Luke and Sarah Flanagan moved to tiny Owey Island off the west coast of County Donegal in Ireland on March 14 and have been there ever since - dodging the entire COVID pandemic.
The couple originally planned the stay on the 300-acre island, which has no electricity, gas or running water, to spend 12 months enjoying a slower pace of life.
But as well as that, they have also remained detached from the devastating effects of the pandemic.
Luke, 34, who is a joiner by trade, said: “It’s been really weird and strange hearing about everything that’s happening while being isolated on this little island.
“As you can imagine, we haven’t had to worry about social distancing.”
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The couple, from Leeds, West Yorkshire, were living in the Scottish Highlands when they saw an advert offering the opportunity to become the tenants of a small cottage on Owey, so decided to take a year off work.
The island has no schools or shops and contains just a handful of properties which are only inhabited in the summer months.
Luke and social worker Sarah, 36, use coal fires to keep warm, gas bottles to cook and solar panels to charge electrical items, as well as collecting rainwater to wash themselves and clean their clothes.
The couple grow their own food, raising hens for eggs and have even learned to fish, as well as taking scenic walks.
“The experience as a whole has been incredible,” said Luke. “The pace of life is so slow but it’s lovely, we spend our days out walking with the dogs, growing our own food and learning new skills.
“It’s not for everyone but we have loved it.”
The couple’s only way on and off the island is via dinghy to another island three quarters of a mile away, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge.
According to Luke, the owner of the cottage they’re living in wanted to prove it was possible to spend an entire winter season on Owey - something that reportedly hasn’t been done since 1974.
“Over the summer the community feeling here is great,” he said. “But as soon as autumn started coming in everyone left and we were left on our own, luckily we were well prepared to cope thanks to the help of other people.”
He said the couple pass their time by tending to the property, reading and playing with their two rescue dogs.
Thanks to nearby shipping lanes, they get good signal on their phones so they can keep up to date with the news from their families in Leeds, but other than that have managed to avoid what most British people went through in 2020.
Sarah said: “My overall thoughts about our time on the island are how incredibly lucky we are to be here.
“We have both learned so much and had experiences I would never have even imagined.”
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