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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

There is an understandably romantic air to staying in a cottage that was rebuilt from the remains of an old famine cottage, staying at the very edge of the coast of Ireland, in a cottage with no central heating, it's own water source, no television and a dubious history of electrical failure. Many improvements have been made over the years, and it's not quite the old-fashioned experience it was in my youth. For a start, insulation has been put into the roof, so that now when it rains at night there is a quiet pitter-patter that lulls you back to sleep, rather than the roar of water landing on tin that we used to be woken by during our childhood. This also means that the mice that live in the roof can no longer peak their heads out at you just before the lights are switched off at night.

The only drawback, really, is the fact that the toilet doesn't flush. You learn a lot about a person while staying in a cottage at the most westerly point in Europe, accompanied only by two small dogs and with no meaningful human contact to speak of for a full week, but goodness me you learn an AWFUL LOT MORE about yourself when you're forced to go outside in the pouring rain wearing nothing but tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt and fill up two large water bottles with water from a tank which collects the rainwater from the gutters and then go into the toilet and pour them, slowly and deliberately, into the toilet pan while desperately trying not look at what's floating about and good lord jesus christ trying to avoid the inevitable splash back.

All in all though, it is now the most comfortably place I've ever stayed that is totally devoid of any mod cons, and although we did bring Eggers, my laptop with us so that we could watch Dr Who DVDs at night, we spent more time simply staring into the turf fire and contemplating the huge things in life, like trying to guess how long a crab will live for, left to its own devices. The most important rule of staying in the cottage for any duration of time, I learned very quickly as a youngster, is to keep the fire burning. It became immediately apparent that He Who Only... was some kind of fire building expert, able as he was to start a fire from merely a pile of glowing embers and a some lumps of damp turf. Every night was spent arranging and rearranging the turf around the glowing heart of the fire, and by the end of the week we had both managed to achieve a strange tanned effect on our faces through spending most evenings totally hypnotised by the dancing flames.


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