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- Kingsfort Gate
Mr Billy Bull
Up the long and winding lane
I am very blessed to be able to live in Paradise …..in fact, I split my time between Paradise of either side of the Atlantic. And I live very different lives in County Meath, Ireland and South Florida. While there are many similarities, I want to share some of the differences.
In Ireland I live in a 3 bedroom bright, sun-filled house on top of a hill, almost half a mile up a dirt lane in the middle of 400 acres of grazing land. The stone wall that surrounds much of the property is guarded by a gate whose stone pillars proudly state KINGSFORT. In Jupiter, Florida, I live in a 2 bedroom and loft townhouse with windows that don’t seem to get much sunlight at any time of the day or year. It’s in a gated community on a golf course and a 5 minute walk to the beach. A white metal spiked fence surrounds much of the complex and a turquoise sign proclaims THE ESTUARY. The electronic gate needs a code or remote to open it.
My neighbors in Kingsfort are few. At the bottom of the hill in each direction is a single home, owned by siblings. I can’t see either of them from my windows. It’s very quiet, restful and, well, bucolic. Only an occasional farm vehicle rumbles by. Most of the noise is made by the bull in the field calling his “girls”. Sometimes a calico barn cat (her name is Miss Puss) will dance on the window sill and sing for her supper.
There are 154 units in The Estuary so I have neighbors. And their cars. The landscapers are kept constantly busy on the grounds, including the golf course, and they use lots of power tools to cut, trim and groom. My neighbors on one side , up and down, both have little white dogs. One barks when a stranger (me) walks by the door and the other barks at almost everything. Since I returned almost 2 weeks ago, the neighbor in back of me has had on-going renovations, conducted primarily in his open garage, requiring much drilling, hammering, sawing, etc. Added to this cacophony, today was the day the driveways were power-washed. More noise…………..not quiet, restful or bucolic!
Everyone knows that driving is different in much of the world. In Ireland I drive on the left, the steering wheel is on the right , you look RIGHT then LEFT. I drive a manual transmission in both countries. In Ireland I shift with my left hand, in the US with my right. Thankfully, the pedals are always in the same place!
In the US on-street parking is plentiful and usually free. In Ireland, in most towns, the streets are very narrow, parking is scarce and people park on either side of the street regardless of which direction the car is facing. Also, you must find a parking ticket machine, feed it Euro coins and purchase a ticket to be displayed on the dash. Failure to do so entails either a fine of at least 80 Euros (just over $110) or a clamping of your vehicle, which can take hours to get removed as well as costing a minimum of 160 Euros. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced each situation…but only once.
In Florida, I go to a very elegant, up-scale, state-of-the-art salon where my car is valet parked. There are more than 30 stations as well as a separate barbershop, manicure room, pedicure area with massaging chairs, a row of shampoo sinks, a make-up and skin care facility, 5 changing rooms, etc, etc, etc. It’s where the “beautiful people” go. As you’re being groomed, you can sip your choice of wine, coffee, tea or water. If you’re hungry they will send someone to the deli to bring back your lunch. The floor to ceiling windows gaze out at acres of million dollar yachts and sailing vessels.
In Moynalty, I go to Mandy’s house, even farther out in the williwags than mine. I park in her large forecourt next to her husband’s pick-up and her people-carrier. I then let myself into her efficient 2 chair, 1 sink salon addition at the back of the house. Rarely is there another customer at the same time but her 15 year old son and 2 1/2 year old daughter are always in and out. No credit cards, only cash (about a third of the cost in Florida). And I’m always offered a beverage, sadly never wine! The view out the large windows is of her rose garden and a rising hillside covered with sheep.
There are many other differences and similarities, of course. I’ll tell you about those later.