Monday, 18 February 2019


Standing outside my new house I look around and know the views are beautiful.

I also know that at the moment I cannot perceive all that beauty.

As a writer I’ve been lucky enough to earn a living working from several homes in rural Ireland, and I learned in the first, near Slyne Head in Connemara, that it takes a year.

It takes a year to calm down from the pace and madness of modern life.

It takes a year to become open enough to see all treasures that nature has to offer.

We jet off on holidays and drive around on staycations, grabbing our phones to take pictures of this beach, that mountain, those rolling hills.

We feel we’ve seen them, and wave our photos in the faces of other people, to show off the fact that we’ve been there, done that.

While their images may be planted in our brains and computers, we haven’t really seen them at all.

I know that for me it takes a year of living in peace, through all four seasons, before I can fully appreciate the depth and glory of my surroundings.

Already I’ve started to stare for ages out of windows, to stand in the garden and phase out as I watch the world around me, but also I observe myself, knowing that I’m still twitching around like a post-traumatic fart in a colander.

I’ve a long way to go before I see it all.

I’ll get there, day by day, and this time next year, when I stand in this garden, I’ll truly be able to appreciate this view.

I’m in no rush; simply excited at the prospect of returning to that state of inner bliss I’ve been lucky enough to encounter in similar homes twice before.

Time now though to stop all this fancy philosophising, and return to the mundane world of practical tasks: to go into town and buy a toaster and a kettle.

The shop is one of those old-fashioned cavernous places that sells everything from rugs to rat poison. A simple plastic kettle and one of those four slice thick‘n’thin toasters, off the shelf, over to the counter, sorted.

Yer man behind the counter neither speaks nor looks at me once. I hold my peace. This is my very first encounter with a shopkeeper in my new town, and I’m a firm believer in arriving in a new community with a very mild plop, rather than a mighty loud bang.

Whatever happens, I’m going to be nice.

As he hands me the receipt he says thanks, leaving me to wonder if his attitude was the result of me being a stranger or my English accent.

Maybe he was just having a bad day, or maybe abject disinterest is the local way.

Back home I discover that the toaster’s slidy handle on the left works, but the one on the right won’t stay down.

Oh bugger, what a hassle, but I might as well deal with it while the transaction is fresh, so I box it up in its plastic bag and cardboard surrounds, and drive back into town.

At the shop I’m greeted by an older fella who seems a lot nicer than the Silent One who sold it to me. Upon hearing my complaint he disappears into a back room, emerging with an extension cable that he plugs into the wall, and then plugs the toaster into that.

I stand and watch utterly bemused. Either I'm a liar who wants to swap a toaster for no reasonable reason, or an eedjit who doesn't know how to use a toaster.

What I am not is a customer impressed by this attitude. I grew up in retail and cannot for the life of me work out why this bloke thinks I’ve nothing better to do with my day than make up stories about a toaster.

I already told him I’ve just moved here, so you might think he’d be interested in keeping my custom, but no. He tests the toaster, which of course works absolutely perfectly, and then he hands it back to me.

I drive home, plug it in, and predictably it doesn’t work.


Next day I go back to the shop, desperately hoping they will do the right thing. I made it clear that I just wanted to swap it for an identical one, so there’s no question of a refund.

Thankfully the older fella makes the right decision, and just gives me another one.

I smile and thank him profusely, going home happy that a combination of patience and experience have turned this first rather trying encounter with locals into a successful, if not wholly pleasant affair.

I will make sure to become a regular patron of the place.

Waiting for my toast to brown I see six black bullocks and one pregnant-looking Jersey cow run into the field outside my kitchen window. The young fellas frolic and skitter about, possibly just released from their Winter sheds.

They chow down like they’ve never seen grass before, but they have. Maybe their memories don’t go back as last Autumn. Equally it’s possible their excitement is one of renewed familiarity with freedom and fresh pasture.

Just to their left is the leaf-strewn hole in the ground where I saw a beautiful fat pheasant emerge an hour ago. I think I saw three chick heads peeping out too.

In a flash of shadow I see behind the hedge a fox the size of a labrador. Rich pickings round here, then.

If I knew no better I’d think I was perceiving it all, but as I calm down over the coming months I know I’ll enjoy discovering more and more detail and depth in the world around me.

Sideways rain pummels this old house’s thick stone walls.

Everything is finally unpacked, and surrounded by the familiarity of my own possessions the place feels like home.

There’s two months of chaotic retro-filing to do in the office, but not right now.

That can wait.

First I’ll enjoy my toast and watch the world outside.

©Charlie Adley


Renato Zanette said...

I'm italian, I come on holiday to Galway every year and I appreciate a lot what you write and how you do it. Your stories are pleasant and relaxing. Thank you very much Charlie.

Renato Zanette
Treviso - Italy

Charlie Adley said...

Thank you Renato. Much appreciated. I'm glad you enjoy the column and Galway.