A Magical Moment

Traveling And Visiting Saint-Hubert At The Crack Of Dawn – YouTube

Click the link and share with us a magical moment driving early in the morning to visit a house we wanted to buy in the country. With the frost on the ground covering the landscapes with a blanket of white, the air so crisp and the sun just peeping above the horizon… it was something to remember.

What My Closed Door Means

“My closed door does not mean unhealthy isolation, it means healthy preservation. It means this is a last-ditch survival mechanism to save what little parts of myself I have left before getting consumed by the outside world.” ~ Courtney Elizabeth Young

Lately, it is getting more and more difficult to be out there, with my restrictions and all. Things that I used to waltz over bother me endlessly these days. Like noises, traffics, crowds and the difficulties of finding quality anything without too many expenses, like having breathable (read: clean) air to breath. And light/photo pollution is real. Light trespass, over-illumination, glare, light clutter seriously affect everything including our health. Where I live which is not even a city nor a suburb it always seems to be dusk or dawn, it never gets dark! Especially since they have decided to build another shoe factory next to an existing one and converted the garden center into a gigantic complex of unrelated shops all in one roof. And the newly built kitchen shop next to the rotunda and believe it or not we have three fuel stations all in one street in close proximity of each other. And the traffic! 24/7 noise like a race track and we are not even next to a connecting road.

Yesterday we drove almost 500 kilometers to look for a house somewhere in the country, where it is really dark when it’s dark and I can breathe freely and there were only few cars on the road and they are not trying to run you over. The difference is enormous. The moment we’re back home, I began sneezing again and guess what, it’s 5:37 a.m. and here I am typing with traffic noise as my background music.

I can’t stand it anymore. No wonder my blood pressure is sky high and there is constant ringing in my ears. Time for a change. Drastic change. Let’s see where it brings us. I just hope that whatever change is going to happen it is for the better.

Crossing my fingers and toes.

Who Says That Only Trolls Live Under A Bridge?

We did for a while when I was a kid. Sort of a halfway house when my father was between jobs. It wasn’t that bad really. I didn’t dislike it. Only when the naughty kids in the neighborhood dropped logs from the top of the bridge during high tide and our little place and meager belongings became wet that I sometimes wish we were somewhere else. For the rest, I never recall feeling ashamed of our situation. Maybe because I wasn’t aware that time yet how important social status is and how much it affects how others see and treat you. Wealth, in this society, means respect. In my experience, people treat you better when you are rich. But when I was growing up I didn’t feel I was different than the rest. I did quite enjoyed it actually. Especially the freedom that comes with being dirt poor. More adventures to experience, more spaces to explore, less rules to abide. What could be better than that?

We left the sanctuary of the bridge after one night while my mother was peeing in the corner of our one-room abode, a large hairy hand suddenly burst through the weaved coconut fronds wall and tried to choke her. She was screaming her heart out and we just stood there doing nothing. How stupid is that? The incident caught us by surprise I guess. I don’t know. We were just kids and probably scared shitless. Help was called shortly afterwards. They chased and looked for the owner of the mystery hairy hand but without success. There were extraordinarily large footprints but no evidence who might have caused them. We moved to a barrack inside the fishpond the same night, and that was the start of another adventure. But that is for another blog post.


Till next time.

The Damn Chest

I was on vacation for four months that year. To avoid the usual holiday misery, I decided to rent a place for myself (but I took my mother with me for safety precaution, hers; not mine) and pursued the peace I was desperately longing for; away from everything, but mostly from the people who wanted a piece of me one way or another.

So, there I was in my two-bedroom, cute, pink bungalow in the middle of a park (which serves as a multi-purpose function hall for private occasions such as weddings, baptismal and such) minding my own business, singing karaoke, roaming around the gorgeous garden, walking along the beach at sundown, chatting with the people who managed the place, life was indeed almost perfect.

At least I thought it was; till one stormy night.

I got it in my head to wade in the water to bring warm clothing, money, and food to ‘someone unfortunate’ who was always hanging around the town’s rotunda.

I said to myself: the person will have some difficulty doing the usual routine of begging for the things s/he needs in that kind of weather. I reckoned I have the means and the time to make a difference even for a day so I thought: why not. The gesture seems noble enough but in hindsight, bad idea. The result was: an unpredicted asthma attack!

So, wheezing, coughing, labored breathing, I tried to find sleep but to no avail. Then, all of a sudden from nowhere, I heard someone whispered: “There is a chest. Go! Look for it! It’s there!” There was no use searching for another person, my mother was sounds asleep and it was 2:00 o’clock in the morning; I was the only one awake for miles. Besides, the voice was clearly only in my head. I tried to concentrate and listen to it. (More like ‘feeling’ for it) After few minutes, I woke up my mother.

Armed with a big bolo, I began dismantling a portion of the wooden wall in the upstairs bedroom saying to myself: I can afford the damage. I could if I don’t get too carried away. And so I went on, thinking: if my hunch turned out to be wrong and I was only hallucinating (I had the right to be, I was having high fever) and the chest is not behind this part of the wall, I could end up breaking the whole thing for no reason at all.

After creating a sizable hole, I lit a candle and shone the light in the cavity I found behind the wall. First, I saw nothing. It was too dark to see anything, but I was too stubborn to admit defeat; I cannot be wrong. (not after I wreck the wall of a rental place) when my eyes were finally adjusted to the darkness I saw an outline of something rectangular; I asked my mother to lights more candles (she, by the way, was trembling) And there it was, old and grey; the darn chest.

It was difficult to haul the casket out; simply because the hole I created was directly above the stairs. There was simply no place to put my feet on to balance myself and the thing was humongous.

Asthma was forgotten, I tried to hold my feet steady on both sides of the baluster and with all my strength, hauled the darn coffer out! (The voice said I will find my picture there and things I needed to further help unfortunate people) I thought: you bet.

Ignoring the rattle of my mother, I opened the chest and what I had found???

Lying inside the chiffonier was a bank book, an insurance policy, an SSS insurance policy complete with all the necessary papers to collect the money. What on earth I’m going to do with all these??? I thought to myself.

There was also a glass box with pieces of jewelry (that looks white gold or silver to me) no picture of me but a hand-drawn likeness of eyes, nose, and lips! No actual face but the resemblance was striking. I immediately stopped digging. (I never reach even half-way into the chest, too creepy even for me) and stared at the damn thing dumbfounded.

The next morning, I went to the owner of the park and told them my story.

They confirmed the name I saw on all the papers. According to them, the person was the original owner of the house. But there was something they could not understand, the place was sold three times over already, and the man whom the crate belonged to had died recently; a week ago to be exact. They said he has one daughter only; a teacher. Whereabouts? Unknown!

I tried to find the daughter or any relatives for that matter. My search turned out fruitless. All the time I was doing this, the house smelled like a rotten flesh. I know the smell; I used to work as a nurse. But I was the only one who could smell it, strange.

I have questioned myself about the darn trunk: Why on earth he hid the chest from his family? Why he never remove it from where it was when he sold the place? And the million dollar question of course was…why me???

I left the house and the country with the case still unsolved. The chest… I left it in the care of the people that manage the park. I have no idea what they did with it. I’m not even sure if I want to know.

Sometimes, I wonder… why these things always happening to me???


A Room With A View

The house looked like a two storey if you are looking at it from the other side across the street.  But if you go around the front, you will see that it was a semi-bungalow really.  The reason was, the house was built on the very edge of a cliff and whoever was responsible for erecting it was either cut the budget by refusing to fill the deep end with fresh soil or deliberately left it that way to save yet another room space.  The result was quite unique.

When I first saw the house, I thought it was out of place.  It had nothing in common with its neighbors.  It was small but smartly built, using all the available space and had an appearance of something which is more belongs to some fancy subdivision.  While all its neighbors were having high secluded fences, solid big gates complete with dead bolts and padlocks, the place had a cute, low fence which barely coming up to my waist.  The gate and the grills were painted chocolate brown, so were the bars on the windows, the front door and the roof; the rest was in cream color. 

The funny thing was the color of the window panes,  it was green;  as if somebody had added them as an afterthought.  Inside, I saw that the living room-kitchen was in L-form.  It could have been a simple square if the left corner hadn’t been cut off to make a bedroom, which was closed when I came in.  The walls inside were painted pinkish-white, while the border some five inches from the floor was done in mauve color.  A kitchen counter to the right in flamed beige took the most entire length of the L.  Between the counter and the bedroom was a door that leads to the terrace.  Next to it was the bathroom, and next to the bathroom was a spiral staircase leading down to a bedroom.  It was cleverly built.  A room under the terrace. Very private. One has no business being down there unless one wants to be in that space per se.

It was the icing of the whole house and became right away my favorite place.  It was painted white and greens.  Dark green marble floor, sea green walls, and light green ceiling in termites finish.  Somebody brushed white paint lightly over the green finish. The result was pretty amazing _ a green sky dotted with fluffy white clouds.  Terrific!  A green, round ceiling lamp with mirror around it completed the effect.  But the best part I like was the bathroom.  It was tucked under the stairs, and the entrance was built under a slightly raised archway painted in white in contrast to the greenest of the room.

The bathroom itself was done in green tiles all the way up to half of the wall, the other half was in white color, and so were the toilet bowl, the paper and the soap holder.  There was no door, simply because there was no place to put one.  Moss green venetian blinds divided the privacy of the two rooms.  The only window there was in the room was the one facing the other side of the street. It had smoked brown sliding glass on it.  Brown window panes in green bedroom?  And green windows in cream and chocolate brown living room?  Was it a coincidence?  Or somebody deliberately mixed them up together?  If _ why?

The furniture in the room was all in white brass.  The bed; the dresser with three folding mirrors, the matching velvet chair, the standing oval whole body mirror, it was all there, fully intact.  Above the bed, on the wall was a set of hats.  Thirteen in total.  I counted them.  Six on hooks of each side forming a triangle, and a big one in the middle with green sash tied around it.  The smaller ones had multi-colored ribbons on them.  I thought at first that the hats were made of straw or perhaps rattan, but on closer inspection, I discovered that they were made of paper.  Pages from yellow pages telephone books cleverly rolled in tiny pipes and soaked in varnish to resemble a native product.  It was the most cunning pieces of art I have ever seen.  The house itself had an abandoned forgotten feeling hanging in every corner, which is I think very common with empty places.

But the bedroom in contrast seems very much alive.  As if the occupant had just popped out to get some soda and will be back any second.  It was also warmer than the rest of the house which was strange considering it’s location under the ground.  The room had some smell also.  A sweet, fresh lingering fragrant, like how a bathroom smells after somebody just took a bath.  If the house wasn’t for sale, I could almost be sure that somebody was still living there.  At least downstairs.  There were half empty bottles of perfumes on the dresser, combs and powders. There were books everywhere, even on the bed, dolls and stuffed toys too.  Even the bed covers were turned out as if someone just woke up and forgot to make up the bed. I find it strange.

In the end, my parents decided to buy the house on the other side of the street instead opposite of this one.  We needed a bigger place and the house across certainly was.  I counted the steps on my way up, there were thirteen of them.

Another strange thing. I have never been superstitious but I shuddered nonetheless.


~ to be continued


Spring Cleaning

Lately I’m beginning to rely more and more on my archives to find articles to post on my blog. I simply have no time to write new ones. Since the weather change for the better I find myself saddle with a lot of things to tackle on top of the daily routine and bits and pieces of my ordinary life.

Suddenly there is roof, gate, driveway and patio to wash; perennials to dig, move and divide, hedges and trees to trim, spent flowers and ornamental grasses  to cut, the pond needs cleaning so is the gutter and the garage needs some tidying up and organizing. Not to mention the house is ready for the annual spring cleaning and of course all those chores have to be done all over again for our country house which is a bit more daunting than doing the same for our house in the suburb because not only the house in the country is three times bigger, I have a real cottage garden there too as opposed to landscaped one we have here near the city. And anyone who has a cottage garden knows how hard it is to keep and maintain one. It seems easy for it has relax abandoned atmosphere but looks can be deceiving believe you me. And of course there is the vegetables garden as well…


Another thing is (now that the weather is good) I prefer working outside than sitting on the front of the computer. As if all those things that seemed important last winter don’t hold any significance anymore now that the sun is shining. All I want to do is go outside and explore, watch the things grow and listen to the birds singing. I even resume my daily afternoon walk after work. The day is getting longer and I have more time to roam and relax. In the weekend I find myself visiting garden centres again to look for new wonderful plants to add to my collection or just to walk around and observe. It’s nice to see all those possibilities one can have if one chooses to.

There is a lot of work to be done but I’m doing it with lightheartedness and enthusiasm. Spring is truly magical, full of life, hopes, inspirations and new horizons to explore. I can hardly wait for the flowers to bloom.


What if…

At about 3:00 o’clock yesterday morning my alarm went off.

 I was still in NREM phase of sleep being gone to bed around 2:00 just to be jolted awake an hour later by shrieking noise of the device. My first thought was naturally:

“Someone’s inside! I have to call the police.”

Only my cp was downstairs, so was my big knife I always take to bed in case (I used it hacking chicken to fry since my other ones are all blunt) what to do, what to do? I let the alarm goes on till I could not stand the noise anymore. I reckoned the neighbours were experiencing the same predicament and I was expecting a list of complaint to be presented to me the next day but it wasn’t my fault and so be it.

Preparing to be attack when I opened the door, I took the lamp with a heavy ornate base out of the socket and went downstairs… no one there. I quickly snatched my purse and ran up again closed the door and tried to call the police above the piercing sound. Luckily they had no trouble understanding me and arrived within 3 minutes.

 When I saw the blue lights flashing outside the gate, I quickly ran down the stairs and switched the alarm off and let help in… To make the story short, they located the source of trigger all the way to my utility room, someone tried to break in from the side door next to the garage where momentarily I have no sensor light hanging. I have other lights located at three of the side walls of my place; in fact, one is hanging a bit farther down the same wall near to the side gate, but apparently its sensor doesn’t work that far (I know now what to bring on my next trip to DIY shop) the police checked inside and outside, under the beds and behind curtains and pronounced me safe for the night and left… It took me a while (7:00 to be exact) to fall asleep again. I woke up 3 hours later and went to my weekend appointment looking like a zombie/train wreck and feeling dazed.


Today (as expected) one of my neighbours from across the street spoke to me about what happened the other day why my alarm sounded off. I told her the whole story. Contrary to what I thought she was not angry to me but sympathetic since there was a break in at her place last year, she fully understood what I’m being through she said.

The burglars trashed her place and took some things like credit cards, cash and spare car keys. It happened while they were out to dinner. Since then she became suspicious she said especially when strange cars are park at our street, and I thought I was paranoid and told her that. She told me it wasn’t the material things that was important to her because it can be replace, but what bother her is the infringement of her privacy and the feeling of not being safe in her own home. My thoughts exactly.

She said they have now a dog and ask if I might consider getting one. I said I will think about it. The truth is I am scared of dog and I don’t want them in the house for hygienic purposes and I love my garden more than anything else. I cannot have dogs or any animal digging in my flower beds.

I like the woman (which rarely happens) she seems honest and sincere. I cannot detect any malicious intent emanating from her. She’s I think about my age but more a motherly type. We said goodbye. She invited me to drink coffee at her place whenever I feel like. I said thank you but I hardly doubt if I will really going to take the offer up, I am not a sociable person and people scare me, even someone as nice as her.  I told her she can come to my place instead (that I can do. I am a terrific hostess when I set my mind to it) It felt good talking to her. Maybe there is hope for me yet.

Later on, recalling the event, my paranoia took over me and I thought: what if they have something to do with the failed break in at my place? What if she just talked to me to have a feel how much I know about the burglars and if I recognized anyone?

What if she invented the story about her own place being trashed and all to give me false sympathy and gain my trust? What if she invited me for coffee so I would return the favor so she could be in my home to study the ins and outs of my place? What if… What if… What if…

See, how paranoid I am?


mr. nice guy

Yesterday, I had an appointment to view a property I’m interested in renovating and selling afterwards for a profit. The broker told me on the phone that if I don’t have a hundred grand minimum I better don’t waste my time (meaning his) I told him that it is his job to show me the building and it’s none of his business if I want to spend my money on it or not. And as for wasting my time, I will be the judge of that thank you.

He showed up fashionably late which in my book is bad for the image of the company he is representing (I already managed to let a rookie get almost fired last week. Not so much as the fact that she did not know a thing about the property she was selling, or that she wasn’t helpful and not even willing; what annoyed me was her whole attitude towards me. She was clearly prejudiced. I saw it written all over her face the moment she stepped out of the car – which by the way taken her a long time doing – then she ignored each and every question I asked and why it is that she refused to meet my eyes?

Anyway, I phoned her superior there and then and got myself an appointment the next day with the boss herself. I know she wanted to see for herself what sort of person I am. We’ve met,  got along just fine and we will meet each other again next Saturday to seal the deal if everything goes according to plan. I still have to do some final technical inspection of the property and I am bringing two experts with me. The superior asked my opinion about the rookie, if she deserves another chance. Apparently I am not the only one who is not satisfied with her. I don’t want anyone’s misfortune in my conscience so naturally I told her to give the girl another chance) so, I made a mental note to call their main office when I get home.

Okay, where am I?

Oh, yes, the man I met yesterday. He showed up in his Porsche wearing white silk shirt, black crumpled silk sport coat, raw designer jeans, and black leather shoes with pointed toes; reeking of a whole bottle of something very strong. Tall, blond and very, very arrogant, he presented me a picture of a person who is pretending to be somebody which he is not. Underneath that cocky attitude, I sensed someone who is vulnerable and has lots of personal worries. I know that he knows that I’m on to him fast. We dislike each other on sight.

He tried to act  professional; I could give that to him. He doesn’t speak Dutch and my French is not what it used to be and we are both stubborn enough to give in. So, I spoke to him in my language and he mumbled in his, but once in a while we caught one another understanding perfectly what each other was saying. He seems amused with my technical questions and asked if I’m an architect, I said: no, are you?

He then suggested leaving me to explore the place in my convenience since he got some phone calls to make anyway, but if I EVER need him, he will be in the garden admiring the flowers. I told him what a good idea since it was so stuffy in here. I was relieved to see him go.

The house has plenty of potentials, lots of characters and original features. I saw that some portions of the traditional leaded windows are missing (irreplaceable) and some parts of the original parquet floor had gone up (no problem) probably because of the damp, the place had never been opened or heated for two years.

It was a majestic property throughout,especially inside; huge marble fireplaces in every room, proper inglenook, high ceilings, beautiful moldings and cornices, and the views it offers from all sides are magnificent. Plenty of space, tons of possibilities but also too much work is needed to restore the place to its former glory. Not to mention the capital. And I don’t know if I’m willing to gamble both. If it happened that I am rich,I would take my time to nurse it back to health patiently and lovingly. I had always been attracted to this sort of properties. It might sound weird, but it is some sort of recognition. More I can’t explain.

I walked out from the place without saying goodbye. I know it’s not the done thing but I’m sure he’ll get over it. That sort of people always do.


Crossroad again…

After renovating extensively spending every waking hour and every available cash to modify beautify and glorify, we are now selling our six bedrooms two bathrooms 3 reception rooms Edwardian dwelling.  A house we thought would be our home and will be spending the rest of our days puttering in the garden.

Now that the trees are finally settling down after I uprooted them from their natural forest habitat and transferred them cruelly in my plot to create a woodland garden, now that the plants I spent thousands of dollars for (okay, some of them I have stolen from public parks, but only cuttings never the whole plant) are starting to established and flourish after moving them around quite a lot to have the desired effect and proper location according to the movements of the sun and their needs of it, I am selling the place.

Only last year we built an state-of-the-art gazebo bigger than most average suburban homes designed as a house complete with rooms one mostly finds in a normal abode except the bathroom and enjoyed so many summer months lazing under it thinking we were in the south of France (which is the general feeling the place gives us) listening to the songs of insects mingling with that of birds surrounded with thousands of species of flowering plants and tall grasses we thought life indeed is grand. And now I am selling all of that.

Why one might ask? The answer is I don’t know. Probably because it’s too big for only two people, perhaps because the last winter had been quite hard and took longer than normal and this kind of house one cannot heat properly even with the central heating at full force with the help of couple of log burners and for rheumatoid arthritic like myself it is really suffering unless one wants to burn every dollar one owns and some more (God knows I’ve done that for 5 years in a row) and ended up in welfare losing the house in the process. 

Maybe it’s the beautiful garden itself. Everyone who knows a bit about gardening would realize how difficult and time-consuming it is to tend and maintain a cottage garden (plus-plus) and in my recent and fast declining situation/condition, the future isn’t so bright. So, selling is the only option, how sad is that?

The new house.

I call it downgrading, but my reason –to- live -in -Belgium strongly argues and disagrees. He said it’s just another type of house but not necessarily inferior in comparison. They call it a villa, I call it a bungalow. But in reality, it is a cottage; a modern sleek cottage that somehow retains its cottage-y ness despite being modern. Well, at least it is detached, has a driveway and landscaped garden surrounding the property. The plot is approximately same size as our last but because the house itself sits in the middle, it looks smaller. So much so that I can see the end of the garden just by looking out the window (which is not the case in my current abode) I always want a garden where you can create rooms and explore while others tend to gravitate towards football fields and expanse of lawns. Sorry, but one can hardly call a square of green grass a garden. There is a huge difference.

Why on earth we bought it? Well, the answer is I don’t know. I always said that I will never buy a house next to a busy road (it is) and I will never consider purchasing a property in the middle of nowhere, meaning very far from amenities like bakery, shops, butchers etc. (it is) and I am always reluctant to look at smaller places where I cannot bring and fit my furniture in (now we’re selling those too) but the moment I enter the threshold of this villa/bungalow/cottage, I was sold. I already wanted to sign on the dotted line without even seeing the rest.

Why? Maybe because it’s new and no one lives there yet, perhaps it’s the interior decoration done in earthy colours which I love the most and everything in its proper place, no mess no cluttered. Probably the sleek modern contemporary design of the place coupled with a subtle hint of character that done me in, I don’t know.

You see, even though the house is almost 16 years old, it always had been a model home. Meaning the company who build these type of houses used this property as a showpiece, as a direct result the house is done in a highest possible quality and maintained throughout the years (they even changed the entire roof two years ago) it is much like buying a showroom stock car, you got a lot of extras which normally not included unless you pay for it.

Like I said before, the garden is landscaped complete with fancy spots and mood lighting; the terraces are already there and immaculately done, there is burglar alarm and so forth and so on…

For the first time ever, I don’t have to renovate. Not even as much as holding a paintbrush (which I have difficulties lately), it’s like eating out in a restaurant; you get to eat super food without the hassle of cooking and washing up afterwards. Okay, you pay a premium for the privilege but aren’t we at some point willing to part with some extra cash if we know it is worth the hassle?

I don’t know what life would bring in this new place. I have no idea if we could love it as much as we love our current home (which is not much I guess if we’re willing to sell. Think of it like marriage. One will not divorce one spouse simply because s/he gotten old or ill like having rheumatoid arthritis) I have no idea how long we would stay in this place (I hope forever because we bought the property with an eye for later development like: this one is accessible in all sides with wheelchair and needed not much of maintenance inside or outside plus the EPC is low which you normally get in those modern eco-friendly houses) one thing is for sure, I would bring as many plants as I could from my former dwelling for two reasons. One is I can’t live without a cottage garden and abundance of flowers and buzzing of insects and songs of birds around me. Another is for sure whoever will be the new owner of my Edwardian gem would transform the garden into a football field and I will never forgive myself if those plants I lovingly tended for years would die and perish simply because some people cannot appreciate beauty in nature…

To be continued…


But who’s going to dig the tunnel???

When I was about eleven-twelve years old, I dreamed of having my very own house, and since my taste that time was not yet refined and my knowledge of the world somewhat limited; it will and shall be none other than -a nipa hut. At least that’s how it started. A beautiful cute one bedroom place made of bamboos and grass.

While I was lying down each night pretending sleep so my father will not tan my hide, the blue print of my precious was taking shape in my young mind. There it was, the house, sitting in the middle of a small garden surrounded with gorgeous greener than green plants and multi-coloured flowers. Rare wild orchids (which by the way I hand-picked myself from far away jungles and mountains during one of my so many dangerous adventures and quests) were hanging lusciously in the cozy balcony making love with the wind.

But wait a minute… I’m all alone, I need to protect myself, I’m a girl after all (therefore more prone to danger than boys ha ha) and brittle bamboos and fragile grasses will not do the trick. How about sandwiching bricks between the outer and inner walls? Well, that is seems a good idea. And since I’m at it already, how about reinforce my fort? I am living a dangerous life after all.  Okay… bullet proof windows would be suitable, so nobody could touch me in my sleep. Talking about sleep… how could I know that someone is sneaking at me while I was deep in my slumber? Think! Think! Okay… surveillance cameras! Monitors at the foot of my bed, control panel on the headboard for easy access, done! I could finally sleep.

But wait… what about escape in case of emergency? I bolted upright! I have to design an escape route if it happened to be that my enemies managed to get inside! (or better, before they can get in) A tunnel, (heading out to the sea – I don’t know why the sea! -where my what-ever-means of escape was park ) the entrance hidden under my bed which by the way can flip over to be replace by an identical bed so nobody would notice that I was gone. That would certainly buy me sometime to head somewhere far. Okay, that would do it. I will sleep now, over and out.

But who’s going to dig the tunnel? I could not possibly do it all by myself! And since I’m not an engineer and nowhere near an architect, someone has to design and build it for me. That’s a bit dangerous no? I have to keep it a secret, nobody must know it exists! Or otherwise I will be in great danger! And the only way to keep it hidden is… if I get rid of them all! That’s an excellent idea – if I am a seasoned m-u-r-d-e-r-e-r, but since I’m not and never will be (I hope) I better give up the idea of building my precious.

And that is why (folks) I didn’t end up living in a cute and simple, peaceful nipa hut… (sigh)


Money Pit

Hmmm… what is messier right now my brain or my life itself? Let’s see…

About six years ago we bought an Edwardian dwelling that we thought would be the ‘it’ house.  D. who loves that type of buildings fell madly in love upon seeing it for the first time and against my advice signed the dotted line within five minutes of crossing the threshold. I, who rarely see him demonstrating passion (in fact, almost never) could not find it in my heart to refused his wish of acquiring  his dream abode signed on the dotted line as well.

The house was and still is worth the money. Six bedrooms, a study, kitchen, veranda an immense living room with a marble fireplace, an enormous garage one can park two cars and an equally massive bathroom with a dressing and an old fashioned claw foot bath.  Each bedroom is huge enough to house a bureau, a king size bed and a proper sitting room. Two of those have fireplaces as well. And if that is not enough, the place has a basement that runs through the entire length and width of the house. I don’t  go there often. Too much rooms and dark passageways it resembles the labyrinth of my mind.

We renovated the place extensively, pouring almost every penny we had in the process.  There is no corner I didn’t touch, paint or alter in some ways it is hardly recognizable afterwards. The only things I had left untouched are the period features.  I always say that if you want to purchase a house and renovate it, please be true to the character of the building instead of slaughtering its soul to accommodate your non-existent taste. If you want a modern building, buy modern, if you want a period home, by all means; but don’t wreck a piece of history out of ignorance.

I single handedly designed and transformed the yard from a boring expanse of lawn into a gorgeous cottage garden full of beautiful flowers that bloom the whole year through. I made it happen by choosing and planting the right plants systematically for all seasons’ interests.  I managed to convince D. to build a huge (it encompasses almost the entire breadth of the grounds) gazebo in the middle of the garden to break the space and create rooms outside to add mystery to the place. That way, one has to explore nooks and crannies to fully experience our little paradise. And we’re happy for a while…

Then reality hits home. Although I always insist to have my own room and always get it with or without connecting doors to D.’s, we still have four remaining bedrooms left unused except when family or my children visit. We rarely sit in the lounge for each of us has a sitting room in our respective sleeping quarters. The study aside from housing D.’s papers is also uninhabited. We don’t even cook in the kitchen for we have another one at the back of the garage. People often commented that our place looks like it jumps out from the pages of an interior magazine. A showroom piece in fact. It does not scream: “lived-in.”  I love it!

But the deciding factor that made us really consider moving somewhere else is the enormous cost of heating such place. Big rooms, high ceilings and although we installed double glazing everywhere, period houses are not known for its good insulation. It’s hard to accept that your pride and joy is swallowing minimum of four thousands euros per year on heating alone.  And anyone who knows about these types of houses could affirm that owning one means a never ending work. There is always something that have to be done. In short, D.’s darling is a money pit.  

Another thing is: I was diagnosed with RA. I will not go into detail about it because I am still in denial phase at this moment and I cannot bring myself to talk about my condition just yet. It is enough to say that I cannot climb anymore that spectacular winding staircase leading all the way up to the third floor and don’t make me start about my beloved garden…

It took us five years before finally taking the plunge and put the place up for sale, believing it will happen overnight so to speak; it is a very beautiful house after all.

We combed the internet for properties to buy that would be our final home, the one that would be suited to us and to our needs. No more humongous museum of a place. No more period examples. No more anything to renovate and maintain extensively. A new modern property is what we after, small but big enough for us and must be closer to all amenities. We will not make the same mistake twice.

We found the perfect house. This time I was the one who put up an offer upon entering the foyer. It is everything I desired (with the exception of the location, it is along a very busy noisy road, something I promised to myself I would never do; but when you’re in love, you tend to overlook the imperfections and make do. Besides, there is no prefect house on perfect location) in accordance to the wishes of D. of course. The place is a mixture of us both.

Although we know for a fact that our country house is not yet sold and we will be taking a second mortgage upon purchasing this place, we go headlong for disaster anyway, and spent the rest of our remaining capital beautifying the place like buying furniture (the ones we have are not suited for the new place nor it would fit in with the modern quite minimalist design of our new home) and putting up fences and gate; things like that… what a colossal mistake!

Here is the situation: after almost two years trying to sell our previous dwelling and after changing broker three times, the country house is not yet sold. Could you envision the scenario? Two houses, two mortgages and everything in two like electric-water-gas bills not to mention rateable values, property insurance and the sky-high interest of a bridging loan! The ordeal of keeping two houses at once inclusive cleaning and maintaining the gardens is not to be sneer at. But what I find the most trying aspect of this whole endeavour is the demoralizing feeling of being stuck, the awareness of life on hold and the realization of the fact that every second that the house is not sold costs us money. In other words: A disaster darling!  

Before putting the country house up for sale, I asked D. for worst case scenarios but this isn’t one of them. We never envisioned it could happen, not even in our wildest dreams! We never consider the fact that tastes do differ. That it doesn’t mean you love the house others would automatically do too.  What a notion! We didn’t realize that if we are moving out because of all the reasons I have mentioned, others are aware of those too.

Yes, it’s a magnificent imposing property, yes it is beautifully and sympathetically renovated and the garden makes you think you’re somewhere in the south of France but it doesn’t mean it’s everyone’s cup of tea, and that we forgot to think about. What a costly mistake!

What a mess!


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