A dream come true at Glenbrook House
Tenants at Glenbrook House in Derry~Londonderry have noticed a bit more noise in the area recently, but on this occasion neither traffic nor local young people are the cause. The culprits? Seventeen colourful birds enjoying their new life in the back garden of one tenant on the scheme.
Joseph Blumenstein, who is originally from South Limburg in the Netherlands, has been living in the city for 23 years; and a year ago moved into Glenbrook – an Apex Housing Association scheme offering sheltered accommodation for people aged over 60.
Joseph’s dream was to build an aviary to keep canaries and finches and now he says that dream has been realised.
When I lived in the Netherlands we kept rabbits, chickens, dogs and birds. I moved here in 1996, but of course whilst I was working I didn’t have the time to keep animals. Once I retired, my dream was always to have an aviary for birds.
My health isn’t great; I’ve come through depression, cancer, a heart attack and I suffer from COPD. I always enjoyed walking, but the cancer treatment destroyed my hips and the COPD affects my breathing, so now I can’t walk very far at all. Sitting in my back garden and watching the birds is my therapy now. I could sit there for hours.
My neighbours love the birds too and have been so supportive. I usually leave the back gate open so that anyone who wants to can come in and watch them. My neighbours Carmel, Eugene and Mary all have their own birds in the aviary named after them.
Talking about his decision to live in Glenbrook House, Joseph says he’s never regretted it for a second.
It’s great to live here. I have neighbours who are now very good friends; I still have my independence and I enjoy my unofficial role as the scheme’s handyman. It’s nice to be able to help others with small jobs they mightn’t be able to do themselves.
Joseph says his next projects are to build a new shed and create a fish pond in his back garden too, if he gets the ok from Apex he hastens to add!