What I love about my first Winter back in Ireland

I bet you never thought you'd hear me say that about winter! Especially when I have just come from two years living in the tropics, the first winter inevitably should be tortuous. 

Yet, I have this thing with frosty, crunchy leaves underfoot. I love feeling that it is my right to snuggle down under a blanket on the couch in front of the fire and watch an episode of The Crown on Netflix, whilst sipping peppermint tea. I love seeing the naked trees and then spotting the first shoots breaking through the ground from the bulbs we planted in Autumn. I like listening to the wind howling outside - it reminds me that I am living on a little island in the North Atlantic Ocean. I never really thought of Ireland like that, until I spent time on a tiny island in the Caribbean. Ireland somehow seems like a vast expanse of land that juts out of the sea and the wind sheers across on a regular basis and drops gallons of rain all over the land.

I lay all of our clothes for the next day on the radiators in the house so that when we get up we can pull on warm socks and layers of thermals. When I take Ricky, our dachshund, for a walk each day I wear my wellies and we hike in that clean air of the Irish countryside. I know that I have the enviable position of a house in the countryside and I wouldn't be anywhere else, I just love the green. Every leaf or cranny in a tree trunk could hide a fairy or a mouse. The magic of the Irish fairytales and folklore are not lost on me.

The people of Ireland love to complain! But I can catch photos at sunrise AND have a lie-in, now that is new to me. We have had several weeks with the hint of daylight not appearing until 8am and that makes those sunrises extra special.

The ever changing sky fills me with joy. The coldest of mornings leave a pink hue in front of us and the firiest of orange sunrises behind as we drive west on the school run. On the weekend we head to the sea to walk and ogle at the dramatic landscape and contrasting coloured houses, the vastness of the sky and the speed of the clouds flying across it.

The Ireland that I am looking at now is not the Ireland that I grew up in. It's not, but simply because I have changed. Of course, there are economic, political and social changes, but the essence of the country is still the same. But I am looking through new eyes, peering with a curiosity about my own feelings and yearnings to embrace the country that we have chosen to live in and bring up our family in. Ireland chose me as a child, and now I have chosen this land to be our home. It just never felt right anywhere else. I have loved and loathed every country that I lived in, and Ireland is much the same. The difference now is that we are with family. And family is everything for me.