This summer has been crazy, but fabulous! We moved into our house in the end of June, and although it was just barely habitable, it was such a lovely feeling to finally have our own house again. I hadn't realised how much I had missed having a home. In reality, we hadn't had a home since last spring or so. Last summer, even if we still lived in our house in Sweden, we were preparing it for someone else, and it wasn't like our home anymore.
During the autumn and early winter we lived with my in-laws, which was a good solution but it was a sort of "transfer period" before moving to Ireland. We're very thankful for the rental house we lived in during the first 6 months in West Cork, because it enabled us to move over to Ireland earlier than expected, which made everything so much easier for us. However, while the house was a very good option it isn't adapted for long term lease, and we really wanted to move on to the next step in life.
Now we finally live in our own house again and we are so happy with it! I've probably written before that it's a wee bit smaller than what we need, but the location is perfect, and we love this house.
There was lots of work to do with the house. Other than redecorating, we had to build a kitchen, have plumbing work done, and rewire the electricity. We decided to move in as soon as we had a bedroom, but we had to cook on the grill outside, and brush our teeth in the kitchen because the water wasn't clean enough in the bathroom. Actually, the only truly potable water we had was from the outdoor tap! We were very lucky to find a good plumber who came very quickly to help us connect water pipes to the mains water and he also installed a reverse osmosis filtration system for the water in the kitchen, so we now have an extra tap with top quality water.
It seems to be a well known fact that it's difficult to find good handymen in Ireland, but we've found some really good people, and now the most important work is done. We expected to wait months to have the electricity done, but eventually my husband came across an electrician who said: "I can start in three weeks, is that ok?" and we (or at least I) nearly jumped with joy.
He started working here in mid July, and has been here a couple of days a week. He's very nice and easy going person, despite our sometimes maybe a bit particular or/and geeky requests, he's very competent and has been very patient with us. He'll probably be back for when we need to install an oven but otherwise he did the final work yesterday. Although a total rewire is costly, it has lots of advantages. Safety of course, to start with, and I now understand that Ireland is top class in the world when it comes to safety regulations surrounding electricity. But also - you can decide where you want all your sockets, switches and extra things (if any). Our house is now very convenient and well thought through when it comes to everything electrical.
During this time, the house has been a total mess, but I'm so thankful for our brilliant handymen. I'll highly recommend them both for anyone who needs work done in this area.
We have a lot more things that need to be done with the house, mostly to do with sustainability, such as insulation, heating, and similar. But we need to save money before we can do the rest. We also need a period of peace and quiet, to settle down for a bit and enjoy life. What we will do during the autumn is to paint the walls and replace the floor in the hallway, fill holes from old sockets and similar, and perhaps the most important - get rid of unnecessary stuff and get the house nice and tidy.
Our home is by no means that fancy Pinterest-like home, and of course it will be nicer when it's more tidy. But we're quite happy with it so far!
What about the garden?
The garden has been my hiding place this summer, to escape noise and dust, to not be in the way while people were working inside, and because I love having flowers around me - without flowers I don't get the feeling that it's actually summer. So I've taken time to create some nice flower beds out there.
Despite what many people around here say (I honestly don't know what they expect of the summer here), the summer has been GOOD. It took a while for the warm weather to arrive, but when it arrived, it stayed. An Irish summer isn't like an Italian or Spanish summer, so to me, around 20 degrees more or less every day is a good summer. We've had rain now and then, windy days now and then, but generally, it has been a good summer. I've been out fixing in the garden most days, and have been fine with short sleeves most days. I even burned my shoulders one day. I've had my morning coffee in the garden most days, and we've had dinner outside many times. Compared to most Swedish summers that are usually very unstable, this has been good summer weather - you can't compare Ireland to Spain if we speak about weather.
Anyway, when we moved in here, there was NOTHING planted in the garden. A few trees, and a wall towards some farm fields, and on the walls there are lots of wildflowers. At the wall facing the road there's some ivy, and nearest the road there's a hedge. That was all, folks.
Now I have lavenders, echinacea, rosemary, a few shrubs I don't know the names of, and now lately I've begun to create my rose hedge - or something like it. I've planted rose shrubs and some climbing roses, to cover the ugly wall that faces the road.
I've left a wild area where bees, bumblebees and butterflies are thriving, but have learned that one of the plants there spreads very easily and is toxic to livestock, so I will need to take them down and plant other bee friendly things there for next year. In some of the area I'll plant gorse, to have something that blooms in winter, and I'll see what else I come across. I've made a huge list of good plants for bees and other insects.
This is a lovely plant that some people consider weeds because they spread very easily. I LOVE them. They bloom during August and are so, so beautiful. I already have some of these and I'm planting more along one side of the garden, they will be a nice splash of colour where there previously was a grey ugly ditch.
Except gardening and work on the house, this summer has also included lots of music, new friendships, good dinners, barbecues, and visitors from Sweden. We've been a bit too busy and almost overwhelmed at times, but we've also had lots of enjoyment. In the next couple of posts I hope to share some of what there is to do in our area - it's a very lively vibrant area with lots of activities and good things.