Posted by: jeanne | October 29, 2010

the cottage

whoopeee, i got a new computer, fresh out of the box, and it reads cds and dvds.  and it has a sound card.  not too much to ask for $300, is it, tech ex-husband who can’t be bothered keeping my computer up and running.  so i’m very happy.  and now i can start to post some of the wonderful pictures i took in kerry in september.

about the only thing i didn’t get was the loft bedroom, which i found was different in every cottage.  mine had little space except for a bed, and i turned it sideways in order to stop knocking my head against the ceiling getting into bed.  placed lengthwise along the gable end of the cottage,  i could walk down the center peak of the ceiling and come into bed sideways.  made more sense to me.  i used the hangers that were there to festoon my clothes from nails pounded into the beams, and draped my jeans and sweatshirt over the ballustrade every night.  and in the morning kicked back the duvet and let the bed air out until it was dark and time to read my chapter and go to sleep.

this is how far they had to go to conform to disability regulations.  you can not only swing a cat, but can run races with your wheelchair in the bathroom if you like.  tho personally i’d run a wheelchair race down the road to boolakeel if i were doing it.  the shower is an instant shower:  pull the cord and the box heats up the water and pumps it out with nice pressure.

the furniture in the cottage consisted of this large, painted-up work table, a basic folding easel, a comfy couch, a table and some chairs, a dresser with drawers for storing stuff, a wooden settle that i could store a lot of packing material in, a closet with a hot press which is also good for storage, but you have to share it with a spare bed.  i brought the computer, the two other easels, floor rugs, and a bunch of really godo kitchen equipment, simply because i could.  if you’re limited to checked luggage, then you’ll bloody well make do, and it’s all there so there’ll be nothing to complain about.

my studio arrangement changed several times, depending on the use i made of the computer, the self portrait that you see in the foreground that needed to be painted in dim light so the mirror wouldn’t shatter, the fabric work that took up one whole wall.

this is what i did with the stairs.  there’s about four inches in the narrow spaces, and you don’t want to put your toes there and hope to hold on, so you might as well fill it up with t-shirts and jeans and socks. your novel and your flashlight.

this is why i did something with the stairs.  they’re the kind of stairs you might find in a fishing boat, and they’re traditional somehow.  the older cottages have just plain ladders up to the loft, but the newer ones have this traditional setup, which would be dandy if the pitch weren’t so steep.  once you get used to them, you’re grand.  but the first night you’re there you need to be really careful, and you need to always have a light on so you can see your next step.  and it’s really really important not to go and get drunk and then have to get up in the middle of the night to pee.  if you can’t make the stairs, there is sleeping available on the ground floor, and nice accommodation it is, too.

this is what it looked like from outside and a bit uphill so you can see into the studio part.  the end wall is something like 3′ thick, you can see the white line of plaster at the corner of the skylight.  there’s a front door and a back door, back from when they milked the cows inside and didn’t want them stampeding thru the kitchen.  that little window is plenty big, and is in the kitchen.  there’s a window in the loft, one in the bathroom, and one in the living room.  the studio, of course, is nothing but window, and the view is of the mountain behind the village.

this is a very functional kitchen, the stove of which will mystify any american.  plenty of shelf space, loads of dishes.  the fridge is dorm sized, and there’s a tiny freezer, but you can fit quite a lot of food into it.  you’ll want to keep your vegetables in a bowl on the counter the way they do it in europe, and your pints of guinness under the sink until they’re ready to be chilled.  the kitchen is fully equipped with all the basics and some exotic extras, like plastic bag ice cube makers, quite ingenious.

this is the fireplace.  to the left you can see the storage heater, one of two, that actually do all the heating.  i had mine both cranked up all the way and they kept the place toasty all day and night.  had to throw the covers off and open the loft window sometimes.  but when the wind is up or you’ve got a chill or are just feeling romantic, you can burn a lot of things in the stove.  starting it and / or keeping it lit are challenges you’ll have to overcome for yourself, but anyone up there will be glad to show you how to do it, and won’t laugh at you because everybody has the same trouble.  use firestarters.  you can get pressed briquettes in cahirciveen, and wood the same, but the housekeepers will bring you a whole basketfull of hand-cut turf.  it’s so nice to go out for a little walk and come back to see your chimney putting out tendrils of smoke.

the bed linens and towels and dish cloths and floor rugs are all kept in the little laundry room above, if you run out or need clean ones.  you can do your laundry in the sink and dry it on the line like i did, or go spend a few bob to wash and dry it in the machines.

so that’s what the cottage is like.  the wind whistles thru the cottage when it’s howling outside, and the rain patters on the skylight, the studio lights shoot up the hill and light the rocks every night, and the sheep munch their ways by the road every morning at dawn.


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