Pool perfect … bedroom disaster!

Weeks twenty-five & twenty-six of our restoration project in Istria

With P’s parents safely dispatched back to the UK, I plan to make fast progress at Kovaci, but it is not to be. Instead, I’m in for delays, frustrations and upsets as I battle on in soaring temperatures. Bedroom furniture starts to arrive, along with a host of problems … but at least the pool’s perfect and we christen it in style.


Monday dawns the hottest day of the year so far (already 31.5° C by 9 am), so it’s a big relief to spend most of it in a cool, air-conditioned car, taking P’s parents back to Zagreb airport. With them gone, I can now turn my full attention to Kovaci – at least, that’s the plan.


Pool hand-over

P gets instruction from the pool expert at Kovaci, IstriaLast week the swimming pool was finished and filled and on Tuesday, it’s officially handed into our care. Next year, when we’re renting, we’ll have someone looking after it for us. For now, P will be pool man. While the expert goes over everything with him, I continue my assembly work. 

Admiring the new kitchen, I suddenly realise there’s a gaping hole where a fridge should be. Surely I’d ordered one? A panicked phone call to Teuta sets my mind at rest: “It’s on order and will come with the taps.” (I hadn’t noticed they too were missing.) I ask my predictable question: “When? And what about the bedroom furniture? When’s that coming?” The bedroom furniture should have been delivered weeks ago, so the equally predictable reply of “Soon,” is none-too reassuring.

Space in house kitchen where the fridge should be, Kovaci, IstriaI might be missing beds, but at least the grass is beginning to grow. The irrigation system has been drenching the earthfor several weeks and, at last, delicate green shoots are appearing. It’ll be some time before they’re strong enough foranyone to walk on, let alone for kids to play on, but at least they’re on their way.

Trying to put my irritation about the bedrooms aside (this constant string of delays is really getting to me: I don’t know how many more I can take, before I my temper explodes!), I decide I need some cool, retail therapy (cool temperatures, that is, not style). So I spend the afternoon shopping in air-conditioned JYSK for garden furniture, setting up a huge order to add to next week’s delivery of stuff I ordered previously. When you’re furnishing for ten (loungers, chairs, tables, cushions and sun umbrellas), it comes to a huge amount of stuff!


It’s too hot

Progress is slowing to a crawl. I have so much else to do – just living in Croatia can often feel a full-time job. It’s also getting ever hotter – high summer’s here with a vengeance. If I had nothing to do, it would be wonderful, but life doesn’t stop just because the thermostat’s been turned up. I battle with the heat, along with everything else, feeling I’m getting nowhere.

Window with bars in house attic, Kovaci, IstriaBut while things never move as fast you you’d like, they are moving forward. I order black-out curtains for the master bedroom and am horrified by the cost – more than all the other curtains put together! (Black-outs are needed because the shutters are difficult to close … because, by mistake, grills were installed across the windows, instead of the single bar needed for rental classification. An error that’s proving expensive.) Oh well, at least the rest of the curtains were very reasonably priced!

On Friday, after an unsuccessful shopping hunt, I run out of go-juice and collapse in a heap, in front of the TV, for the afternoon. “I’m shattered,” I say. “No more!” But it’s not to be. I’m raised from my stupor by a phone call at 6:45 pm. It’s Mario, JYSK’s delivery guy: can he deliver in 45 minutes?  

Is it possible for your heart to both rise and sink at the same time? I can confirm it is because that’s what mine did. I was thrilled everything was arriving – and early! –  but why did it have to be late on a Friday, when I was exhausted (and with virtually no warning (a Croatian classic I should be used to by now))?

I pull myself together and shoot up to Kovaci. A Croatian 45 minutes can easily last several hours, so, sitting on the wall waiting for him, I just pray he won’t be too late and that he can find the place. True to his word he arrives on time-ish – amazing! Humping boxes down the path, I decide I’m really glad he came when he did. It might be late, at the end of a tiring day, but at least the sun’s going down and temperatures are falling, so it’s cool to work.

But it’s the final straw. Battling against the heat and frustration has exhausted me. I collapse into bed and don’t get up again till Monday (what a waste of a weekend!).


Bedroom fiasco

While I’m sleeping, the bulk of the bedroom furniture finally arrives and is assembled over the weekend. P is there cleaning the pool and checks it out and, apart from doors not fitting because of very uneven floors (it’s a ‘character’ property), thinks most of it looks good. I’m dying to see it so, on Monday, despite not being up to much P drives me to Kovaci. 

Dark wood single beds in house in Kovaci, Istria“They’re the wrong colour!” My wail drifts across my garden, the neighbour’s and most of the rest of the village! The bedside tables are a light oak: so when I ordered the beds, wardrobes and desks, I selected an ‘oak’ stain to match. But instead of being light and matching, they are dark, very dark: the opposite of what I wanted. I’ve waited so long for them to arrive and fought so hard to get them here, I just want to sit down and cry. I simply can’t face going into battle again to try and get them changed, but what option do I have? They’re far too dark.   

“It’s only furniture,” P tries to console me. “It’s not the end of the world.” But to me, at this point, it really feels like it is!

Twenty-four hours and a large dash of perspective later (along with an equally large G&T that evening – P), I’ve calmed down. The bedroom furniture might not be the colour I expected, but it’s what I’ve got. If there’s any way I can live with it, that’s what I’ll do – in reality, the effort to get it all re-done would be just too big. I’ve five wardrobes, five desks, four single beds, one double and a set of bunk-beds: all custom-made by a carpenter in Osijek (near the Hungarian border). If I return them, he’ll have to start the work all over again and it could be months before I see their replacements – if ever!

Bunk-bed room with furniture, curved walls & sloping floor - Kovaci, IstriaAs I think about it, I decide it might even be for the best. I go to Kovaci and have another look and, knowing what to expect, it’s not such a shock. The beds and wardrobes certainly don’t match the bedside tables, but would they have done even if they were the ‘right’ colour? Oaks vary a lot in colour, especially when one of them is only an oak stain. A clear contrast, in fact, might look better than almost, but not quite, matching colours. “I think it’ll work,” I say to myself. “It’s really just the desks that are tipping the balance – if we can just change them for lighter ones, the colour palette will balance.” 

“You know, you’re the only person who’ll notice all this,” says P, driving me home. “Guests will never see the difference.” I know he’s right, but it matters to me.

Wednesday I’m back in action and resume my flat-pack marathon (yet more bedside tables). P keeps promising to come help, but he’s keeping the rest of our lives on track and, along with his own projects, always ends up too busy.

I call Teuta about the furniture and she agrees she’ll change the desks, but it may take a while. Better still, she promises the missing furniture (posh stuff for the master bedroom) will be delivered on Monday. I’ll believe it when I see it …!


Pool party

Furniture might be depressing me (bedroom: wrong; flat-pack: never-ending), but at least the pool’s complete and to mark the occasion and cheer myself up, I decide to end the week with a pool party. Which is a very grand way of saying R&S came round to christen the pool. We take up beer and wine, and they bring a bottle of champagne – far better!

P prepares to go for a first dip in the pool at Kovaci, IstriaIt’s the first time we’ve swum in the pool and it is wonderful: plenty big enough for all of us and being 8m x 3m (rather than the more usual 6m x 4m),  you actually have a bit of length to swim. Relaxing in the pool, champagne in hand (plastic glasses of course), my frustrations melt away.

After our swim, we stroll round to a near-by restaurant for dinner on the terrace. It’s good to remind yourself what all the effort is for – creating a wonderful holiday home, in a lovely location. Feeling much more mellow, at the end of the evening, I even start thinking the rest of the furniture might turn up next week, on Monday, as promised. I’m such an optimist!


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