It was just short of 35 years since I had first been elected as an MHK.
What happened globally since has been well documented with the pandemic having tragic health consequences for many and an economic impact unprecedented in modern times.
This, combined with certain events that have led to political instability at the same time, have led to something of a ‘perfect storm’ from which recovery has proved very difficult.
There remain real issues for businesses in particular around skilled labour shortages of all types which once again endorses the necessity for targeted training opportunities combined with a comprehensive housing strategy for affordable homes.
During the recent TT races a business close to where I was marshalling was unable to offer its catering services due to staffing shortages.
This at a time when some businesses around the island could be said to remain a little over-reliant on those people who join us from around the world for the famous sporting event and everything around it.
I am often asked if I’m ‘enjoying’ retirement. We live in a very special place and overall the island’s response to the pandemic, with a number of notable exceptions, was better than others we read about.
I would have hated to have not been able to get out and about walking around the island and certainly would not classify myself as someone who would be content just sitting around watching daytime TV and, although there were restrictions in some areas, in this respect we generally managed.
Since then I got my two jabs and my booster all in 2021 and like everyone else remain most grateful to the frontline workers, particularly our NHS staff, but so many others who put community before self.
I’ve managed to avoid the dreaded Covid since day one but for a few days had been experiencing an irritable cough, then when I went to bed was very shivery and didn’t sleep well.
After taking a lateral flow test on the morning of the 2022 Parish Walk, which showed I had contracted the condition, that was it for one of my favourite days of the year.
So there was no following the race around the 17 parishes for me this year.
Fortunately I was able to follow via social media and the radio but it obviously wasn’t the same.
It would be remiss if I didn’t say very well done to all competitors wherever you got to and whatever you raised for charities and to all the volunteers who once again made the event happen!
I was delighted that Sammy Bowden secured back to back victories in the female race and there were a number of other really stand out performances by those who completed the 85 miles within the 24 hours cut off time including first time finishers Josh Knights in under 17 hours in a fantastic eighth position and a top-20 finish in 19th Graham Jackson. 135 walkers completed the course in under 24 hours.
Next day was Father’s Day, so tea out was cancelled and I got to see my two daughters, thier husbands and two grandchildren from a distance which is obviously never the same when you can’t have a hug!
I’ve been doing my lateral flow tests each day and hoping by the time the Examiner is published I will be clear.
It was suggested to me that being amongst the crowds at Ballaugh Bridge during TT had brought on the Covid but I really didn’t get very close to anyone and was too tired after the long days to go out anywhere afterwards.
So I suspect it was at a meeting in the days just before I contracted it.
To be fair it’s mostly been like a miserable case of the flu for me with sinus and headache pressure, unable to sleep properly, shivering getting in to bed and sweating during the night being my symptoms and I know many have experienced worse side effects.
I have been restricted to the house other than walking the dogs for about half an hour each day away from people.
Suffice to say I think I’ve been lucky in the overall scale of things and don’t want it again! Thanks for all the kind words via Facebook in particular.
This week Rosie and Ted, my wire haired fox terriers, will be one year old.
Was it really September 2021 that I took the last SeaCat of the season to Belfast to pick up two small fluffy pups after they had travelled from Ballymena?
It has been about 18 years since there was a new pup in my house and you do forget the extent of the work involved in the first 12 Months of welcoming new family members.
At the time I did my research into the breed which is one I have always admired and recall some people commenting when they saw I had two pups to the effect of ‘You are brave!’ I’m sure it could be interpreted in different ways.
Much the same as I would describe the dogs as characters whereas others may use more colourful descriptions.
Although brother and sister, they have two completely different characters. Rosie, the slightly smaller one, wants to run around at 100mph loving everyone which for most people is fine but for some a little intimidating so I always take a cautious approach.
They are fine with other dogs and humans.
Ted has settled down really nicely and loves nothing more than curling up on my knee once he’s had his tea and his walk.
He generally walks very well but both can be a little nervous of noisy or speeding traffic going past.
With being brother and sister and deciding not to show them, they have both been neutered and spayed.
The latter being carried out by keyhole surgery and both are fine now.
I adopt a cautious approach to food which they both enjoy and they eat separately to avoid any tensions but they do like any other growing animals have play fights and big chases around the garden but once they have finished they just shake themselves and lie down together.
We enjoy longer walks together now they are growing up into adulthood and are always kept on the lead in rural surroundings.
They both enjoy being let off the lead and Rosie is very good at recall but Ted less so.
As a result she gets off the lead when there is no one and no other animals about more often and really enjoys her freedom leaping and running around.
I usually get up about 7.30am to give them breakfast and the chance to do their toilet.
The utility room in which they sleep is clean most days but does require a bit of attention to the woodwork in places which has been of interest during teething!
It was a big decision as to whether to welcome a new pup, never mind two, into my house but the unconditional love, trust and companionship make all the challenges of the last nine months very worthwhile.
A dog certainly adds quality to your life and two double it up!