The Glens…And Harley Pup

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A frozen glen in the Derryveagh Mountains 2021

There are thirty mountain ranges in Ireland, with glen’s running down through them. The word glen comes from the Irish and Scottish word ‘gleann’ and means a narrow valley, more often than not with water cascading down through it cutting through the rock as it goes. We are currently living near the Derryveagh Mountain range in Donegal. My understanding is that it is the Bluestack mountains that we will be able to see from the house we are hoping to buy, which is good news as far as I am concerned.

I have written before of my love of the glens. When I was a very young child we would visit Ireland on holiday, and whilst my dad helped his brother on his farm I would play with my cousins in the glen that run past the side of their farmland. There was a small stone bridge that straddled the freezing cold sparkling water as it ran down from the mountains to meet the sea, and we would all congregate under the bridge on warm sunny days catching tiddlers and then letting them go. It is one of my favourite memories of my holidays in Ireland.

The glen of Aherlow which run past my uncles farm

Ever since then I have always been fascinated with the beauty of the glens, as they catch the light and take it with them to the sea.

The last time I was in Ireland before moving here, was thirty-six years ago when my dad brought the whole family, including boyfriends of the time, to visit his family. I can remember walking up what I think were the Galtee Mountains and along the edge of the Glen of Aherlow; the further you walked up the mountain the bigger the glen was in places, sometimes a raging torrent angrily hurtling down the hills, as if it really didn’t want to leave it’s surroundings but compelled by some sort of magic to keep going anyway. The sun was shining and the glen was at it’s most magnificent, a watery jewel that only nature could create.

The glen of Aherlow in the mountains

My partner at the time had a terrible wound on his hand, he had caught it with a grinder and took layers of skin off and it just wouldn’t heal. My dad told him to place his hand in the freezing pure waters of the glen and hold it there. His hand was healed before the holiday was over.

My Beautiful Boy Harley

For those new to my blog, of which there seem to be quite a few so welcome, our Welshie Harley has always loved water, and especially the light that sparkles on it. There was never a moment of peace when our pool was in place for the summer, no laying in the water and relaxing because Harley would just be stood up beside the pool barking incessantly until you splashed him, and he would then chase the sparkling droplets all around the garden. It was the same with the hose, he just loved it.

Harley at the Pool
Harley chasing sparkling water courtesy of daddy

It was one of the things that broke our heart when we took it down for the last time. But we comforted ourselves that he would love his life here.

Harley had a terrible health scare back in 2017 when he nearly died. Since then we have always been afraid that it would have affected him in other ways, add to that he is not getting any younger and it is always a worry.

Towards the end of last year we had another health scare with him, which resulted in me being in tears for a whole weekend until we decided to ‘wait and see’. But one of the things that I said at the time, through the tears was that I just wanted to get Harley to Ireland, and for him to see the beaches, and more importantly the glens, with their sparkling magical light that I knew my boy would love.

I was not wrong.

Although we have not been able to go into the mountains for walks due to the dreaded lockdown we have been able to experience some of the glens as they finally meet the sea; and Harley, like his mummy, has absolutely loved them.

We have visited a town near to us where the glen finally runs free into the sea, gurgling hysterically as it’s journey finally comes to fruition. Harley could not resist getting closer to take a look.

A few weeks ago we went to the long beach near to us, and there was a small glen trickling down to freedom, because we have not been able to get into the mountains we showed it to Harley, it was one of those moments that makes you smile.

I cannot wait until we can go into the mountains and my boy can finally stand in their healing waters. More to come on this subject.

Rosie

It’s Just A View….

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Dunmore, Donegal, Ireland January 2021

Only recently someone said to me that ‘Yousure know how to find a view’. I thought of it the other day as I was pegging out my washing in the blustery winds and suddenly stopped and looked at this…

As I turned and found myself looking at this on the other side, It did just make me stop and think of that conversation.

But I was also reminded of a conversation I had last summer with an elderly lady that I cared for. She had the most amazing view from every room in the home she had lived in for over fifty years. When I commented on the view she said ‘Yes, it’s a view!’ I understood exactly what she meant, a view is a fleeting thing, something that holds you in awe for a time and then it becomes like the sideboard, something that you take for granted, something that you have seen over and over, it no longer makes you go ‘wow!’ Unless you stop at times, and look out and remind yourself of how lucky you are.

When we first moved to Montaigu in France the view across the valley literally took my breath away.

I would stand at my washing line and look across this valley and remind myself ‘I live here!’ In the same way as I would look out of my bedroom window at the hay bales as summer drew to a close and marvel at the colours, and nature.

As time moved on although we never really tired of the view I can’t say that we were ‘in awe’ any longer, not unless we made ourself stop, and count our blessings.

But every morning if I was up early enough to see the sunrise I would rush out in my jymbi jambes and slippers and take photos of the sunrise, because no two were ever the same, all truly breathtaking. We count that view as a blessing, something in our memories for the rest of our lives.

Now I find myself here in Donegal Ireland, surrounded by mountain ranges and beaches, it is the most atmospheric place that I have ever lived.

As I walk to the beach the colours change over and over, as does the weather with the sun, wind and rain.

I think it will be impossible to become bored with this, but I also think that’s because we try to always focus on the here and now, never take anything for granted, and count our blessings. One of those is that I have a view, but is it in the perspective? Can we not see something beautiful wherever we are? I don’t know I think I’ve been blessed.

More to come.

Rosie

Invigorating Cold Atlantic Winds

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Kincasslagh Donegal Ireland

The cold is here in Ireland, along with most of North West Europe, but so far we have had only a flurry of snow.

Today RD had an appointment and I was here with the puppies, meaning we walked down to the beach alone. Well apart from the little Jack Russell, who I have nicknamed Fannie Annie, who has decided that she wants to walk with us most days. Wiglet tried to bite her initially, as is normal for our insecure little dog, but Fannie Annie was far too fast for her and in the end our little fat-arsed Oompa Loompa gave up and called a truce.

Wiglet with Fanny Annie,, whose keeping a safe distance

There is nothing like walking in the biting wind, the kind that stings your face, to wake you up and invigorate you.

Winter On The Beach In Donegal

Nature really is a fabulous thing.

When we arrived on the beach the tide was out, and I found myself surrounded by stark winter colours everywhere.

With the dunes taking the brunt of the wind the beach felt calm and the sun was warm on my back, a timely reminder that despite this cold Spring is on its way.

Winter in Donegal

I count my blessings every day.

Rosie

Making A New Life: Home

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Our possible new home, and yes the land comes with it!

Buying a house was one of our priorities after arriving in Ireland. RD and I have always been home makers, we don’t do well without a house that is ours. Many years ago, just after we married I had to sell my previous marital home and we moved into rented accommodation. Luckily our landlady was a gem, and allowed us to decorate and make some changes, but it’s not the same as being able to make big changes or hanging pictures, or shelves.

Luckily we were blessed enough to have a guardian angel who allowed us to buy her house at a time when prices were rising faster than dough. Trust me I am grateful for that every time I buy a home. But that’s not to say that we haven’t worked bloody hard renovating properties, and making them our own, to get us to where we are now.

We love to pull things together and even now we’re not afraid of hard work, but we also know that we’re not getting any younger so with this in mind and due to my leg injury we both agreed that this time we wanted single floor living.

In the early autumn we sat down and each wrote our idyll of what our next house would be, it was a helpful thing to do, enabling us to stay focused this time round and not allowing the romance of a building take over our decision making.

Learning from previous decisions we wanted somewhere that was in a quiet location but within walking distance of community and the pub (of course!) In addition we didn’t want too much land. So by the fifteenth of January we put in an offer for the semi-detached bungalow in the picture at the beginning of this blog, and it was accepted!

It is a tiny house, but has plenty of potential with a half acre paddock at the side, a courtyard and scope to develop if we want to. Situated in a small community it is also only two kilometres from a village with enough pubs, shops and amenities that we can walk to; it is also only seven kilometres from two large towns, and half an hour from the biggest towns in Donegal, whilst also virtually on the border to Northern Ireland, meaning more job opportunities.

In the beautiful county of Donegal and only thirty five minutes from the beach, it holds all we need, we knew that location was essential. We have loved living near the beach, and so have the Welshies, so easy access to the beach at weekends is important for us, but it was also important to be in a quiet place, but not too isolated.

The deposit has been paid, so hopefully all will go smoothly and quickly. It will be the smallest house we have ever lived in, but we know it will be home.

Watch this space. But for now we will be enjoying the here and now.

Rosie

Taking A Spiritual Day

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We have lived here in Ireland just over a month now. Even though we arrived on the 31st given the Journey we had we technically didn’t start living here until the 1st of January, and how time has flown what with all the things we have had to, and still are, sorting out. So much so that I have not given myself that ‘time out’ that I need to ground myself again.

I can be quite driven (I may have mentioned that before) it is one of the things that made me ill years ago, and despite having many processes available to me to slow myself down, like journalling, and reading Mark Nepo or M Scott Peck, or Byron Katie and many more, or allow myself time to just sit and embroider, the urge to create our ‘new life’ has overtaken me and I haven’t done nearly as much of that as I should.

We do take the dogs out every day, and the beautiful scenery around me and watching Harley turn into a puppy again when he hits the beach and Wiglet turn into King Canute, barking at the waves has been a joy; but it still hasn’t stopped my ‘drive’ and I am acutely aware that I need to reign it in or I won’t be able to give myself space to understand what we really need.

Welshies loving The Wild Atlantic Way in Donegal

Yesterday we were busy still trying to open a bank account (ID in any country is just a nightmare, it really is a ‘computer says know’ thing), ordering essentials for our new life, and shopping, when I realised when I got home after a busy day that I was spending too much time watching TV, or searching the internet for information that we needed, and hadn’t been giving myself that ‘time out’ that we all need.

January on The Wild Atlantic Way Donegal

So today I said to RD that I am having a spiritual day: reading Mark Nepo, blogging, reading last Saturday’s newspapers, doing some embroidery staying off searching the internet for ‘stuff.’ My brain needs a time out from trying to control my new life, and thereby allowing my new life to come to me.

So we are off for our hours walk down to the beach, the fire is already lit, and Mark Nepo is waiting to be read. And RD has decided to join me.

Beautiful Donegal Ireland

It’s so easy to be driven, especially when you’re trying to set up a new life and your thinking of the million things you need to do, so I am reminding myself today that what will be will be, and to live in the moment.

This will be my next writer to read.

Rosie

Ireland: Making A New Life in a new country during a Pandemic part I

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I have said many times before that when I started this blog it was to encourage, or help those who wanted to change their lives by reading about our story and thinking ‘I can make change, they did!’ But it’s not easy.

I suppose the best place to start is how we have had to learn to let go of so many things including the houses we have renovated and loved, our jobs, of our knowledge of where we are, of the all the visual triggers for our memories. I know in the last few weeks at Montaigu I had strong memories of the fabulous summer of 2018, of three Welshies running round our garden, of Oscar joining in the fun.

I remember laying on a lilo in the pool on a baking hot summers day and looking up at the endless blue sky and thinking ‘I am laying in a pool in my garden’; the memories of friends who have visited, and looking out across at that fabulous view.

Sweet memories.

Then there is the logistics of just making the move, like we have, twice!! It is very stressful when you have two cats and two Welsh Terriers in tow.

But, it can be done, nothing is insurmountable only sometimes illness and always death. I learned that a long time ago when my mum was told that she was dying of cancer.

Once arriving in your new country there are all the things you have do when you move to a new country, add the pandemic and lockdown into the mix and it isn’t easy at times, this is my experience so far….

I have explained in a previous post that because of Brexit if you are resident in Eire (Ireland) you can no longer drive here on a UK driving licence, it has to be exchanged. But there is more to this, in that despite both of us getting our eyesight reports finally signed off you cannot get the licence without a PPS number. So that was my next point of call…

I applied for our PPS numbers, but to do that I had to register us both on MyGove.ie. This I duly did but to get a PPS number I needed proof of address which is difficult because we are renting an airbnb! So I changed our address on one of our bank accounts to this address but then I had to wait two weeks until a statement was available to download. That done I applied for both of us remotely because due to Covid the normal face to face interviews are not taking place unless in exceptional circumstances.

This in itself was a time consuming task because of numerous problems with the documents going wrong in their system when trying to send electronically, but eventually a lovely lady used her initiative and called us, then emailed us and bypassed the obviously useless system! Three days later letters arrived with our PPS numbers. ‘Fabulous!’ I thought. ‘I can apply for our driving licences now.’ But noooooo…..

To apply for a driving licence you have to enhance your Mygov.ie account, and to do that you have to have a PPS card, and the only way to get a PPS card is to have a face to face interview!

So I am back to square one, and now our signed reports are out of date, as you only have twenty-eight days and we will probably have to pay again!

Today I am contacting the office near to the house we are hoping to buy to try and arrange interviews! It’s all part of the process, and there is more to come, but it’s all part of the adventure, thank God I was a civil servant in a previous life!

Rosie

‘Life’ Prompts: At What Could Have Been A Devastating Time

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There are so many things for us to sort out: bank accounts, house buying, paying French bills, social security numbers (you can’t do anything in Ireland without a social security number) but also, just to add to it, we need Irish driving licences because Ireland will no longer accept a UK driving licence because of Brexit! Add the pandemic into the mix, with half of the institutions you have to go to shut and it’s a joy. But, as someone said to us ‘you do like a big move don’t you?

And why not! Keeps us entertained 😂

Now since living in France, despite trying to get a social security number for five years I was never successful. We’re not the kind of folks who go to the doctor at the drop of a hat so no worries there, but due to the bureaucracy and lack of resources I was not able to get a referral to an eye consultant for the Glaucoma that I had developed at thirty-eight. Neither did I go to the opticians, because you can’t just go to the opticians in France you need a referral and two other hoops to jump through, so I gave up! I would also add to that how I kidded myself that because I was no longer staring at a computer twelve hours a day the Glaucoma had miraculously disappeared. The stories we tell ourselves sometimes!

So on arrival in Ireland the first thing I did was book an opticians appointment for us both. I had promised a lovely client of mine that I would, and she was very dear to me so I needed to keep my word. Also because we needed a report to enable us to get our licences, and the fact that my glasses were now nearly six years old, and I am officially myopic, the opticians appointments were my priority.

On arrival I was seen first. I knew I was in trouble when I could hardly see any of the field of vision test in my left eye. I had the photos of the back of my eye taken as well and halfway through my test the lovely optician informed my pressures were so high she was worried I was going to have ‘a bleed’ and that she was sending me as an emergency referral to the eye clinic there and then. Thank God they speak English, thank God we moved here when we did! She also explained that she believed I had already had a small bleed, that would not have necessarily affected my vision, but given that my pressures were dangerously high I need to go, and I need to go now. In addition she couldn’t sign off my form for my driving licence, something I had always feared since my initial diagnosis, that would no longer have the freedom that driving gave me.

Poor RD his appointment was cancelled and he had to drive like the wind to the hospital in the next county Sligo. On the way he was very quiet and confessed that he was really worried about me. I however was very calm, and explained to him that we could look at the drama, and the negative possibilities, and thereby build it up into a crises or, as I was seeing it, we could see our good fortune: that out of all of the things I had to organise ‘life’ had told me to book the opticians appointment first. That we had now moved to Ireland just in time, as it appeared, to save my eyesight; and that I was now in a country where I could speak the language (never under-estimate that). I actually saw myself as blessed.

When I explained it to him, RD commented that he hadn’t thought of it that way, and now looking at it that way his stresses were less.

On arrival at the hospital, after going through two road checks to ensure our journey was essential, off I went into the hospital. They were absolutely brilliant, no questions as to why I had let my glaucoma get out of hand, no judgement, in fact a lot of understanding. We were where we were, judgement was not going to help.

I was dispatched three and a half hours later with eye drops that make your eyelashes grow (always a half full girl) and we set off in the dark January night for our three hour journey home through the mountains. At this point I will introduce my other blessing that day: RD. He waited in the cold for three hours, walking the puppies who we had thought we could take for a walk around Donegal town, and had brought with us. There were no facilities in this pandemic time for him to even buy a coffee, luckily I brought him one out from the little coffee shop in the hospital, that I passed on my way out. He then drove home in the pitch black, a total of six hours driving that day, with never a word of complaint.

The following week we went back to complete our eye tests. I had religiously applied my drops every day, and I had never allowed my brain to wonder ‘what if?’ I know that what will be, will be, and negative thoughts can bring negative things your way, so I have strong enough processes now to stop my brain going down that road. By the end of the test my eyes had improved sufficiently for my form to get my licence to be signed off. When I asked the young optician (everyone’s young to me now!) if my pressures and eyesight had improved, or was that wishful thinking, he said he thought it was wishful thinking but would check anyway. In fact my field of vision had improved dramatically, my prescription has also reduced and my pressures had gone from dangerously high to within normal parameters, in a week! Even he was shocked. I wasn’t, I was just grateful.

Rosie

Am I lucky? Or Can Anyone Be ‘Lucky’?

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Ever since starting this blog nearly six years ago it has always been my aim to encourage people to just consider something different, to think, to not be afraid.

I have been inspired by many books and philosophies over the years, and although now someone who tries to remind myself of the teaching of the Tao, and follow it where I can, if you asked me what book, to date, has inspired me the most then it would always be ‘The Road Less Travelled’ by M. Scott Peck. It was the book that set me on the path to read the other books, and I would not be the person that I am today if I had not picked that book up at one of the darkest times of my life, a time when I HAD to find myself all over again. (You would need to read my other blog at https://makingthisbetter.com to understand where I was, and why RD is now called RD)

I learned that I could not ‘go back’ and find myself, you can never go back, you can only go forward; and even now when I hear people say ‘let’s get back to normal.’ I hear myself say ‘you can’t go back, you can only go forward, and the ‘normal’ that you knew has gone.’

When I read this book I took on board so many of what the author had to say: how our life is mapped out for us by what we are taught in the early stages of our lives, but that as we grow older and life teaches us, or shows us happiness and sorrow, to truly live our life we need to have the courage to step off the road that was mapped out, and to face uncertainties and our fears, to truly live.

Ever the empath I learned how people project their problems onto you, the proverbial ‘monkey on your back’, or transference as it is known. Once I read that I could see so clearly when people were doing it, but, ever the empath, it was a big learning for me to stop when necessary.

It was because of that book that I was encouraged to look into philosophy, and try to ascertain a deeper understanding of life. I suppose that it taught me to face my fears, and not be afraid, thereby leading me to these adventures, and to quote M .Scott Peck, to understand that ‘someone else was doing the driving.’ I understood that no matter how much we think we are in control of our lives we are not, fate, or ‘life’ as RD and I call it, is.

I understand now that everything has to be a balance: bad things have to happen to enable us to understand the good things when they happen, and to not be afraid of this, or dwell on it, To just take the rough with the smooth. So many people focus on the negative things that happen to them, ask ‘why me?’ ‘Why us?’ and then they don’t see the really small good things that happen and so the negative things just keep happening because they have lost their ‘balance.’

So where is this leading? Well it was all of this that gave me the courage to go on these adventures, to know that everything changes, and to go with that change, to ‘let go of the rice’ (The Book of Awakenings. Mark Nepo).

Some of our garden in France

When we went to France we thought that ‘was it’. We thought that was where we were going to live forever, we felt we had to believe that, because we had sold up all our worldly goods and taken that chance on France, so therefore it HAD to work. Didn’t it? Of course it didn’t! I learned that ‘life’ is about learning and then moving on with the knowledge you have learned.

So we took our learnings from that adventure and we used them to go on to a new adventure. Lots of things were sent our way to help us make that decision, good and bad things, but one that sticks with me was when in 2019, someone who was moving back to the UK after living in France for ten years said that she thought that life went in ten year cycles and that then it was time to move on to pastures new. This was a time when both RD and I were considering whether staying in France was right for us, and her words resonated with me.

Since moving to Ireland I have joined some Facebook groups for the area, and about Ireland. One of them is actually called ‘I’d rather be in Ireland’.

The Beach at Dunmore Donegal Ireland

I have shared some of our photos and how we have now chosen where to settle in Ireland and so many people from all over the world have commented on how ‘lucky’ we are. Of how envious they are.

Snow Topped Errigal Mountain Donegal January 2021

It really got me thinking. Are we lucky? Or have we faced our fears?

Or are we perhaps lucky that we are able to face our fears, or open our minds?

January Sunset, Donegal Ireland

Remember it as one of the most painful things of my life that brought me to this stage, and I can confidently say that the same can be said for RD. some people would look at what happened to us then and pity us. But look at where it got us: to a place where we know that in life there is nothing to fear, only fear itself. Enabling us to take these chances.

RD had never ever been to Ireland, but he had faith in me, enough to trust me, who would have thought that, given that years ago he thought I was waiting to take my revenge!

I suppose what I am trying to say is if you look at someone and think ‘I wish I could do that’, then your brain starts to put all different obstacles in the way, I am saying understand they are obstacles but you can do it.

January in stunning Donegal

It won’t be easy. Look at our recent experiences: Christmas was cancelled, sad to leave our home and our wonderful French friends, difficult journeys, saying goodbye to our beloved pets we had to leave behind because they had departed, working so hard we felt like we would drop, and still so much more to do…. but it can be done.

Lots to tell you, more to come

Rosie

Inspired …Winter Walks In Ireland

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Wild Atlantic Way, Kincasslagh Donegal

Since living here I have realised how little we actually walked when living in France. Having just under an acre of land the dogs had enough space to roam, our road was over 2km long, and after you’d done that walk often it became a bit boring. So we became a lazy, just sitting under the trees in our then garden, and looking out over the beautiful view.

The View From Our Garden In France

It’s been cold here since our arrival in Donegal in Ireland, so at times our walks have incorporated wild wild winds, or mizzle (a mixture of mist and drizzle, the name coming from Cornwall) or just bracing cold in bright sunshine, and sometimes in the setting sun.

A Wall of Wave on The Wild Atlantic Way Donegal Ireland
January Sunset On The Wild Atlantic Way Donegal Ireland
Welsh Terriers OnThe Beach In Donegal Ireland
January Sunset On Carrickfin Beach The Wild Atlantic Way Donegal Ireland

Now we are renting a house where the grounds are not secure, so we have to take the Welsh Terriers for a long walk every day. But there is no ‘have to’ to be fair, because when the colours in your surroundings seem to change every few minutes, and your scenery is mountains and beaches, and the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ we don’t need any encouragement.

Snow Capped Mountains in January in Donegal Ireland

After every walk we come home with our faces stinging and pink from the cold; and despite often being sopping wet (this is Ireland after all) we feel invigorated. We have even downloaded walking apps onto our phone, and in the last week I have achieved over twenty five thousand steps and burned off over two thousand calories. It is good for me because I have an injury to a very small muscle in my arse, it’s chronic and I’ve had it a number of years, but the walking is strengthening my other muscles, although we have decided that I need a walking stick to help me get up the banks on the beaches, and to climb some of the dunes. Who would have thought such a small muscle could incapacitate you to such a degree! But I am undeterred, you have to keep going.

Eregal Mountain January In Donegal

Today the mountain range was covered in snow, which blew in last night. There we were on the beach looking at the snow covered mountains.

The dogs absolutely love their beach walks, and Wiglet who used to be terrified of our swimming pool in France, is in awe of the sea. She stands, like King Canute, barking at the waves, commanding them to go back. Then hilariously keeps jumping and looking back as the creep up behind her, as if to say ‘They’re following me!’

Wiglet Commanding The Waves

No matter how cold, both of them run in and out of the surf, and stand facing the wind, ears on alert. It really is a simple thing that we love in these difficult times.

We love living here.

Rosie

Winter Sunset Carrickfin Donegal Ireland