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Summer came to Ireland.  Sadly, I think it left already, but by golly it was here.  At least 3 – THREE – glorious weeks of SUN!  There were shorts, there were bathing suits, there was swimming.  People smiled, they joked, they were in fantastic form.  Ireland with a bit of sun is a country you want to live in!  No matter that it’s raining and chilly now…. there were THREE weeks of SUN!

And since we got our sun at home, no need to hop abroad for the rays.  Instead, we are visiting London for a week.  We leave Friday, and boy am I looking forward to exploring the city. I’ve never been to London proper.  In the past, I’ve only used its airport as a springboard to other destinations.  But now I get five days to sample what the famous city has to offer!

Chelsea

The Globe

Big Ben

House of Parliament

Hyde Park

Markets, food, drinks, music…….

[youtube http://youtu.be/EfK-WX2pa8c]

 

 

 

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You know those quaint stone cottages we all fall in love with, the ones that dot the Irish countryside (or used to), fueling our vision of romantic country living?  Well, I live in one of those.  It’s been sensitively modernized, but the interior retains the rough stone walls, now sealed with a coat of white…something.  I’m not sure what the ‘white something’ is: it could be whitewash (maybe), it could be paint, it could be a substance I have no inkling of.

The sitting room has a wood stove.  Wood stoves are a god send during the winter – or any time of year here in Ireland!  Once those stones heat up, they radiate out delightful warmth for many hours.  There is a down side though.  If you know anything about wood stoves, you know they occasionally belch smoke.  Smoke and the ‘white something’ do no play well together. In fact, if they spend significant amounts of time together, the stone walls eventually look like this: photo 4 (3)

Not sure how visible the soot is, but trust me -these stones look pathetic!

Having never lived in a stone house, or in a climate where treating ‘damp’ is a yearly occurrence (more on that later), I had no idea what to do.  Should we paint the walls?  Is there a special cleaner?  Do we pray?  Since I was not prepared to invest the considerable time and effort to paint these nook-and-cranny surfaces, I opted for cleaning.  I got myself a sturdy, deep bristle brush and a sudsy bucket of water; moved all the furniture to the centre of the room; put down several towels under my work area, and then let the elbow grease flow.

After 2 hours, I had this:

can you see the 'clean' line?

can you see the ‘clean’ line?

And after 4 hours, most of the walls looked like this:

photo 2 (6)

Which way to Enfield?  Left.  No….it’s Right.  Left, I say.  No….It’s Right!

Visitor Tip: If you are visiting Ireland, make sure you have a map: a real, old-fashioned map, and know how to use it!  Signs are not always accurate, and GPS (no matter how smart) doesn’t know all the roads (especially boreens).

Co. Kildare : road signs

Co. Kildare : road signs

 

We didn’t move; in fact, we may have narrowly escaped a fate worse than…. making a cuppa, then realising you are out of milk!  Yes, the townhouse overlooking the harbour in Crosshaven would have been lovely–especially on a sunny day!  But when you’ve signed a lease, paid your money, and started moving bits and bobs, only to arrive on ‘The Day’ to a padlocked front gate with a hand scribbled note saying, “Do not move into this house,” you begin to feel something isn’t right in the state of Denmark (or, was that fishy?).

And such was our mis-adventure in Crosshaven.

Seems the owner saw my listing on AirBnB — we rent our spare room to the occasional globetrotter– and didn’t like it.  So naturally, instead of ringing us like…I don’t know, a sane person, to either let us know she didn’t like it or ask us questions, she padlocked the gate.  Like you do.

There we sat in front of the house: a car-load full of stuff and  her scribbled note in hand. Himself rang her, to find out what, in the name of all that’s Green and Emerald-like, was going on.  She was paranoid, unable to communicate, belligerent, and (in the language of my Little big) Cray-Cray.

It was painful.  I personally can not recall a time I have been treated with so little regard or respect by a total stranger (only family is suppose to treat me that way…huh?).  We considered legal action, since she was in violation of the tenancy agreement of 28 day notice.  But I think it’s safe to say, Himself has decided against that course (hence, my freedom to finally write about it).  Instead, we collected our rent, deposit and the items we had already moved, and began to heal our wounds.

And wounds there were–it was a traumatic experience.  The owner’s behavior was abusive; it stripped us of our personal power.  But more than that, it was shaming.  We had been judged, and found wanting.  I saw this immediately, and calmly reminded us both that we had done nothing wrong.  By naming the experience, it helped us recover.  But it took days! Our hearts hurt, and we both found ourselves taken with a sense of violation.

Looking back, this woman’s behavior (when we initially viewed the property) did set-off warning bells.  At the time, I chalked them up to a bit of eccentricity (which I am fond of myself).  However, repeatedly asking whether someone is “sure” they aren’t friends with so-and-so, accompanied by a squinty, suspicious look, is more than a little impolite–it’s downright paranoid.  As is repeatedly telling prospective tenants you “don’t need to” rent your place–the implication being, you are not in need of their financial contribution and thus retain ALL personal power in the transaction.  Oh, had we headed the warning signs!

Ah, well.  We are now forced to spend the late spring and early summer in the glorious countryside, while flowers bud and bloom all around us.  Yes, tragic…I know.

528206_10151540323469166_1504651762_n (1)

We have decided to move.  The man of the house has struggled out here in the countryside almost from day one.  He is a townie, and this was his first foray into country living.  The house, which he admits is gorgeous, artistic, and utterly charming, is that little bit too far from amenities to suit him.  I grew-up in the country, so am well use to the distance and isolation.  In fact, this is the first time I’ve been able to live in the country again for years and I have loved every minute of it!

But, as I seem fated for movement, never settling in one place for long, I eventually consented.  He began house hunting while I was home for Christmas.  When I got back we drove out to the look at the one he found, and liked, in Crosshaven.

Crosshaven is a coastal town.  Situated about 20 minutes SE of Cork city, the village sits at the mouth of the Owenabue river and Cork harbour.  It’s a picturesque area, with a forested headland across the river. The village is also home to the Royal Cork Yacht Club, supposedly the oldest yacht club in the country, which means the sheltered coast is full of marinas and sail boats: very pretty to look at!

The house he found  (and we decided on) is a period mid-terrace townhouse right across from the water, on the main road.  Like most Irish rental properties it is “furnished”. What this means varies from place to place.  For instance, the place we are now was stylishly furnished, with tasteful decorations, and included cooking utensils and glassware   The new place is rather more typical — spartan and cold.  This is both bad and good.  Bad, because it will cost money to make it feel homey and comfortable; good, because I get to be a CONSUMER!

This afternoon we drove over to the estate agent (realtor) to sign the lease and pay the rent and deposit.  Just like back home, you typically pay first months rent and a deposit equal to a months rent.  In addition to the lease, we had to complete a form for the Private Residential Tenancies Board.  The PRTB is an organisation set up by the government to provide dispute resolution service for landlords and tenants.  All landlords are required to register their properties with the service.

We will start moving things over next weekend.  I’m sad to leave my little Irish cottage, but also looking forward to a new adventure.  Here’s a teaser of the view from our new front bedroom:

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