I said a few posts ago the house seemed a long way out in the country and it is. This has some very good things. There are no noisy neighbours, for example apart from occasional tractors hurrying past and the cows in the evening. We have no problem parking as there’s a large gravel forecourt. The dogs aren’t up at the windows shouting at passers by every few minutes either. At night the skies are full of stars and during the days the garden and woods are full of birds. It is calm, peaceful and very lovely.
It also has some drawbacks of course. There is mains electricity though this is a bit dodgy, especially in stormy weather. Our water comes from a well just outside the back door that feeds the taps. Those of you with fertile imaginations should banish the picture of “Ye Olde Worlde Well” with thatched roof and a bucket and read on. This is an underground bore hole and at the moment if the electricity goes off so does the pump, so no water. We are hoping to remedy this by fitting a solar pump soon. In the meantime if it looks too bad we fill flasks and a bucket or two, just in case.
ESB, the electrical network here, are very efficient and they have a website to report and check outages. On the other hand, the fact this is constantly showing outages, repairs and ongoing problems suggests the basic infrastructure may be a bit shaky. I think this may mean it is developing the network in more, and more remote, places. Unlike the UK they are not fighting a battle with decaying and outdated infrastructure where they underwent Industrialization early. I recall a recent incident in Saltburn where apparently moles (yes – moles!) were blamed for bringing down power lines to half the town.
There is, of course, no mains drainage so that is a bit of a learning curve for us. So is the water actually. The house has been empty for several years and routine maintenance has been rather neglected. We didn’t know about things like salt tablets for the water. In fact when we found out we got a 25 kilo bag of salt and had no idea where it went. The kettle was encrusted with lime in two days and everything had to be scrubbed clean, it was so bad. I was starting to panic, wondering just how bad the water was, before our builder stepped in to help. There’s a softener unit in the shed, we discovered. Once we shoveled a vast amount of tablets in, the water was greatly improved. In fact it is now so soft that plates slide out of your hands if you’re not careful.
There’s very little gas network in Ireland and our heating is supplied by an oil fired boiler. Lurking in the shed, it gobbles fuel and emits a steady miasma of fumes. This is a step up from the immersion heater in the cottage where there was no hot water at all for an hour or so after getting up in the morning but it’s not ideal. It was efficient enough in the winter but there’s no way to have hot water without running the heating too. This is a bit much in the summer so we are also having our own gas tank fitted and a new boiler fitted. There’s a lot I don’t miss too much but instant hot water – oh, priceless!
Speaking of the shed, this is one of the bonuses that came with the house. Most properties have similar buildings out in the country in Ireland but ours is bigger than many. It is old – probably as old as the original cottage area. It also needs a lot of work though it is surprisingly weatherproof. On arrival we put many of the boxes and some furniture in there and there’s no water damage or damp at all. One end houses the oil tank (phew!), the boiler and the water softener but this will all go soon, opening up a large and light area. Once the roof is strengthened the solar panels will go up, facing south to harvest the light. We have plans for the rest of this space.
We have christened it “The Hotel Majestic” as the shed key came with one of those big labels hotels use to stop visitors going off with them. It is a bit short of “Majestic” at present but the space and the light are both fantastic. In Saltburn Jacqui had a little workshop for her stained glass projects. Here we have a wonderful area for her to fit out and use as she wishes. We are collecting old pallets to reuse and make into benches and storage for the glass. Some of the glass made it to Ireland, more by luck than any help from the movers, but a lot was left behind by them and will need to be replaced. Still, we will source what we need and make it truly “Majestic”.
Yes, there’s a lot to do way out in the country but once we have the basics in place I think it will be just fine.