At the start of Lockdown…
… no-one knew how long it might last. Suddenly our world shrank to a 2km radius. I’d been used to hopping in the car to go to Miltown Malbay or Ennis, and suddenly that was not allowed. No more morning swims to meet my friends. No more Chapel Lane Market with my pals. It was so very strange.
I’m very fortunate about where I live. It is pretty isolated anyway – my nearest neighbour is 200m away, so the lockdown initially didn’t seem that much different to normal life. The 2km limit on exercising became a challenge, especially when the weather was fine, and I explored on my bike roads I hadn’t been down in years. That’s where I took this picture an amazing tree. Because we live near the coast, there are very few trees of any size because the winter gales have a tendency to blow them down. But this tree was growing in the lee of Mt Callan and had survived to greatness.
Getting used to the routine
Suddenly finding myself with no markets, I had the time and space to try out new ideas.
So many times I had been asked if I could put an inside zip pocket inside my handbags, and I had shied away from this. I was concerned they would be bulky or make the outside of the bag look odd. But with a bit of time and some experimentation, I realised I could insert a zip pocket in to every one of my handbags. No problem!
That meant I needed to speak to my web designers, and they were fantastic, adding in the option to choose an inside zip pocket onto each and every handbag. And it is proving very popular, so I’m delighted I finally bit the bullet and got on with that. I also set about enabling total customisation on my Clare Large Messenger Handbags – these are far and away the most flexible of my designs, and online you can now choose to get these bags with a zip top as well as the flap, with a divider in the main compartment and an inside zip pocket. Fully loaded!! If you want to order one of these bags with an inside zip from me in Chapel Lane Market in Ennis, just call me and I’ll make it for you to collect.
And then I started to explore other ideas
Playing around with ideas is great fun, and I found out that I could arrange to get my fabric designs printed not just onto fabrics, but on to clothing too. So I have developed a Lockdown Wardrobe! It’s now possible to buy a whole range of clothing, from Kid’s T shirts to Women’s Hoodies, with my unique fuchsia print. You can now Wear West Clare!
I’m working with a company called Teemill to produce these products, and you order them directly from my Sallyann’s Teemill site. They are super comfy. I have a few samples which you are very welcome to have a look at – just give me a shout and I can let you have a gander at them. All the adult T shirts and hoodies have a small print on the front of an individual fuchsia flower, and then a full back print of my fuchsia design.
I’m getting quite excited by the whole idea of expanding my range of products, and I already have another idea in mind which I hope to launch closer towards Christmas. I’ll keep you posted!
Gradual Lifting of the Lockdown
Once the limit on local travel was extended to 20km, it finally meant that I could resume my morning swims. Poppy, our dog, had had the paws walked off her during lockdown as we walked up and down the road to keep some form a shape and routing to our days. But I’d not been swimming since the 13 March, and I had missed it SO much. Getting back into the water with my friends was just the best thing – catching up on all their lockdown experience and laughing about our crazy hairstyles.
The rule allowing travel anywhere within our home county came just in time for my son’s 16th birthday. Make no mistake, on an ordinary 16th birthday I would have been merely a taxi service, but in these strange times I got spend the day with him, which we started at the Cliffs of Moher, watching puffins and peregrine falcons, and drinking in the views we had missed for so many weeks. It was still very quiet when we were there, and we felt really special to have the Cliffs all to ourselves with just the thousand of birds for company, when they are normally teeming with visitors at any time of year.
More Backpacks and Chapel Lane Market Re-opens
I’ve managed to really get my eye in with my Jane Small Backpacks now, and these three beauties came off my sewing machine last Friday in time for the re-opening of Chapel Lane Market in Ennis. I really wanted to have as many examples of my bags ready for the Summer season, and these were a high priority because they really are a Staycation Essential!
Being back at Chapel Lane Market is the best thing. It really felt like we were getting back to a bit of normality. Yes there’s hand sanitiser at each entrance and we all take it in turns to clean all the surfaces every hour, but that didn’t stop the fun and chat and laughter being back too. Seeing so many people coming in, customers old and new, was so reassuring. Many said they were inspired to shop much more locally after Lockdown – that they had really developed a strong appreciation for exactly what we have locally. This chimes with the Government’s promotion of shopping locally to try to keep small businesses going and to help the local economy to get back on its feet. Chapel Lane Market has always been a little incubator for local craftspeople to cut their teeth in retailing their products, and we’re welcoming new stallholders this year as people have honed their crafts during lockdown.
We know we’re not out the woods yet, but with care and a strong amount of optimism, hopefully the country will remain open now. As far as events for me are concerned, I will be at Chapel Lane Market in Ennis every Saturday. I’m hopeful that the Mallow Home and Garden Show will go ahead at Mallow Racecourse at the end of August, and I plan to be at that. And I’m not looking any further than August.
I’m also exploring some exciting opportunities that have raised their head during lockdown, and I’ll let you know about them as soon as I’m allowed to! My lips are sealed.
Meanwhile, the most important thing in my calendar right now is my much anticipated haircut. I literally cannot wait. No more resembling the Wild Woman of West Clare!