Buying Our First Cottage...Episode 1

When we'd decided we'd had enough and were definitely going to move to Ireland we were walking along a beach in Norfolk. Himself stopped suddenly and said...'You can go to Ireland next week and buy a cottage'...

We'd looked in the Exchange and Mart you see and had found an estate agent who'd send you a video of the cottages he had for sale...we'd watched that video until our eyes hurt. Watched Roger...the agent... waving his arms about at views and decrepit cottages with a cow peering through the window...ancient tractors rotting away in what was once a front garden...feral cats, snatching their kittens up by the scruff of their necks, while glaring with evil eyes at whoever was wielding the camera...'Ideal for the peace-seeker' Roger kept repeating...I think he meant it was so isolated you'd never find your way back if you were to venture out...

So I 'phoned him and said I was coming over on the following Tuesday and he said he'd arrange everything and his wife would meet me at the airport.

And she did and she was very nice and gave me a running commentary while we travelled back to the small town where they lived and were based.

They'd arranged for me to stay in a Bed and Breakfast/ 'Pub across the road...Padraig will collect you in the morning said Roger...

Which Padraig duly did, armed with a thick file of cottages for sale...I had a look and chose a few and off we went...

I was gob-smacked. These cottages were like walking into a time warp...all of them without exception were still furnished...some had the table laid...most had coats hanging on nails behind the back door...they were all open...Padraig did have a bunch of keys but he just gave the back door a hearty shove and in we went.

There was one which had a long low shed beside it...the shed was stuffed with carts and gigs and had hundreds of pieces of harness hanging up on the walls...'Will you ever feckin' look at that' he said...'It's like a feckin' museum so it is'...

We'd had to walk about half a mile to get to the cottage, quite literally across a couple of fields because there didn't seem to be any other access, so in spite of visions of riding about the countryside in one of the carts with a placid donkey, I decided that cottage wasn't suitable.

Next stop was in the mountains...incredible views but the cottage was decidedly creepy...it gave me the willies before I'd even gone inside and it had a ring-fort in the back garden so we wouldn't have been able to dig it up to grow veggies...

Then there was the most wantable place ever...I had an immediate case of the gimmes...set back off the lane, close to a cross-roads was this long low cottage...one end was thatched and the windows were tiny and deep-set and I thought it was quite the most beautiful place ever...until Padraig shouldered the door open. The inside walls were bulging inwards...the earthen floor had sunk by several feet in one corner, the huge hearth, which dominated the end of the main room was filled with odd stones that had fallen out of the inside of the chimney...I think that Padraig was just as disappointed as I was...

So we had a coffee from the Thermos flask and set off for the last cottage on the list.

Set right at the top of a hill with a turlough in the field below and it's own laneway hedged on either side with Hawthorns...surrounded by quiet fields and with a small village within walking distance. It was an ugly sort of a place actually...built during one of the Government schemes to provide better housing for country people...the original cottage was next to it and had just the two rooms.

It was in reasonable condition...didn't have any glass in the windows but that was a minor problem...but it did have a septic tank and piped water...it was within our budget and the 'doing-up' seemed to be within our capabilities.

We went back to Roger and I put in an offer...

A Turlough is a seasonal lake...quite odd actually. The water appears after a heavy rainfall and can be extremely deep...then it just vanishes. Padraig is pro. Poorrig...it's the Irish for Patrick. And a gig is a two wheeled cart, usually used for racing with a fast pony.

Cottages are often left as they were when the occupant moves into an Old Peoples Home or dies because there may be no living relatives in Ireland who want them...sometimes they are passed to Irish/Americans who aren't interested or can't afford to see the place for themselves.

7 Replies

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  • A seasonal lake and then the swans come. Mayo sounds like Tipperary where my husband was born. Not so close to the sea though. But the old abandoned cottages for sale.... nowadays at knock-down prices.... Lovely piece of writing!

    Sara

  • Can't wait for the next episode. Xx Sonia xx

  • The moral of the story is?..................eagerly awaiting the next serial!

  • Lovely Vashti, i do so enjoy your stories. Love Kin Xx

  • Morning Vashti, Once again, so interesting, What year did you buy your cottage,and you are obviously very Irish, so when did you and himself leave Ireland in the first place, Wonderful writing, Best wishes to you both, Bulpit

  • Another enjoyable read,love the descriptions,make me feel I am there seeing through your eyes,you have certainly had some great experiences, I see this is episode 1,can't wait for the next one.

  • Marvelous as always dear Vashti, I read that Vashti was a Persian Princess. She is mentioned in the Book of Esther, in the Bible.

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