finally moving in

So, three months after we signed all of the legal documents for The House in the solictors’ office in Rijeka, we found ourselves, on 1st March 2017, heading from our stop-over in Zagreb, to the village of Zrenj in Istria. A very good friend of ours had helped us to organise the transportation of all of our belongings – we were working on round about 10th March for everything to arrive, but a text, as we were driving over, confirmed that the lorry had left Manchester and would be with us on Thursday 2nd March. The VERY NEXT DAY! Hurrah! All of our goods were going to be with us much sooner – so we had a house to prepare.

Not having been lived in at all for over 18 months, it was FREEZING. So freezing, we could see our breath when we talked, but after a celebratory drink, we had rooms to clear of cobwebs and accumulated dust before the lorry arrived.

I can honestly say we’ve never been as cold as we were the first few nights in the house. The only heating option we had was an inherited woodburner, but no logs – and no knowledge of where to get them from. As all heaters we owned were on a lorry travelling across Europe, we initially relied on wearing multiple layers, candles and tealights ( I knew you could never have too many) and getting great use out of all of the hygge-style blankets and throws I had been accumulating. Cleaning down such a big house – as had become clear as all of the furniture, save for the bed, had been taken away – definitely kept us warm too.

We had thought that the process of getting all of our belongings out to a small part of north west Croatia would be tricky. Certainly, all of the companies who quoted, who specialise in overseas removals, made it sound that way. However, the way we managed to do it – having a friend who owns a furniture & interiors company and who has guys who do regular trips to the continent – really took out all of the stress. We couldn’t quite believe it, when almost to the exact ETA, the lorry rolled up the road. With our lives in the back…

It’s quite amazing to see absolutely everything you own – apart from what we could carry in luggage – being loaded off in front of your eyes. Everything – including four large bamboo trees and five bay trees, all brought over from West Didsbury.

We had the crazy idea that everything would neatly go into its appointed room and that we would unpack in an orderly fashion. How naive! Things were offloaded very quickly and we soon gave up trying place things in the right rooms. It was cold and damp and we all just wanted everything off the lorry as quickly as possible. And pretty soon, the very bare, empty house, started to fill up…

Three hours later, that was it. The lorry was off and we were left looking at hundreds of packing boxes and wrapped furniture, not quite sure where to begin making sense of it all. Luckily, our new neighbour Marino, was on hand to help lift and shift. We also had a visit from Stella, the new owner of the restaurant literally on our doorstep, with a welcoming bottle of wine – and the even more welcoming news that the restaurant was open, for the first time, that very evening. However, before we could even think about eating, we had the mountain of boxes to tackle and the task of trying to create something resembling a home…

(With heartfelt thanks also to our amazing friend, Paul – without him, we would probably still be awaiting our furniture!)

Published on 4th March 2017