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 Unpacking

I would think it took me 3 months to fully unpack and that’s not counting the 15 or so boxes of kitchen stuff in the shed to this day. This house was renovated as a holiday house and not much thought was given to storage. There is no where to put a mop, a bucket or a vacuum cleaner and the sparkling-shiny-white-newly-installed and almost never-used kitchen from Cedarwood is useless for me and it doesn’t suit the house. It needs to be changed but it’s on the very long list.

Plus the kitchen was as dark as a dungeon. Me who lives for sunlight and cooking had managed to buy a house with the most depressing kitchen on the planet. The whole west facing wall was solid, not even a small pane of glass in the back door. The kitchen window was north facing and they had managed to put in the smallest window possible. I hated being in it. One of the first things I did was get onto Munster Joinery to come and replace the entire panel in the back door with glass. The difference that made was unreal.

But back to the unpacking. There is no hot press – none, nada, zilch. To those of you that don’t understand this particularly Irish term – it’s an airing cupboard. Where in the name of all that’s holy was I going to store sheets, towels and bedding? At the top of the stairs is a small door leading into the attic. I threw the boxes of stuff in there. In winter it is Baltic, in summer (now) it’s hot enough to boil the few bottles of wine left over from various booze cruises.

Apart from the unpacking the trying to find stuff has to be the most frustrating. You remember you’ve seen that item somewhere, but where? And then the stuff they have lost. I was there most of the time they were packing up. I saw them labelling boxes. So where has it gone? How can stuff just vanish? The trifle bowl was the most frustrating, that and the pasta maker. It’s not like I use them often but I needed the trifle bowl for the annual family Christmas dinner (after Christmas Day) we take turns hosting and after a glass of wine one night I decided it would be a brilliant idea to invite them all here…….I knew they were both in the same cupboard in the kitchen in the previous place, still in their boxes. I hunted everywhere and ended up buying a new trifle bowl on Amazon that just made the final delivery day before Christmas. A couple of months later I drove back up to the old house to get some last bits and pieces and I went into a really depressing cold, empty shell and looked in the cupboard. There they were in at the back on the bottom shelf.

I had decided I would stay in my new house that night and the next and then drive back to Meath to organise moving the animals. I was worried about the sow, Lady Lavinia who had never set foot in a trailer in her life and was very clever and very, very suspicious of them. All the times I had loaded up her offspring she had never been temped up the ramp for food. I knew Honky and Parker (my accidental pet pigs) would be fine as they had both been in trailers before and would do anything for food.

I also had sleepless nights over the cats. I have one old cat who we named the fat cat or Fat Kitty. He’s the most nervy odd cat in the history of odd cats. You can’t just bend down and scoop him up when he’s outside but you can when he is in the house. I had to leave him and my daughter’s cat (who I inherited when she went off on her world tour) behind with the pigs. I knew I had to capture them both the night before the move so I could put them in cat boxes on the day of the move.

I didn’t realise how freaked they would be at the empty house that I left them in the night before while I went and stayed with my son again. On the plus side the pigs were happy to see me back as they always were after I’d been away.

Tomorrow was another day and I was still tired and weak from the tummy bug.

Fat Kitty trapped in the old house



The Thug too