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…

The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

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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Creating A Secret Garden

Creating A Secret Garden

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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Oprtalj Renovation Diary #1

Oprtalj Renovation Diary #1

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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Our Small Stone Cottage…

Our Small Stone Cottage…

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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Summer Garden ’21

Summer Garden ’21

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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Spring Bathroom Makeover

Spring Bathroom Makeover

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 Renovation

Garden Renovation

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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Spring Project

Spring Project

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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Spring Planning in the Garden

Spring Planning in the Garden

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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The Start of Something New

The Start of Something New

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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New Year, New Project

New Year, New Project

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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Green Wall Maintenance

Green Wall Maintenance

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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The Shed Upcycle

The Shed Upcycle

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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The Shed Has Arrived…

The Shed Has Arrived…

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 Renovation

Garden Renovation

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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Another Room Done…

Another Room Done…

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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The Well Room…

The Well Room…

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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Did We Meet Bathroom Challenge?

Did We Meet Bathroom Challenge?

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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We Might Be On The Move…

We Might Be On The Move…

Sometimes things take a turn of events that you just didn't anticipate. And this has happened to us. We've spent the best part of the last two and a half years renovating our stone house in Istria, from top to bottom and have almost, almost completed it. We're on the...

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Our Latest Workaway…

Our Latest Workaway…

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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Bathroom Reno Challenge

Bathroom Reno Challenge

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 Continues…

WorkAway Continues…

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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Discovering WorkAway…

Discovering WorkAway…

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 Issues

Boiler Issues

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 cannisters will be located somewhere about the property and we didn't really fancy the eyesore or the...

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Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way…

Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way…

Renovating a property can be very expensive. Even though things out here are often less expensive than back in the UK, we don't have a bottomless money pit and so sometimes, rather than splashing the cash, we look for alternatives. And, currently, spray paint is...

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Our Kitchen Renovation

Our Kitchen Renovation

When we moved in, the kitchen seemed quite a cold room. Which seemed odd, because even though there was only one window to the side, it was a light room. The walls were white (and this was the only room that had actually been decorated) and the units were pretty...

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Garden Project…

Garden Project…

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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The Outside Renovation Begins…

The Outside Renovation Begins…

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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Bedroom Renovation Update

Bedroom Renovation Update

Like every room in the house, the main bedroom had a mix of natural, untreated stone walls, bare plaster in places and some parts of the walls, already painted white. Pine floorboards were untreated, and ceiling beams were in the same state. They were actually quite...

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Renovation Update

Renovation Update

1st March marks exactly two years since we moved into the house - the renovation project in Istria which has been the most amazing journey! Two years ago today, the day before all of our belongings arrived from England - we sat in an icy cold kitchen, watching our...

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TV or Not TV? Part 3…

TV or Not TV? Part 3…

When I last blogged about the saga of our TV journey, it was early January and Mauro, from T-Com had been out and had given us a glimmer of hope that we could, one day, have fixed line internet. Meaning we could one day, at some point in the future, have TV like we...

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Lighting Up The Well Room

Lighting Up The Well Room

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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TV Or Not TV : Part 2

TV Or Not TV : Part 2

When I ordered the SkyBox - the one that I thought would solve all of our TV issues - I hadn't realised where it would be coming from. But early on Christmas Eve morning, I knew exactly where it had come from, as we'd brought it all the way back to England with us...

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TV Or Not TV?

TV Or Not TV?

So, nine days after ordering, and paying for it, the Sky digi box and viewing card arrived. The UPS driver went away with a bottle of wine and we oohed and aahed over the delivery. A very exciting delivery and a very exciting day... Everything was connected, the card...

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Patience…

Patience…

The one thing that we have realised since relocating to Istria, is that PATIENCE is a quality which we must have, at all times. Every waking minute. Because everything, absolutely everything here, takes an age to get done. Nothing happens quickly. And never...

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Working From Home…

Working From Home…

We think every day how lucky we are to be able to live where we live, and continue to run our website design business. Not only does it provide us with an income, it keeps us creative and in contact with our clients. But, we have had the dilemma of where to actually...

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The Stairs : Phase 1

The Stairs : Phase 1

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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Ongoing Reno in The Well Room

Ongoing Reno in The Well Room

It was only two days, I wrote about the windows and how they are now 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 what? We...

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Winter Window Woes…

Winter Window Woes…

We've spent a lot of time working on our windows. A lot of time. They had all obviously been hurriedly installed and only benefitted from one coat of paint, which by the time we got round to dealing with them, was faded and flaking. Some were in a much better state...

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Winter Is Coming…

Winter Is Coming…

It seems like only last week that we were enjoying long days of unbroken sunshine and at times, quite searing heat. Having to actually escape indoors, to sit in front of a fan. And knowing that largely every day, throughout the summer, would be like this... But, half...

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Getting To Know The House…

Getting To Know The House…

We've been in The House now for over a year and a half, and whilst we have made some massive progress, renovation wise, we are still getting to know the house. It's an old house, like many houses back in England are - but, and it's a very big but - has been built in a...

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The Snug #1

The Snug #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...

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The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden

OK, so those of you who have visted us, will know that our garden isn't very secret at the moment. Although not overlooked, and quite spacious, we have no boundary walls (but shhh...don't mention the *b* word in case our obsessive neighbour overhears!) and so it's all...

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Sunny Sunday…

Sunny Sunday…

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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The Internet…

The Internet…

Initially, it seems that *everything* in Croatia is complicated and fraught with much dramarama. Getting utility bills put into your name, buying a car, finding where to buy paint and white goods and furniture, getting car & house insurance, knowing how to hop...

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Living Room Reno

Living Room Reno

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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Bathroom 1 : Done!

Bathroom 1 : Done!

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

Garden Reno

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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Hot Pink…

Hot Pink…

We're loving making the interior of the very traditional Istrian stone house we have bought, much more cool and contemporary, and it's no secret I've been very influenced by this image of a Greek house and these colours, on Pinterest.   All of the rooms are now...

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Kitchen Reno #10

Kitchen Reno #10

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 #9

Kitchen Reno #9

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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Boundaries

Boundaries

Of all of the things which confound us in Croatia - and there are many, believe you me - the biggest has to be boundaries. We've never really had to think about boundaries before, because when we've bought or sold properties previously, the Land Registry has just done...

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Keeping It Unreal

Keeping It Unreal

To look at our garden now, you'd think we were living on top of a rubbish tip. Which, if I'm honest, we are, as the garden has become the dumping ground for all of the stones and rubble and wood and tiles etc from the ongoing kitchen renovation. It's actually too...

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Decision Time…

Decision Time…

Although the kitchen is nowhere near finished, the space is definitely beginning to resemble more of a room, as each day goes by. It doesn't help that people who do building work, or plastering work or electrical work, seem to juggle a number of different jobs every...

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Kitchen Reno #8

Kitchen Reno #8

It seems like a few weeks since I wrote about the kitchen renovation - and that's because it is. Because, unfortunately, nothing majorly monumental has been happening. Not because the builders have walked off the job, or because they are lazy. Far from it. They have...

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Bedroom Reno

Bedroom Reno

When we bought the house in Istria, one of the things which sold it to us, was the size of the main bedroom. Compared to other bedrooms we've had, this was massive and with a lot of potential. Over the months, we've done bits and pieces to try and make it comfortable,...

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Snow Arrives in Zrenj, Istria

Snow Arrives in Zrenj, Istria

Today has been a beautiful day, weather-wise. Yesterday, we had brilliant blue skies and sunshine all day, but man, was it cold! And, last night, when we returned home from a local restaurant, the inky-black sky was littered with sparkling stars, like we haven’t seen...

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Green Fingers…

Green Fingers…

I've never really been green-fingered. I'm very impatient when growing anything from seed, as I want results right NOW. When I want a riot of colour in my garden, I want it immediately, but I know it takes longer for seeds to germinate and bulbs to push themselves up...

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Well, Well, Well…

Well, Well, Well…

If you're remotely interested in the tales of our house renovation, or maybe fancy a bit of a break out in Istria, we'd love you to give us a follow over on Twitter. If you're not that interested in the story of the house etc, but like to travel - and stay - in nice...

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House Reno – Floors…

House Reno – 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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Becoming a Home

Becoming a Home

Quick backstory if you don't know our story. June 2016 - visited Croatia on holiday (Zadar). Loved it. July 2016 - saw a house online for sale in Istria, northern Croatia. Flew out on impulse, loved it. August 2016 - put our West Didsbury house 0n the market and made...

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Bathroom Planning…

Bathroom Planning…

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 #5

Kitchen Reno #5

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 possibe while we were away. Although they kept in contact regularly and sent photos of progress, we quickly realised...

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Kitchen Reno #4

Kitchen Reno #4

A few days on from the last reno 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 removed,...

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Kitchen Reno #3

Kitchen Reno #3

Today, the scaffolding arrived. It was brought to us by Edo, a lovely Dutch guy who has really helped us ease into Istrian life, as he did the same thing 12 years ago. He brought the scaffolding to us because he was already going to Sergio's, as he was taking hay for...

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Kitchen Reno #2

Kitchen Reno #2

After yesterday's excitement of taking down the false ceiling - plus removing a dead mouse, numerous critters and a hornets' nest - today was always going to be a bit of anti-climax in terms of progress. However, in the short time that Misko and Sergio were here, they...

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Kitchen Reno #1

Kitchen Reno #1

It seems like no time - although it's actually nearly four years ago! - that our West Didsbury home was being smashed to bits as we renovated. And, now we're doing it all again - but this time in Istria, in northern Croatia. When we first arrived we knew no-one apart...

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Winter is Coming…

Winter is Coming…

It would definitely seem that any fleeting hopes we had of temperate winter climes have gone. They went overnight as winter arrived, with a bang. Quite literally. The shutters which we are painstakingly renovating, are nowhere near finished. The majority are still in...

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DIY Dreaming…

DIY Dreaming…

When we're not working and running our business, we seem to spend a lot of time doing the jobs around the house that we can do ourselves. It would be lovely to have a limitless budget and get people in to do everything, but we don't have such a budget and even if we...

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The Move : Part 24

The Move : Part 24

It’s nearly four months since we arrived, shortly followed by every single thing we owned in the world, in our new home, in northern Istria. It’s been a whirlwind four months, filled with new places, new friends, bureaucracy, incredible weather, amazing food, new...

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The Move #16

The Move #16

It's nearly four months since we arrived, shortly followed by every single thing we owned in the world, in our new home, in northern Istria. It's been a whirlwind four months, filled with new places, new friends, bureaucracy, incredible weather, amazing food, new...

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Things That Confuse

Things That Confuse

I think my series of blogs about things which cause us confusion, will go on for some years to come. Because, at the moment, just about everything is causing us to be be confused 😉 We are muddling through, with the help of new found friends, the internet & just...

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The Outside Space

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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The Move #15

The Move #15

After two days of drowning in boxes and bubblewrap, we finally carved out a tiny corner of normality in the living room - unpacking and putting together our sofa was a joy, as was having some cosy candlelight. This may look very lovely (above), but careful...

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The Move : Arriving

The Move : Arriving

So, three months after we signed all of the legal documents for The House in the solicitors’ 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...

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The Move #14

The Move #14

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...

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The Move – How we Did It

The Move – How we Did It

Fast forward a couple of months from the last blog, and Monday 5th December, saw us sitting in a solicitors' office in Riejka, with the sellers, signing paperwork & taking possession of the keys to the house... Just five months after seeing it online for the very...

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The Move #12

The Move #12

Our second trip to The House, this time to view internally, was much less problematic direction-wise, as we were already becoming used to the Istrian roads. What had seemed like a very long journey and an isolated location the previous day, all of a sudden seemed a...

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The Move #11

The Move #11

So, we'd arrived in Istria and hired a car, with the intention of finding the house we'd spotted online. Armed with a map and sat-nav we set off, climbing higher and higher up into the Istrian hills. Although it was July, it was quite cool and a overcast, but we could...

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The Move #10

The Move #10

So, we decided to take flights out to Istria and try and find the house we'd spotted online, but were getting still no responses from the sellers to our calls and emails. Bonkers? Yes, of course. But sometimes, you just get that feeling... Summer flights from...

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The Move #9

The Move #9

It's been a while since I posted about the new adventure that is the house in Istria. In fact, the last post just showed a photo of the keys and a glass of fizz... Yes, on Monday 5th December 2016, we signed all of the official paperwork, made the payment, and that...

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The Move #7

The Move #7

December is going to herald in some big changes! We fly out on 1st December to Bergamo in Northern Italy and pick up a car, which we'll drive down to Istria. On Dec 2nd we apply for our Croatian Osobni Identifikacijski Broj numbers - ID numbers, similar to our NI...

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The Move #6

The Move #6

So, flights booked. We hope there's no turning back now. Come the beginning of December, we hope the deal has been sealed. We hope that as well as those UK National Insurance numbers - which you *always* remember - we'll also have Croatian ID, and the ownership of a...

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