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Posts tagged ‘anniversary’

Another anniversary – and what a year

I said last week this is the time of anniversaries for us and here is another. We landed in Ireland a year ago. It is hard to believe sometimes, looking back. Firstly that a whole year has passed since we packed up and headed for an unknown future. Secondly that we have done so much in that short time. And thirdly that we made it at all, amidst changing rules, Covid and hopeless deadlines. Self-isolation, lock down and no crossing county lines when we arrived made it worse. Still, here we are in a new house in a new country – and making a new life.

It has been quite a transition in many ways. We were comfortably settled in Saltburn for many years. We left 2 days shy of our 31st year and had routines, friends and all the security of familiarity. Of course everything changes and we were slowly becoming less comfortable in our home. The town was always busy in the summer and for special days – markets, Christmas fairs and so on. Over the years the tourist season expanded but only in the final few years was it becoming suffocating.

Moving from this…
To this

Parking was always a bit dodgy but it became a battlefield with some very aggressive visitors in the streets. It was no longer possible to walk the dogs to the front and sit quietly for a while as bikes, e-bikes and large groups of people pushed and jostled. As one of our dogs is hyper-vigilant I was frequently shouted or sworn at by strangers when he barked. This, I’m sure you can imagine, did not help to calm him at all. We loved the house but longed for some outdoor space, especially in lockdown. And there was the “elephant in the room” – the approach of Brexit and all the misery that would bring us.

We miss a lot of things from Saltburn and from the UK. We had such good friends and neighbours. People knew who we were, some had read my books, we had local groups we supported in a casual way. We are very, very lucky. We sold the house, we were able to move the proceeds and buy a new home and much of our goods made the journey safely. The dogs travelled just fine. In fact they were positively phlegmatic about it all. I think we found it harder than they did overall.

Yet there is still a lingering sense of loss that comes on sometimes. Being so far from family is hard and there are friends we miss so much. It was wonderful to live by the sea for so many years and I miss the views, the wonderful icy air of winter and the solstice sunsets I watched when walking Saffron, our last Tibetan Terrier, late at night. There is not much of a tourist trade in Tipperary. Right in the middle of Ireland it is neither “The Ancient East” nor “The Wild Atlantic West”. It is lovely in a quiet, green sort of way and I don’t think I would want to go back to a popular tourist site again.

The oak trees – the foundation of our new wood

This week saw our first real storm this year, Storm Barra that swept in off the Atlantic on Tuesday. We were treated to torrential rain and wind speeds of up to 130 km an hour for 36 hours. That’s just over 80 miles an hour. We are in a strange anomaly – a sheltered dip on a hill, so escaped the worst of it. We were so glad the trees along the lane had been trimmed. I doubt we would have escaped with the Majestic intact without the sterling work of Fergus and his crew. He will be back next week as one tree on the edge of the wood is now tilting at a 45-degree angle and one more decent storm will have it down. It is now hovering over my precious young oaks so has to come down safely. Apart from that however we escaped relatively unscathed.

Full steam ahead for Christmas!

Last year we had a small but very determined Christmas, mainly as Jacqui was determined. Our wonderful friend Lynn had ensured the tree decorations and lights were in the last load. This meant they were among the few things we rescued before lock down. Patrick, the lovely manager of the cottages, provided a tree. Jacqui had packed one of the remaining puddings from the previous year and a cake. This year she is busy making new puddings from my mother’s special secret recipe and the house smells – like Christmas.

And last night we marked the passing of our first year with a chicken and special stuffing. Made from three herbs – sage, rosemary and winter savoury – they all came from our garden and combined beautifully. We have named it for the house, a small gesture to remind us that for all the old, lost routines and traditions we can make some new. They help us appreciate and celebrate our new life here.

There is much we miss but we have so much that is different to enjoy. What a year it has been.
We are very, very lucky people.

A week of surprises, mainly happy ones

Life has a way of surprising us all and this week did not turn out as expected. Our grand hopes for the final stages of the building work came to nothing. Absolutely nothing as our joiner was pinged as a close contact for Covid and had to isolate. No floor then, and no presses either. By the way, a “press” is a cupboard over here, something we really are in dire need of despite our major reduction in worldly goods since moving. This was no fault of his own of course, and we are travelling hopefully into next week. It would be rather nice to get the flooring out of my bedroom. Oh, and thank you for the ideas for disposing of the bubble wrap – they are much appreciated!

The other let down was the solar power installation. The men called ten days ago and were most impressed by Davey’s work on the base and the Majestic. Foolishly we thought we were clear to go. They gave us a rough price and we were assured the panels were ordered and ready. Then, not a word. No message or call, no indication of why there was a delay and if they might pop up suddenly – probably when we were out. We are travelling slightly less hopefully on that one.

There was a bright spot in the middle of the week. We are entering the time of anniversaries in our lives. Near the start of this blog I said we always moved in December. Well in the absence of a formal ceremony in the 1980s we have marked our anniversary on the 1st of December – the day we moved in together down in Bridgwater. And talking of life’s surprises, it was 38 years ago. A lovely evening in and a half bottle of prosecco may seem a bit low key but we enjoyed every minute. Especially when we mused on last year, in the midst of chaos, packing and uncertainty. And next week it is a year since we washed up here, drained and exhausted. That is something else to celebrate.

Wednesday did deliver one rather unpleasant surprise this week. Like any good and responsible person, I went to the vaccination centre in town when called for my Covid booster. This is in a large hotel and it is a strange experience, getting a jab in one of 20 white, boarded cubicles, under the glass chandeliers of the ballroom. The staff took the “well ventilated space” very seriously – all the outside doors were open and the temperature was close to freezing with a stiff wind roaming the corridors. This, coupled with the first rendition of that Christmas album – you know the one – made it a fairly miserable experience.

The people however were lovely and my nurse, Laura, was efficient, friendly and so gentle. They cannot be faulted and I am extremely grateful, especially as Jacqui needs some extra protection at the moment. That was not the unpleasant surprise however. It began about 10.30 at night when my expected sore arm began to radiate heat. All my joints joined in along with shaking and chattering teeth. I took a quick glance at the thermometer and confirmed my suspicions. I was running a temperature that can perhaps be called “interesting”. After a day it fell to below 38 (100.4 in Fahrenheit) and I was feeling washed out but better. Well, at least I know my immune system is working!

Red Dogwood in the old peat cuttings

Ireland is traditionally seen as very green and the variety of shades is quite amazing, even as winter approaches. There are many other lovely sights here and a lot of them throw this green patchwork into sharp relief. Red Dogwood in the old, swampy peat cutting is one such sight. Rosy willow trees keep their colour even after losing their leaves. There are still gardens and verges laden with multicoloured chrysanthemums and the skies are amazing. On bright, frosty mornings I wish I could draw but that’s not one of my skills. I leave that to Jacqui who can sketch, colour and blend to perfection.


Clouds like distant mountains

We have had some cold weather here with a few exceptionally hard frosts. The fields around are glistening white and the dogs love the frozen grass. We can see the moon in the morning, up in the blue sky before it sets to the west. Some days when the clouds roll in they look almost like distant mountains, sharp and snow covered in the distance. This place never ceases to surprise and delight me, even if it comes with sudden sleet squalls and occasional power cuts.

Our final surprise was both delightful and rather awe inspiring. I was out in the garden with the dogs when I heard the familiar call of a buzzard. A second later three birds swooped low over the garden and swept off towards the Fairy Fort. I was just turning away when I heard another call – and then another and another. As I looked up a flock of buzzards, at least 15, glided over the house and headed off into the field behind us. They have been gathering and circling for the last few days, often gliding in silence on the strong wind from the south. I looked it up and saw a flock of buzzards is called a “wake” but, unlike vultures, they do not bring bad luck. We have many different types of birds here but thankfully no vultures.

Now that would be a surprise.