It’s been one heck of an August

Firstly I offer you my deep and profound apologies for the late posting.  It’s just that we’ve had one heck of an August so far.  August has always been a bit of a problematic month for us in Ireland.  Regular readers may recall the plague of flies, repeated each year.  The heat and dust from building triggered Jacqui’s two heart attacks the first year we were here.  The weather is decidedly odd also, either blazingly hot or almost unrelenting rain.  This year it’s the latter.  Workmen either vanish without a word or turn up suddenly and unexpectedly.  We’re always glad to see them but may have problems fitting them around existing arrangements.  The one thing you don’t want to do is send them away – they may never come back!

Well, this year we had flies, workmen and visitors as well as the dreary weather.  Apart from the flies we were delighted to see them all, I have to say.  The first arrival was Noel, our friend from the north-east of England who runs the tiny charity “Lighthouse Family Matters”.  Do look it up – it is a wonderful example of micro-charity.  He’s off to Kenya again soon but wanted to see us and a bit more of his native land before he went.  He went travelling in his camper van for a few days in the middle, then came back and did a magnificent stint in the back garden.  In one day he cleared a path around the land so we can get at the weeds and tree branches.  He also brought over the first boxes of my books so ably rescued by Helen in the spring.  Thank you Helen!  And thank you Noel – you are a star!   

John, our drain man, arranged for Jim and his son Dan to do our soak-away two days after Noel left.  This meant the garden, that we’ve put a lot of work into, would have to be dug up and the grass was all crushed.  We’re not wildly house-proud but we were expecting my sister for her first visit and it didn’t make the best initial impression, alas. As an added bonus Cynthia, one of the dogs, decided she hates the gravel.  She refuses to walk on it to get to the remaining grass and it is beneath her dignity to wee on the concrete. My sister Rosemary and Jacqui put some flat paving stones down for her but she now refuses to use them either.  Difficult dogs!  Lovely, clever but very difficult sometimes.

Jim has finished the job we began on the path into the wood and it is now flat and clear.  When the grass grows back I can use the mower to keep it clear.  With all the rain and odd sunny intervals, the ground is already recovering and green shoots are reappearing.  We are planning the next stage of our land recovery, hopefully hiring a mini-mini digger for the back.  Jim’s machine came from a local man and I recognised him from just after our arrival.  I’d locked the digger in our garden for safety and challenged him when he came to collect it.  He was quite baffled by this until I pointed out I’d never met him and he could just be a chancer.  After rummaging around in his cab he produced a crumpled business card, I rang our builder to check the name and everyone was happy.

My sister’s visit was a delight.  It’s been at least three years since we’ve seen each other and I know she’s not much of a country girl so it was quite brave of her to make the journey.  She flew into Shannon Airport and we drove down to pick her up.  I’m not a fan of flying.  In fact I’ve not flown since 1985, when I was on a plane and all the engines stalled.  Shannon seems to be quite a nice airport however.  Small, efficient and not too expensive either.  It even has a WH Smith – my, they go where water wouldn’t.  

We had a leisurely few days together with trips into our nearest town and an excellent lunch on the shores of Lough Derg.  She was captivated by the decorated windows, most of them in pharmacies. It’s the middle of August – let’s do “Back to School!” Rosemary sent me some bee-bombs for my birthday and Jim had banked the earth up from the soak-away at the side of the wood.  An energetic morning of raking and stone removal left the top step ready for planting and we set the first seeds away together.  When it flowers it should be a beautiful sight and good for bees and butterflies.

On the way back from delivering Rosemary for her return flight we decided to have a very rare treat.  Maybe twice a year we have a burger and the nearest place is halfway down the motorway to Limerick.  I leapt to my feet clutching the money in my hot little hand as Jacqui went to park the car .  The service station was strangely empty with most franchises shuttered.  When I reached the counter ready for my order I was greeted by nervous looking child server who informed me they had “no beef”.  No beef at all – not a burger in the place.  What??  How the heck did that ever happen?  Like all the other people standing around looking very glum, I settled for chicken.  It was okay but nothing more.  Damn this heck of an August!

This year August has been less fly-ridden, possibly as the trees close to the house have gone.  Those insects left have, however, been more vicious than previously.  Whilst Jacqui is thankfully less attractive to them, they have had a good go at me.  I’ve over a dozen new bites by the end of each day and they are long lasting and very itchy.  Strangely, this morning I ventured out into the back room where they hide and nest overnight to find it empty.  They’ve gone, hopefully for another year, and good riddance too. 

The weather has been grim, we are very tired now and it has been a heck of an August.  On the plus side we’ve seen some of the most beautiful skies from the house.  Noel said our kitchen window was like the best TV in the world.  He loved the light around the house and wood, and we do too.  Here are a couple of “screen shots” from our kitchen to show what we mean.

I will be back in two weeks, hopefully after a calmer end to a heck of an August.  Hoping you are all well and the autumn is gentler for us all.

Thank you for reading.