Restarting our Istrian life

My expat life in Istria

After twenty episodes, I’m taking my blog on our expat life in a new direction. Gone is the regular, day-to-day ‘diary’ format and weekly post. Instead, it’ll be a more free-wheeling, ‘as it happens’ affair. But don’t despair, my lone, dedicated reader, I’ll still be covering  those crazy events that make life in Istria so ‘interesting’ .. and keep you posted on Baggy and Tally’s antics.

Coming home after our Christmas road trip, it’s always a challenge catching up and getting back into the swing of things here in Istria. With so much happening when we went away, this year it was even more hectic than usual, with tons to catch up on and get going again.

 

Catching up on sleep …

Like many expats living abroad, Christmas is the year’s great opportunity to visit friends and relatives back home. This year saw us making innumerable house-calls and sleeping in eight different beds. But at least we took it easy and flew to the UK – normally, we top and tail our trip with manic drives, back and forth across Europe!

Baggy & Tally curled up togetherWhile it’s fantastic seeing everyone, it’s also exhausting seeing them in such a short timescale. I’m always partied-out when I get home and ready to sleep for a week. Seeing no-one, just being us, recuperating – the first few days back were heaven.

But sleep is for wimps 🙂 and, with so many things up in the air, I couldn’t afford to spend too long snuggled under the duvet or lounging in front of the fire. When I’d sufficiently recharged the batteries, it was time to start catching up with my life: getting things moving again.

 

… our rental business …

First up was our rental business. With Christmas and New Year behind them, many people’s thoughts turn to their next holiday, so this is always a busy time on the rental front. This year, enquiries were unusually quiet over the holiday period (actually very convenient: it’s always awkward handling things on the move). But once New Year was over, the flood gates opened and we had four bookings in just one week – a new record! With thirteen weeks already booked in Brnobici and eight in the Little House, it’s the best start we’ve ever had. Fingers crossed things will continue this well :).

 

… Live Istria …

It feels like I’ve been doing Live Istria forever but, after so many long months of preparation, I have to remind myself it’s only been up and running less than five months. All the same, coming back to it after our Christmas break, it seemed a good time for a stock-take, to decide where to take things next. As I said in New Year – new focus, last year much of the emphasis was on ‘living’ in Istria. This year I’ll obviously keep that up, but want to expand the site’s ‘property’ and ‘holiday’ sections. I’m also toying with changing the site’s menu tabs to reflect these three themes. So keep your eyes open, things could soon look different, and perhaps be even easier to navigate.

With so much of my time recently spent on our rental business, I realised that ‘rental’ is a topic I’ve barely touched in Live Istria. It’s likely relevant to many of you, whether you’re interested in buying or setting up a rental property, or simply want a great place to stay. But I’m on the case now and hope to start posting information soon.

 

… the new house …

Probably the biggest thing happening in our lives at the moment is the purchase of our new property in Kaštelir. Ideally we’d like to get it up and renting this year – it’s a big challenge, but with Miro, our builder, itching to get started, we stand a fighting chance (Ever the optimist – P).

House awaiting restorationWe paid the deposit just before we went away. Now we’re back, it’s time to finalise the deal, take ownership and start the renovation process. Arranging the money seems to have kept P busy since we’ve got back (DON’T talk to me about banks … – P). And I’ve had a crazy few days, liaising with Azra and Miro, turning his rough building quote into a proper contract.

Ever multi-tasking, while meeting with Azra I took the opportunity to get a Live Istria briefing, for a paperwork article to go in the ‘property’ section. Having bought three properties before, I obviously know most details, but the laws have been changing a lot recently and I want to make sure my facts are up-to-date. Hope to have it on-line this week.

 

… and friends

Our final catch-up has been with our Istrian friends and a few games of mah-jongg – it seems everyone we introduce it to gets hooked.

Rick and Sally's gutted placeFirst was RnS on Thursday. They’re also in renovation mode, currently gutting much of their place to create a stupendous, open-plan living space … and I was dying to see how they were getting on. As Rick says, at the moment it looks more like a car park than a home, but it’s going to be fabulous. I’m dead impressed.

As Sally was working out of a tiny kitchen, I took over a contribution. ‘Perhaps soup wasn’t such a good idea,’ I mused as we drove there along winding Istrian back-roads, the nearly full pan held between my feet. It wasn’t far, but I hadn’t realised there were so many hills. I was constantly bent over, preventing spillages!

Then SnS came over on Saturday and, after dinner, the mah-jongg tiles were out again. We didn’t finish the whole game, but when yawning had reached the extreme stages, I was in the lead (amazing!) and P was last (icing on the cake :)). (As the scorer, I confidently predict a reversal – P)

 

So it’s been a hectic ten days. I can’t really believe we’ve managed to get so much up-and-running and back on-track. But with Live Istria and rentals under control, and contracts signed tomorrow (Monday) and building work starting Tuesday, I actually feel on top of things. That won’t last long, so I’ll enjoy the delusion while I may :).

 

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