But today dawned blue and still - a rare treat at the moment.
Unfortunately, the rivulet on our favourite beach was in such flood that we couldn't get across to the sands beyond, so we went on to our second favourite instead, which turned out to be a Very Good Decision.
|Pocketfuls of dog treats|
Wandering along the stony sand, we picked up fragments of sea glass to add to our huge collection, listened to a warbling bird that we couldn't see or identify, admired the patterns the water leaves behind, and waved to a fisherman pottering on his boat, bobbing at anchor just a stone's throw out into the bay. The air-sea rescue helicopter droned in, low over the water on the far side of the bay and hovered over Strandhill for a while, but it was too far away to see anything except the constant line of breakers creaming in from the Atlantic.
|Sand patterns like armies of woodlice|
It's a wonderful beach. It has a long spit that curves out into the bay, and nestled in on the land-side are mud flats, some sheep pastures and sometimes fishing boats laid up for the winter.
But today the tide was in across the mud flats, and the dogs went crazy, chasing each other in and out of the shallow water.
|An inland sea|
Model Dog practiced being a fish.
The TeenQueen practiced being a 3-legged dog.
And we all practiced wading.
From the long arm of the beach, there is a wonderful view of Knocknarea, Sligo's No 2 mountain just across the bay, but you can't see the huge neolithic cairn on its summit from this angle, even though it's one of the largest in Ireland (and dates back to 3000 BC). The grave belongs, they say, to Maeve, the ancient Queen of Connacht, who was buried standing up so that she could keep watch over all her lands. By the time she died, her lands were extensive - due, no doubt, to her Lucretia Borgia approach to the acquisition of power. On a clear day you can see across 5 counties, I guess, as well as Sligo Bay and Donegal Bay. On a bad day, you are battered by the four winds of heaven and may see nothing but the vast tomb - 10 metres high and 55 metres wide.
We didn't mind not seeing Maeve's Lump (as it's affectionately known), as we see it from the road all the time. Instead we watched riders on the far beach beneath her. They were having a lovely time, with their dogs streaming in front like outriders.
We inspected the skeleton of a boat left to commune perpetually with the wind and the tides.
And we stopped at the pile of stones that always looks - from a distance - as if it started life as a beehive dwelling for a lonely hermit. When you get up close, you realise that it is, probably, just a pile of stones.
We decided that we'd round off our lovely, seaside morning by stopping at The Beach Bar for a drink and maybe a toasted sandwich or something for lunch, but then we discovered that although we had lots of dog treats, neither of us had so much as a brass farthing, so we went home instead.
And this afternoon I finally put out the last of the compost.
The long border and the Moon Garden are officially bedded down for the winter, and I can go away with a clear conscience. They are done and dusted, and already the merry-go-round is bringing spring closer with every passing day. Even so, I put extra handfuls on all the little blades of green poking out of the soil. It is much too early for bulbs to be pushing up.
|Oh what a lovely sight|
And my reward for all the hard work?
A little posy of winter roses from the two bushes I cut back.