Cross the river before you abuse the crocodile

This has been a rather odd few weeks with some fairly frantic activity mixed with slow periods of waiting, perfect for reflecting on life.  Sometimes the delays in events can be infuriating and I have to speak sternly to myself.  Life is generally lived at a slower pace here in Tipperary and there is a lack of workmen in many areas.  Everyone takes on several jobs, moving from one to another like a juggler spinning plates.  Coupled with the ever-increasing difficulties in ordering supplies from the UK this can lead to a lot of frustration.  But it is counterproductive getting angry or rude.  Skilled people are to be valued, and not just because they can choose to go elsewhere so I take out one of my proverb mugs each morning and remind myself.  “Cross the river before you abuse the crocodile”.

Old African proverb – still wise today

Having said that, when things are finally completed it feels like a huge boost.  The roof is done and despite some seriously heavy rain the kitchen is warm and waterproof.  We had an unexpected bonus this week too.  The empty buildings up the road are sold (finally) and we have neighbours.  The property had no water or power and they have been waiting over nine months for connections.  Well, after three visits, to put up posts, then string wires and lop the tops from our trees, we had a new connection too. 

Happiness is a large metal box!

This time we have our own transformer and it makes a huge difference.  Previously we were at the end of a line with several other properties drawing power.  This explained why when we switched on the kettle the lights all dimmed.  Atmospheric but not exactly helpful. Also as the supply fluctuated it may well have contributed to the failure of three computers since our arrival.   It did mean we spent two days in one week sitting in the dark as they were working on the coldest, wettest days of the month.  It was worth it though.  The joy of being able to boil the kettle and switch on the microwave at the same time is priceless!

One of those dark days coincided with the 24 hour blood pressure test.  I cannot condemn this enough, on all levels.  If you’ve had one you need no explaining and if you haven’t then you are very lucky.  Not only does it interrupt your life every 30 minutes (and then 3 minutes later if the reading is high), it makes it impossible to sleep.  It also left me with bruises, a roaring headache and frozen shoulders and neck.  To no-one’s surprise my readings were high.  Pain, shock and exhaustion can do that to a person I guess.

I didn’t make it through the full 24 hours, ripping the cuff off at half past seven the next morning when it tried to inflate for the seventh time in an hour.  We took it back to the doctor’s surgery and it was still huffing and swelling away in the bag.  It was like some malignant creature from a horror story that refused to die.  Jacqui had an even worse experience when in hospital, tethered to leads, drips and heart monitors as well as the fiendish device.  Her room was very cold, intentionally, and she was watched through CCTV the whole time.  She was exhausted and a mass of bruises and plasters covering needle marks when I got her home, but at least she came home.

I am firmly of the opinion you need to be strong and healthy to survive many aspects of modern medicine.  My mother had cancer for over eleven years and underwent numerous different types of chemotherapy.  As she got sicker the regimes were harsher with more side effects, a sign of their desperation I think.  I remember sitting with her one afternoon when she said, “Sometimes the cure is worse than the complaint”.  I waited, thinking she was going to refuse any more treatment.  Then she added, “Still, it does mean you can occasionally change the outcome”.  That’s why I’m as compliant as I can be. I’m not going to abuse the crocodile until I’ve crossed the river.

With powerless days and no workmen I’ve been reflecting on times past, especially on Saltburn where we lived for 30 years.  Despite delays, lockdowns and struggles over finance the “Real Meals” team held the first Cheese Festival last weekend.  This is a new venture, designed to compliment the summer Food Festival which is returning this year.  This was one of the high spots of the year in town and it’s wonderful to see it back again.  I also returned to Saltburn, at least virtually, with the Book of the Month pod cast last Friday.  Jenna Warren, owner of “Book Corner”, the independent book shop in town, has published an excellent debut novel.  It is called “The Moon and Stars” and it is a great read. I can thoroughly recommend it.

Mr Fox about to stake his claim
Mr Badger is not amused

In the wood there have been some developments showing on the trail cameras.  Whilst the badger obviously feels he owns this little patch of land, the fox is starting to challenge him.  Last week I captured foxy coming in, stamping around and then peeing on the trees to mark the path.  A couple of hours later badger came out and sniffed around, looking for whoever dared to do this.  It is very interesting stuff but I hope I don’t check the cameras and catch a full-on badger/fox throw-down one morning.

Coming along nicely now

So there we are, moving into spring with birds, insects and all manner of plants gracing the land around us.  Jacqui is out now putting more plants into Betsy’s Garden and we are clearing the cut tree branches. We now have plans for the first fruit trees and bushes later in the year.  We are also hiring a mini digger and have a friend who will show us how to drive it.  Why should Ireland tremble?

Despite health issues, some continuing problems with the house and other little stumbling blocks we are happy here.  Life flows on and we are adjusting – not abusing crocodiles but learning to be patient. 

Thank you for reading.  If you are interested in the review for “The Moon and Stars” you can download it here:

Have a good few weeks and I hope to see you in a fortnight.