House hunting

I have found heaven in West Cork

A bay mare was standing over a foal curled up sleeping at her feet. Yawning and struggling to keep her eyes open, she was snoozing herself in the sun-drenched paddock of a small white farmhouse. If I had stopped the car to admire the scene every time the scene was this perfect, then I would not have made a mile’s progress on my third house-hunting trip to Ireland. In the country lanes, drivers slowed and waved to me on every bend. A cyclist put his foot on the ground and grinned as though genuinely pleased to see me. Everyone here has time. That’s how it seems anyway. The shop windows

Our East Sussex house-hunting nightmare

The two-acre smallholding lived up to its name in being very, very small indeed. We had to squeeze around the front door one at a time to get into the entrance hall, which was also the front room and the entry to the stairway. It was a red-brick semi in a row of cottages on a ridge overlooking a valley just outside a quaint Sussex village where we stopped beforehand and convinced ourselves we would be happy with one unfriendly café, a novelty homewares store and a hiking shop that was so pretentious it was advertising ‘directional clothing’. The short, block-paved driveway of the house was so steep we didn’t