Review of the last year

August 11th, 2014

I started writing this in Amsterdam (sweltering in mid-summer heat) and just returned from 12 days in Slovenia before heading home. Having a chance to look at my various sites fro the first time for ages I see I’ve been neglecting this blog badly – the last year has been a constant round of major changes and only work and finance/property has had a look-in. So let’s catch up.

The continued resolving of my aunt’s estate

I spoke in my last post about tying up loose ends of my auntie Jean’s house in March 2013 – that proved to be far too optimistic. Legal and estate agent matters do not resolve themselves as easily as we simple souls would like and it would be a few months more and a lot of correspondence before we got the will dealt with and the house put on the market. I should say that this was no fault of the lawyers, Cartmell and Shepherd of Carlisle, who were excellent throughout and did everything they could to help us. The various monetary legacies of the will were eventually distributed and the house became mine; it was then a case of putting it on the market, dealing with the estate agent and awaiting viewings.

Letting Dad’s house

We successfully let dad’s house in Chesser with the assistance of Help for Letting, a local agency run by Lucy Petrie who has proved true to her ethical intentions. The first tenants have been excellent and at time of writing are just about to move out to their first house of their own having seen an offer they couldn’t refuse. We wish them well – especially as they plan to get married soon.

Back to Slovenia – and with a mission!

In the meantime dad and I made plans for another trip to Slovenia in the Autumn, and this time we wanted to look at houses there – the Carlisle house would provide enough to finance a reasonable place there if we could find the right one – houses tend to take a long time to sell in Slovenia so turnover is fairly low, particularly in the recent EU economic difficulties.

I had for many months (indeed years) been poring over online estate agency listings – seeing many that were too expensive and many that looked too far gone to consider restoring. I got down to a shortlist of about 15, although one that I liked the look of sold just before we set off.

The agency we used, Think Slovenia, proved very accommodating in organising our viewings. First from the Bohinj area where we stayed the first week at the Hotel Krystal (the first time we’d stayed there and a very friendly family run hotel), and then from the Kobarid area where we as usual stayed at the excellent Hotel Hvala. I must say thank you to them again for the lovely birthday present they gave dad, who had just celebrated his 90th birthday. They gave us the new luxury suite for the same price as a normal room. This included a jacuzzi bath which dad had never experienced before and it proved to have a very beneficial effect on the shoulder he’d injured some months before as well as being very relaxing. I half expected him to have one put into his new house in Lanark!

Think Slovenia took us round all the houses by car, despite it being a couple of hours drive from Ljubljana. Some were immediately rejected when we saw how much work they would need or were not in places that made the best of the scenery. We boiled it down to three or four. One was a spacious house in a suburb area a few miles from Bled, but it was probably too big. Another was a wooden chalet-style house in a picturesque valley just north of the main motorway. It even had a sauna and was looking a good bet until we realised that there was no immediate chance of getting an internet line put in. It also appears that it is often snowed in in the winter. A third came in for serious consideration – high in the hills above Tolmin with views down to the Italian plains. But the last house was in a special place that dad and I had discovered on an earlier trip. Dreznica sits high in a valley above Kobarid and is one of the most beautiful places in the Soca area. Behind it towers Mount Krn and the bright white village church against the backdrop of the mountain makes it magnet for landscape photographers like me. The house we were to see was situated in a hamlet just beyond the main village and was a little above my intended price range, but in that glorious setting we had to see it. The view from outside the house was enough to convince us – though perhaps in retrospect we were a little over-hasty. I’ll go into that more in the next post but I think that it’s ok despite needing a lot of work.

While we were over there we heard that the payment had come through on the Carlisle house so we put in an offer and it was accepted.

Two more trips

A couple of months later in November I had to fly back over to Ljubljana for the signing of the various legal papers. The city had changed quite a bit since I was last there – more pedestrian areas in the centre and delightful to walk along by the river. Then in February this year I got the keys and the final handover – this time flying to Venice and hiring a car from there. I was surprised how mild it was and how lovely the carpets of wild crocuses were.

Dad continues in good form approaching 91

Dad has had a second cataract operation and can now see clearly with both eyes, which means he can drive again. He was over at Normandy again for the D-Day celebrations in June. This was the 70th and final official gathering – the Normandy Veterans Association is being wound up this year while there are still a few veterans left. But maybe, if he’s still fit enough, he might still make a private visit next year. Although most of the French Resistance members who used to welcome him are now gone he still gets a warm welcome from their families and indeed all the local people. It’s gratifying to see that their children are all taught about the sacrifices made to ensure they would be able to grow up free from tyranny, and that they are genuinely interested in the remaining veterans when they visit.

He’ll be 91 in August, and the last few years have been very precious. Let’s hope for a few more yet!

Entry Filed under: Personal,Slovenia

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