I know we say it every week but – what a few days we have had. Despite our planning and clever sequencing things never go smoothly but we are lucky – very lucky – in our friends and workmen. Despite the weather and the constraints of equipment hire and labour they really came through last week. We needed it finished so we could have another energy inspection. This will hopefully raise the BER rating on the house following the solar installation and other improvements. The final push for the water system was relaying the pipes so we could get rid of the butt-ugly pump house. This has an added bonus in letting more light onto the solar panels but made a straightforward demolition impossible. Fergus was, understandably, nervous about dropping debris onto the panels and instead opted for a drill and hammer job. This was a lot more work but had several benefits.
Firstly scarcely a speck of dust landed on the solar array. Secondly a lot of the blocks were salvageable. Fergus bulldozed a ramp for us and lined it with some of the broken blocks. Jacqui, who can visualise far better than I can, has plans to fill the gaps with compost and plant flowers – winter pansies, chrysanthemums, whatever she can, along the new “wall”. Next summer we may plant honeysuckle along the back of the Majestic too. The reusable blocks will make a decent footing for the polytunnel greenhouse next spring. Very little goes to waste, something Fergus approves of heartily. It’s one of the lovely Irish traditions we have encountered.
Some of the delay was getting Fergus and the digger in at the same time as Tom the pump man. Having finally identified the water line it made sense to have him dig it out in about ten minutes. Tom and his lad said it would have taken them roughly half a day. Once he got access though Tom performed marvels, re-routing the pipes. He cut out the long loop, running them through the wall of the Majestic and joining it all up again with a minimum of disruption.
It was very interesting watching the meeting between Tom and Fergus. With such a low population everyone tends to be related in some way. There is a verbal “dance” as both parties look to establish a connection. They begin with the surname and move out through occupations, places they have lived and marriages. Finally they land on an aunt who married the son of a distant great uncle and the connection is made. As I have Irish ancestors, albeit from another county, somewhere back I’ll be related to them both too. That is another lovely Irish tradition we have encountered.
In the middle of this another Tom, Fergus’s lad, was building a wood store and splitting logs out in the wood. And then Colin, the mower man appeared. I know we say it every week but I’m sure they come in groups hoping for safety in numbers! Colin soon got the mower running and gave it a quick service. It still needs a few parts but he’s waiting for these to be delivered. In the meantime we can actually cut the grass! We’ve been using the strimmer but it is pitiful, what I can manage. And the batteries run out too fast as it is rough land still and very overgrown. The mower is a bit clunky, the levers are very stiff and we couldn’t get the grass box on properly so the cuttings went over the “lawn” but it is such fun. Now to try it on the wood!
Early on in the week we finally headed off to Limerick in search of the final bits we need for the mopeds. Inconsequential things like crash helmets and tax disc holders. We settled on a place called “Sprocket and Hubs” in Adare. They advertised a specialist section of clothing for women so it seemed a good bet. I have to say they were wonderful. The mopeds were much admired (photos on the phone – it’s a bit far for those little machines) and they were so helpful. We came away with everything we needed including a couple of Guardian Bells. These are attached to the keys or the bike and promise a guardian angel to watch over the rider. Another lovely Irish tradition.
I guess most of you don’t follow the hurling but last week was the all-Ireland Senior final between Limerick and Kilkenny. Limerick won and the county was celebrating, none more so than in Adare, I suspect. There were flags everywhere, even on the churches. Some were huge, covering an entire bar with a space cut out for the door. You get a sense of how small the population is when you see a sign congratulating four local players from a place that small. We liked it very much though it was extremely busy, even on a Tuesday morning. We may go back to look around when the hurling hysteria is passed and the tourist season ends.
So we reach the end of another very busy fortnight. On Saturday evening we always have a special meal, cooked at home and eaten together in the kitchen-diner. Sometimes we play music – Jacqui has put together some splendid play lists and is terrific at finding new performers and new songs. Sometimes we sit and talk, happy to relax and enjoy one another’s company.
For us it is a new and lovely Irish tradition.
Take care and thank you for reading.
I am currently recording these blogs for podcasts, two at a time so if you would like to hear them they are freely available on https://southsidebroadcasting.podbean.com/category/tipperary-tales/