What a year it has been and how the world has changed since March 2020 for us all. We live and work in a beautiful place; so much of our lives has not changed, but the way we earn money has changed dramatically. Knockaloe Beg is usually full of people: guests, friends and members of the public walking through … then suddenly it all goes quiet and our four children, who have left home, start to come home.

There were unexpected blessings of time with the kids, which we had not had for 9 years – since Zoë left home. We readjusted to living with our adult children, and what FUN it was. We had fun making a ‘Quarantine Girls’ calendar, new veggie garden, recycled greenhouse built with what we could scavenge, lots of exercise round our beautiful farm playground and all hands on deck to help Farmer John with lambing time.

There was a mixture of emotions; moments of anxiety as some guests demand their money back straight away, then tears of graFiona in the Rhubarbtitude as others say to keep their money and they will rebook and repay as they know what a tricky time it must be. Fiona was trying hard to work out how we respond and suddenly change our terms and conditions in a previously unknown time. It was time to trust God to provide for our needs, lowering our wants and using up all the food we had stored in the freezer!

Where there had previously not been time to grow our own veg, we now had time. I decided on office work every morning, then out in the garden, being given spare seedlings and loving seeing them grow. I was enjoying the balance of inside and outside, though missing the usual excitement and high energy levels needed for ‘Lambing Live’ and the hundreds of people we usually have here.  Farmer John was as busy as usual keeping all the animals fed, watered and happy, but with no guests to show round. Reading the amazing book, ‘The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry’, was very challenging to all of us.

Recycling a greenhouse

‘LIVE’ videos… what a new way to bring people into our lives, when they usually just come and join us. People seemed to enjoy hearing about our lives, with several thousand watching each post, what a funny thought, but also what a privilege to have something others like to see. We tried hard to keep the balance between using social media, but not being consumed by it, loving having family meals together, being creative with what we had left in the house.

Then the Island was open again – just not to those who aren’t already here and that brought another set of emotions as our children gradually left us and then couldn’t come back without isolating, Kate had a new job starting in the pandemic, as she graduated as a Nurse and started working on the Intensive Care ward in York Hospital… and we couldn’t pop over to support her. We were free to go about as normal and our children were not, so FaceTime became a lifeline.

We had extremes of numbers of guests, none in lockdown, then overwhelmed with wonderful staycation guests as soon as they are allowed, most popular were places with hot tubs, so lots of wood chopping and washing started. For a tourist business life was very up and down, busy then quiet – but always we love being here.

Now we are getting ready to live on an Island which is OPEN again, living with Covid, not eliminating it, with the associated paperwork of making sure we are ‘Safe, Clean & Legal’.

This has been a year of many emotions; many changes and we are excited to be moving to the new normal that life is becoming. As always, the Lord has been faithful, our Church family has loved each other well and the community of the west of the Island has become stronger through difficulty.