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Posts tagged ‘wood’

New Year, same old problems

Firstly apologies for the late blog entry. This was due to another spell of drain trouble – “second verse, same as the first”. The fatberg broke down a little when I was removing it and some got washed back into the kitchen outlet. This meant all the washing up water flooded over the back patio, much to the delight of the dogs.

I managed to clear that pipe but there are still serious issues with the main drain, way beyond my abilities even if I hadn’t damaged my shoulders again. It’s a job for the (probably expensive) professionals I fear but there’s the same old problem. Everyone is frantically busy and still no one answers their phone! I have refrained from supplying any more detail or adding photographs in deference to my readers’ sensibilities. Enough to say my nice new overalls (which make me look like a Hobbit) are in need of a boil wash.

We are about to try switching the water pump over to the solar panels any day now. It has been cold, frosty on occasions, but bright and dry so the batteries are full and ready to go. I still have little confidence in the wiring to the final phase of the pump out in the little shed, the one section not redone by our excellent electrician. As a precaution I got some spare fuses, much to the bemusement of the lads in the electrical factors. They were obviously not used to an older, white-haired woman requesting C16 and B16 fuse blocks. I thought they were going to refuse to serve me for a minute so reassured them I knew what I was doing and how to fit them. Fingers crossed!

The electrical shop is just next door to the furniture store and we finally got the chance to pop in to look around. Those of you following the journey from the start may remember the idiot movers. Not content with damaging items and throwing it all into storage they left behind a lot of stuff. Some we can replace or do without. Some cannot be replaced – Jacqui’s sketch books, all packed and labelled are missing. That really hurts as it had the original photos and source material too.

At last, a decent work surface!

I have mourned my big desk – a table 3 foot by 5 foot I used for writing. I’ve tried to work in a small Ikea bench but couldn’t manage it. Well, the shop had another small dining table. Same size, a bit higher but reduced as it had been on display. It’s up in my new room and I’m writing again. Strange what a difference a piece of furniture makes but the surface area is so important. I can have research notes to hand and spread out the maps I need without everything cascading to the floor. That made my day.

It was a bit of a difficult week last week as a long awaited hospital visit was cancelled with a little notice. We wanted a medication review as we always read the leaflets and several of the pills Jacqui was on were supposed to be short term. Some have strong contraindications with others and some seem to be doubling up on one job. To our surprise we got an appointment to see our GP the next day and had a very constructive talk with him. Now we are hoping the main appointment, with the Cardiology professor, goes ahead.

A lot of out patient departments are closed still, due to Covid. I have my referral for physiotherapy but nothing else for a while – so no more drain clearing for me. Instead I am indulging in some gentle stretching exercises – across my lovely new jigsaw puzzle board. Be impressed – be very impressed.

750 devilish pieces

We are lucky enough to live next door to a horticulturist (yes, we do have one house within waving distance) and Des has been back and cleared the path around the wood. At last we can go right round without breaking an ankle. We can get at all the trees in the new part too. I did notice there are several other “paths” crossing the wood, animal tracks worn into the grass. The most trodden path runs back to the road side and I was startled to see something has dug up the fatberg and scattered it around. Well, if it doesn’t poison them it will provide some winter nourishment I guess. It’s all a sort of recycling.

Things are getting done now, still slowly but the end is in sight. Our joiner will fit the doors in the grooming room this week. We’ve arranged for the electrician to put the timer on the boiler and earth everything. No more scurrying through first thing to put the heating on! We really want the new sink working but there’s still a lot of plumbing to be done. The poor dogs have been brushed and mopped off but not had a proper bath for a whole year. I think even Charlie, who hates a bath, is getting a bit fed up. We’ve also got a new washbasin waiting (no more wobbly taps!) and a tap for the kitchen that won’t go off after 30 seconds. Luxury.

So that’s us. A slice of our Irish Life. Enjoy your mains drainage, water and gas! Oh, and your bin collection. Life is certainly different here.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose…

Life is a series of ups and downs and the best we can hope for is it evens out in the end. Take this last week for example. A lot has been going on and there were mixed results. Some we won, some we lost and at least one outcome managed to be both at the same time. It is no wonder we are just plain worn out!

After a lot of delays due to problems sourcing materials, illness and waiting for something else to be done first we suddenly found ourselves with three sets of workmen. They were all in different areas, which made dog wrangling a bit difficult, especially Charlie who went into full hyper-vigilant mode. After threatening him with lavender oil and finally applying a few drops on the back of his neck he subsided. The rest of the day he sulked on the couch, muttering occasionally and wiping his nose on the cushions. Meanwhile our long held plans were coming to fruition.

Solar panels at last!

Eddy arrived with two hefty lads and fitted our solar panels for the water supply. On the other side of the Majestic wall are the batteries, controls, fuses and dials. I’m not saying it is about as complex as the control panel for Concorde but it does probably rival a Sopwith Camel. He left the grid running to let the batteries charge up as it is very grey and overcast at present. Then on Saturday he came back and switched it over, leaving the mains feed as an emergency option.

Alas, this morning I woke to find we had no water and hurried out to the Majestic, a vision in Crocs and a yellow dressing gown. Hurrah for living in an isolated area! I saw the whole system was off and the fuse to the pump had blown so I had to call him out (after getting dressed). Eddy replaced the fuse with a new one and hopefully it will be fine now. Certainly we have water again though I keep checking the box indoors just in case. So – win, lose or both?

Hollowed out wood

Fergus our tree man returned to remove the dangerous tree in the wood and safeguard the oaks which he did with his usual skill. Then he and Tom set to and removed a lot of the dying ash trees. Many of the smaller saplings turned out to be Poplar, a non-native plant in Ireland. They self seed, grow extremely fast and have shallow roots so can destroy a wood if left. They were all removed and chipped ready for new planting. Now we can actually walk around the wood and get to the remaining trees. At the back is a whole ecosystem with dozens of birds’ nests that we are leaving. This is their home too. Next year we will begin replanting and try to make it healthy and beautiful. But the wood looks so bare and empty at the moment. Win, lose or both?

A proper room now!

The third step forwards was the welcome arrival of Dom, our joiner. He laid the floor in the new room, a waterproof laminate in anticipation of dog washing. He then built the frames for the sink and presses and managed to get the sink from Cork in place. It is extremely heavy and we were most impressed. He even fitted out some much-needed extra storage in the utility room. As a grand finale he moved the dryer in and fitted the condensing hose through the wall.

That is such a boon for us in the winter. No more draping the hose inside and trying to catch the water. No more steamed up rooms and condensation on windows. Bliss. We are now waiting for the doors to finish it off, probably in the New Year. Aidan, our plumber, has Covid so we can’t get the sink and washing machine fitted out yet. We wish him a full recovery and look forward to seeing him next month. So, mainly win and a bit of lose I think.

Well, it is a year round now and we are a few days away from the first glimpse we had of this lovely house. Like termites we have burrowed our way into it and are making it our own. Some changes are big, some very small but every step helps us feel more at home now. I will take this opportunity to send all good wishes to you all. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts this year. May the next year be a good one for everyone.

Autumn comes early in Ireland – and an update

Having come from the North East of England we are used to relatively short summers but autumn seems to come early in Ireland.  After the blazing, uncomfortably hot days in the middle of summer it turned cooler.  This was most welcome, to be honest.  We were not properly set up for extreme weather and spent most of our efforts on keeping out the cold.  The lack of opening windows in some rooms coupled with the swarms of flies made for some very uncomfortable days.  We are removing the Leylandii trees soon as they seem to be the favoured home for many of the swarms.  We will also need to look at changing at least one of the windows in the kitchen/diner.  It is gloriously warm and sunny most days, just a bit too hot in summer.

Little Traitors!

I spotted the first signs of autumn weeks ago when I let the dogs out into the garden.  The wires and posts behind the house were lined up with birds all chattering merrily and pointing eastwards.  Their numbers increased steadily for days, swifts on one line, starlings on another (no-one wants to mix with the starlings it seems).  Then just as suddenly they were gone, the little traitors.  The bird feeder was very quiet for a week or so before new birds began to arrive.  Looking back, the emigrating birds had eaten a ridiculous amount over two weeks.  I was refilling the feeders and fat balls every day so I hope they all get there safely.

Still, at least they know where they are going for the winter which is more than can be said for the geese over the back.  Every evening a flock of about 40 birds fly over the house, calling and swooping low.  Then the next morning they are back, all the way from the lake about 6 kilometres away.  Apparently they arrived about ten years ago and lost the leader who knew the way.  After flapping around lost for several weeks they settled into this routine and have been here ever since, spending the days in the field and small pond across the road from us.

Death Row – all marked for cutting, alas

One of the sad things I’ve had to do this week is make some decisions about the wood.  As the leaves turn brown and fall I cannot put off deciding which trees are dead or dying.  Leave it any longer and they’ll all be bare so it was out with a spray can yesterday.  There is one double row of trees, mainly ash, that are all either dead or badly diseased.  Some never came into leaf.  Others put out a few sprouts but have black spots and splitting bark.  I struggled through the deep undergrowth, marking these with pink spots.  A whole slice of the wood will need to be removed, burned and replaced.  Our very own “Death Row”.  I hate to cut any of them but it is better to have 75 healthy trees then 150 crowded, sickly specimens.

I guess an explanation is in order over last week’s missing episode.  Jacqui had a couple of breathless episodes during the week but we thought she’d just overdone things.  It was a busy time despite our efforts with four days of builders and several runs into town.  On Saturday we went in to get our ‘flu jabs and our doctor decided she should go back to A&E to be checked over, just in case.  Back to Limerick – oh joy.  And on a Saturday too.  Believe me, A&E on a Saturday is not the place you want to be.  We were a bit more prepared having gone back home to pack a bag in case she was admitted and she was – at 2.30 on Sunday morning. 

I finally left as darkness fell and drove home, not knowing what was happening.  Our wonderful friend Sharon had gone up to the house to let out the dogs and check they were alright but I couldn’t leave them any longer.  Driving in rural Ireland at night is an experience, for sure.  It is completely dark as there is no lighting outside the towns and no houses for miles.  There are also no lines on the roads let alone cats eyes – the roads are too narrow for two cars to pass anyway.  I was so tired and stressed I missed the turning onto our track and had a horrible moment of panic.  Was I lost?  Had I any idea how to get home? 

I did get back, of course.  Driving around the lanes in daylight I’d mused on the number of houses with traffic cones beside the walls, or white rocks or brightly coloured barrels.  Now I know why.  Next time I’m out I’m nicking a cone from somewhere – or white washing a couple of decent sized rocks.

I got Jacqui back on Wednesday after sterling work from the hospital.  She will need to take things very easy for a while but we hope she is now properly on the mend.  I was in a bit of a state last weekend, wondering what was going to happen and unsure what I could write.  I am just so happy I can offer this positive outcome.  Now we will settle down, enjoy a calmer few weeks and look to a better end to our first year in Ireland.  It has been quite an adventure.