While plenty of people have used their time in lockdown to catch up on some television shows and get the bread machine running, Sharon Mackie-Langton has been as busy as ever.
Sharon, who with her husband Ross owns and operates Abstract Signs on Fenton St, says it is rare for the couple to get much time off from work.
"Owning our own business and living on site does mean we rarely take time off, even if we are closed, the phone still rings and it can be hard to actually draw a line and finish work at a set time. Lockdown is pretty much the only time off we have, as we have to be closed so people can't call in or ask us to make something for them."
While lockdown meant a pause from working on projects for clients, it didn't mean the couple downed tools and stopped doing anything. Instead, the forced break from work has given them time to focus on getting ready for the Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival which begins next month.
It will be the 14th year the garden art side of their business features as a place of interest in the festival, and Sharon says going by numbers in previous years they can expect to have around 400 people come through and visit the outdoor/indoor art gallery at the business during the festival.
"And of course, we are still operating our daily business in that time too, so we have our regular clients calling in as well, which makes it a very busy time for us."
Visitors don't just come to look but also to buy. There is a wide range of weather-proof photos, taken by Sharon, printed onto corrugated iron and large panels, CNC plasma cut steel art, garden signs and plenty more on offer at the business. The items are popular, meaning it is a year-round job making sure there is enough stock in ready for the festival.
"We have items for sale all year round, so as people buy, something else goes up on display in its place. Lockdown has been good timing really, giving me a chance to go through my photos, cropping them and making sure the colours really stand out ready for printing onto the large panels and corrugated iron. I have also been making some kids bench sets ready for sale this year, and have been able to spend some time looking for new ideas as well for things we can make this year."
While overseas visitors are obviously unable to come to this year's festival, Sharon says she still expects to be busy.
"Last year the borders were closed as well, and we still had large numbers of visitors come through. People who might normally have travelled overseas were instead in New Zealand looking for things to do and see."
Even outside the festival the garden art gallery is a popular location for day trippers and various groups, says Sharon.
"We've had groups come from Whanganui on mystery trips out with their social clubs, we have car clubs and other groups organising a stop-off at the gallery as part of their outings, all sorts of groups come through. We are always happy to stop to chat to the visitors, I always ask where they have come from and the answer is often surprising, being further away than you might expect."
• The Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival runs from October 29 to November 7 this year. Abstract Signs Garden Art is location number 10 on the places of interest list.