Apollo 13, Titanic and other disasters.

You may wonder what the films “Apollo 13” and “Titanic” have in common with our life here.  Well, both are referenced on a daily basis as we wrestle the house into order.  It has been a very busy and eventful year so far, perhaps too busy on reflection.  We began with a list of things we needed and wanted done but circumstances rather threw our clever sequencing out of the windows.  There is a huge rush of building work as Ireland moves out of lock down and both skilled workmen and materials are in short supply.  Prices have gone up and most people are working multiple jobs simultaneously.  It is challenging, for us and them.

Because of this the two most important things for us are still being sorted, though hopefully will be resolved in the next few weeks.  “Apollo 13” is the most urgent.  The electrics are very odd in this house.  Several electricians had a look, did a few things and vanished.  They are not even answering the phone, which does ring alarm bells.  Why “Apollo 13” you ask?  Well, sometimes the sockets all trip off when, for example, one of us turns on the kettle.  Or a computer.  Or the hot water – yes, really.  Remember the scene from the film where Gary Sinise, playing Ken Mattingly tries over and over again to fire up the capsule simulator and it repeatedly overloads and crashes?  So we have taken to calling “Apollo 13” before switching on anything, especially if one of us is working on a computer.

Basically the main fuse board is wired up almost at random which is why the lights dim if the microwave is on.  There’s no proper neutral loop and some stuff doesn’t seem to be earthed.  This is scary stuff and we are very lucky our builder found a brave, talented and properly qualified man who will rip it out and replace the whole lot with something safe and legal. Derrick, we salute you!

Now, the main bathroom is another interesting DIY project.  Any arrangement where the door hits the toilet when opened is not too well thought out.  The main problem for us though is the shower.  Now, the issue is highlighted in the name – a wet room.  Just a bit too wet, especially as the tiles are not non-slip and quite lethal when damp.  In fact the shower tended to flood the whole floor especially before we took out the bath as the water bounced off the sides and headed for the hallway. 

Many mornings one or other of us has slid across to the door, grabbed the frame and sung that irritating earworm of a song from “Titanic”.  Occasionally, on particularly grey, wet mornings, I hear strains of the Volga Boat Song drifting out on the shower.  The bath, by the way, is now in the garden and will make a wonderful herb trough next year.

Waiting to be repurposed

We are calling a halt to a lot of the work now as Jacqui needs to rest and regain her strength.  Our plumber, the lovely Aidan, is coming in the next few weeks to fit the shower screens that will contain this flood over the winter.  We hope to add a new basin and other fittings next year.  He has even found a proper shower chair if we need one over the next few months. 

Some Jacqui related news.  She is home and doing well.  We have to go back to the hospital in a month for tests and may have to stay overnight but at least this time we will be prepared!  Our main aim now is to avoid surgery if possible. She is being very good and trying not to fret over how sleepy she is or how slowly she has to move at present.  This will improve as she gets used to the medication and recovers from what was a huge shock to the system.  Everyone has been so kind, with neighbours (within 3 kilometres!) checking in, offering help and bringing wonderful flowers.  Our workmen decided jobs have to be finished and gone over and above what we could possibly ask.  And all of you, with your lovely comments and the good wishes you have sent.  Thank you all.

This has been an eye-opening part of our journey.  I realized I could not continue to avoid driving in Ireland, I had to just get on with it.  I thought I would be nervous, out in the countryside on my own.  But I wasn’t.  The house and this place continue to delight us despite recent events.  Things are different certainly.  There is very little radio reception but we have glorious birdsong.  We don’t have a shop within walking distance but we have a garden and a wood.  There is no street lighting but at night we can see the Milky Way.

We have kind, good friends both here and in other countries.

We are fine.