‘Breakin rocks in the…hot sun’

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‘I fought the law and the…law won’
That song by the Clash has been going through my head a lot in the last few days. It’s probably something to do with the fact that we now get up at 4.00am and are on our land by 5.30am with pick axe in hand… breaking rocks. MoMole (Abbo’s double), Youngco and Mario… our Audweidesein Pet… on the rock and role Croatian workers start to drink beer around 6.00am. By 8.30am it’s around 30 degrees… and I am sweating so much it looks like I have pissed my trousers. The ‘boys’ being on their third beer… find it all rather amusing.
It’s great.
After two and half years of trying to get permission to build a house, starting with our beach house in Norfolk, then Arugam bay… then Siwa…we finally have had the nod and started digging the foundations last Wednesday. We have moved several tonnes of stone away from where we will build the house and have dug a 1 meter deep trench for the water tank foundations. There is a lot of ‘live’ stone and you literally put a sledgehammer in to it until it’s gone. We have started to build our house and feel confident it will be up and done…ish by October/Nov.

This is our building site on our land… and that’s Momo playing with Penny’s bum!
You know these ‘No Going Back’ programs… I’m really glad we did not try and sign up for one. For our land… we have no water supply, no electricity, no architect/structural drawings, we had no road, we have not been able to find any builders due to arriving at the wrong time of year for building… and to top it all off we now have no money. Imagine then having to talk into a camera with some smart arse going ‘So Duncan… you’re a bit of a plonker aren’t you?’
We found a buyer for our house in Norfolk and have sold it for a tidy sum.
CU CHING! …as the kids would say .
Unfortunately the old bag next door on the beach then sends a solicitors letter to our estate agents saying we have stolen 5 feet of her land. As the UK is suing obsessed… it has taken me 5 weeks to calm down our agents and sort it out. Faxing a copy of a survey showing the land is clearly ours that it was produced in 1959 by the firm of solicitors she is using… finally did the trick. On top of that the Land Cruiser’s flywheel decided to…fly off the other day making the car ‘kaput’. We’ve had to hire a tourist car to get to our land at Smokova on the other side of the island.

hire-car
Note the wheel clearance at the back

The combination of the two set backs has mucked our cash flow up and after spending 3 months finding some builders to work with us… they are seriously all in London… we will now have to let them go and hopefully get them back when the thud of cash finally hits… hopefully in the next week or so.
Never mind… it’s hot and sunny and the swimming is crystal clear. The kids and Teresa their teacher are slowly getting used to the 5.00am start and a siesta at 1.00pm. I remember going from being paid weekly to monthly… the first month you are skint for the last two weeks. Now we are builders we get paid… annually… one house a year. We’ll get used to it;)

The water is crystal clear on our local beach which is a 10 minutes walk from the house
Our Island life here on Vis feels… like living in the Outer Hebrides…but stinking hot and sunny every day. It’s a little beautiful island 15km long by 7km wide, two and a half hours out into the Adriatic sea.

Our two acres of land is just to the right a bit

We live in the small town of Komiza that has a population of around 1800 people

The main industry is fishing and… and it appears…drinking wine!
Everybody knows everybody and they are slowing… getting to know us. We have had some racial abuse, we have had some bullying, we’ve been f&*$%ed about by so many people…and government depts… but we are not giving up. We are getting to know people and making real friends. The kids now have one or two friends they play with on a regular basis and we are slowly blending in. We’re like the Japanese family that moves to that little island in Scotland. It takes awhile but we are slowly being accepted.
The islanders have gone from a population of 12,000 before WWII to 4,000 people with no contact what so ever with the outside world including the rest of Croatia from 1945 to 1989 due to it being a military base to a trickle of tourists during and after the Bosnian war to now… with over 500% more tourists than locals arriving every summer in the space of a few years.
Most English people here are either stinking rich…or give that impression. The locals are scared… we are the first English ‘builders’ to move to the island. Like in all our places we are the first English family to live here since colonial days. The islanders assume we are like the other English and are totally loaded and here to use and abuse their land.
We’re here to use a little bit… but we’re also giving a little back. We live here and are hiring local labour, unlike most of the foreign owners…we’re learning the language, we pick up hitchhikers, we’re clearing our beach and Angus is distributing bootleg software from Bosnia into the gaming fraternity in Komiza… Claudia has sewn a bed for the stray ‘dustbin’ cat she has taken in, we are digging our own foundations… they are slowly realising we are not ‘rich strangers’ and are being accepted.
School is out in Croatia and the kids are arriving on the beaches in there…tens…its getting busy and we are settling in for a long hot summer. In the evenings we walk along the ‘Riva’ and look out for English speaking flags on the yachts that are moored up. We have met some English and American families and a 22 year old Bosnian girl Sasha met in Sarajevo who has come to stay with us for a week or two today to help out on the land and have a bit of a holiday. The kids email address contacts and places to stay in the future are growing.

We have the ground floor of this place and a garden with lemon trees at the side

This is the veiw we have from our house

…and this is what it looks like when we get up at 4.00am!

Sasha has become the ‘head’ fire maker and has sussed it get’s her out of washing up!

Angus is in training for the ‘shoot them up competition at the local library

Claudia’s helping mummy with dinner often becomes more of a biology lesson… you have to gut your own fish here…

Claudia is also making some nice pictures with her canvas’s

She’s quite proud of them.
We’re nearly half way through our two years… it seems like a lifetime since we left and yet six months in Egypt then six months in Romania feels like another lifetime to go before coming home.
The last six months have not all been plain sailing… we didn’t expect them to be. That’s why they make programmes about people who do this kind of stuff.
Talking of which…
We are scheduled to be on the telly on July 21st, 9.00pm on ITV which gets confirmed two weeks before hand. We’re the first in a series of ‘SURVIVORS’. I spoke to one of the girls at the production company that made the film. They spent a month filming it in India. They built a huge water tank and ripped the walls away with the actors in it to get the affects. They built a house like the one we were on and ‘ had to rebuild it several times due to it getting washed away by the water canons’. I can’t image what the film will be like… but they say they have done everything they can to make it as close to what actually happened. If your interested, have a look at the press release from ITV.
If any of you are clever enough to video record… and then burn it on to a DVD… it would be great to get a copy so we could watch it some time (our postal address in on www.somewheredifferent.com). We don’t get ITV here in Croatia … and… well we don’t have a TV, we just watch DVD’s on our laptops. But don’t feel sorry for us… we missed the entire election!
We have a few people spending their summer holidays with us this year and if anyone else would like to, (see Vis web site) we can get you a really nice apartment right on the sea for around £30 a night and you can fly here direct with BA to Split.
Have a good summer!
Duncan

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