Wildlife rescue, new friends and a different way of life

Last time I wrote about Pip and Squeak, the two tiny bats we found in our bathroom. Well, despite our best efforts we found another a few days later. We called him Wilfred. (I suspect you need to be British and over 60 to understand this by the way). Well, Wilfred was also rescued, placed in the pile of twigs and covered with a box to recover and he also flew away that evening.

I was considering getting us “Bat Rescue” t-shirts when Charlie, our youngest dog started clawing at some planks in the garden. Chasing him off, I saw the tail of a mouse jammed into a crack. When I moved the wood away I saw not a mouse but a little vole. It was actually shaking from fear but recovered enough to turn and dash for the safety of a wooden flower tub, not needing any more help from us. Charlie was furious, even more so when the next night he chased the smallest frog I’ve ever seen. It was the size of a fingernail, a lovely brown and cream colour and after I intervened it hopped into the drain and escaped too. Maybe I should get “Wildlife Rescue” shirts instead.

We took a trip to Cloughjordan last week to visit the Courtyard Nursery. Run by Sean, this is a lovely place and Sean is very helpful and knowledgeable. We met up with Lorraine and Andy, new friends who arrived about 18 months ago, and enjoyed an excellent talk in the courtyard along with refreshments from the little coffee bar. We left with a honeysuckle plant for Betsy’s Garden, some glorious yellow and red pot plants and a pocket full of advice. Andy has set up a maintenance business for garden machinery and just a few days later we had to call him for help.

Jacqui had been doing an excellent job mowing the orchard when the mower died on us. We realized it was probably out of petrol so I collected the spare fuel but – we couldn’t get the cap off the tank. It’s always a bit of a struggle but this time it defied all our efforts, including the mole grips. We managed to move the mover into the trees at the side and called Andy for advice. Although it was Sunday they both came over and Andy managed to open the tank. We’d run it down to nothing and in the (remarkable) few hot days the last few drops had evaporated causing a vacuum in the pipe. I cannot say how grateful we were for their help and promise this will never happen again!

After all the excitement of last month I find myself rather tired. Very tired actually. There is a lot to do around the place and sometimes it is hard to remember everything or work out how to do some things. Most of us grow up with the routine of our parents around us and the running of a house becomes familiar. We learn what needs to be done by watching and often by joining in as we grow older. When we move away and set up our own home we carry much of this knowledge with us along with the routines, impressed into our subconscious, and transfer them into our own lives. This is partly why hoarders often have hoarding parents – or react so strongly against the clutter they own virtually nothing.
Moving to a new country, many things are different. Do not make the mistake of thinking Ireland is just England with a funny accent. It isn’t. It is very different in the social, political and economic sense. Some things remain the same – the washing still needs to be done, hoovering is still necessary and the dogs certainly need to be fed. However, the food for the dogs now requires a 40 kilometre round trip to the shops. All the shopping, apart from a few staples, need planning and a trip to the main town. We are now getting better at combining tasks – trip to the recycling centre, pick up pills at the vet, pop into the bank and then shop. It’s taken a while but we have cut our trips down from many days to once a week most months.

There are some new jobs we never had to even consider before moving here. Watering the new saplings in the wood and orchard? Mowing the orchard and the paths around the wood? Even cutting grass is new as we had a tiny (concrete) yard rather than a garden. The water softener needs salt every week and the solar system and water meters are logged every evening. After a storm we need to check no trees have come down, especially over the road. And there is the dreaded grease trap that needs regular cleaning. We have a second sink for anything remotely oily as it bypasses the system but still the trap builds up. There’s the composting to keep up with and the wildlife – more wildlife, most of it very welcome.

Jacqui is of the opinion that now, as we are more settled, all the stress and effort we put in for the move and the time afterwards, has finally caught up with us. We are more comfortable in the house, we’ve made good progress with much of the land and we understand life here better. There’s a new rhythm developing and many things are more predictable, or at least easier to deal with. Time to kick back a little maybe. Time to stop and relax a bit more. This is a very lovely place so now we can take a bit more time to enjoy it.

But in the meantime I will be getting ready for my first public appearance as a writer in Ireland. I will be signing books at the North Tipperary Agricultural Show in Nenagh Showground on Monday 5th August. More on that to follow but if you are attending do come over and say hello!