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Every time I book a flight with a particular low-budget airline I promise myself I’ll never do so again. It’s a painstaking feat of human endurance that involves poring over the website, dismantling the complicated booking process, ensuring each question is answered correctly, that every appropriate box is ticked and every meaning of every statement uncovered, otherwise it’s a whopping bill on top of the price of the flight that awaits you at the airport.

But once you decipher the bewildering booking process and the plethora of extras that you don’t know whether you need or not, it becomes almost manageable. However, one should never get cocky about their knowledge of the budget airline’s website, because the entire system could be changed at any minute — and so often is — and you’ll need to re-learn the new rules all over again.

We were flying to Ireland last weekend to visit my family and friends and get a few Christmas hugs and kisses banked before the big day. But the flight was actually the most straightforward part of the whole journey. We were in, on and out in the blink of an eye, and despite the muffled groans of my partner, who’s a nervous flyer, it went quite smoothly.

There was another reason for our trip. We also wanted to see a house that we’re buying. It’s a terraced house I bought with my sister around eight years ago and one that she no longer wants to keep and which is currently lying empty. So we decided to buy it from her. I’ve mentioned this old house before in this column and how it was a home for my sisters and myself in Derry after our mother died. It was cheap and useful at the time and became a home for my older sister and her children before they managed to build and move into their own home.

The house is small, old and needs a lot of work to turn it into a home again. The paint is peeling outside and the gutters are blocked with rogue weeds, leaves and other dirt, meaning they get flooded every time it rains and the surplus water gushes down the side of the building like a waterfall. The Irish weather hasn’t done it any favours. The house is deceptively large, and at the minute it is unloved and uncared-for, and this is clear when you enter. Areas of damp have, thankfully, been dealt with although other areas are in danger of it creeping in if the building is left the cold, hollow shell that it is for much longer. It’s not a home and hasn’t been for a long time. It needs a lot of work and a bit of love to rouse it into life and make it the hive of activity it once was and a place to call home. A tonne of paint and a lot of hard work will go a long way towards making this little place warm and inviting again. And we’re looking forward to taking on the challenge.

While we were there, we took a lot of pictures and made plans to clean, build and paint. I can’t wait to get stuck in. It’ll be a great project for the year ahead that we’ll take on together and hopefully there won’t be too many arguments over colour schemes and where to place the furniture — although I foresee some heated words being exchanged. These are all small issues, I know, and in the grand scheme of things that little house is not important. But it means a lot to me, and the sooner we can make it ours the better. I’ll keep you updated.

Christina Curran is a freelance journalist based in Northern Ireland.