Here is a pic of our little stone cottage in Ireland. It’s perfect there—the sound of sheep & the waterfall nearby, the wind coming off the tops of the 2 mountains, the smell of grass & sheep, and the beautiful wild flowers everywhere.
The cottage has not been lived in since 1920 and it was used in the past 80 years as a sheep shed. We stayed there overnight in September 2005, sleeping on an inflatable bed and cooking on a propane stove. We have a generator, noisy, but will run the lights for an hour. Brandon made me a little ‘hobbit’ table from the old red milk-painted door and legs from the rhododendron tree that was cut down from the front yard so we can get into the house. We put plastic up over the windows & made a new solid door so the critters can’t get inside while we’re in Maine.
Brandon’s favorite thing to do in Ireland is work on the cottage. He’s happiest with a hammer in his hand building something. I loved putting on my slicker, rubber pants, and ski goggles and using the power washer to blast mortar out of the stones & the layer of stucco off the walls inside & out. There was a slight hitch when we discovered that the stucco held the walls together. The house was built 300 years ago ‘dry’, using just mud or dirt to hold the stones in place. Without the mortar, we had a very nervous 2 days thinking the new doorway into the pig-sty (our new bathroom) would collapse, pulling the house down with it. Brandon managed to fix it and we are now very grateful for cement. We love the look of the original stones but they do make the interior dark & damp, so we are compromising by leaving 1 wall in the living room and the bedroom walls stone, and putting plaster up over the rest.
Sometime soon, we should be able to have Denis come back and put in a septic system and then…. drum rolll… we shall have running water and a toilet INSIDE! When we originally asked Morty about running water, he said “Oh, aye, all the running water you could ever want, right there in the stream. It runs right down from the top of the hill!” Hmmmm….. well…… it surely does, but there are often dead sheep in the stream, so I don’t like the thought of using it much. I’ve heard of wool filters, but I didn’t think they’d still have the sheep attached to it!
As rough as it sounds, we stayed there for 2 weeks and loved it. The 3 drawbacks are: 1: No shower 2: no bathroom at night, and 3: no electric lights without the noisy generator.
Here’s our bedroom. I have to tell you about the first night. We had just finished up for the day, exhausted & dirty, we had chased a family of 6 birds out of the loft earlier and had swept up the mess. Hours of plastic over the windows, making little wooden frames for them all. Just got the bed blown up (THAT was a nightmare!) and had collapsed onto it and blown out the kerosene lantern. …. flap….. flap….whoooossssshhhh…. scritter….scatch…..pfffffffff past my ears. Get up, turn on the light (had to find the matches using the weak old flashlight), and holy-smoly, there’s a MONSTER bat in our house. Yup. It must have been 10″ across from wing to wing. It was just as scared as we were. We jumped up & down, waving our arms & clothes, and ripped off the plastic that had just so lovingly been installed over the windows. “Get out! Fly away !!! Go!!!!” we’re yelling. We’re trying not to kill or maim the darn thing. It was scared and freaking out. We thought we saw him go out, so we put the plastic back up by flashlight, and got into bed again. Just dozing off….
…. flap….. flap….whoooossssshhhh…. scritter….scatch…..pfffffffff It’s BAAAAAACK! Then ensued 90 minutes of lights on, getting up, throwing clothing at it, ducking when it swooped past our heads, shouting & dancing around and waving our arms. Is he out? Yeah, can’t find him. Turn everything off. get back into bed and … you guessed it…….. flap….. flap….whoooossssshhhh…. scritter….scatch…..pfffffffff
Finally, we just figured it’d never go out and we’d see him in the morning tangled up in my hair, but I was sooooo tired I just didn’t care anymore. And I was done being gentle and tender with the damn thing. I was going to hunt it down & get rid of it. No more chances, it had to go.
In the morning first thing I called Karen & asked if I could borrow a baseball bat or a tennis racket or something to kill it with. Karen gasped “Oh no! You can’t KILL it! Poor little batty! Bats are protected in Ireland, you’ll go to jail if you kill it. You must leave it alone.” Yeah, right. “Poor little batty?” This is the girl who FREAKS if she sees a mouse and can bludgeon a sweet little baby mouse to death with glee, if she can get close enough to it. Yet, she is reduced to baby-talk by a bat. And who’s away with the fairies now???
In Ireland, apparently bats are a protected species. If they inhabit your house, the government comes in, kicks YOU out, and turns the house into a bat sanctuary. Of course the government pays you, but really, getting kicked out of your house by bats??? Yes, it is true. On the road to the tunnels in Bonane, there is an old stone house that someone bought 4 years ago to fix up. Finding bats, someone alerted the authorities who swooped down (pun intended) and turned it into a bat house. I tried telling Karen that bats are just mice with wings but she wasn’t buying it. Nor was I….