A touch of the Irish.

I wrote about how Brenda Peace had rented her Peace Cottage to us on our arrival in the Scottish Highlands but in I think 2005 she decided to sell her Aultbea manse house (vicarage) called Kirkhill House. She needed Peace Cottage to live in herself. Thus Dee and I and our two, by then old hungarian vizslas needed to find another rental. As I have said it didn't take us long to move, literally over the road into Kitty Wiseman's beautiful Loch Ewe Cottage. Had Dee had her way and were she still alive we would be there yet - and probably for evermore.But such was not to be for events took another of those unexpected, therefore unplanned turns.

Our good friend Brenda had sold Kirkhill House to the Hickey Brothers, two Irishmen in a very substantial way of  business living, each with wives and their own families of four down in the south of England. The brothers had no intention of living in Kirkhill or of even spending much time there but, having carried out some extensive improvements they wanted somebody local to become a sort of visiting janitor. Brenda recommended Delia (and me for what use I would be!) And we were glad of the money.    

Mike and Gerry Hickey are not particularly minute gentlemen although they are gentlemen, as we have realised on many occasions since then. When they turned up in their high powered car at Loch Ewe Cottage to 'interview' Dee the two of them and the two of us and our two doggies didn't leave a lot of space in the living room for the the tea and biscuits, nevertheless we got along famously right from the start - Dee and Gerry in particular shared a deep interest in all things world war one. Hey, she / we had the job!. We would look in on a more or less daily basis to check Kirkhill's security and generally look after things, for the place was hardly ever to be occupied by its owners.

My Pictures & Poems micro business was by then doing OK. Along with our Kirkhill income and our State pensions and  two smallish private pensions from my seventeen years at Sweetheart International plc - and now with the Kirkhill supplement - life was financially well balanced enough. In adddition we were kept pleasantly busy, and in addition even to that we were very happy. Or content; not sure about the difference. Then in 2007 we were offered the sale of Loch Ewe Cottage - and came very close to moving ahead on it. I should explain that Dee and I had often discussed and debated whether best for us to rent or to buy? Dee was always in favour of owning house and mortgage whereas for years past I had convinced myself of the advantages in terms of freedom of movement of  renting or leasing - but only if one kept well clear of Mrs Thatcher's iniquitously one-sided short term rental contract. We had always, since I had sold our house in Hayling Island to fund Joan's Nursing Home costs, managed to find super properties to lease; properties with owners who respected the difference between their house and our home, who realised that we were not about to degrade their property, who had no aversion to dogs or cats and who were willing to negotiate a private form of lease - just like real grown ups!

Just as I was about to cave in to Dee's wishes two things happened. First, the event I had been anticipating for years, i.e. house price collapse - indeed the UK property market collapsed like a pricked balloon. Second, I took a telephone call one morning from Mike Hickey's personal assistant down in Kent; Would I mind, she enquired, if she asked me what rent I was paying for Loch Ewe Cottage? In a nutshell Mike and Gerry would, if we wished, rent us the more than twice as large Kirkhill House at that same price level. Five years lease renewable; yes we could have whatever pets we liked and yes, we could operate whatever businesses we liked, obviously Pictures and Poems and potentially the B&B for which Kirkhill was pretty much ideal. On the owners' side they would want to build on a new and very upmarket sunhouse whilst we were there in residence. And we would make sure there was accomodation for the two of them on the rare occasions of their visits.My only regret about the deal was my inadvertent upset of Kitty Wiseman, owner of Loch Ewe Cottage. She and daughter Ann and Dee had become good and close friends and did not want us (mainly Dee) to leave them..

We were due to move house in the January. In the previous month the area had suffered the worst and most prolonged snows and ice in many years. One freezing morning I emerged from the car at the top of Loch Ewe Cottage's driveway only to perform a backwards somersault and land with a massive thwack on head and back. Dee said the solidity of my head had saved me but honestly, all joking aside, I thought my back and/or hip was broken. I have never had to suffer overmuch in the way of physical pain, I'm pleased to report, but that fall sure made up for it. Anyway late in January 2009, with considerable help from our local friends, we moved in to Kirkhill House.
as it transpired this was to be journey's end for Dee. It could - indeed it may still  be for me as well. But that all lies ahead ....

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