A life in the sun

An introduction to My Life (blog)

Have you dreamed of quitting the big smoke and escaping abroad to the sun – but wonder what it’s really like? Well we did, and I started the ‘Living Istria’ section of Live Istria to show the realities of living and working in a sunnier climate – and a surprisingly different Mediterranean culture.

 

All change!

Relaxing in my Istrian swimming poolQuitting our busy, urban lives, we moved south to rural Istria in 2005. We’d moved countries twice before, first moving from the UK to Holland and then onto Belgium. Croatia would simply be another country … or so we thought. Wrong!!!

This move changed almost everything in our lives. The seemingly big ones – moving from one country to another, from the city to a tiny rural village, and from a cold to warm climate – were the easiest to adapt to. Much harder was moving from inside to outside the EU (far bigger change than we’d ever imagined), and to an area with a Mediterranean mindset (where nothing ever seems to happen as, or when, it is supposed to). But perhaps hardest of all was moving to a country with autocratic, unpredictable and seemingly unaccountable bureaucracy that changes all the time. This was something we’d never faced before and found extremely difficult to accept, let alone adapt to. Our only small consolation was we soon discovered the locals found it equally frustrating! But for them it was the norm: for us it came as a shock. Until things change you don’t realise how much of life, and the way it works, you take for granted.

Phil chills on our Istrian terraceI wish I had kept a blog of those early days. But I didn’t, I was just too busy racing from crisis to crisis, from highs to lows. Just living was a full time job. Our mantra became: “Istria: when it’s good, it’s very, very good; but when it is bad, it is horrid!” The number of times we wished we’d never come, when we were all set to throw in the towel and run away, were numerous. As were the number of times we decided we were the luckiest people alive to live in such a beautiful country, to eat lunch on our terrace and swim in our own pool in the summer; then curl up in front of a roaring log fire in the winter.

 

My life

By 2011, I finally felt I’d settled into Istria and wanted to share my experiences with a wider audience. So I decided to start Live Istria, starting by recording my life at the time. Taking you week-by-week through six months of my life, from July to Christmas, this blog gives you a good idea of what day-to-day life is like in Istria – the highs and the lows.

Gardening in IstriaBefore you start, let me set the scene. By July 2011, we had been living here for six years, in a stone house with a large garden and two cats. We earned some of our income through two rental properties (The Little House at the bottom of our garden and an old stone house in a nearby village) and were looking for another place to buy as a holiday rental property. I divide my time between running our rental business, house hunting, battling with the garden and working on my new project – Live Istria. On the first day of my blog, I’m just back from the UK and expecting new guests in the Little House.  Here’s how I get on.

Looking back over my blog, as I review it to update this introduction two and a half years later, I realise how little has changed. We may have now joined the EU, but Istria is still as frustrating and exasperating, enchanting and beguiling as it was when we first arrived. Hopefully time and EU membership will gradually erode the frustrations, but I hope they never change its charms.

 

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