The Extension

For someone who lives for light and cooking I had managed to buy a house with the darkest most depressing kitchen on the planet. I did overlook this fact at the time because the rest of the house was perfect. I had finally re-done my kitchen in my old house after years and although it was “only” an Ikea kitchen, it was perfect and I loved it. The kitchen come dining area was south facing and was filled with sunlight. Now I was faced with walking into a cave every morning. The sense of gloom that enveloped me was unreal. I found myself spending less time in it and was disinclined to cook which was really unusual for me.

There was no light entering at all on the west facing wall. The back door was solid. I decided one of the first things I absolutely had to do was replace the entire door with a glass panel. I ordered it and waited and waited. Finally they rang to tell me they would be out to fit it.

Not only was I happy to be able to see out, the duck liked seeing in

The difference that made was unreal. Then I got a bee in my bonnet about the oh-so-shiny kitchen that did not suit the house at all and decided I had to change it. However, sense took over and I put that further down the list.

I debated extending the kitchen out to make a kitchen dining area but I had a small cosy dining room anyway and a small sitting room. I got a great tip from my builder friend who had come house hunting with me. He told me lay out wood on the ground in the shape and size you think you will need and mark windows and doors to get a feel for the size of the area. I did this but then I was out walking one day where I do a lot of my thinking,  I remembered friends who live in Tipperary and how I had always envied their covered deck which they call the stoop. That was it. I was going to do something similar with a partial roof. The reason not to roof the whole area was it would have meant losing a window in my bedroom (which is a floor window). The windows in this house are in short supply and for the most part are small sash windows so that was not an option. Plus there was little point putting a window in the dining room then sticking a roof over it.

I have to say that I am the kind of person that wants to do everything yesterday. There were the usual delays but the longest was the 8 week lead in time to get the new double doors and window from Rationel. The builder had costed them from Munster Joinery but they were horrible. So because he had to wait for the doors and window before he could lay the patio, the work stopped. Eventually it got finished a full two months after it should have been.

All the time it was being built I was getting comments to the effect that I was mad; I would never be able to sit out here, that the wind would skin you, there will never be sun ever again, you’ll freeze, it’s a waste of money. But come the end of April when the sun finally did appear I was justified and so glad I stuck to my guns. Because I have lived on it ever since. I haven’t sat in my dining room or sitting room since because they are dark and cold so the television hasn’t been switched on either. The kitchen is now filled with warm evening sun and even on a dull day is immeasurably brighter.


Now that this job is finished every other job to do with the house has been shoved very far down the list and I am itching to get working on the old out buildings. So far I’ve got doors put on the little sheds in the field the weaner pigs are in. I also pulled all the ivy off the roof.


All the trees have been cut down. Sacrilege I hear you cry but it really isn’t. They were for the most part self-seeded sycamore and ash growing in the most difficult locations and a danger to all the buildings. How they stayed upright during Hurricane Ophelia I will never know. The boys cutting them down couldn’t understand why they hadn’t been removed before the house was renovated. They had a point because if the one a couple of meters from the kitchen window had fallen, the entire house would have been flattened.

I am so grateful though that the old farm buildings weren’t demolished. If I had a penny for everyone who said to me “it’s an awful pity the whole place wasn’t razed to the ground and started again.” We have no respect for our architectural heritage here. All around are beautiful old farm houses and outbuildings standing derelict beside a horrible new house that doesn’t suit the terrain, the area or the landscape. Houses built from non-indigenous material like red brick or non-local stone. Why there aren’t grants to encourage people to restore old buildings is a crying shame. When you drive around our nearest neighbour Wales – particularly in the Snowdonia National Park, they have kept all their old farm buildings and houses and you never see a big tasteless red brick house stuck up on a hill side.

Next on the never-ending list is restore the hay shed (repair, clean and paint), clear out the junk out of the old sheds and paint them and the doors and finally clear an area to make a garden. I think this is going to be a very long project.


The Hurricane

I had randomly picked a date in the middle of October for the move. The removal company were very cool in that they said I could change this if I needed to. I suppose they are well used to what can go wrong with house sales.

I started packing up 24 years of my life. Luckily the house was not being sold as it was what I called “an ancestral pile” so I could leave my daughter’s room intact. She who was off globetrotting seemingly having forgotten to come back. I should add that to get to this point I had loaded up 10 full carloads and taken her stuff to the local charity shop. From boarding school to university in Manchester, to working in Manchester and every time she relocated she had pawned all her tatt off on me, stored in what was called the office.

My son had moved down the road to his new place but nonetheless I had to sort all his tatt as well and separated it from some of my stuff in his old room.

I spent days sorting through stuff, dumping stuff and reminiscing. Looking at old photos of my kids, of a lifetime spent in this old house that their ancestors had also grown up in. I loved the house and every now and again I felt a deep pang of sadness and wondered if I was doing the right thing.

Then there were mutterings about weather warnings and the tail end of a hurricane. Initially the warnings were status yellow but finally turned to red. We were bracing ourselves for Armageddon.

Hurricane Ophelia was en route across the Atlantic. I wondered about the removal company and was thinking I better ring them to check. However, all that went out the window when I got phone calls that dad wasn’t well and it wasn’t looking good. I have to tell you that we in the family referred to dad as Lazarus. I wasn’t unduly worried. He always seemed to come back from the dead. And briefly it looked as if this time was to be no different. But late on the Sunday evening my brother rang to say he had gone downhill again. I rang my son who immediately offered to drive me to Bray where he was in a nursing home.

Power cut

We stayed with him until midnight but there was no change so we left. I was back the next day Sunday. This time he wasn’t going to arise and Hurricane Ophelia wasn’t going to do a u-turn. I had a mobile number from someone in the removal company who had rung the previous Friday to see if it was going ahead. I sent the number a text to say I had to cancel the move. It later transpired that they wouldn’t have worked that day due to the status red alert anyway as they wouldn’t be covered by insurance.

My daughter’s birthday is the 17th of October and I prayed dad wouldn’t die on it. She was in Australia but we kept her updated using Facebook Messenger.

Dad died on the 18th of October.