In the beginning, our blogs were mainly about destruction, demolition, debris, dirt, dust and sometimes, despair. It wasn’t easy, and sometimes, sitting in our new “home”, surrounded by boxed up belongings and builders’ tools and ladders and half built walls, we did wonder what we had done. But those walls do get built, the tools are finally dispensed with and the familiar belongings find new homes. We’re now able to document the “nice” bits of the reno project – the upcycling, the recycling, the repurposing. Making empty spaces into rooms. Breathing new life back into a house which needed a lot of TLC.

We hope that this journal will provide inspiration if you are embarking on a similar journey. We hope that it will give you the courage to just do it. And we hope that it will give you an unshakeable sense of belief that it can be done. Because it can. And guess what? We’re doing it all again, because we think might just have found our next renovation project. Meaning that this renovated home is for sale.

So, open a bottle of wine, curl up on the sofa and come and join us on our journey…

Latest Blogs…

Getting plastered…

Getting plastered…

Throughout the house, in most of the rooms - apart from the ones we have totally taken apart and renovated - there is still evidence of it being an original Istrian house. A lot of the walls are either fully plastered, or at least, partially. And where they are only...

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An Anniversary…

An Anniversary…

Sunday 16th October 2016 saw us meeting up with the couple who we were buying our Istrian home from, and staying over in the house. With hindsight, all a bit bizarre. But then, not much about this adventure has been normal, so I guess we started off as we were meant...

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Changing Our View…

Changing Our View…

Coming up to three years ago, we were very excited when one of the tumble down, abandoned houses beyond our property was demolished and heavy machinery arrived in the village. We were even more excited at the prospect of the neighbour building a new house, in the...

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Small Steps…

Small Steps…

Over the summer, when we were averaging two or three house viewings a week and had some very serious interest in the house, if someone had told me that by October, we'd have taken it off the market, given up on The Printworks (and in the process, lost a lot of money)...

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Defining Boundaries

Defining Boundaries

If there is just one thing we have learned from the journey of selling our renovated house in Istria, it's that boundaries are number one priority for nearly every potential purchaser. To the point of obsession. Even before getting into the house, the questions asked...

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Moving On…

Moving On…

The phrase "End of an Era" has been used a lot over recent days, and although not on quite the same scale, it's also the end of a bit of an era for us. In December 2020, we finally signed a pre-contract on the purchase of a very unusual building in Oprtalj, which had...

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kitchen reno : update 8

kitchen reno : update 8

The kitchen was the first room in our Istrian stone house to receive the full renovation treatment. The units we had inherited were ripped out, the flooring taken out, the ceiling taken down, a new window installed, brand new units and appliances fitted and under...

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the snug reno : update2

the snug reno : update2

When we viewed our stone house in 2016, we found a very sorry looking room - a cellar, of kinds - down the stairs from the living room. The stairs were treacherous to say the least. Very thin pine treads, on a steep vertical with no handrail. These hinted at what we...

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secret garden reno : update 3

secret garden reno : update 3

So, the last renovation blog detailed the thinking behind creating the Secret Garden. Although it's not a real Secret Garden - it's pretty obvious it's there when you look out of the living room window - it feels quite secret, when you're in it. And, we are delighted...

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secret garden reno : update 2

secret garden reno : update 2

Whilst we've spent the best part of the last four and a half years, fully renovating our Istrian stone-house and creating beautiful gardens to the front and side of the property, the rear has been woefully neglected. We've tried to titivate it up, but it's never...

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project printworks : update 3

project printworks : update 3

So, we've finally made a proper start. The old industrial unit, which has sat unloved and empty for as long as we've lived in Istria, is being internally dismantled in preparation for the major renovations. A scaffold unit, an extendable ladder and a demolition drill...

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secret garden reno : update 1

secret garden reno : update 1

A small, abandoned cottage - in need of much TLC - sits behind our main house. It belonged to one of our neighbours and when he offered to sell it to us, we decided to go for it. The little house, which we think was possibly connected to our house many, many years...

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garden reno : update 11

garden reno : update 11

After over a year of lockdown and travel restrictions, we've finally been double jabbed and now that we can access the EU vaccination certificate, the prospect of travel is on the horizon. Not immediately, but the prospect is there. In the meantime however, we're...

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upstairs bathroom reno : update 4

upstairs bathroom reno : update 4

This rather lovely rustic, wooden A-frame ladder, hinged at the top and held together at the bottom with thick rope, hasn't really been utilised in our house as well as it could have been. It's usually covered in throws, which as the weather warms up, are discarded...

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garden reno : update 10

garden reno : update 10

So, the exterior renovation of our house for sale, continues apace. We've largely completed the interior renovation - but we never say never - and so our attention has been turned to the garden area around the main house and the little abandoned house to the rear....

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garden reno : update 9

garden reno : update 9

We knew we had to tackle this part of the garden, because it was overgrown, messy, full of stones and rubble from previous renovation works and the trees were literally being strangled by vines and brambles.The little stone wall was falling down in places, and in...

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garden reno : update 8

garden reno : update 8

I finally feel we're coming to the end of a very long winter. Although we've still got to see February out - and this is the month when for the past four years, we've had snowfall in Istria - there are signs of spring. The bulbs we planted around the base of a big...

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project printworks : update 2

project printworks : update 2

2020, as everyone knows, was a pretty unbelievable year, all round. If someone had told me the following, in January 2020, I'd have thought they were daft: that we'd have to have official travel permits to drive to the supermarket that wearing a mask would become the...

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project printworks : update 1

project printworks : update 1

Almost four years to the day, since we bought our first renovation project in Istria, we have the next one within our sights. I think we have always known that the stone house was never going to be the house. We have been so happy in it and we've worked so hard to...

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Creating a Car Park

Creating a Car Park

We've never had a garden big enough to accommodate our cars. In every house we've lived in, parking has always been outside, on the street. Apart from having to usually fight for parking space outside our house in West Didsbury, we've never really considered parking....

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garden reno : update 7

garden reno : update 7

If you're a follower of what we're up to, you'll know that our renovated stone house in Istria, is currently for sale. You might also know that we have a very unusual feature in our front garden. We are right next to an abandoned house and one of its walls forms one...

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Hello, October

Hello, October

So, our long, hot - but very strange - summer, has drawn to a close. As in previous years since we've been here, I'm sure we'll still have days which are warm and sunny, but the intense heat of the sun has gone. Days are obviously getting shorter and there's a chill...

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garden reno : update 6

garden reno : update 6

It was back in May that we finally bought a shed and started the job of building it. We made the initial mistake of thinking we'd bought just a shed, like the B&Q one we used to have in our garden back in West Didsbury, which was functional, but a bit on the cheap...

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Then & Now

Then & Now

I've been sorting through hundreds and hundreds of online photos, from when we first viewed what was to become our home in Istria to now. To a couple of days ago, when weather stopped DIY play in the garden. We've been sorting because, as we have now decided to sell...

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Property For Sale In Istria…

Property For Sale In Istria…

In March 2017 we moved lock, stock and barrel to Istria, in northern Croatia and set about renovating a very traditional stone house. Fast forward three years, and the big renovation is complete : Completely new and updated kitchen One bathroom gutted and completely...

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garden reno : update 5

garden reno : update 5

For the first time this year, we made the trip to Pula. Normally, we'd by now, be making fairly regular trips to the airport to pick up and drop off visitors, but this is no normal year. Our first trip, done with a bit of trepidation, was to Bauhaus and Pevex, our...

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garden reno : update 4

garden reno : update 4

The garden area at the front of the house has not really been renovated, as such. It's certainly been tidied up and areas of it do look a whole lot better, but apart from the addition of garden furniture and potted plants, that's about it. We did have big plans for...

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Our Little Abandoned House of Istria

Our Little Abandoned House of Istria

When we bought our stone house in Istria, we were advised by the sellers that the little abandoned dwelling, to the rear of the property, could be purchased from one of our new neighbours. We were interested, and with hindsight, should probably have sorted the...

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The Gold Room…

The Gold Room…

I've thought long & hard about adding blogs to the website, in the current climate. It seems too frivolous to be posting about renovations and life-style things and recipes. But, and it is a big but, we've worked hard for so long to get to the point where are...

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bedroom three reno : update 3

bedroom three reno : update 3

Unable to ever leave a room, close the door and congratulate ourselves on a “finished” project, we’ve been revisiting our third bedroom. To be honest, we’ve re-visted then all, but that’s another couple of blogs. Let’s stick with this one for the time being. Although...

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bedroom three reno : update 2

bedroom three reno : update 2

Yes, we are edging closer and closer to having the house fully renovated, with the completion of the renovation of the second guest room. This room, on the top floor, currently looks out over the village and has a great view down onto the piece of land, with a tiny...

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well room reno : update 4

well room reno : update 4

Recently, we’ve had our latest Workaway couple staying with us, Kaiti and David, a couple from Oklahoma. Like the other couples who’ve come to stay with us, they are on a sabbatical, travelling and working and embracing the cultural highlights of other countries. They...

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upstairs bathroom reno : update 3

upstairs bathroom reno : update 3

So, what does the bathroom actually look like, now that we've completed our mini renovation, and came in under budget? Well, let's just say that whilst it'll never win an interior design award, it's a million times better than the one we inherited, back in 2017......

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upstairs bathroom reno : update 2

upstairs bathroom reno : update 2

A while back, I set ourselves the challenge of renovating our upstairs bathroom for less than £500 – excluding labour. Labour is a whole lot less expensive out here, but I’m not mad, as there’s no way we could do a whole renovation of a bathroom, including labour, for...

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workaway : update 3

workaway : update 3

We’ve just said au revoir to our lastest WorkAway visitors, a very handy French couple, from the Pyrenees area, but on a travelling sabbatical, in their trusty campervan. They contacted us, having seen our profile on the website, and felt that their skills were a good...

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upstairs bathroom reno : update 1

upstairs bathroom reno : update 1

The best part of the last two and half years has largely involved renovation. Somewhere in the house, something is usually being knocked down, built back up, painted, restyled, tiled, plumbed in or redesigned. We knew the challenges we would be facing when we bought...

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workaway : update 2

workaway : update 2

Our second and third WorkAway visits have just come to an end. We are delighted to report that our second visitors – a couple from Tasmania, who are travelling and working their work around the world – were another massive success. Like we said we preferred, they were...

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workaway : update 1

workaway : update 1

We finally we have come out of hibernation. After returning a few weeks ago from hot & sunny Mallorca, winter – or at least autumn – returned in Istria, with rain, rain and more rain and howling winds. We honestly felt we’d never see the sun again and so cracked...

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boiler reno

boiler reno

As is quite usual here, we’re not connected to gas mains. If people do prefer gas, for heating or cooking, then you usually find that they have it delivered and huge canisters will be located somewhere about the property and we didn’t really fancy the eyesore or the...

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garden reno : update 3

garden reno : update 3

Although the weather is still not *perfect*, we’ve definitely come out of winter and hibernation. The woodburner is on less these days, our heaters are only switched on to get rid of the early morning chill, and we’ve even had a window or two open. The garden, which...

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garden reno : update 2

garden reno : update 2

To the front of the house, we have an area which is mix of concrete paving and grass. The grassed area, in particular, is a bit of a mess, as it’s where we currently park the cars. We’ve used bamboo plants to screen the garden as much as possible from the road –...

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well room reno : update 3

well room reno : update 3

If there’s one thing that is consistent about The Well Room is that it is constantly in a state of renovation. Even when it *seems* as if it’s a room again, just off shot, is reno chaos… The problem with this room has a lot to do with what we now call it – The Well...

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the stairs reno

the stairs reno

Our stone house doesn’t have normal staircases. For over eighteen months, we’ve had exposed treads and no handrails. A bit like a big version of a stepladder. We have two of these – one going to the upper floor (the more sturdy set of stairs) and one down into The...

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well room reno : update 2

well room reno : update 2

As autumn gives way to winter, we decided recently that our windows are now going to be our focus. How all were going to be sealed and no more draughts would sneak in. Yes, yes – it’s all still ongoing, but as ever, we guesstimated how much seal we’d need. And guess...

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the snug reno : update 1

the snug reno : update 1

We’re finally beginning to tackle the room which we’ve rarely gone into – the indoor cellar. Indoor, because we also have an outdoor cellar. This room sits under the living room, but feels joined to the house because the staircase down, is open. We had thought this...

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sunny sunday reno reflections…

sunny sunday reno reflections…

The intense heat of summer seems to have receded. Fans are no longer constantly whirring and the early morning sunlight is not quite as blinding in our bedroom, which is blessed with the most gorgeous sunrise views. Summer is still clinging on though – it is very warm...

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living room reno : update 1

living room reno : update 1

We’re at the stage in our house renovation, where we can now be quite a bit bolder in terms of decor. We’ve taken on an Istrian stone house, which in parts, is over 200 years old – and possibly more – so there is a wealth of history and tradition attached to it....

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downstairs bathroom reno : update 2

downstairs bathroom reno : update 2

For the first year of living in the house, we made do with the bathroom we inherited. OK, we tarted it up a bit – everything painted white, essentially – but it was still quite poorly laid out, with a tiny shower cubicle and not really conduicive to a relaxing...

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garden reno : update 1

garden reno : update 1

It seems like no time since we were in the depths of winter, with no kitchen, a gaping hole in the wall where the new window was being fitted and heavy falling snow. It’s now mid-summer and although, as I type it’s hammering down with rain, thunder is rumbling all...

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kitchen reno : update 7

kitchen reno : update 7

Given that work on the kitchen started way back in November, we did cut it a bit fine to greet our first guests last week. Admittedly, the scope of the project grew and grew, but we did think our friends would arrive and we’d still be kitchenless. Thankfully, this...

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well room reno : update 1

well room reno : update 1

When we renovated our house in West Didsbury, in 2014, we knew that we wanted a concrete bench. A multi-purpose bench, where we could cook, eat, work and hang out. Our builder had not done one before, we'd not designed before, but between us, we did it... And so when...

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our renovation story so far, in istria…

our renovation story so far, in istria…

Most people, at some stage in their lives, will embark on a renovation project. Whether it’s doing up a corner in the living room or a full blown house rebuild, it will bring its stresses. We did it fairly recently in West Didsbury. What we thought would take a few...

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downstairs bathroom reno : update 1

downstairs bathroom reno : update 1

In the year that we have lived in The House, the small downstairs bathroom has gone through a number of changes. It’s not in the most ideal location, being right off The Well Room, which will eventually become another living/dining room. However, we know that we are...

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kitchen reno : update 6

kitchen reno : update 6

Oh, didn’t I just end the last renovation blog post on a bit of a high? Loving that the undercoating was about to start in the kitchen, meaning we could almost, but not quite, see the finishing line. Well, the undercoating did start, but we fell at the first hurdle…...

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kitchen reno : update 5

kitchen reno : update 5

We think we are now on the final hurdle, kitchen renovation wise. It seems like we’ve been living forever without a decent working kitchen we can call our own – in fact, since we sold our house in West Didsbury, back in January 2017, we’ve been making do in the...

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kitchen reno : update 4

kitchen reno : update 4

It’s the weekend, but that doesn’t stop our builders. Give them their due, there’s some work ethic being displayed here! We *think* that the major drilling work might be over for this phase of the house renovation, so whilst Misko & Edin got on with the cabling...

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kitchen reno : update 3

kitchen reno : update 3

It’s been a while since I’ve recorded anything about the kitchen renovation, simply because nothing massive – or Instagram worthy – seems to have happened recently. But actually, a lot has happened and we are hopeful that the dirty, grimy work is now almost over. So,...

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house reno : stairs

house reno : stairs

Who’d have thought stairs could be so problematic? To be honest, I’ve never really given stairs a lot of thought, because they’re just…there. But our stairs need a lot of thinking about, because they’re pretty unusual. We have one set going upstairs from the living...

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house renovation : floors

house renovation : floors

Although our house is quite old – we think parts of it are over 200 years old – and is quite traditional in structural style to many of the stone houses in Istria, we are determined to stamp a contemporary feel on it. Apart from The Well Room where the floor is stone...

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well, well, well…

well, well, well…

One of the more unusual features of our house is an internal well. A working well, at that – we know when we’ve had a deluge as we can hear the rain water roaring into it. We don’t know how old it is, or whether it was originally built inside the house. Our builder,...

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planning the bathroom renovation

planning the bathroom renovation

In the house we’ve bought in Istria, we have two bathrooms. Sounds like a bit of a luxury, doesn’t it? But, both are very small and both are poorly laid out. The house had previously only been used in the summer, and more recently, less frequently, so not a great deal...

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kitchen reno : update 2

kitchen reno : update 2

During December we left the house in the hands of Misko and Sergio, the plan being for them to get as much of the dirty work done in the kitchen as possible while we were away. Although they kept in contact regularly and sent photos of progress, we quickly realised...

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kitchen reno : update 1

kitchen reno : update 1

A few days on from the last renovation update and a lot has happened, kitchen-wise. The stones from the kitchen window hole have been saved and the red bricks which were below the chimney have been taken out. These will be replaced by the stones which have been...

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the kitchen reno begins

the kitchen reno begins

For the past few days, we've been clearing out the kitchen and creating a makeshift one in the Well Room, as work is beginning on the first big renovation project. Things are getting serious! Meanwhile, our builders have been beavering away in the kitchen, stripping...

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new kitchen plans

new kitchen plans

We’ve done IKEA kitchens and while they’ve largely been great and just what we wanted/needed in the past, schlepping to Zagreb or beyond Trieste (the two nearest stores to us), just seemed a bit far, this time. It’s OK to do these trips to buy bedding and candles but...

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the real renovation begins…

the real renovation begins…

The summer has been a time for travel, seeing family and friends and lots of white-washing of walls. The house feels much more light and airy, now that the bare stone walls are much softer. And now, as autumn starts to take a hold, our thoughts are turning to the...

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bedroom three reno : update 1

bedroom three reno : update 1

So, this was the first glimpse of our third bedroom, when we did the initial viewing in July 2016. Suffice to say, as with every room in the house, we really need to stretch our collective imaginations and see past the cheap wooden doors, bare floors, unplastered...

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starting to renovate the outside space

starting to renovate the outside space

We’ve never had huge outdoor spaces anywhere that we’ve lived previously. In our last house in West Didsbury, we managed to create quite a funky little haven, out of scaffold planks. But it was still a bit of a tight squeeze and although we loved it, we never had a...

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bedroom two reno : update 1

bedroom two reno : update 1

This room, above, when we viewed for the first time in July 2016, was something of a mess. Two sets of bunk beds, random shelving, dishevelled bedding, bare plaster walls, bare floor boards - all in all, pretty dismal. BUT, with a beautiful soaring ceiling, original...

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