Tag Archives: Irish life

Ermm….

There are sheep in the driveway and garden of our temporary domicile this morning. No idea where they’ve come from, but they’re merrily lunching on the lawn. I suppose the neighbour who owns them will be along shortly with his dog to round them up and herd them back into their proper meadow. See picture below taken from the kitchen window.

They’ve obviously squeezed between strands of a barbed wire fence as the Ewes are missing chunks of fleece. The lambs, about ten of them, appear relatively unscathed. Sheep are great escape artists and will get out of anywhere.

Wincing slightly at the UK Chancellor trying to do something about high fuel bills by imposing a ‘windfall’ tax on the energy companies to give to the people currently suffering from fuel poverty who can’t pay their fuel bills.

Now I’m no economist, but what do you think the energy companies hit with such a tax bill are going to do? Got it in one! Raise their prices to the already hard pressed consumers even further, thus increasing fuel poverty for the most vulnerable. Never mind the ‘better off’ giving their four hundred knicker payment to charity, the ‘rebate’ will easily get swallowed up by the increased bills.

As a more sensible approach, the UK government could cut energy bills overnight by almost fifteen percent by cancelling all the ‘Green’ levies and not collecting the tax from the poor bloody peasants in the first place. That would make far more sense.

Why is it so obvious to me but not to the supposed big brains currently in power?

Next!

Matters with the house proceed slowly. Mrs S and I are slightly hors de combat at present, her with a gastric illness and myself with a bout of stress related muscle spasm which has locked up my back. Not much fun while it lasts but all afflictions and difficulties will pass in their own time.

The pills I’ve had prescribed have limited facility, so just by way of an experiment I’m backing them up with plenty of cold steeped green tea and lemon. The quack has told me to drink plenty of water and the green tea and lemon mix makes plain water a little more palatable, at least to me, so for the next month I’m going on the wagon and seeing what happens.

Talking of afflictions, the latest scare to hit the headlines has arrived. Wait for it DEE-DAH-DAAAH! Monkeypox. Okay, Right. How bad is it really? 7 UK cases since 2017. (Update; 20 overall now) Riight. Is it fatal? Ermmm… Not really. How do you catch it? Close proximity droplet infection or via the mucosa.

Indeed all cases reported to 16th May 2022 were men who had sex with men. So if you aren’t a promiscuous gay male or bisexual, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. Just be careful who you snog. Besides, it’s not that contagious so your chances of getting covered in those nasty blister like lesions are minimal. So you won’t need a vaccine and masks and lockdowns won’t help one iota. Just keeping your naughtier urges under control will keep you pretty safe. So there. Good news there eh? Right. Disaster averted. Home for tea and medals.

As for that WHO pandemic treaty. Seriously? Putting that much power in the hands of unelected bureaucrats of limited intellect? Whoever thinks that is a good idea needs a large dose of cascara. Then when they’ve (eventually) come out of the toilet, their constipated brains might start to work and they would see all the downsides.

At this point I’ve lost all trust in the powers that be. None of them have a clue, leading the rest of us into the situation that, in to part quote the words of late 19th century writer Elbert Hubbard “just one damned thing after another”. However, I’m sure another ‘crisis’ will turn up to divert attention from whatever cockups the powers that be and click hungry media are trying to bullshit us all to death with.

The problem is, that all the current powers that be have to offer are more problems, not workable solutions. They aren’t interested in fixing the problems of ordinary people, just stumbling from one shitshow to the next. Everyone from the USA to China, it seems, are firefighting by chucking gasoline on the blaze. And the fallout is the worldwide inflation we’re seeing.

Contrariwise Mrs S’s car developed a difficult to trace fault and needed an expensive fix. Fortunately we have a good mechanic nearby, and he knew how to solve the issue long term. All done, but still an additional expense we didn’t need.

However, because of the disparities in exchange rates, I made enough on a recent Dollar to Euro transaction to cover it. Just. Because of the incompetence of Brussels over this Ukraine business, the Euro has been dropping in value faster than the Dollar or Sterling, despite huge amounts of money printing, so overall we’re at least no worse off.

On a more bucolic note, Swallows have arrived and are colonising odd places around our property. I swear, these silly birds have even built one of their mud nests on a power cable (See below) between the electricity meter and the front door. Well, they’re in for a summary eviction when the ESB arrive and the power gets reconnected in two weeks time. I’m happy to let them nest in and around the sheds, but in this particular case I’m afraid they’ve picked the wrong spot.

Well that’s all for now, the great works proceed, we’ll have a house worth living in by the end of June (Or else! Says Mrs S) and I can get back into my own bed at night. Then perhaps my back will settle down. Next!

Gated

Back at the house the new floors are in and curing. The last of the insulation is going in this week and our house is starting to resemble one again. As the wall insulation goes in the noise level from the road has dropped significantly and there are no more cold spots. Unfortunately for me, things aren’t happening fast enough for Mrs S and she has begun to fuss.

Any married man knows this; nothing is ever enough and even a minor delay is cause for a fit of the vapours (Intensity varies). This is where I have been for a couple of months now. It’s very stressful. More stressful than it should be. To the point where I have almost been driven to tears on one occasion. My comments about house renovations leading to divorce still stand. The actual statistic is that 12.5% of all couples will divorce after or during a project of this scale. Not a happy outcome, for anybody.

The one thing I have done recently is successfully hang a double gate for the main working yard. Never done it before, but with a bit of ingenuity and flexible thinking we are now securely gated. There were all sorts of issues like no-one had the right gate of the right width for the opening, but those were solved without breaking the budget by purchasing two gates of the same style but unequal size.

We were also looking for a throw over gate latch, but for some reason nylon string is the preferred way of securing double (or any) farm gates in Ireland, so our local agricultural supplier doesn’t stock them. Ergo, Mr Bezo’s boys will be called upon to provide for under twenty Euro’s. Providing Irish customs will let it through during the current bout of EU petulance.

As an aside; still seeing a lot of people about wearing those useless scraps of paper or cloth over their faces in vain hope of avoiding the dreaded COVID lurgi. Perhaps they should listen to a real live certified expert on the topic of health and safety like Stephen Petty, rather than some know-nothing media talking head?

I think perhaps that the truth of the matter has been so abused that no-one knows what to believe any more, so we’ll be stuck with the fallout from the last two years of Government-instigated insanity for years to come. So much for “three weeks to flatten the curve”, more like two years to screw over the peasants like you and me.

Now all these so-called ‘experts’ like Neil Ferguson are changing their tune. A bit late for that now they’ve f*cked us all, isn’t it?

Now I’m off to lock up after the builders. Hasta luego.

Any damned fool

Laid three new concrete hive bases today ready for their new stands. I’m told fifteen inches is about the right height to keep rats and mice out. So I built three stands of that height to place the hives on and oriented them south and east, like the books say you should.

There’s been a lot of ‘project slippage’ caused by unforeseen events. Supply availability, people not doing what you wanted in good time. Getting bees is proving a sticking point and I’m told that the next Nuc availability will be in a month.

As for the banks, the oft repeated words “We are experiencing extremely high call volumes.” have already reduced Mrs S to floods of tears twice this week and thus got me thoroughly discombobulated.

The money is all there, we just can’t get at it without the landline that the builders trashed. So until we’ve sorted out the phone access next week, I can only pay the trades guys half. Which should be an incentive for them to get us up and running, asap.

However, I’ve stripped out the last of the window glass intact, meaning I have plenty of glass panels for various projects like cucumber frames and citrus growing. Ever since I germinated my first lemon seeds I’ve had this notion to grow my own citrus fruit and store it as frozen organic fruit juice. Might even barter a little. We’re a registered farm business now, so why not? I’ve a location in mind and know how to build some hot water solar panels to retain some residual heat during the depths of winter to keep the frosts at bay. Some cheap half inch black plastic tube under double glazed glass over a black back panel is easy to make. An insulated hot water storage tank (or several) might be a good idea too. All do-able on a budget. Primitive but useful.

As for the outside world, the more I step away from the news, every time I have a brief peruse of the mainstream, the more I’m inclined to think; “Surely any damned fool could see that would happen.” It often reduces me to a near permanent state of “WTF!”

Which begs the question; am I ‘any damned fool’? Because I can see the harm done? By the very people we entrust with the public good? Real life measurable harm like (takes deep breath) Overt sexualising grooming of pre-pubescent children in schools by policy, interrupted education by lockdown, children (and adults) psychologically damaged by obsessive mask wearing and social isolation. People driven to madness by the incessant news media diet of fear. And people hate what they fear, so they are driven to hate. Because they are taught to hate by the very people squawking about ‘misinformation’. To name but a few. Yet who are the mis-informers? No pressure. Answer in your own time.

Not to mention the damage to the fabric of society. Despite increased institutionalised enforcement, under the surface we are observably more divided than ever before. There is more racism, more hatred, more intolerance. And it bubbles up from the poisoned wellspring of mandated ‘diversity’ and enforced ‘fairness’. The “You must think exactly this way – OR ELSE!” corporate mindset. Or else you will go on a list. A publicly visible list of the ideologically impure and unemployable ‘haters’. Available to hiring managers, credit agencies and local authorities to name but three. These lists should not exist in a truly civilised society, but they do. I cite the confirmed existence of the Non-Crime Hate Incident list in the UK, where people not convicted of any crime are put in an effective digital pillory.

Fortunately this matters little to me personally. Out here in the rural west of Ireland people are more down to earth, more in tune with the real world and the turn of the seasons. Social media is seen as the province of teenagers. And very few children have cell phones. Neighbours talk over their garden walls, do favours for each other, show unbidden kindness.

In my mind it is a fundamental truth that authoritarianisms suppression and censorship divides us all, while free, open and honest speech allows people to discuss, examine and challenge, not only the beliefs of others but also their own, in a roundabout way promoting ‘social cohesion’ more effectively than any other method. But then any damned fool should be able to see that, and if that is the case then I am happy to be so described.

The law of sausage

According to lawyer-poet John Godfrey Saxe in 1869 (Not Bismarck) that “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” This law should be firmly applied to building work.

Our house has been stripped to it’s very bones, exposing many grievous sins. Said domicile now looks more like a 1970’s Dr Who set than a once habitable building. Old wiring and heating stripped out, new wiring dangling like a jungle of ersatz creepers, it is quite depressing. Places where damp has rotted wood, spawning filigrees of fan like fungal growth spreading across long hidden wallpaper. Gaping holes for windows. Frankly me deario’s, it looks awful.

However there is hope; our plumber and sparky are working in concert. The builder and his merry men have sent in their first invoice which will be paid by Friday next. Said payment will cover the first tranche of new windows, lintels, wall and subfloor insulation. Then the pipes and manifold for the ground floor underfloor heating go in, followed by a fine screed and floor tiles.

Despite the possible threat of having our home confiscated to house ‘refugees’ for ‘the common good’ (Whatever the hell that is) we are ploughing ahead, working on the premise that it will take the powers that be a while to work their mendacious way down to our level. By which time we will be so well established and secure that they’ll have a serious legal fight on their hands. Besides, doesn’t it say in the Irish constitution (Article 43) that; “The State guarantees to pass no law to abolish these (property )rights”? Let’s see how that stands up against constant political pressure for ‘social injustice’. Which to me is nothing more than cover for a housing racket at the very highest level. It’s criminal.

Bill Stickers rule one about crime; always make it look like an uphill battle for the potential criminal. Make it quite plain in many subtle and diverse ways that they personally may suffer consequences should they try to make your life full of drama. Good locks and property lawyers are essential.

For my part, I always try to deal with prodnosing officialdom by being like McCavity the mystery cat; never there when they want something. Nod, smile, deflect and divert all the while, before making the object of their desire disappear right under their noses. Well it’s worked for me so far. Stuff their ‘refugees’, many of whom aren’t even Ukrainian, or even proper refugees.

Offshoring the processing of these ‘refugees’ to Rwanda sounds like a pretty good idea to me. It cuts the flight risk to a minimum and puts badly needed capital into the third world. And if that observation makes me a Xenophobic right winger, so be it.

Speaking of which, I see the French haven’t learned their lesson and have apparently voted Macron back in again. The majority appear to have been sufficiently frightened that Le Pen might boulverser le panier de pommes. Like with most electorates, they will always, in the words of Hillaire Bellocalways keep-a hold of nurse – for fear of finding something worse!

All of the above makes me think that making real change for the better in your life takes a gnats nadgers of personal vision, a soupçon of courage and a sound dose of unswerving commitment. Without these, you’re just counting down the days to your coffin.

Matters in motion

Oh what fun! Is this fun? I’m not sure. The technician is coming next Wednesday to reconnect the Interwebs at the house. Hopefully the sparkys will have at least got some form of power up by then. Even if it’s just the main distribution board with a partial ring main segment. I’ll do my own thing in my sheds with a proper five bay distribution board running proper lighting and ring main circuits. Not the slightly unsafe mixture of wiring that’s in there now. And it will be done properly. To code.

Such are the joys of ownership. However, I look at it this way; the house will look stunning when it’s done. We’ll have lowered our heating needs to the point where we can heat the house with a hairdryer, figuratively speaking, started growing our own and still have extra for family and friends. It’s the getting started that is the steepest part of the curve.

In the meantime I’m building beehives. Almost (but not quite, situation was recovered) cocked up the first, but now I know what I’m doing, the other two will be easy and be ready for the first colonies the week after Easter. I hope.

My original schedule is all to cock because of delay after delay and unexpected turns of events. Supply chain issues and the artificially inflated costs of Diesel, in turn caused by lockdowns that went on twenty one months longer than absolutely necessary. Not just the Western political farting around that led the Russkies to go all crazy and chuck green conscripts against a determined guerrilla opposition.

This isn’t grown up politics, this is bananas. Does no one understand that stout fences make good neighbours any more? Now we have a massive disruption caused by NATO and EU encroachment on the buffer zone between Russia and Western Europe. To illustrate by analogy, there is a Canadian saying; “Don’t prod the bear.” But isn’t that what EU expansionism has been doing? Pushing those boundaries?

As for skyrocketing energy bills, that’s partly down to believing an atmospheric trace gas controls the climate, which is daft. The physics behind said idea is sketchy at best, and when factored in against all the other influences, CO2 is a mere bit part player. A very small voice in a very large chorus. Because while atmospheric CO2 acts as part of the atmospheric insulation (The term ‘greenhouse effect’ is a massive over-simplification and only ‘works’ during the brightest daylight hours) of our little cosmic ball of rock, the whole ‘back radiation’ thing only exists in mathematical models. And the past two years should have taught everyone how accurate those are. Should have. Yeah.

But this man made climate change is an idea pushed as fact when it’s not, leading to frightened people blockading fuel depots, further pushing the costs of energy production and distribution up, with ‘Green’ levies and ‘carbon taxes’ forming almost 10% on top of an already over-inflated price. Which is crazy.

In response to the current insanity, one of the things I will be doing this long weekend is making things. A smart new wooden bench for our revamped laundry / utility room. Finishing off all the hives. Making stands for them and getting the sites ready while the builders and sparkys do their thing next week.

Whether I can get three bee colonies this year is also looking a bit iffy. It’s not like going to the shops to buy a Nuc (Five frame container) of (40,000 plus Queen) bees. There is a season for buying (Mid April to late May) and you have to wait your turn.

Once I have my colonies of course, things get a little easier. I can do my own bee breeding and expand the Apiary that way. New hives every season. Sell on the odd surplus colony to fund a new hive box. Get registered as a retailer of honey products, get my brewing licence. Experiment and perfect. All takes time.

Matters may be in motion, but I can’t describe the process as fun right now. I’m reading the Farmers Journal, and although the ban on selling turf (Peat) from September 2022 doesn’t affect me, the news that the EU Commission are pushing for a shift to ‘healthier’ (Yeah, right) ‘plant based diets’ annoys. Don’t these eejits understand that only a small proportion of land (Especially in Ireland) is really suitable for arable crops. The rest is best used for grazing and maintaining a healthy biodiversity.

For the record, your diet is what you have adapted to eat, which in turn is based upon what your parents ate, and their parents before them unto the nth generation. A ‘plant based’ diet alone does not supply all the nutrients necessary for good health. A broad mixed diet does. This is because humans evolved as opportunistic feeders and our digestive systems and dentition reflect this. Like with the whole ‘trans’ farrago (which is little more than a licence for perverts), simply because an agenda is being pushed by politicians, it doesn’t mean it reflects reality.

Speaking of reality, does anyone else get the impression that half the population is suffering from a form of Stockholm Syndrome? You know, the ones who step off the sidewalk or seem to jump three feet sideways if they so much as see anyone not wearing a surgical mask? I do try to be kind and gently smile at them, but that only seems to make matters worse.

Oh well, best to plough my own furrow and get on with things. Now where did I put my little hammer?

Because I can

Every day I go to our house to let the builders in while they demolish the ground floor ready for the concrete base which will form the base for the underfloor heating system. All the studding and framing upstairs is almost done, and the sparky has given us a temporary power supply.

Normally I have things to do in my workshop while being on site to answer questions like “Where d’ye want this then?” Unfortunately there’s no electricity so I can’t do much more than rescue materials and spend hours pulling nails. Using my electric saw and sander is not possible. So that slows things like building the raised beds. Fortunately I have made four panels and will have power to my workshop tomorrow.

On a short foray into town I was surprised by the number of people still wearing surgical masks. As I don’t follow the fear porn media, I’m not worried about what is now a moderate cold. No-one challenged me (Well, I’m a big guy) so I just got on with things, ran my errands etc.

Personal anecdote re masks; while the mask mandates were enforced, I regularly felt like I’d got a permanent case of strep throat. Now I no longer bother with a mask, the tightness and other symptoms have disappeared, while many of the the mask wearers seemed to have a cough or a permanent sniffle. Hmmm.

But today the wind has been howling in from the Atlantic, making sitting and sanding in the north facing doorway of my workshop uncomfortable. At our surrogate address, Mrs S is hunkered down and waiting for the winds to pass. Me, I have to make busy and wait until the guys finish at just before five.

However, I count ‘hunkered down’ to include the interior of my SUV (Yes, I drive an SUV, watch those emissions climb – Har, har, har!) So while in the cosy interior of my car, took a bimble around my two fields. It was tremendous fun, skidding and sliding across the damp grass doing broadslide turns and bumping over tussocky patches. Just enjoying myself burning up (almost) two euro a litre diesel. Wonder if I can get the SUV reclassified as a farm vehicle and use a cheaper grade?

Why? Because it’s my land and because I bloody well can.

Big bunnies

First thing I was out in the yard last week dumping stuff in one of my two compost makers. Minding my own business, lost in my own thoughts when something bounced across the yard and halted less than four feet away. “Bill!” Mrs S saw it first. The creature bounded away after giving me a startled look. Well it would, wouldn’t it?

“Well I’m damned.” I remarked as a white bobtail disappeared around the corner of the storage shed. “He was a big one.” For a moment I thought it was a hare, but hares aren’t that big, are they? Having completed my double take. I looked it up. The shape of the eyes, length of ears and gait all said ‘Irish Hare’. And they are, at least in our locale, almost double the size of your average bunny wabbit.

Did think at first that it was a rather large rabbit, but having checked all the game trails that criss-cross my fields, there was no sign of a warren. So that rather nailed it. Rabbits, at least in my experience, don’t tend to stray far from their bolt holes. Hares? No idea, but I know of at least two. One that haunts our fields and another that bounded past the place we have decamped to while the builders are having at the internal demolition.

Speaking of our builders, the little scamps. This is what they’ve been up to. See short video below.

So we’re bunking elsewhere for a while. The money supply is just sufficient, but there’s still a lot of DIY to be done. Mainly in the paint and decoration side of things, but we’ve chosen our colour scheme, ordered the fittings and sorted out what we want on the floors. Mrs S has been most painstaking in this regard. Well the house is her part of the ship just like the fields and planting are mine. We have no intention of being caught in the artificial poverty trap of ‘Green-ness’.

Wonder what I should do about the Hares, if anything, because there’s a powerful lot of meat on one of them. What’s that famous line? “First, catch your hare.” allegedly from De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae. Attributed to Medieval Jurist Henry of Bratton.

Tree Fellers

Well that’s that then. The eyesore tree that dominated our view is now gone. Funnily enough it was two trees grown so tightly together (See inset) that it looked like one. The tree guys were at their wits end trying to get the metre diameter stump up. I did tease them that Leprechauns were hanging onto the roots so’s they couldn’t pull it up.

Even after I’d paid them, they were giving the remaining roots dark looks and promising, Schwarzenegger like, that “They’d be back” I love people who have that much pride in their work. Whether they will be back is moot, but there you go.

Now for those of you tree huggers having a conniptive fit over the loss of a mature, albeit diseased arboreal specimen, fear not. I may have had a couple of trees removed, but in it’s place I am planting dozens. Willow, Birch, Hazel, Blackthorn and Maythorn. Maybe a few Beech and Perchance an Oak as windbreaks. All native species. Then I have more heather to plant and wildflowers to sow.

That’s without the half dozen apple trees, all Bramleys, that I’ve baggsied from the local agricultural suppliers. I have a recipe for a red hot barbecue sauce (Organic, mais bien sur) with an apple and tomato base, for which nothing but Bramleys will do. No added preservatives, no tricks, no unpleasant bending, but dynamite for barbecues.

The hives go in next week too. Only three, but that will be enough to start test batches of Mead, Honey Wine and Midus by the end of the year. I have been recruiting taste testers, and do you know? Not one has refused? Either I’m a bloody good judge of character (Not true) or they’re all keen on free samples. What do you think?

As most of my neighbours are livestock farmers, I foresee a lively barter market with my Mead products, honey and chickens changing hands for beef, lamb, pork and venison (Yes, one of my neighbours has a herd of deer). A pound of organic honey might trade for a couple of good steaks or other meats.

Seeing as the real McCoy of filtered organic honey retails for around ten euros a pound, never mind the extortionate amounts asked for Manuka, local opinion is that heather and wildflower honey is best, ten euros a pound is a fairly low midrange price. Heather and wildflower is what I’m going to try and produce. I know one guy in County Clare who sells his at eight euros for eight ounces. And that was when some of his hives were producing over a hundred pounds of liquid gold each in 2021. His apiary runs into over a hundred of hives. I’m strictly small beer by comparison, but I do intend to grow.

I don’t care about the radical vegans who want us all to eschew animal protein for an entirely plant based diet, all I’ve got to say about them is that they simply don’t understand agriculture or how to get food out of land unsuitable for arable crops, of which Ireland and the UK have a great deal. These radicals don’t understand that the ‘Food pyramid’, long held as the ‘ideal’ dietary model, was a 1960’s political construct. Any ‘science’ behind it is flaky at best.

There is also the corollary that the ‘food pyramid’ has been dietary gospel for over sixty years, and during that period the rates of Diabetes II and heart disease have skyrocketed. Look it up for yourself if you don’t believe me. The stats are all out there.

Said groups also think sufficient electricity can be produced by those big silly whirly things that stop producing their usual trickle of power when the wind stops blowing.

Like yesterday. Lovely sunny day, hardly a breath of wind. South of us in Galway are some of said silly whirly boondoggles, and not a blade was stirring. As for bonehead Boris in the UK wanting to smother the land in solar panels, perhaps he should cast his eyes over to Germany, where such schemes have failed big time. Fracking and Nuclear are the only reliable ‘green’ solutions to the British Isles energy needs. Only the French have it half way right and they have 10% ‘renewables’.

But then these ‘Green’ groups are anti anything that works. In the fluff that passes for their prefrontal lobes, the pollution from mining poisonous elements like Cobalt that are needed to produce sparky cars, solar panels and wind turbines get a free pass, but for a technology with a much lower mortality than Wind Farm maintenance, they get up in arms and attach themselves to major arterial routes as well as other objects. No one in any place of political power should be paying them any mind at all. Same for those who can’t tell a biological male from a female, then wonder why a six foot plus biological male is scooping up all the girls medals. Well duh.

As far as an antidote to the current insanity is concerned, getting close to the soil and turning off the TV is always a good move. It settles you. Puts your mind back on track. Allows you to think. Even if the only green things you have to tend are a couple of window boxes, or some potted tomato plants. Growing things teaches patience and brings much needed quietude to the soul.

Beer and pizza

To celebrate the removal of a large tree in the yard and successful demolition of a problematic wall ready for the builders next week, I took a short trip out to get some beer and pizza.

The place was full of high school kids and families coming for a Friday night treat. I just kicked back and waited for my order to be processed. To be in this mini-flood of humanity after all the artificial isolation of the last two years was a curiously pleasant experience. Everyone was polite and there was no drama.

Normally I’m not someone who likes crowds all that much. I get defensive and grouchy really quickly if I’m bumping elbows for two long, but after two long years of pointless and damaging lockdowns and mandates, for some reason I just felt really comfortable.

It helps of course that I now have my own house and land to sit out on a sunny evening, glass of beer in hand after a feed of double pepperoni. Enjoying the smell of freshly turned Earth and evening birdsong.

Being in a crowd is fine, but it is also oh so nice just to sit out and watch the bees and birds forage.

A septical view

The past couple of weeks we’ve been smelling something rotten in the county of Mayo. Now I put it down to spraying on local fields to fertilise the grazing and carried blithely on. If the grass is looking a bit tired and nutrient poor, a farmer will empty our the yard sewage digester and spray the resultant noisome stuff on his meadows. It’s one of those great country smells.

This morning I found out it wasn’t one of the local farmers, it was our septic tank that was blocked. The toilets wouldn’t flush properly and when Mrs S flushed the upstairs toilet, all of a sudden a stinking brown soup, about two or three litres, erupted from the Decon shower drain with an ominous gurgle. Oh. Shit. Literally.

First port of call was a drain unblocker. No Joy. Two litres of white vinegar, flush the worst away with the shower on full helped, but the drains were still running slower than a snail taking his time. A stroll outside to check the drain covers confirmed my suspicions. The full fifty feet of black water drain was blocked all the way down to the septic tank across the yard.

It has been raining a fair bit and the ground is saturated, so I wasn’t totally surprised at the gently bubbling morass that greeted me from a very full looking septic tank. Only one thing for it. Wallet in mouth, I began going through the phone book.

Three calls later I managed to get through to a local tank services company who gave me a reasonable quote, which was a relief. I was expecting a bigger sting for an emergency call out. They quoted a time in the early evening, to which I said “Fine.” but wasn’t holding up much hope of having flushing loos until the morrow. Irish workmen tend to operate in a different astral plane to the rest of us, but Ireland is a very mystical place. So I have learned to lower my expectations.

Reader, I was very pleasantly amused when a tank cleaning truck pulled into my driveway after supper just as we were losing the light. Mrs S gave me a look as I went out into the evening drizzle with the big torch. It was a look that said; “Are you okay with this?” to which I replied with a small resigned sigh and twitch of my lips. Because I knew what I was in for.

I don’t think there’s any words to describe the smell of untreated human sewage. It’s not so much a smell, more like a brick in the sinuses. Once smelled, never, ever forgotten. The fragrance is like the worst rot you can think of, the multiplied to the nth power. Rotting cabbage can’t hold a candle to it.

The truck driver, a lad barely out of his teens by the look, maybe I’m just getting old, asked me where the tank and drains were. I pointed out where the known inspection hatches were and the approximate runs of drain, before letting him get on with things, occasionally holding my torch on where he’d stuck his five inch suction pipe and holding onto the running hose.

Quite honestly I was impressed with his careful attitude, and did as he asked me to help speed the job along. He cleaned the tank, borrowed my hosepipe to clean it off, then we set to unblocking the drains. I will not describe the contents of same, just that they stunk and had backed right up to the house. Still, half an hour later he’s packing up, my drains are smelling a lot better than this morning and I’d reflushed the shower drain and given it a good hose down and mop.

“Can I flush now?” Said Mrs S as I came back in out of the drizzle. I nodded yes and she went back upstairs. There was the unmistakeable sound from the upstairs bathroom and a happy little noise from Mrs S. “Are we done?” She called down.

“All done. Driver’s been paid. He’s happy.” I said, getting ready to change into something less tainted. There was the sound of the truck pulling out of our yard. Good service. I’ll use them again.

Now I need a long hot shower followed by a very large glass of Jameson’s Crested. It might get the memory of the smell out of my nose, it may not, but in these situations you have to try.

I think I need to order some more air freshener, for some reason my reserve can has run out.

The idle musings

Of an idle mind. I was cutting down our overgrown Rhododendron hedge today, apropos of all this talk of WW3, and was struck by a random thought.

Has it ever dawned on anyone that every time a major (ish) armed conflict began in the last century or so, with few exceptions, that the US administration has been Democrat led? Please check the list below and add any others you think qualify.

US Civil war: James Buchanan (Democrat)

WW1: Woodrow Wilson (Democrat)

WW2: Franklin D Roosevelt (Democrat)

Korea: Harry S Truman (Democrat)

Cuba (Bay of Pigs): John F Kennedy (Democrat)

Vietnam, 6 Day war Israel: Lyndon B Johnson (Democrat)

Iran Revolution: Jimmy Carter (Democrat)

Grenada invasion: Ronald Reagan (Republican)

Iraq Invasion: George H W Bush (Republican)

Yugoslavia: Bill Clinton (Democrat)

Iraq, Afghanistan: George W Bush (Republican)

‘Arab Spring’ (Inc Syria, Libya, Egypt): Barack Obama (Democrat)

Ukraine: Joe Biden (Democrat)

It’s just like I said, my random brain going off on one while my hands are busy with a boring task. Pass the bowsaw.

Settling in

Boxes are unpacked, furniture arranged, at least for the interim. Builders engaged, electrician booked, plumber sorted. Oh yes, and the Tree surgeon has been engaged to remove a couple of old Ash trees that have what is called ‘Ash dieback

In addition I’ve got to get my head around things like water softener maintenance, insulation grants and Irish agricultural regulations. It’s a bit of a steep learning curve. Then there’s also some patching, making do and mend, and removing several 1980’s vintage built in wardrobes have to be removed. The local spiders have formed a protest movement because I keep on removing their hiding places, but my mate Henry deals with them, and they don’t like that because he really sucks.

Today we’re taking the day off, having disposed of three of our built in wardrobes with all their historic leftovers, like someone’s stash of Irish Porn;

We’ve been lucky in that it’s been a mild week and our new homes lack of insulation hasn’t left us with icicles dangling from every exposed appendage. Fortunately the loft insulation goes in next week which should keep the old place a bit warmer. I’ve only got two more built in wardrobes to remove, all sorts of kit will be flying in and out of the door including a washing machine. Which mean no more trips out just to get our smalls done.

The oven is a mess and has to go to the scrap yard, I’ve managed to clean out the dishwasher and we have a propane heater on low upstairs to drive some of the damp out. Seems to be working.

Then there’s the heating, which is an old (and rather noisy and smelly) kerosene fired system. That has to go. It isn’t that it doesn’t work, it just burns through fuel at a frightening rate and will be replaced by a more modern and economical LNG fuelled heating system sometime this spring. LNG prices tend to be more stable, so at least we won’t find ourselves coughing up half as much again some months for five hundred litres.

We hear that all the restrictions are going to be dropped this side of the Irish Sea. No more “Show us yer papers”, every time you want to enter a restaurant, but oddly enough the wearing of masks will persist, which makes shopping a somewhat bizarre experience. Mrs S and I have a standing pre-mask up joke; “Disguises on Mugsy. I’ll get the stuff, you get the cashier.” Well, it amuses us.

Why keep the masks though? They only encourage mouth breathing which bypasses the immune systems primary gateway, the nose. These rules really are nonsensical. At least from a physiological point of view.

We are evolved primarily to breathe in through our noses, which have all sorts of structures inside to catch and deal with all sorts of lurgi before said pathogens get anywhere near our important little places. Those structures in the diagram are loaded with your immune systems heavy mob, who act as doormen, controlling access to the party town of your bodily particles. Breathing through the mouth bypasses this primary line of defence and lets whatever slips through those pointlessly wide mesh paper filters straight into the more lightly defended mucosa of your mouth and bronchus. Which is what you really don’t want to happen.

I’ve said it before and will repeat myself ad nauseum. Masks and lockdowns have extended the pandemic. Outside of a clinical setting, surgical masks are effectively useless. Lockdowns only serve to keep the infected and non-infected closeted more closely together, thus spreading the disease more effectively. Which has been amply demonstrated over the last twenty months.

Not that I’m bothered. There’s too much to do in our new place. We’re just carrying on like nothing else is happening. The apocalypse will have to wait – we’re busy.

Not so fast….

Or to put it in supervillain speak; “No meestair Bond.” or rather “Yes!” another step on the path to my next evil plan. Tomorrow the world. Well after I’ve tasted a small libation of Jamesons Gold.

We have completion. Repeat, we have completion on the new place. Talk about taking it down to the wire. We were thinking we’d have to postpone our move date because things were dragging on so long.

After a flurry of phone calls and emails, our movers are confirmed for next week and we get to take possession of our own piece of Ireland tomorrow. Or as our estate agent said “We have white smoke.” to which I responded Habemus Papum.” and I’m not even a Catholic. I thought I heard him chuckle with relief. As well he might, it’s been almost six months from first offer to completion, and from what I hear that might be something of a speed record in Irish property law. At least out here in the wilder west of Ireland.

Now we’re busy packing and the house currently looks like a series of very tidy bombs have just hit it, ripped up huge amounts of packing paper and made most of the contents of my kitchen disappear. The books are all in boxes, well, most of them are. By the time we’re done next week this old place will just be a very tidy shell.

Then the shit is really going to hit the fan. I’m going to be really busy for a while.

That’s it, I think

Don’t care what anyone else thinks, but moving money, especially my own and paying large amounts of it to someone else is always stressful. Especially when the other party has all the get up and go of roadkill. Fortunately the people I’ve chosen to do the job are heads up and on the bounce.

Right. My part in the house and land purchase is done. All I have to do is oversee getting the Interweb connected and arrange to fill up the oil tank so we can warm our new place up before the movers do their stuff. The worst is all over bar the shouting, and arrangements are made for the last of the vendors rubbish to be removed, accounts for water and leccy sorted. So, all I have to do is turn up on time to oversee works and stand there looking masterful. All right, stop laughing. I can look masterful when required. Allegedly.

Frankly I’ve begun tuning out all the panicky hand waving COVID stuff. If anyone tries to use it as an excuse not to do things I contract for they won’t get paid, simple as that.

Any whining noises won’t be coming from this end of the house. For my part, recently I’ve had a headache, a minor cough, sense of smell a bit off kilter and felt a bit snotty, but you know what I’m going to do? That’s right. Ignore it. Just like I ignore all minor symptoms. What am I saying?

OH MY GOD! I’VE GOT THE DREADED LURGI! WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE! Full Hazmat everyone! Distribute testing kits! Bill’s got the plague!!!! Emergency! Emergency! AWOOGA! AWOOGA! We’re all DOOOOOMED!!!

Sorry, no idea what came over me there. Take a breath everyone. Panic over. As you were. I’m perfectly fine. A paracetamol took care of the headache, I caught a nap to catch up on the old Z’s and the snottiness and cough disappeared by ten am after a large mug of tea and a couple of biscuits. I’m a great believer in the healing power of a cuppa.

Anyway, there is whiskey, lots of wine and beer left over from crimble, so we’re all good. Apart from Mrs S turning round three or four times a day to say “Bill… have you thought about?” you can hear my eyeballs rolling from over the interweb, can’t you?

That said, there’ll be plenty to do over the next week, but I’m all geared up and as ready as I can be. My office is packed up and ready to go, has been for weeks. As has Mrs S’s. We’ve both been working off the kitchen table, and you know what’s really great? No-one died.

They say there’s no rest for the wicked. Hi ho. If that is true then I must have negative Karma coming out of every orifice because there’s always something clamouring for my immediate, repeat immediate, like do it this minute Bill, attention. It is all, as they say, part of life’s rich tapestry.