Hello readers! I’m happy to share excerpt from Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds 2 by Nick Albert as part of blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources. Read more about this memoir and excerpt in this post.
Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds 2 – Still living the dream in rural Ireland by Nick Albert
Book 2 in a series
Publication Date: 11th June 2018
Genre: Memoirs, Humour
Nick and Lesley’s desire for a better life in the countryside was a long-held dream. Unforeseen events and a leap of faith forced that dream into reality, but moving to rural Ireland was only the beginning of their story.
Foreigners in a foreign land, they set about making new friends, learning the culture and expanding their collection of chickens and unruly dogs. But their dream home was in desperate need of renovation, a mammoth task they attacked with the aid of a DIY manual, dwindling funds and incompetent enthusiasm. With defunct diggers, collapsing ladders, and shocking electrics, what could possibly go wrong?
Will their new life live up to expectations, or will the Irish weather, dangerous roads, and a cruel twist of fate turn this dream into a nightmare?
An exclusive extract from Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds 2, written by bestselling author Nick Albert and published by Ant Press.
Although Nick and Lesley Albert moved to Ireland on a whim, their desire for a better life in the countryside was a long-held dream. Unforeseen events and a leap of faith forced that dream into reality, but getting to Ireland was only the beginning of their story.
Now foreigners in a foreign land, they soon set about making new friends, learning the culture and expanding their collection of chickens and unruly dogs.
In this scene, Nick decides it’s time to cut the front lawn for the first time.
Before leaving England I had purchased, second-hand, a solid American-built petrol lawnmower, which had done sterling work keeping the grass of our British garden under control. It had a powerful Briggs and Stratton motor, a 14 inch rotary cutting action, powered wheels, and a handy grass box. After giving this sturdy steel thoroughbred machine a good service and oil change, the engine was purring efficiently and the freshly-sharpened blade was whirring in eager anticipation. Confident everything was working as advertised, I began cutting the half acre of front lawn at Glenmadrie for the first time.
After just three paces, the engine stalled. Several hard pulls on the starter cord failed to restart it and, on further inspection, I discovered the blade was completely jammed by a large chunk of grass. I cleared the obstruction and began cutting again, with a similar result. Growling in frustration, I pulled the grass away by hand and re-started the mower. Three more steps and the engine stalled again. As I screamed in frustration, the self-assured smile quickly left my face, to be replaced by a grim scowl.
This mower was obviously a well-designed machine, perfectly suitable for the neat cutting and collection of dry grass in the heat of California, or Texas, or even Essex. But it had no chance of coping with the lush and constantly dew-wet meadow grass growing in Ireland. Clearly, I needed to do some modifications – or buy several goats.
To upgrade our mower to Irish conditions, I attacked it with a hammer, a saw and a recently acquired electrical gismo called a disc cutter. This evil-looking toy made a terrifying noise and vibrated like a live snake, but it produced a delightfully pretty spray of sparks as I chomped through the steel case of the mower. The end result of my modifications, looked rather like a family car with the boot cut off. It would surely have reduced the manufacturer to tears, as well as breaching most European health and safety rules. Nevertheless, with all of the obvious impedances to the free movement of wet grass removed, I began a test run.
With its gaping backside on show for all to see, my American lawn mower bellowed into life. A few inches from my toes, the cutting blades spun into a blur and buzzed like a swarm of angry hornets. I made a mental note to take shorter steps, or I would soon have shorter legs. Aiming at a thick swathe of tough looking grass, I pulled the lever to engage the drive wheels. As I pushed forward, there was barely a dip in the roar of the motor to signal the successful cutting of grass. There was no sign of tangling nor a suggestion that the motor would ever stall again. It was safe to say my modification was a triumphant success – with one minor exception. The moment I began to cut, a torrent of wet grass and other unidentifiable debris hit me full in the face.
Ever the practical fellow, and determined to make my modifications work, I closed my eyes to the merest slit and pressed on. Unfortunately, with the blizzard of grass adding to my already-restricted vision, I went slightly off line and collided with a tree. Plan B was to turn my head sideways, shut one eye and use my sizable proboscis to deflect most of the flying debris from entering the other eye. Although my nose did a splendid job protecting my eye, there was now nothing preventing the grass and grit from filling my exposed ear and threatening to deafen me. Plan C was to lower my height sufficiently to remain below the level of the flying debris. To do this I had to bend my knees and walk like an aged orangutan with a bad back. Whilst this method was partially successful, I quickly began to feel like an aged orangutan with a bad back. Pulling myself upright and trying to shake some life back into my wobbly legs, I reluctantly conceded the need for some robust protection and made a trip to our local hardware store.
So, two hours behind schedule, decked out in overalls, thick leather gloves, ear protectors and goggles, I began cutting the lawn again. Apart from the frequent need to wipe my goggles, and my bright purple overall slowly changing to chlorophyll green as I was sprayed with wet grass, my redesigned mower worked splendidly. Admittedly, the constant stream of fragments hitting my face was annoying, but after swallowing something that may once have been a slug, I soon learned to cut the grass with my mouth shut.
After an hour of hard walking and breathing through clenched teeth, my modified American mower had transformed a scruffy patch of grass into a neat front lawn. It wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely an improvement. To finish the job, I did a final lap of the garden, just to tidy up the edges. As I mowed these last few yards, I cast my eye over my handiwork. “At least it looks like someone lives here,” I thought, quietly proud of my resourcefulness.
Just then the mower hit a patch of rough ground, perhaps a clod of earth pretending to be a clump of grass. I was instantly enveloped in a cloud of muddy dust and, as the mower groaned in anger, there was a sharp ting and a large pebble shot out. This rocky ballistic missile, travelling only slightly slower than the speed of light, would surely have broken a window, had it not hit me squarely in the groin. Cross-eyed and knock-kneed in agony, I let go of the lawnmower, grabbed my ‘crown jewels’ and collapsed like a man shot. Fortunately the mower stopped without hitting anything valuable, or running me over. I’m pleased to report that apart from a slightly dented blade, there was no permanent damage to the mower, but it was quite some time before I was able to uncross my eyes.
Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980’s he qualified and began coaching sport professionally. After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland – a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs.
In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in 2020.
Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about this book, if you have read previous book in series or any book by the same author.
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