06 August 2014

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I was awake early this morning and decided to get up. The sun was shining--but happily, not for long! Soon it started to cloud up and before long, the rain was coming down hard. I love mornings like that. The mail carrier buzzed us and Bill went down to pick up a package. He was surprised that it was the anniversary surprise he'd ordered for me only yesterday--3 350 yard hanks of aran tweed yarn--one blue, one green, and one purple. Yay! Our anniversary is not for 2 1/2 weeks still, but it was a nice surprise on a nice morning in our nice flat located in a nice neighborhood.

In spite of the boy racers and weekend drunken revelers on the main road, we do live on the edge of a nice little neighborhood with a diversity of people. There are people of all different ages here, from families with children of all ages, to middle aged folks, to elders. We frequently see some elder gents riding wobbily on their bikes--no helmets of course. Last week we were walking down the busy street one afternoon when we saw one of them turn from our road onto the busy street and slowly pedal along as the traffic slowed behind him. I was a bit fearful for his safety, but then I reminded myself that he'd probably been doing the same thing for a long time and knew what he was doing.

There are Irish people, Polish people, Muslim people, and at least a couple of us from the US in this little neighborhood.

To give you a sense of things, here is the busy road as seen from our doorway:
You can see the metal poles, which are all over the place in town, and you can see the bent one where someone obviously had a problem coming around the corner. Our bedroom windows are just above where Bill was standing.

This is the view down our street as seen from across the main road:
And our entrance door--the only way in:
Our bedroom windows are the one above the blue door and the one above the ground floor windows. There is a different apartment to the right of the stairwell and on top of the optometrist, but we do not share a wall with that apartment because the stairwell is in between. There's an older guy who lives underneath us.

Beyond our building you can see the terraced houses on the right. They have different colored doors and there are two #6s, both with green doors.

Here's the view from down the street down the street a bit, looking back toward our flat:

Our sitting room window is the top one on that angled part of the last building on the left.

A little farther down the road is the green space:
I think it's great that this is here. You can't see them in the photo, but the Tidy Towns people have made little corner flower beds and someone regularly mows the grass. The kids in the neighborhood play there a lot. The gardens (yards) are very, very small, so it's nice for the kids to have a big play area!

Surrounding the green are what would be called duplexes in the US, but are called semi-detached houses here. It seems that you can buy just one half if you're so inclined. Sometimes one side is painted one color and the other is painted another color--this works most of the time, but I have seen examples where the colors of the two halves don't really go well together! For the past couple of months, there have been people out all around town painting their homes, businesses, and walls.

Many people walk here, so there are always people coming and going. We start to notice their habits--the guy who lives down the street and always goes to the library when they open so he can use a computer, the older gents who go to Centra to buy a paper every morning, the woman who always walks down the street with her shopping bag, and the family who go out to the store--mom, dad, 4 kids on foot and one in a stroller. We used to see an older guy out with his older dog. Both were very, very slow. The dog had legs that were only a few inches long and he was as slow as his person. They went well together. Last week I saw the guy without the dog and I worried that the dog was sick or perhaps was deceased. We don't see the man out there walking by himself. He stopped at one point and kind of turned around and looked. He seemed a little bit lost.

It's funny how in such a small area, you can go from a bustling town center, to a small neighborhood, to a rural neighborhood, complete with cows and sheep in the fields. From the green space in the last photo, it's a few steps to the end of the sidewalk and a few more to the field with the hungry cow. I like being able to easily move from one to the other.


  1. It's a whole different style of leaving. There is just so much concrete along your street. And your building is right at the street edge. How many people live in Ballinrobe?

    Smaller spaces are typical here in Australia too -- house size and lot size. And much less urban sprawl. I like it.

    1. There is a lot of concrete all over--at least in the towns we've visited. Stone, concrete, and stucco are the building materials of choice. Every town we've been to is basically the same--different layouts and larger or smaller, but the buildings all look pretty much the same.

      Ballinrobe itself has a population of 3682, with more in the surrounding rural areas, according to the 2011 census.

      The buildings/homes right at the edge of the sidewalk are common as well--thus the metal poles, I guess. People drive like maniacs. I would not want to live on the ground floor. You can see why the taxi driver told us that people would tap on the windows when coming home from the pub--I think he used to live on the ground floor on a different road. There are people who live right up against the sidewalk on the main roads--that must be crazy! It's funny what you don't think of--I mean, i would not have taken this flat if it was on the ground floor because I would not want to be right on the sidewalk like that. But it would never occur to me that I would have drunk people banging on the windows in the middle of the night. It made complete sense once the guy mentioned it, but before that, I would not have thought about it! I am not sure whether such things happen to the guy downstairs.

      One thing that's good about the place is that you need a code to open that entrance door. There's a buzzer, but they are not marked and it took us a while to find the one that works for our flat. Bill showed the mail guy, but other than that, no one knows which is which, so we don't get bothered by people knocking on the door. They can't get to our door! This was especially handy during the election season a few months ago!

  2. The houses round the green look like council houses (social housing) but most have probably been sold off to their tenants by now.

    1. Maybe so! It seems like the older people live in them. I am not sure how many rooms they have. One just got a paint job yesterday--it was a terrible minty green, which I did not like, but Bill thought was better than the white that it is now :-) We looked at a duplex on the busy road--it's just a few steps away from the flat and I can see it from our window. It was 2 bedrooms and a very weird design (fridge out in a storage room, for instance). You could have probably squeezed a kid into this strange room at the front of the house. With families being so large here, there is an abundance of smaller places and not enough places with several bedrooms. That turns out to be good for us because we want something small! I know at least some of the terraced houses by us are rented--one is vacant and had some people come by to look at it the other day. There is a housing shortage in some parts of the country--primarily Dublin, Galway, and perhaps a few other places. The problem is dire in those places, but there is more housing than needed in most places--very poor planning during the boom years. There's more than enough here and I have read that in some towns, they figure there is enough housing for the next 135 years--LOL