have been overworked while others have permanently lost their jobs or their businesses. People in need have missed out on support or services. A lot of people have done it tough this year.
In saying that, we recently watched a two-part documentary called The Hunger, which tells the story of the Irish famine. When we compare this year to what people have endured both in the past, and indeed today, dealing with famine, war and disease, you can’t help but feel grateful for the social support the majority of us have experienced.
Green is gold.
No doubt about it, having green, open spaces to enjoy has helped keep us sane this year. Whether you live in the city or countryside it’s essential to make the most of your green spaces, walks and trails. We are incredibly lucky to live where we do and to have so many options for walks, hikes and cycles. The Tomies Wood loop-walk, which is just on our doorstep, reopened last week after being inaccessible for a number of years and the South-Kerry Greenway project has just been given the green light. Anything that gets us out of our cars and into the fresh air can only be a good thing, especially for the younger generation.
The winter solstice is just a few days away and we’re not out of the darkness yet. But, just like the days will slowly start to stretch, the future will gradually get brighter. Eventually, all of this will be behind us. But it’s important that we take the lessons we’ve learned with us into 2021. The world will be a better place for it.
That just leaves us to say Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain Faoi Mhaise. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us at Inveraray Farm. Stay healthy and safe and we hope to see you in 2021.
Inveraray Farm is a friendly and welcoming family-run B&B in Beaufort, County Kerry. We have spectacular views of the Gap of Dunloe and the MacGillycuddy Reeks.