When the novelist Anthony Trollope came to Ireland as a postal clerk in the 1840s, he must have taken quite a few passenger trips on the Grand Canal - enough to become completely disgusted by the whole experience.
In those days, you could take a passenger boat all the way from Dublin to Ballinasloe - a journey that, by Trollope's lights at least, was by no means as charming as it might sound today.
"I will not attempt to describe the tedium of that horrid voyage," he writes in his second novel, The Kellys and the O'Kellys' published in 1848. He described it as "a twenty hours' sojourn in a floating prison", where passengers were unable to read, sleep or think. "Patient endurance" was the novelist's best recommendation.
Though long closed to passenger traffic, the Grand Canal these days is busy with pleasure cruisers, with those on board presumably having a much better time of it than Trollope did.
The canal splits at Lowtown, Co Kildare, one line continuing west, en route to the Shannon, and the other making its way towards the River Barrow.
A few hundred metres south of the newly-formed Barrow Line is a large, detached house in the townland of Grangeclare.
It's called 'Aotearoa', a word commonly translated as 'Land of the Long White Cloud'. It's the Maori name for New Zealand though, this being Ireland, the house might have been better named after grey clouds of assorted lengths. As you might have guessed, Aotearoa House is owned by a native of New Zealand, who took an existing cottage and restored and extended it massively, turning it into a large, energy-efficient, 3010 sq ft family home.
It takes the form of a pair of two-storey extensions either side of a single-storey cottage which, these days, functions as a double-height entrance hall connecting the two separate areas of the house.
There are several doors leading into this hall. One is at the front, facing the road, another is at the side, up a short flight of steps, and there are also two sets of French doors opening from the hall to a courtyard patio outside.
The ground floor has bedrooms on one side of the hall, at the front, and living rooms on the other, at the back. To the right of the entrance hall is the main living area - an open-plan dining room, living room and kitchen.
A chimney rises through the centre of this room, with a double-sided fireplace inset in it, one fire warming the living room and the other the kitchen and dining room. The lounge part of the room is carpeted and has a corner window.
The kitchen area has a partly vaulted ceiling with skylights, and there's a white-tiled floor and a huge window in the gable wall, overlooking the grounds.
There are black, high-gloss cabinets and a centre island with a breakfast bar. From a small hallway off the kitchen you reach a utility room and guest toilet.
Then, to the left, are two en-suite bedrooms. There's also a gym on the ground floor, accessed from the outside, which might become a home office or workshop instead.
The first floor has a galleried landing overlooking the entrance hall below, and similarly linking the house's two wings.
Right of the landing is the master bedroom, off which is a dressing room and an en-suite - and this area opens to a flight of steps leading down to the patio below.
Double doors in the master bedroom open to an L-shaped balcony overlooking the side and back gardens. Left of the landing are two more en-suite bedrooms.
There's also a detached, lofted garage on the grounds, on the first floor of which is the makings of an apartment. It consists of a good-sized room measuring roughly 25ft by 19ft, with an en-suite off it. The total floor area of the garage and apartment is just under 950 sq ft.
The house is on 0.4 of an acre, surrounded by landscaped gardens, with hedging along the boundary and an electric gate leading into a tarmacadam driveway.
The property has mains water and a septic tank, and there's oil-fired central heating. The energy rating is B3.
If you travel about two-and-a-half kilometres south of Aotearoa House, you'll come to the village of Kilmeage, and if you travel the same distance north, you'll come to Allenwood. It should take around an hour to drive the 50 kilometres to Dublin, by means of either the M7 or the M4.
Nearby golf courses include the K Club, Palmerstown Golf Course and Knockanally Golf Club. There's also horse-racing nearby at Punchestown and The Curragh.
Aotearoa House was launched on the market this week by Sherry FitzGerald Country Homes in Dublin, (01) 237 6300, and Sherry FitzGerald Reilly in Clane, (045) 868 412, together with Christie's International Real Estate.
The asking price is €785,000.
The Paris daisy is a wonderful flower for summer display in the garden, especially on paved areas, balconies and terraces. It has long been grown in Mediterranean gardens and it has a sunny disposition that brings a touch of brightness to the garden. It is often grown as a short lollipop tree, clipped to a rounded shape and growing on a short stem.