Sunday, December 28, 2008

Walk by Lough Graney, Cold and Sunny

Yesterday my new computer wouldn't start - again, so here I am back on my old, but somewhat re-vamped one, courtesy of Jim.

I took Buster for a walk past Lough Graney as usual and took some lovely photos, which I had downloaded and deleted from my camera. Now of course I can't get at them! It did give me a good reason to take the walk again today and Buster was ready too. It was very cold, an overnight frost still hadn't altogether gone from our garden but the sun shone brightly.

We walked through the woods to the very end, paddled around in the shallows and walked on until we had to head back inland. This part is like the 'everglades' in America, or what I imagine it's like! There are old, moss-laden trees, mostly fallen over. They look kind of spooky and vines dangle from them.

Flagmount, the village at the other side of the lake, was bathed in sunshine and the bracken, now brown and red, shone in the sunshine. Sadly we could only look at the sun, not feel its warmth.

The sun shone on these trees at the start of our walk

The mosses still look lush and green

Here a new one starts to grown amongst the rotting oak leaves on the wood's floor

I haven't noticed this barbed wire before. I guess there was a fence there at one time

Shamrock leaves, ivy, moss and rotting beech leaves

Today, some horse riders came through the wood. I had to hold Buster as he was barking because he was frightened of them!

The last rider

The view across the lake

The bull rushes, rocks and the bottom of Flagmount village

View across the rocks in our direction, grasses swaying in the breeze

Because the water was quite choppy today, the reflections of the grasses were all 'wiggly', rather like curly hair!

The big house on the opposite shore, bathed in sunshine. Rocks and grasses in the foreground

Similar view with more of the grasses

Superb 'looped' grasses, Flagmount sunlit shore

A rocky inlet and patch of old grasses

Buster coming out of the water after one of his many paddles. If you click on it you can see his tongue!


The swampy section all dank and dangly

A moss covered tree, long since fallen down

The swamp!

Ivy wrapped around beech tree, now fallen and growing moss and lichen

Sunlight shone on a window in Flagmount and reflected down onto the lake. Click on the photo to enlarge it and the reflection looks like fairy lights

Walking back through the wood, I noticed these spotty oak leaves amongst the moss

This car axle has now almost disappeared into the forest floor

In the fading light, this piece of old tree looks like a dragon's head

I hope you enjoyed our walk!

When we came out of the wood, I noticed Martin, the aforementioned farmer, some way up his lane. I walked up and said hello, which is pretty brave of me as I can't usually understand anything he says. We managed a chat and he does look a sorry sight. His hands were red with cold and he had a rucksack next to him with about 8 empty beer cans scattered around. I asked whether he was warm enough in his house (derelict) and he said he was ok when he lit a fire. He only has water but I gather his sister is trying to get some windows fitted and the electricity turned on. I must say I felt very sorry for him. I invited him to call anytime for a cup of tea or coffee. Didn't seem right to offer him a 'drink'.

It's really cold again this evening but Stanley's doing his best.

We've made a promise to ourselves to go to bed by 2am today. Early for us! We shall see.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Day, 25.12.08 A Good Day

Yesterday was a good day all round. It was quite mild, the dog was reasonably well behaved and we didn't see the neighbours!

We took the dog for a walk to the lake about lunch time, having got up late in our customary fashion. It was quite still by the lake and Buster had a wonderful time rushing around like a mad thing. We walked all the way to the lake and back this time, not taking the car. I took a few photos, of course:

Jim and Buster with Lough Graney behind them. Behind those trees on the right is a new house being built. What fabulous views they will have of the lake

A view of the Lough from the road. The field still looks 'emerald' green, even in December. They often put sheep on the island. Must be funny to watch them being shipped over but we've never seen it.

This amazing old tractor belongs to Martin, our local alcoholic farmer. I don't know how he manages to keep it going, but he does.

Me calling Buster over for a photo. Must get a hair cut

Below: I rather messed the photo up with my hand!

Spooky branches in the wood

When we got back we put the dinner on and we still hadn't opened our presents. Watched Strictly Come Dancing Special, which was ok but not wonderful.
Not long afterwards we had our lovely dinner. I told Jim it was one of the best Christmas meals we've had and it was.

THEN we opened our presents! We chucked the wrapping paper on the floor and Buster had fun tearing it up. He helped me open my presents and Jim and I did the cracker thing. Jim wore a hat but they're never big enough for my head and hair:

Happy Jim

Buster was interested in this present, then decided it was his!

My daughter in law bought Buster his own present, a ball on a rope with handle (which he has eaten - the handle that is). He was suitably impressed

I bought a basic wreath and decorated it with ribbons and bits and pieces

We realised that we hadn't opened all our presents, but that some were missing, notably the ones from my daughter's in Derbyshire. Jim trotted up to the shed with a torch and found the missing box, so we had another go at opening! We both received some lovely gifts. I seemed to receive a surfeit of chocolate - I wonder why?

Jim received 2 identical gift sets of 4 small bottles of port, one from my daughter and one from her daughter!! Great minds. But he is a great port fan so no problem there. He also received a set from my daughter in law and son which contained 2 bottles of blue gin with glasses and matching mats! People seem to know his weakness too.

A fine Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What, No Sprouts??

Just a thank you to all my blogging friends and family for their support. I am much better today. We have managed to avoid the neighbours thankfully and tomorrow is Christmas Day. We have started a little early with our eating and drinking I have to say!

We poddled off to Limerick to the large Tesco for our bits and bobs for the dinner and guess what? Not a sprout to be seen! Funnily enough, in the car on the way there, I had said to Jim 'and I want fresh sprouts, not those old ones in the fridge'. Jim joked that there were 13 left and they would be fine, 6 for me and 7 for him. Well, the joke turned into reality!

We were going to nip to Ennis afterwards but in the end decided we had enough and would only buy up rubbish so we didn't bother and headed home. Because of our neighbour problem, we took Buster with us. Poor old thing had a quick romp around the grass alongside Tesco car park and that was it. He's been a bit full of energy tonight and also stole our cheddar cheese but has now settled down at last.

We haven't been very organised this year, what with the builders and all and neither of us has made our usual card for the other. We were in 'Dunnes' stores, checking out the bargains, when I spotted a hand crafted card 'To my Wife' reduced to 32cents, so it had to be done, didn't it! Now I, for one, will receive a card from Jim.

Did anyone else watch the Christmas 'Holby City' last night? I have to say it was the biggest load of tripe I have seen for a long while. It was a sort of inferior 'A Christmas Carol'. What a disappointment as a foil for the departure of Sam, one of their main characters. Bah humbug.

Since we moved the conservatory chair into our kitchen/diner, both cats and Buster think it is theirs. When a cat is in it, Buster sometimes sits with, or more often, on it until the poor cat moves. When both cats are on it he usually admits defeat. The photos don't quite show the goings on to full effect, but do show a flavour:

Buster trying to evict Sandy from the chair

Jim with a sleeping Buster

Buster using BlackJack as a cushion

'What' says Buster.....

The building work has progressed and the footings are in. Here's the view from the kitchen/diner:

Nice layer of muddy water on the top!

We walked up the meadow yesterday and took a couple of shots of the cottage from there:

That's about it for today. We've enjoyed listening to the Christmas music in the car and on our radio indoors. There doesn't seem to be much on the television tonight so it's play on the computer time and eating and drinking....

A very merry Christmas to everyone. Do have a good time.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Neighbours from Hell

The neighbours have struck again, with avengance. They had complained to the builders about the mud, since when the builders have kept their access road as clean as is possible under the circumstances.

I was in our kitchen diner clearing up for Christmas when there was a very loud knock on the door. It was Sandra, saying 'will you come and get your dog because he's been at ours all afternoon'. Not strictly true because he was with me some of that time. She also said she had called the dog warden. Still, I went to get him but he'd already appeared at our door. I walked down to talk to Sandra and Pete and ask them whatever the matter was, as they'd previously said, several times, 'don't worry about the dog' when I said we were trying not to let him go down to their garden.

This of course degenerated into a full scale war of words. We are the worst neighbours they've ever had, all our water comes onto their land, I am a liar, etc, etc.

I couldn't quite believe my ears. We have done everything we can to divert the water past their land, even laying a pipe under the road, which now takes away almost all but the heaviest rain. Of course they went on about the mud from the builders. Also 'all the neighbours' are complaining about our dog. The worst possible remark was, 'Oh Gina, go and take a pill' as she knows I am on anti-depressants. I calmly said I'd had mine for today so she told me to 'take another, take a few.' Unbelievable.

Anyway, I got back home and bawled my eyes out, close to hysterics until Jim came back from shoppping. Funny, both times she's had a go at me, Jim's been out. Naturally he stormed down there and had words. He wouldn't speak to Sandra, who is close to nuts, and probably had been drinking, but took Pete aside. Bye the way, Pete hadn't said a word during all this! They also have an obsession about our sewerage, saying it goes onto their land. Of course it doesn't, but no matter how many times we explain the system, they don't believe it.

A little while after Jim had come home, Pete arrived and said he'd explained to Sandra what Jim had said about the sewerage and drainage and she thought it was ok!!! How many times have we heard that. He also said that we should have discussed our building work with them!! Cheeky blighters. We had told them out of courtesy that the work was about to start.

I think a good deal of the problem is jealousy, especially as we are now getting our work done, something they haven't been able to do yet. Pete also said he thinks Buster is lovely!! It's just Sandra. Pete is obviously terrified of her. Clearly it was just an excuse to get us down there and have a go about anything and everything.

I'm afraid I'm a big softy when it comes to arguments. I cannot for the life of me see why anyone should be so bitter and unreasonable and, quite frankly, evil for her remark about my 'pills'. She fell out with the previous owners and now we can see why. But they were better than us!!

Sorry to go on, and this is just a rough outline of what was thrown at us. I feel slightly better today as Jim went down and spoke to our neighbours Joe and Hilary to ask them, frankly, whether they are fed up with Buster. They love him to bits and have absolutely no problem with him at all and neither has any other as far as they know. Nobody speaks to Sandra and Pete anyway. So that was all total fabrication. So I feel much happier about that aspect at least.

Tonight, at about 10pm, Hilary rang me from Dublin, where they have gone for Christmas, to ask how I am and to tell me to ignore that mad pair and not let it spoil Christmas, etc. That really choked me up. How thoughtful and what a difference between our two closest neighbours.

I still have a huge feeling of sadness which I cannot dislodge at the moment. The last time she verbally attacked me was just before my 60th. She has perfect timing. Ah well, I will try and get on and not let her get to me too much. Trying to keep Buster away from theirs will be difficult but we'll try hard.

Happy Christmas....

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Return to Hell...... 17th December 2008

Well, as I said in the previous post, we arrived back at The Deenery at about mid-day and were a bit shell shocked at what was awaiting us. The builders had obviously been using our kitchen as a lunch/tea break venue which would have been fine, but it was absolutely filthy. In fairness, they did think we weren't returning until the 18th! I do wonder how much they would have cleared up though! The outside looked as if it had been raped and pillaged! Now I know there's going to be a mess, but neither of us were quite prepared with what greeted us.

Before shot of kitchen door and conservatory

and after shot below

With the door open - no conservatory!! You can imagine how cold it is. The 2 doors left were on the inside and are now outside! Jim has sealed the gaps up with carpet tape which has helped a bit. We both just stood and shivered and almost turned round and went back to the UK.

Outside the back door! Thankfully this pile has now gone and the pipes are beneath some stone.

The other important thing was that their first job was to connect up the toilet in our large bathroom as the small shower room with toilet was being demolished. Eeerm, we both arrived ready for the loo - and of course it wasn't connected! During the afternoon they connected it up temporarily thank goodness.

This is (was) the road down to the arboretum and meadow. AAAH!

Joe, the dad of the pair, managed to demolish this gatepost holding up the fence to the arboretum!

The approach road to our parking area.

The back 'lawn' and our bench

The back of our cottage 'before'. You can just see the white gate post on the right and the now removed wall.

and after!! Conservatory and shower room gone, plus gates and gateposts and wall! It looks so tiny and the owners had a family of 5 living in it!

The digger at work, back of the cottage and adjacent barn

Martin working out the sewer pipes. The extension will go right across the back of the house. It is already marked out and the ditches dug for the foundations of the walls. At the moment the new rooms look tiny, but apparently they always do until they're actually built.

Now don't get me wrong, we were amazed at how quickly the work had progressed. Thank goodness we'd been away when the back was demolished! Joe and son Martin are a real couple of workers. It's rained most days too. They are also very pleasant and Buster sits and watches them most of the time!

The following day everything looked a bit brighter. I cleaned the kitchen/diner and bathroom, which made a big difference and as I said, Jim plugged up the holes! Stanley has been working overtime and the house soon warmed up. We are short of wood but will fell some branches in the next day or so. The things we brought back from the UK we have stored in the 'sleeping shed' which is dry, as we don't really have any storage space at the moment.

It's really quite exciting seeing the work in progress but of course the mud is everywhere! Hopefully once the actual building starts, things will get a bit cleaner. For the past few days we've just adjusted to our new, confined surroundings.

I must say it's a bit difficult to work up much enthusiasm for Christmas but I have cut some silver birch twigs today which I will decorate tomorrow and we'll put the tree on the table, away from the animals! I usually have a large 'real' tree, but what with the dog, cats and building work I don't think that would quite work this time round.

Poor Jim was just recovering from a cold when we went away. Now he has brought back another one, this time even worse. He has an awful cough and has been sneezing for England. He sounds as though he's on his last legs but did manage a bit of shopping today.

I brought back lots of presents from our trip and put them on the windowsill in the 'snug'. One of them, from Jason and Sam, looked and felt remarkably like a tin of biscuits so we decided to open it today - lo and behold, a tin of Quality Street. I have to say we have make rather a dent in the contents. Yummy.

Jim's playing Christmas music as I type - how lovely. Oh, and it was the final of Strictly Come Dancing tonight and TOM WON. I was thrilled to bits. In the final they had to perform a 'show dance' where 'anything goes'. The first couple were brilliant and I thought Tom and Camilla had no chance. How wrong can you be? Their dance was quite superb, full of humour, talent, acting skills and brilliance. It was a done deal. Well done Tom and of course Camilla for her superb choreography.

'Christmas time, mistletoe and wine..........' rings out Cliff. Maybe the Christmas spirit is creeping in after all.

Just a few photos to finish for now:

one of our new vehicles...

A selection of pipe joints

Do you think the builder's asleep in here?

The willow fence with piles of muck in front of it! This will be levelled towards the end of the work

This is one of the roads I built as this area was so wet. Oops, back to square one. It wasn't built to withstand dumper trucks and diggers.

Finally, the neighbours complained of course!! One of them pointed out that they couldn't walk up the road in their shoes, or they got dirty. Hmmm, boots anyone?? But Joe and Martin were very helpful and 'sweep' their access road at the end of each day and he says now when they pass in their car they give a big friendly salute! We haven't seen them yet. Keeping our heads down. It'll take their minds of all the flies we send onto their land!