The Arrival

The journey took 4 hours. 4 hours with your heart in your mouth is a long time. I was following behind watching a wonky wheel and praying (to dad) it wouldn’t come off. The sun came out and at one stage beyond Bray I smelled burning. I rang my son. “Pull over, I smell burning.” The reply, “what are you on about you crazy woman? Now hang up I’m trying to listen to the rugby” or whatever. He also killed me for making him answer the phone while he was driving. A few miles down the road he indicates and pulls in. I come screeching in after him. “What’s wrong?”. “Nothing, I need a pee”…………

But at least I got a look at the pigs and they were fine, Honky was lying down and the other two were looking out wondering what the hell was going on.

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My view for 4 hours………

This photo was taken on the M3 on a bank holiday weekend. As Conor Faughnan of AA Roadwatch once said “you can play hockey on it.” Further on the traffic was horrendous with long tailbacks into Ferns and Enniscorthy. As we rolled through Ferns a woman came out of her house walking a spaniel. Honky had her snout stuck out the side and grunted at her. The poor woman almost had a heart attack. I was watching behind laughing.

We inched along all the way to Wexford and at the Duncannon roundabout there was an accident. Of course there was, it was the bank holiday and we had already been stuck in what seemed like hours of traffic. Luckily it was only slowing down the Rosslare traffic and we were able to turn out THE most hateful road on the planet – The New Line road. It took me a few weeks to learn that this was what it was called, but I hated it long before I knew. It’s a narrow straight two lane road with an 80km limit and those sneaky bastard speed vans parked intermittently along it. If you get stuck┬ábehind some plonker that decides he will drive well below the 80km speed limit, you are that word that rhymes with ducked.

Towards the end of the road my son obviously got fed up and put the boot down. I could see the trailer hurtling along behind and was convinced that a wheel would spin off. Eventually we got to my place and he backed into the field. We opened the ramp and the pigs staggered down. One or more had been sick (who knew pigs got travel sick?) probably towards the end when he speeded up.

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Checking out their new accommodation

I immediately got their food and put straw in the small sheds in the picture above. They were quite happy to be out of the trailer and were exploring. Later I went out to check them and they had completely ignored my efforts to make them comfortable and had moved themselves into the big hay shed around the corner. So I had to drag all the straw out and move it into them.

We unloaded the poultry and fed and watered them. Let the cats into the house and he announced he was going to drive back. I couldn’t believe it. It was almost 6pm and was getting dark and we had had nothing to eat. I persuaded him to come up to The Hollow and get something to eat first. He did and then drove back up to Meath.

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A very welcome plate of food and a glass of wine after a long day

I crawled into bed that night and passed out.

The Discovery

I remember it vividly. I had got up early, fed the pigs, the poultry, washed Johnny’s shirt, washed Packie’s, washed the floor, fed the ducks, the geese and the goslings…….(only joking, my mother used say a version of this.)

I sat down on the bed feeling dejected and picked up the laptop to go through every damn page on Daft.ie (My Home had virtually all the same listings). I trawled through 18 pages. I had accidentally forgotten to put in a price “ceiling”. And on page 18 I found my house. I rang my brother in a state shouting “I’ve found my house”. He told me to send him the link. I was shouting “just Google The Paddocks ffs”. I got up and danced a jig around the bed.

My joy was short lived. My phone rang. My brother said “have you lost your mind?”. He then proceeded to lecture me I was buying a builder’s bill. I said ” what are you on about, this place is newly renovated?” He was looking at the original advert which the estate agent had never removed. I sent him the link.

img_8928For some reason he couldn’t view it so I went to see it with my friend. We had met the estate agent in Enniscorthy to view another property. He struck me as a man I could do business with. The first house was no good so we followed him to see “my house”. As soon as I stepped out of the car I knew it was mine. I took off out into the field to look at the outbuildings. The estate agent turned around to my friend as he had the key in the door “where is she?” My friend said “out looking at pig accommodation, don’t mind her: I’ll view the house.”

We drove home later in silence. After a while I said quietly “what do you think?” Not wanting to hear. Up to this she had rained on my every parade. She didn’t answer for a while. The sky was getting darker and it looked like there was a major storm brewing. Marvellous, I thought.

 

The Search

In total I viewed 10 properties, some of them twice. I lost Rose Cottage and I grew to regret I hadn’t offered more and took a chance I would be able to buy land beside it.

Another place I found was full of charm, character and had amazing outbuildings and land across the road but it was a builder’s bill and a half. A friend told me to find a builder to hook up with like someone she knew had done. In truth it would be the only way to renovate this place. The estate agent was the double Basil Fawlty but on my first viewing it was his colleague who showed us around, all the time proclaiming he didn’t really know much about the property. On the second viewing the boss arrived in a sports car wearing chinos and a sports jacket slung casually over his shoulder. From the outset my friend took a set against him. He announced that the property we had viewed as one entire unit was now to be effectively split in half for the same money. This meant basically that the out buildings and the hay shed weren’t included in the sale nor was artists studio above the main outbuilding. The driveway entrance would be split in two so you would in effect be living in a semi-d in the countryside. When I pointed this out to him he was not impressed and told me to go away and stop wasting his time.

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Another fabulous place and maybe half a builder’s bill in comparison to the previous was situated above the Enniscorthy bypass which they were in the midst of building. There was a field sloping down to the building site separating the property where big trucks and diggers were in operation. This estate agent immediately told me that he wished that it was completed as then potential buyers could see what living beside a motorway would sound like. I loved the place so much I once again felt my heart overruling my head. I organised another viewing with my friend and her builder husband who had some of their property CPO’d to build the M11 at Ashford and know all about living with motorway noise. They agreed with me that the place was fabulous but pointed out it had been for sale for years and as we stood in hot sun in the courtyard at the front of the house surrounded by fabulous outbuildings my heart broke. I knew they were right but I wished they weren’t.

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Later that evening when we sat around after a BBQ they talked sense into me. You really do need good friends around to advise you when you are buying a house.

I got a bit deflated after this to be honest and went back viewing other places with a heavy heart knowing they really weren’t what I was after. I’ve heard it said that when you find your house you know as soon as you set foot in it. Equally when you don’t you know before you get out of the car. Several I walked in the front door, did an about turn and walked back out.

I really needed to find a place with outbuildings for the pigs and the poultry and any places I viewed after this had a house and barely enough land, so I was looking at the prospect of leaving the animals behind until I got something built for them. Also as it was getting on towards the end of summer fewer and fewer new properties were coming on the market. I seemed to be endlessly viewing the same properties over and over. Groundhog Day.