The Now

It’s almost mid-summer. I’m now here going on 8 months but I feel like I’m here so much longer. The feeling of unfamiliarity has almost gone. I had to ask initially where everything was. The feed supplier, hardware, recycle centre, health food shop, butcher (non-existent), the baker, the candlestick maker. I’m sure I drove my neighbour daft texting her, asking stuff. The drive home from Dublin, Meath and elsewhere is now familiar and I have reference points to know how much longer it will take. It’s very disconcerting in the beginning when you have no idea.

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The animals have all taken to it like ducks to water. Indeed the very first ducks were born here the other day. And hopefully in a week or so there will be chicks to join them. Will I breed pigs again? I’m tempted to but not with the present stock. I think the way to go is breed pure bred rare breeds. I’m waiting for my inspection for my new herd number. I didn’t realise the old one was related to Meath. The vet rang me last week and said they’ve a big backlog and he will be out towards the end of next week.

I have decided I will grow a few sheep next year because I have way too much grass. The end paddock is the biggest one and I didn’t use it in the winter and now the grass is waist height in it. My neighbour is cutting it every day but that day hasn’t actually arrived. Probably for dock and other weed control it would be an idea to stick a few goats on it but the thoughts of them escaping…………. Sheep don’t thrill me either apart from eating them. From listening to other sheep farmers they seem to have one aim only and that is to find ways to kill themselves.

Who knows what the future will bring? Would I do it all again? Definitely. I never loved Meath. When I moved there initially, I said “six weeks and I’m gone”. Not sure where to but I found it really backward and insular. We had moved home from living in England for 6 years with two small children. It drove me crazy how limited the shops were. I used drive to SuperQuinn in Blanchardstown once a week to do my grocery shopping and then later in Blackrock on my way home from visiting my parents and that was before the Clonee bypass never mind the motorway.

I suppose I gradually just got used to it but I do remember when the kids were small driving back after being in Wexford with them, how much I hated going back. There is an invisible line at Clonee where the weather changes. You leave Wexford or Dublin in glorious sunshine, hit that line and the sky darkens, without fail. When I was house hunting last summer it happened every single time. I would leave my house and the wind and rain and drive to Bray or Ashford depending on who was coming with me and the sun would come out. For the 10 houses I viewed (some of them twice) it only rained for two but it was grey and dreary on leaving, every single trip.

The locals laugh here when I tell them the weather is miles better in the sunny southeast. They don’t think it is, but they haven’t lived in Meath.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day and it’s the first without dad. In truth he hadn’t a clue what it was for quite a number of years. Dementia had robbed him of everything. We all wished him dead. Sounds an awful thing to say but to watch someone you love go through that dreadful illness is the worst form of torture for you and for them. If an animal had that poor a quality of life you would be accused of cruelty not to humanely end it. Humanely? We treat animals humanely. We treat people abominably.

I’m so glad I decided to write all this down before I forget, because at the back of my mind is the dread that dementia is genetic and I will go the same way. I hope if they can’t find a cure they at least find a way to put people out of their misery if they make a decision in advance that is what they wish.

For now, that’s the end of this chapter. But I’m sure there will be many more.

The Decision

It was made in a split second, the decision to move from where I had lived for 24 years. To this day I don’t know why, but all I can say it was the best move (in every sense) I ever made.

Instead of staying in the marital home after the divorce was finalised I found myself agreeing in my solicitor’s office to finding a place for me and all my animals in a limited amount of time. He suggested 6 weeks, I argued 3 months. I won.

And so the house hunting began.

I can tell you now that if you are looking for a place with character and a small bit of land; it’s a bit like looking for the perfect horse. The horse you are looking for hasn’t been born yet, nor has it’s mother!

You will find any amount of, as I referred to them “horrible houses”. Characterless, soul destroying bungalows plonked on sites with no consideration for the environment around them. Then you will find the “do er uppers” or a very big builder’s bill. In between, you will find small cottages that someone has tried to give “character” to and hasn’t always succeeded. Then the bit of land…….here in rural Ireland an acre give or take is referred to as “a garden”. I wanted more than a garden but not the next step up which seemed to be 12-15 acres.

And so the daily trawl through Daft and My Home began and the day trips to Wexford. A 2-3 hour drive each way give or take. I can tell you estate agents/auctioneers are an absolute nightmare to deal with. I had some that didn’t turn up for appointments because they never got the internal office memo. I had some that couldn’t have cared less if they never sold a property. And it seemed most were very economical with the truth. I would view a place and ask all the pre-requisite questions “had it been on the market long?” No. “Had there been any recent offers?” No. But lo and behold when I got back home to Meath and decided to put an offer in someone had beaten me to it……..and of course they offered a few thousand more than I had.

 

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The very first place I viewed was perfect in every way except it had no land and only a tiny garden. I viewed it twice, I gave it very serious consideration. I asked the estate agent would it be a possibility that I could buy some of the land adjoining it and she went off to investigate. I remembered a long time ago going shopping with my sister for her wedding dress. The first one she viewed was perfect but she said she couldn’t buy it as it was the only one she had seen. My then husband on overhearing this piped up that he had bought a van that morning and it was the only one he had seen. She ended up buying the dress.

Could I buy the first house I had viewed? I put an offer in (a low one) thinking that as there had been no interest in almost a year and no recent offers and I needed to hold some money back to buy land.  But guess what? Yes, you guessed right, a higher offer was on it. I refused to increase mine and I waited and waited.