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The Wonderful Kindness of Strangers

A lot of people have commented on these posts (thank you all!) and many have said how brave we have been.  Well, we don’t feel all that brave.  And we didn’t do it on our own either.  Throughout this whole “adventure” there have been people by our side.  Some are old friends.  Some are unexpectedly kind people who took a bit of time to help us on our way.  And some are strangers who met us and did something kind – just because.

When we left our home behind it was a shambles.  The movers arrived late, with no boxes, obviously expecting us to have packed everything despite us telling them this was not the case.  We drove away full of worries, not trusting these men to do their job.  With good reason as we found out much later.  The mess they made of the packing and the house was mitigated by three lovely friends.  For two whole days they helped sort and pack, throw out and clean.  The house wasn’t as we had wanted to leave it, mainly if not wholly due to the movers, but under the circumstances they performed miracles.  Thank you Lynn, Paul and Su!

One of our big worries had been how to access the house money in Ireland.  On the last day our bank card came through for the Irish account – two short hours before we had to leave.  The post was already slowed to a crawl by a combination of Covid restrictions and Christmas so this was another minor miracle.  Thank you Royal Mail!

The house sale was due to be finalized on the 12th , three days after we left, and we waited anxiously for news.  The move to Saltburn had been blighted when our purchasers in Somerset failed to complete, leaving us with two houses, two mortgages, a bridging loan and only one job between us.  Late in the evening our solicitor called us.  Apologising for the delay she confirmed all was signed and complete.  She added that the delay was down to the firm’s desire to send the funds that day.  The Sterling/Euro exchange rate was exceptionally volatile as a Brexit deal seemed less and less likely and they wanted to get the best deal they could for us.  When we checked the figures the next day they had saved us almost six thousand euro by staying late to complete the transfer.  Thank you Helen!

I know I have mentioned how cold the cottage was several times but this was a big issue for us.  The electric heaters ate power and were unable to heat the rooms to any great degree.  We relied on the open fire in the main room, struggling with bales of logs, pressed peat blocks and heavy sacks of coal from the shop opposite.  After a couple of visits the staff recognised us and asked us how long we were staying.  They were bemused and sympathetic when we said maybe all winter.  The cottages, they said, were rarely let out of season and notoriously chilly.  

They pointed us to special offers in fuel, told us which were the most efficient and helped us load up the car or carry bales across the road.  Over the weeks we told some of our story – cautiously at first – but there was never a trace of anti-English sentiment from anyone.   They were kind, sympathetic and genuinely shocked by some of our experiences.  They also had the best range of cakes I’ve ever come across and cake and a warm fire goes a long way to lifting the spirits. Thank you, Kennedy’s!

“Special Edition” unicorn cakes. Taste even better than they look!

Whilst out walking in the local park behind the cottages we met several local volunteers working on the community garden.  One man, Dennis, was delighted to meet a “real author lady”. He stopped work for twenty minutes to talk, much to the annoyance of his colleagues.  Two days later he turned up at the cottage hauling three huge feed sacks full of raw peat.  We looked at it very doubtfully – it looked like wheels of mud and not anything you could burn.  It was the best and hottest fuel ever, Dennis assured us heaving the bags inside.  And he was right.  The peat threw out amazing amounts of heat and smoldered all night.  He said it was his own authorized cutting, and he wouldn’t accept any payment.  Thank you Dennis!

Raw Peat – looks dubious but burns wonderfully!

And the next week, when the snow came, Patrick the on-site manager brought a sack of coal for us.  It was wrong, he said, what had happened.  Anything he could do – just ask.  Thank you Patrick!

So much kindness from so many people, many from strangers who have become friends.  We would probably have moved from Saltburn anyway without Covid and Brexit.  We had the best of it but needed a change (and outdoor space and fewer stairs) but we would have liked the choice.  A chance to do it properly without the panic and stress and time pressure.  Without taking a leap into the unknown.  In the end we managed it but we couldn’t have done it without the wonderful kindness of strangers.

Thank you all.