As we wait for jobs to be completed we have been making good use of our time. We hoped to get the grass cut using the mower but, alas, it refused to start. After calling the mechanics (“Will be up to you, soonish”) we picked away at the grass and weeds. Jacqui wielded the strimmer and I cut back some of the ever growing thistles and nettles. I have also been weeding the wild flower bed, removing the corn and we have been rewarded with a growing number of poppies. Definitely a good use of our time.
As the nearest large(ish) town is about 15 miles away we tend to do several things on one trip. Shopping, of course, and trips to the recycling centre. Sometimes we combine the bank, the fishmonger and the doctor – though not necessarily in that order. This week we finally got around to joining the library, taking a set of my books as a gift.
I have to say how impressed I am with the public library system in Ireland. The staff were extremely welcoming, joining was a doddle as I had my Irish driving license with me and the range of services astounded me. First off I can borrow up to twelve books for three weeks. There are no fines for late returns though they do send increasingly sad texts as a reminder. Then I learned I could use any library in the Republic with my card. Away on holiday somewhere? No problem. Just borrow some books and if you’ve not finished you can return them to any library on your return home. Wow.
The other services are equally impressive. I can request any book from any library from the catalogue and collect it from the branch of your choice. I sometimes used the inter-library loan scheme in the UK but with little success. The wait was often very long and frequently the books never arrived. Here it is a truly joined-up service and now my books are available to every reader in Ireland!
That’s not all. I can remote borrow both e-books and audio books on my ticket using a pin number. I can also download and read newspapers from across the world and (if I ever wanted to) magazines. And it is all free! There were young people inside the new, light building, reading, taking notes and using the computers. There are special holiday groups covering story reading, writing and even Lego figures inspired by favourite books. There’s a volunteer group who visit housebound residents and deliver books or read to them. That is really what a library service should be.
Just around the corner from the library is a Primary school and driving past we spotted a beautiful wooden carving of two owls looking down into the playground. A lot of trees are lost in the high winds and rather than just chopping them down these have been transformed. As we drive around, exploring the little roads that radiate out from the town, we have seen some lovely things.
On the way home from shopping we have encountered a very old man who has planted the verges and hedgerows around his house. The result is beautiful – flowers, bushes and contrasting hedges run on both sides of the road. Whenever we see him we stop and exchange greetings. The first time we told him how much we liked his work. “Them’s kind words”” he said. Well, that is kind work he does, and certainly time well spent. As we drove past this week I thought of my father, a passionate and highly skilled gardener. I could see him doing something like that.
We are fighting a seemingly endless fight against the “sticky Willy” to the south and bindweed to the north of the house. Sticky Willy has crept (or blown) into Betsy’s Corner and we had to put scaffolding boards across the back to reach the overgrown parts at the back. They will suffocate some of the bigger plants, though we may lose a few bulbs too. Still, it is looking a lot better now. I need to keep on top of the problem as left for even a few days it is back again. A small amount of time spent on that can save a lot of weeding.
So we are moving forward despite the inevitable delays in getting stuff finished. We now have Irish number plates for the bikes though not crash helmets. Those necessitate a trip to Limerick, alas. We have all the meters and most of the infrastructure for the pump system safe in the Majestic and the meters are ticking away merrily. The guest room upstairs is finally taking shape and we still have time to read, to draw and to write. Our days are full but we feel more rested now after the last few frantic years. Above all we have more choices.
We are making good use of our time!