15 April 2014

Unpacked, But Unsettled

We’re all unpacked, but still unsettled in our new flat. We met the letting agent last Thursday at her office. Joe, from the B and B, had driven us the hour from Oranmore to Ballinrobe--he let us off, then parked and waited for us. We went in and signed two copies of the lease agreement, expecting that we would get to take one with us, but that wasn’t the case. She said she’d get the landlord to sign it and mail a copy to us. Then she said she’d meet us at the flat, so we rushed out, hopped in Joe’s car, and directed him there. She was right behind us. When we got there she brought the keys upstairs and unlocked the door. She went to hand the keys to Bill and Joe said, “Only one set of keys?” She seemed taken aback by this, but recovered and rather breathlessly said that the landlord would bring another set when he came on Saturday. This was the first we heard of this upcoming visit, and the last--it never happened anyway.

The listing for the flat said that internet service was part of the deal. However, it also listed a dishwasher as one of the “mod cons” and we do not have one of those, either. I do not care about the dishwasher, since it wouldn’t be practical for us to use one anyway. I do care about the fact that I cannot get online. There is a strong signal and we wondered whether the whole building is covered, but if so, we have no security code--and no contact info for the landlord, which we assume is in the rental agreement that we do not possess. So we have to find out whether we already have service or whether we have to set it up. She kept repeating that it was nice that there would only be the one other bill (electricity) besides the rent, but she was so rushed and inattentive that I do not feel confident actually believing anything the woman told me.

The other issue is trash and what to do with it. We asked about this as we were signing the lease agreement and the response was, “Ah, trash. I am pretty sure he has an arrangement with the flower shop downstairs for tenants to throw the trash in their dumpster.” We paid a call on the flower shop and the woman there was bewildered. She said the boss would be back tomorrow, so we might want to stop by and talk to her.

The building in which we live is on a corner--facing the main road is the flower shop, an open unit, and an optician’s office. There is one apartment behind the optician downstairs and three upstairs. Ours is off by itself facing the side street. There’s a deck in back with a picnic table and clothesline--that deck is the roof of part of the flower shop.

Joe came upstairs with us too, last Thursday and thank goodness he did! When the letting agent rushed off, he stayed and showed us how to work the water heater timer and the heaters which are in each room. The water heater is set to come on during off-peak hours and the room heaters will do the same, and then store the heat, which will be dissipate during the day.

I am typing this on Monday, but will post on Tuesday, since that is the next day the library is open and we need their internet connection! We are also hoping to have access to our rental agreement by tomorrow--we need it for proof of address, so we can start the process of opening a bank account and stuff like that. Since Easter is next weekend, we are thinking that things may be closed on Friday and/or Monday.

We’ve been walking around and exploring a bit. We went in one direction yesterday and then went to find out how far out the Tesco is--there’s a small grocery store a few blocks from our house and we did shop there when we first arrived, because we were tired and didn’t want to go far. They are quite adequate. Tesco seems to have better sales, though, so I will probably utilize both of them--Tesco’s about a 15-20 minute walk. Today we walked in a different direction just to see what we would see. We came across the ruin of a church with a horse in the adjoining field. He came up to the wall when Bill stopped to take pictures. I wished I had brought a carrot or something!

The other day we stopped in one of the charity shops we’ve come across in town--there are at least 3 of them. We went into the Hospice shop and browsed through the books. It was so strange to be unpacking and to have so few books to find places for, so we started building up the collection once again. They were a euro each or 5 for 4 euro--we walked out with 5. Then Bill spotted a photography book he wanted while we were on our way out, so he grabbed that, too. This took away half of our backpack space for the groceries we were on our way to get, but I’d brought an extra bag and we’ve clipped our Chico Bags to our backpack zippers so we’ll have them available. We managed to get it all home. When the books have been read, we will probably bring them back to the shop to be sold again.

Other than the annoyances of not knowing what to do with trash and the lack of connectivity, we are pleased with the flat. It is very comfortable and quiet. One of the first things I did was to rearrange the furniture in the dining area/sitting room because there was too much of it clustered in the center of the room and everything seemed cluttered. I do not like clutter. By moving things back and against the walls, the room is more open and airy. There are windows at either end as well, so it’s quite bright. We did go out and buy pillows, sheets, and towels but just about everything we needed was here when we arrived--pots, pans, dishes, flatware, glassware, a toaster, and we even found a drip coffee maker and a laundry rack. Where the drip coffee maker came from, I would be curious to know--we have not seen them in any stores--we looked. Even in a “home goods” store in Oranmore, all they had were French presses and stainless steel pots in which to make the instant coffee that is everywhere here (even in the coffee shop we stopped at when we first arrived--for some reason I expected something different from a place called “Coffee Academy!!”). The Tesco in Oranmore had French presses, too, and I was resigned to buying one. We were also going to pick up a laundry rack in Tesco--we have the clothesline outside, but with frequent outbreaks of rain, even on days that start out sunny, it seemed wise to have a rack. Now we don’t have to buy either thing.

One other thing we will not have to buy is the hair clipper thing that Bill uses to shave his head. He left his behind due to weight and space issues with the luggage. He figured he’d have to buy a new one sometime. Instead he opened a drawer in a nightstand and there was exactly what he needed. It had a funky plug--not Irish and not US, but we tried it in our adaptors and it works just fine!

On a more general level, I have been very surprised at the amount of litter and dog poop that is everywhere--at least in Ballinrobe and Oranmore. There are plenty of trash bins around, but apparently many people can’t be bothered to use them and there is trash everywhere. I have also learned to pay attention while walking because many people do not seem to feel obligated to pick up after their dogs. Fortunately, so far at least, these people apparently have small dogs. All this littering seems really disrespectful to me and it seems a shame that so many seem to have so little regard for their communities.

Bill is unable to connect at the library, so for now, we can't post photos.

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