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 style – we were assured – of his current two, which are very pretty. The Istrian stones were cleared, and foundations seemed to go in pretty quickly. A crane arrived, creating even more excitement, as no-one surely, in their right mind, installs a crane. And then does sod all with it. Or, so we thought…

Two years and a bit later, the crane is still there. Along with a cement mixer and lots of building materials, but not much else. Now, this isn’t unusual in Istria. As is commonplace in many Mediterranean countries, building work can take a long time. Builders are often working on multiple projects. In the height of summer it is way too hot to be doing long days of heavy construction work. Buildings may be being built as holiday homes, and so owners often arrange for work to be done when they are able to be on site. There’s also a real culture of mañana mañana here. So, we get it. We know that construction work takes times. And so we’ve been patient, as the project behind our home has crawled along, with periods of nothing in between slight flurries of mild activity. We’re in one of those periods of nothing happening now, as no-one has been on site for over three months.

However, our patience has now worn very, very thin. Written communication to the neighbour has proved fruitless as our requests for information re the progress of the work, and maybe a possible end date, have gone unanswered. Builders have from time to time, assured us (when they have been on site) that all is progressing and that when it is finished, and landscaped, it will be very beautiful. Of that we have no doubt. But it’s the WHEN – because until someone pulls their finger out, and “when” actually arrives, we are still looking out onto a building site, no matter what we do to hide it.

Our living room (pictured above) is on the first floor, and so even with the border of the potted conifers we have installed, you can still see the building site beyond. This is something which has been repeatedly brought up by viewers, asking about timescales for the construction work – and, as the neighbours have so far not deemed it important to discuss/share their plans with us, there’s been very little we’ve been able to say. So, we’ve decided that we’ll take things into our hands and do what we can do to improve our own outlook.

Within our boundaries, we also own the little stone house, above. This was purchased from a neighbour and is definitely in need of renovation. We thought that it would potentially be an amazing selling point, as once renovated it would provide additional accommodation. But most viewers seemed to see it only as additional work, and the potential didn’t have the appeal we expected it to have. Either that, or we just had a run of very un-curious and project-shy house viewers! So, a big decision has been made.

We’re exploring having the small house demolished and building a boundary wall, thereby creating an enclosed rear garden. We think if anyone comes along in the future and says they’d have bought our house, if only there had been a small building included in the sale, with scope to renovate, then we’ll take it on the chin. We’re still working out the best way to do this, but the eventual wall, will be rendered. It will also be a high wall – high enough to give us 100% privacy from the outside. And because of its height, we’ll hopefully have a panel (or panels) made up of glass bricks on the wall opposite the main house, meaning that light will still flood into the garden. Foliage will be planted to give extra depth and interest, along with lighting. I’m very much liking the examples below, and at least now I have a better idea of what to show to a builder to begin to explain our thinking.

Access to the rear garden is currently via the communal grassed area to the side of the main house. We intend to open up the living room window by installing French windows and creating a small balcony with external steps leading down into the garden, meaning that this communal path will not need to be used. Access to the garden, will be from the house. And, if funds allow, the final piece of the jigsaw will be the installation of a pool, along the lines of a Dip Tank. Therefore also addressing the second most asked question – “Do you have a pool?”

So, roll on autumn as we’re heading towards another BIG project!

 

Les Jardins de Villa Maroc, Essaouira

Les Jardins de Villa Maroc, Essaouira

It’s always great having friends in-the-know when you travel abroad, as they often give you top tips that you don’t find in guide-books or through internet searches. Because usually you don’t know about these places and so don’t search on them. One of these gems turned up on a trip to Essaouira. Sandra, who runs Riad Remy in the Medina, also manages the apartment we stayed at, and so was on hand throughout our stay. She has a wealth of information about Essaouira, especially on the eating out front, but her stand-out-top-tip was a day trip to Les Jardins de Villa Maroc, located about 15km inland from Essaouira.

This secluded idyll is reached by private transfer, arranged through the sister hotel – Villa Maroc – in Essaouira, and when we visited, the cost was approximately £25pp. (The countryside villa used to be the private home of the owners of Villa Maroc). We met our driver at the hotel for an 11am departure and by 11.30 were around the pool, in the most amazing surroundings imaginable. We were there in January and so the only guests, so literally had the whole pool area and restaurant to ourselves. Lunch was served on the terrace by the pool and it is no exaggeration to say that what was brought to us, could have fed at least six people. Every dish was full of home-grown produce and each dish was cooked there and then. Essaouira has no shortage of brilliant places to eat, but this was something special!

Les Jardins de Villa Maroc has three separate boutique suites and private swimming pool – perfect for families or a group of friends. There is also a beautifully equipped kitchen in the largest suite and the hotel staff, if required, will prepare food here. Design wise, it is the most exquisite complex – and the perfect retreat if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the beach or the medina. It was apparently the first riad in Morocco and is now a hotel, comprising of three suites, dating back to the 18th century, with a full hotel service. Designed with nature in mind and ecologically friendly, using solar heating and solar power it is self-sufficient place. Let us take you on a tour, both external and internal, of the villa…

EXTERIOR

INTERIOR

We cannot recommend this villa highly enough – even for a just a day of rest and relaxation. And if you like your interiors (and exteriors), it’s a visual treat. Very 1970s – you could definitely imagine Pierre Cardin chatting to Brigitte Bardot around the pool, looking super stylish and probably smoking Gitanes…