You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Moving’ category.

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)

Advertisements

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:

Image

I was chatting with someone recently about my move here, and they asked whether I had any advice for others doing the same. As you know, this blog is full of my missteps, moanings and general experience of getting permission to relocate, finally moving, and then being here in the reality of it. There are lots of things I could say, and probably should. Important things, like: get Skype and use it, you will need connection with friends and family back home; bring sentimental items to put around your new house, those familiar things will be a life saver; this new adventure will put stress on your relationship, be gentle with each other; simple things will suddenly feel strange, it’s ok, that is normal; enlist a friend or family member to send you items from home, sometimes Texas BBQ sauce is like mana from heaven; and get to know your neighbors.

That’s what I really want to write about; neighbors. I did not experience this near Dublin, but out here in the country people want to know who you are. I don’t blame them. Most everyone on my lane grew-up here, so when we moved-in we were both novelty and potential trouble. (maybe that’s my Texas attitude showing) Regardless, if you move to a country area introduce yourself to your neighbors.

The folks on our lane are big walkers (and who wouldn’t be with heaven outside your front door!), so we try to get out and walk every day. This was a great way to meet people at first. If folks in your area don’t walk much, or you just don’t see them, stop in to them, introduce yourself and invite them around for tea. (they may decline, but the effort will be appreciated) Set a day and time that is convenient for them, and then make sure you have the following on hand:

black tea
tea pot
mugs
sugar
milk
assorted little sandwiches
cookies
fruit bread

Our neighbors invited us around for tea when we moved in, and the lady of the house instructed me on how to provide “Irish tea”! She had wedges of chicken, cheese, ham, and egg salad sandwiches, as well as a variety of cookies, little cakes, and some sliced fruit bread (barmbrack). We set the time for rather late at 8pm, but they didn’t seem to mind. We brought a bottle of wine as a gift, and we all shared a glass first before being taken into the kitchen to have tea and food.

You might also consider exchanging numbers with the neighbors, and offering to keep an eye on their place if they are away, etc. Again, they may decline and have loads of family around, but the effort will be appreciated. Another thing I like to do is ask questions about the area, its history and the story of those living there. I think most people appreciate being asked about their stories, and Ireland, especially, has a long history, full of beautiful and heart-wrenching tales.

Finally, shop local. A wonderful ‘auld guy down the lane fixes tires on the side. We make a point of using his services when we need anything like that done. Likewise, we buy all our sausage, ham, and bacon from the superb organic, free-range farm across the valley (another shout-out to Woodside Farm). I also found a woman doing hair from her house in the village next to ours, so I go to her now. I recently heard of a seamstress in our own village, but haven’t given her a ring yet. All this to say, get involved in the community where you are.

And enjoy yourself! No place is like home, but every place has its wonders. Discover what the wonders of your new place are, and remember…… You are so lucky to have this opportunity. Soak it up!

20120912-161014.jpg

I often wish my current Self could have had a little chat with my past Self before I moved. Today I was thinking about one of those important topics my past Self should have been made aware of. But since I can’t go back in time, I am sharing it here with you in the hopes someone will find it helpful.

Don’t expect to hit the ground running. You won’t. Ok, there are always exceptions, but generally speaking it takes 1-2 years (*) to acclimate to a new culture, no matter how familiar that culture is (my fatal flaw: thinking that because I had visited Ireland so often, spoke the dominant language, and knew..oh so much about its history, that I would jump in with both feet and need no life vest). You may be one of those beautiful exceptions but be prepared, and know that feeling culture shock is NORMAL. So be gentle with yourself. Even brave adventurers who take the leap and move abroad need TLC.

It has been two years for me and I only now feel acclimated.

Let me reiterate some of the small and seeming insignificant areas I experienced culture shock when I first moved here:

  • Nobody else sounds like me!
  • If I open my mouth, everyone will stare at me because I sound / look / act differently.
  • I don’t understand that social cue. What am I suppose to do / say?
  • Where do I stand at the check-out?
  • How do I stand in line at the post office?
  • What type of jobs are here? Do they do those jobs differently than back home?
  • Where do I buy white vinegar…crazy glue…a hand-held peeler…[fill in the blank]?

This list is not exhaustive, but the items represent the relevant point I want to make, and which is imperative for you to consider if you are planning a move abroad. At some point, you will feel out of your element ,and potentially silly, frustrated, disenchanted, stupid, and disgruntled. The whole endeavor may seem like a horrible mistake, a bad idea, and you may declare to yourself and your friends, “What WAS I thinking!?”

Take heart, in all likelihood you will move through this stage, and if you don’t, it is OK to have an exit strategy. Going home, hopefully, is an option. Culture is culture, and in the same way not every State in the US is a good fit socially, ethically, or geographically, for my personal tastes and interests, so too every other country out there. (Also, each country contains regional differences just like back home. Maybe this county or provence isn’t right for you, but the one next door is.)

I came across this table today and liked it enough to save the image, though I don’t remember where I found it. (If you made this table, please know I wish to give you credit.) It’s a great reminder that culture shock happens, even to the best prepared.
*
“In many cases, it takes at least a year to acclimate to a new country.”

20120904-204245.jpg

We moved. But most of you know that by now.

Moving seems different here than it does in the States. For starters, rented dwellings come furnished: plates, beds, curtains, chairs, cleaning supplies. All these are scattered about rental properties and most of them are of low quality. Since He leased his own house to a young couple, all his furniture was left behind (including the leather sofa he nearly wept over). I was less than impressed with the furnishings we were seeing, until the Pink House outside of Bandon.

I really loved that house. It was only 7 kilometers outside of town, had a lovely big kitchen with Belfast sink, solid wood dresser in the kitchen, claw foot tub, big oak sleigh bed in the master, nice wood floors, open fireplace, exposed rock work…but alas, there was NO broadband. We rang every company offering service in the area, the estate agent (they aren’t realtors over here) rang around too, but no joy (that means, no luck). I was crushed. I really liked the look of Bandon and the only other house we saw that felt good was smack dab in town, which I wasn’t too keen on (after spending all these months in purgatory I couldn’t bear the thought of more car noises).

We weren’t sure what to do. Should we stay in temporary accommodation longer and hope something came on the market? Should we look in other parts of the county? Should we just take a short term lease somewhere we didn’t really like? That’s when he spotted it.

He was browsing, like he does, and happened to find something near Midleton. Where the heck is Midleton?? He had to practically drag me to look at it. I was pouty about it not being in Bandon and almost didn’t go. We visited Midleton first, to get a feel for the place, and again, I was bound and determined to find fault. It’s too modern, there is a big shopping center, there isn’t any public art, there is only one street in the old town centre (you can see what my attitude was like).

He patiently put up with me and we drove out to find the house. “Turn right between the pub and the school. Keep going. Up the hill you will see my car. It’s black.”, were the directions. Down the road, past the pub, up the hill, kept going…. kept going…passed a graveyard…kept going. WHERE IS THE BLACK CAR? Turn around, back down, knock at the first house with a black car (it was attached to the pub). “sorry, no, this isn’t Aoife. OH, THAT house! It’s up the hill, keep going, and on the left….AFTER the cemetery.”

We did. And…OH, MY! It was gorgeous!! I had been instructed to keep a poker face and not let on if I decided I liked it (he wanted to negotiate on rent). OH, MY! 300 year old farm house. Four gardens. Old wood floors. Belfast sink. Lovely furnishings. Big wood table. Wine rack. Stand alone tub that looks out onto the setting sun! Wood stove. One raised garden that gets FULL SUN! A For Real Registered on the OS Map STANDING STONE! Outbuildings. An iron age ring fort in the back pasture!! (that’s a Fairy circle, it is) I was in LOVE! …. and had to keep a poker face.

“Well. Think about it lads and give me a ring later”, she said.

I was beside myself. I wanted this house. The views from the house were stunning. The laneway peaceful and quiet and litter free (remind me to tell you about the litter issue sometime). And a train station, with regular service into Cork and Dublin was just down the road in Midleton!!

Now, I meant to start this post by sharing how our actual move went. Because we were only (ONLY) taking my clothes, his clothes, bits and bobs, my antique dressing table, the exercise bike, artwork, TV, stereo, and other non-furniture household items, we figured it would easily fit into a mid sized commercial van, which he could drive down to Cork while I followed in the car. HA! We completely filled the van with just the non-furniture, furniture! So, we rented a small self-storage unit in Dublin for a week. Then we came back to the house to load up the van with the other non-furniture stuff, clean the place, hand over the keys to his tenants by NOON, and then drive to Cork where we rented a second self-storage unit. Are we crazy yet?

All of this …. and we didn’t even have a house in Cork! (we did have temporary accommodation in the city, which consisted of a rented room in a house full of Italians! that’s another story) We were flying by the seat of our pants, and it was FUN!

Now, we are moved in….to the 300 year-old farmhouse and I have to pinch myself that it’s real. I went for a run this morning…my first in our new house… and as I eased into my rhythm under the warm summer sun, I thought, “I’m out for a morning jog on a tiny laneway in rural Ireland, and I LIVE HERE!” That’s when I looked over the low hedge to my right.

This is what I saw.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 458 other followers

Follow me on Facebook

Donegal

Categories

Ireland and Back on Flickr

Twitter Updates

Y’all come back, ya hear!