5, 10, 20

So here’s something new for today.

Last week marked my 10th column for the Sligo Weekender, so here are my favourite 10 things from the first 10 months of this year.

But they only count if we can still do them in Level 5. Hopefully these help some readers stay positive during the next month.

1 – The sound of the stream on the narrow road going down to the shore in Breeogue. It’s the last leg of the journey before they reach the sea for many drops of rainwater, some of which have travelled downhill all the way from the top of Knocknarea. I walked and ran past it many a time during lockdown, and I always slowed down to hear it. Magical.

2 – Two musical memories. Firstly – I’ll never forget putting my headphones on in a quiet room, taking a deep breath and trying to come up with a piano accompaniment for the deep Dublin tones of Steve Wickham reciting Raglan Road. Also Cathy Jordan’s 60 days of lockdown songs back in March/April/May.

3 – Eddie Lee’s photographs. I marvel at how good these are. Especially because I have played countless gigs over the last 13 years with him and not once did he mention his love or talent for photography. They were a poignant reminder of how beautiful our county is when we couldn’t/can’t travel around it as we would wish.

4 – My favourite new podcast – The Long and The Short of It by Peter Shepherd and Jennifer Waldron. Has inspired many a column/blog. Also getting our own new podcast – In The Lamplight – up and running and out to you all.

5 – Getting a bike. Simple hours of family fun and exercise.

6 – The joy a dog can bring to a household. The video of the reunion of Theme Night regular Chris Baillie and his dog Baillie in New Zealand after 18 days when they travelled separately across the world and then quarantined.

7 – The power of generous words – my theme night colleagues wrote some beautiful messages after we celebrated reaching Theme Night #25 back in February.

8 – The power of generous actions – the happiness EJ Menswear brought to seven 18 yr-old lads when they told them they could keep the suits they had been lent for last month’s Teenage Theme Night shows.

9 – My favourite books of the year. Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit – simple, well-researched stories about habits and the transformative power they can have on our lives, communities and businesses. And in fiction, the 5th in Robert Galbraith’s (J.K. Rowling’s) Cormoran Strike detective series – Troubled Blood. A masterpiece of the genre.

10 – The realisation that life can be simpler and yet still fulfilling.