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Posts tagged ‘mopeds’

Another lovely Irish tradition

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.

The old pump house

Fergus at work
New ramp and wall

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!

Guardian Bells for the mopeds

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.

These are REAL fans!
The four Limerick lads

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

And suddenly it is spring again

At last we are past the “beastly month” of February and suddenly it is spring again here in Ireland. For several weeks trees have been shrouded in a soft patina of green as the leaves begin to emerge. Daffodils are flowering all along the roadside. In the morning I wake to the sound of cooing from returning doves and pigeons and the sunsets are back in all their glory. A few of our daffodils were broken by the wind so we picked them and brought them inside and on Friday Jacqui produced a “bouquet of sunshine” from the market. Yes, spring is certainly here again.

Sunshine in a vase

This is not to say the weather has been wonderful – far from it. Three storms swept across us, each worse than the last. Knowing how fragile the electricity supply can be we were prepared this time. We had hoarded lots of batteries for storm lanterns and those round press-on lights. We had flasks filled regularly with boiling water and a five-litre stand-by container for drinking (and the dogs of course). Extra wood was stacked inside the porch and we did a big shop in case the roads flooded and we couldn’t get out.

A bit more atmospheric than we expected

I watched the outages on the supply company’s handy app. They circled us but despite some dreadful weather and gales we were unscathed. Until the Monday when, as Storm Franklin left Ireland heading to the UK, all the lights went out. A glance at the handy app said we could expect at least 4 hours without power so I unpacked the camping stove, we put the lights around the kitchen and I made dinner on the single ring. It was rather like being back in my bed-sit days though the camping stove was a sight more efficient than any Baby Belling I experienced. Perfect one-pan cooking – anyone for corned beef hash?

Stand by for take-off!

Although we escaped any real damage in the storm, thanks to Fergus and his excellent tree-cutting, the rain filled the old peat cuttings in the woods next to the track. This year the little lake rose to the lip of the road but didn’t overflow. It has made a nice place for the geese who have returned already, along with a pair of swans. The geese fly in each morning, about forty of them all shouting and flapping over the house. It’s quite a sight, matched in the evening when they take off en-masse and head for the lake about eight kilometres away. They regularly pick their way around the field across the road and take off in a cloud, fly round and settle again. We have such noisy neighbours!

We’ve got the bikes now, delivered by the sterling Derek Madden. We are now embarking on the endless round of bureaucracy required to register them, tax them and make it legal for us to finally ride them. There are no NCT rules for bikes in Ireland, the equivalent to the MOT in the UK, but we still need new plates, VAT assessment and registration tax to be paid, helmets and insurance. Our nearest supplier of motorbike helmets is half-way to Limerick. Apparently most people order them on-line now. How do they know the helmets fit properly? I’m going to ring the shop before we go to warn them two pinheaded little women are coming. Don’t want to go all that way for nothing.

The last couple of days I’ve had a problem with another bird – smaller bird but bigger problem. There’s a young Blue Tit that has taken to flying at one of the kitchen windows. I’ve tried waving and shouting to chase it away but it’s back five minutes later. I’ve tried drawing the curtains but this didn’t work for more than a day. Jacqui painted a decal to fix inside the glass and now it goes off to one side. Has anyone got any suggestions? We have no idea why it keeps doing this and it’s going to be more concussed than a rugby prop soon. All suggestions gratefully received.

Although it is spring again it is actually colder at night than in winter. I noticed in late autumn the ground frosted and standing water froze solid. The same is happening now despite the warmer days. There was no freezing and very little frost through the winter up here. Maybe it is to do with the clear skies. When I let the dogs out at night the stars are bright and hard and the moon is sharp. In winter there were clouds, lots of clouds. Still, it doesn’t stop me standing to gaze up for a few minutes.

The skies are beautiful here.

This has been a very eventful few weeks.

This has been a very eventful few weeks, and not just because of the weather. That has had quite an impact, of course. In fact looking back I’m surprised we did much at all. After a bright and relatively warm January, February arrived determined to live up to its reputation. The first few days were not too bad however – a bit showery and blustery but fairly decent and we began by travelling hopefully.

First up was a trip to the local hospital for my long awaited physiotherapy appointment. The physio was very good, extremely helpful and gave me some exercises to do at home. He also furnished me with a pulley stretcher to go over a door. This looks a bit like some dubious item of torture but actually helps develop and stretch the shoulder muscles. Jacqui helped me fit it over the door and all I have to do is remember to use it every day. No frozen shoulders for me! That was the good news. The bad news was he was leaving the department and there is, so far, no replacement. Glad I sneaked in before he left.

On Tuesday the pump man, Tom, called to look at the water pump. It is fine apparently. The problem is the controller that doesn’t regulate it properly and so is burning up electricity needlessly. He’s coming back to do the moving and upgrading soon – and here the sequencing comes in. My Achilles heel. Well, one of them anyway. First we need to clear the Majestic ready for the installation. Then Eddie has to fit the new solar system and then, on the same day, Tom will relocate the pressure vessel and pipes and Eddie will do the wiring. There’s some extra paperwork to do that needs to be cleared first so we are waiting on that, and still running on the mains at present.

Matching red mopeds!

Wednesday was a real trip out, to Galway. I’ve been looking at mopeds for a while – a quick and easy way to get to the shops or for a fun run out. A man in Galway was advertising a novel Valentine’s Day gift. Matching mopeds – we could have one each! It was an interesting drive as the two counties are very different. Galway has much smaller fields, divided into narrow strips by rough stone walls. It is, as one friend said, almost Medieval. It used to be the poorest of the counties and a lot of money has gone into it recently. There’s evidence of new building and development but it still looks a bit ragged around the edges. The people are just as nice however. And the mopeds we chose are lovely. 20 years old, bright red Jailings – no pedals, 2 stroke engines and perfect for summer days.

And then the rain came. The next Tuesday we finally got a bin. Oh joy! There will be one big clearance next week and then the bin will be emptied every 6 to 8 weeks. We’ve cut down on our rubbish quite dramatically with recycling, composting and using the cardboard with weed mat to clear the land so this time frame should work for us. We woke the next day to gale force winds and the bin blown over, wedged in the gate. That was Storm Dudley – torrential rain, high winds and cold! Not as cold as we were last year but still pretty chilly. We did a dash into town for a big shop in case things got worse and headed home to “batten down the hatches”. I’m glad we did.

Snow on the windows – most unusual

No sooner had Dudley left than Storm Eunice arrived. She was the big one with ridiculous winds, hail, sleet, and even some snow. We were surprised and impressed that the power stayed on though we took the usual precautions – filled flasks and a big water bottle, torches and lanterns charged and our camping stove to hand. We are learning from experience. Then, this morning the third storm in five days hit – Storm Franklin. We are getting a bit waterlogged now and are very glad we had the overhanging trees lopped before Christmas. I wouldn’t have given much for the roof of the Majestic in all this. I got out another jigsaw but I think I’ve possibly overestimated my abilities with this one. It’s a monster!

Impossible image – Impossible puzzle

So there we are – a very eventful few weeks. We get the mopeds next week. They needed a bit of work but are now ready for collection. There should be room in the shed for them by then, unless we get yet another storm. No one’s coming up the lane in this weather unless they live here so fingers crossed for a few clear days. And Monday was Valentine’s Day of course. I went to An Post to get some stamps and came back with a book of special issues. Foolishly I didn’t look at them first. Now I’ve got ten stamps, all of them pink stripy hearts. I’m not sure about using them for the bank, or the solicitor. It might give them entirely the wrong impression. Maybe I’ll cut my losses and get some ordinary ones. What do you think?

Ten of them – good grief…