The bliss of having a secondary home or holiday cottage.

05/12/2013 17:32

Have you ever dreamt of having a holiday place of your own? Be careful what you wish for – you may get it!

No, it is not as bad as that. There are times when it really is bliss. You can go there whenever you feel like it and you can do in it what you want because it is yours. However, this is only true when you have lots of free time and the holiday place is not too far away. On the other hand, you always go to the same place and if money and free time is not available in abundance, it may be difficult to spend your holidays anywhere else. On top of that, there are always things to do, like fixing a dripping shower or tap, a leaking roof, painting the woodwork, the outside, the inside and if you have a garden, it is even worse! Whenever we come back the garden is a jungle because the soil is so fertile. We can only tame the growth with a powerful strimmer. We have been trying for years the get rid of the montbretias, which are beautiful flowers in their own right but have compeltely taken over the garden.

Do you want a holiday place to go fishing? Go to a hotel or B&B. Do not buy a cottage, because you just will not have the time to go fishing, unless of course your time and money are limitless. There are too many things to do in the house and garden.

We are the lucky ones! We own a small cottage in the south west of Ireland and we are retired. Alan bought it in the early 70s and has been renovating it ever since. When he bought the cottage there was no water, no toilet, no heating. There was electricity – two sockets in the whole house. He bought the house because he likes fishing. He used to go fishing years ago but has not done so for many years now.

There were times when we arrived at the cottage, tired after a very long trip and found that there was no water. Alan had made the water supply himself by laying a plastic (or whatever) tube in the stream that runs past our cottage, high up the hill. He explained the whole process to me but I am not very technical. All I know is that after 20 years of working perfectly we suddenly started arriving here and finding that the water supply had dried up. We had to get buckets of water from the neighbours until Alan found the break in the tube, which meant that he could be walking and standing in the stream for days on end. In the end, we had a well drilled and at least that works – unless there is a very severe frost, which is seldom in this part of the country.

Last year, after a few very wet years he had to open the front door with the help of a piece of wood and a sledgehammer because the door had expanded due to damp.

We arrived here again last Sunday. After a tiring ferry crossing from Liverpool to Dublin (getting up at 4:30 AM), we arrived here at 12.30 after having stocked up at our local supermarket. When putting the key in the lock it did not turn! After trying several times, even with the help of a wrench, which bent the key, it was clear that we could not get in through that (only) door.

Alan managed to open an upstairs window but even from the inside, it was not possible to unlock the door. A different and more destructive method was called for.

We never leave many tools here because when the house is empty everything gets damp. Therefore, when we go to Ireland the car is always packed to the roof (and we have a big car!) and there is just enough space left for Aischa, our Yorkshire terrier.

As the tools are the heaviest part of everything we take with us, they were at the bottom of the car so that nearly all the luggage had to be taken out, before he found the tools he needed. We were lucky that it was a dry day because our possessions were strewn all over the garden!

I tried to stay invisible and not to come up with any suggestions or even asking ‘are you sure the door is locked’ because a neighbour had switched the dehumidifier on the previous day which meant that he had come in! Aischa and I stayed in the car under a nice warm throw and I even managed to get some sleep!

At 4:30 PM, I was told that the door was open and I could start putting the luggage inside.

After having fixed the door and doorframe Alan is now replacing the lock so that tonight we can hopefully get a good night's sleep with both our eyes closed instead of only one and get rid of the axe which has been decorating our bedroom.

However, things have a habit in coming in threes! After all the work Alan had done, we were ready for a cup of tea (funny British habit but we love it). However, the electric kettle did not work so that we had to boil water on the gas ring and that takes ages!

I tried to get connected to the internet on Monday but did not manage to get it. I had been using a Three dongle for quite a few years and never had any real problems so I decided to try the new IT shop I noticed when we drove through town and am now the proud owner of mobile Wi-Fi also from Three and it works great. Faster than the dongle and I can even use my iPad! I am thrilled!

So much for the bliss of having a holiday house of our own.