It’s 5.32am… I am sitting in the living area and have decided to write what it going through my head. We arrived in Turkey last night around 6.00pm and drove until it got dark. We are parked up in a truckers stop in the middle of nowhere. It’s a clear night out there and there is an alien about 5 meters away (I think in meters now… I’m turning European!) or at least that is what I thought until me and Sasha investigated it last night to find a pile of rubble with a car battery and too glowing lights on the top of it.
We all have a bit of a feeling of achievement. We arrived in Romania on around the 20th of Sept and by the 12th we had sussed out the best location, found the best piece of land, found the best lawyer in town and have gone through the whole process of buying a small estate up in the mountains whilst living in the central park. Romania is the best country we have been to in terms of the people, scenery and OK its dirt-cheap which all helps. The kids have been great and have realised that they have to go through some boring bits to get their own forest. I won’t bore you with the whole process but withdrawing 40,000 euros in cash and having to then drive across town to the local Norty office where we signed a load of papers with about 10 people in the room all waiting for their cash was an experience. The real estate company were… how should we say… a bunch of wide boys. When ever they wanted to make a point or get someone to do something they would wheel out this scary looking ‘body guard’ as they called him and usıng him as there confidence crutch would hassle people into doing things. The seller called them ‘Mafioso’ and well… we didn’t like them. We signed a contract with them to pay them 3% commission but because they did not have a contract with the seller (we found the land whilst out with the agent) they wanted us to pay 6% commission. When I told the agent ‘ No way, I signed a contract for 3%’ he didn’t know what to do… so he called the ‘body guard’ and got him to stand outside the room we where all in. The agent pleaded he had been robbed but the Notary made it quite clear we had paid for what we had singed for and that was it. Being in this sort of situation used to be an every day occurrence for me when working for newspapers… but that was different… I was not with my family. I had a chat with our lawyer to enquire what these characters might try and do when we left an he was more interested in getting a receipt from them than what the balloon outside the door would do.
I had felt uneasy driving alone with 40,000 euros in what it is now called by the locals the ‘Supa Machina’ so we agreed to give the sellers a lift to the Notary office and now had the comfort of having to give them a lift back. The sellers are two really nice guys and one of them is a man mountain…
We left the building with the kids ‘ Dad, can we make a sandwich before we go?’ and left rather quickly. Our friends followed us in their black BMW and then over took us driving right in front of us. I guess this was all standard practice for them. Intimidate the customer, get them scared and then demand what they wanted. What they hadn’t realised was the fact that they had broken the no. 1 rule when following someone in a car…always stay right behind them. I needed to loose these guys, I had three hungry kids on board and to guys who had tons of cash stuffed in their pockets. We came to a cross roads, our friends knowing we had left the sellers car at the lawyers turned left. I held back and let the traffic flow, they were forced to drive on a bit and a go out of sight… my mind went back to my old Fleet St days and we drove straight across and into the rat runs of Rasnov. Having driven through nearly every road in the area by now I knew my way around. We ducked and dived and took as many ‘which way did they go’ opportunities we could take. The sellers were a bit confused as to what I was up to. They don’t speak English and we only know, ‘hello, thank you and where is the toilet’ in Romanian’…. but a minute or two later they got the idea. I explained I had turned into the village to confuse our friends who would have thought we would have turned right and we would now drive over the mountain on the road out of the back of Rasnov to Brasov instead of the using the main road. They liked the idea of loosing the BMW (with , yes you guessed it… the blacked out windows in the back) as they had a lot of cash on them and didn’t like the look of them either. ‘ Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad…. when are we going to stop and make that sandwich?’ We drove over the mountain and dropped the sellers off on the main Brasov/Bucharest road. I explained to Claudia that the two guys in the BMW were not happy with us and that it was best for us to not stop until we were well and truly lost in the streets of Bucharest. She understood… but she was still hungry. A Nato summit was on in Piona Brasov and there were literally hundreds of police along the roadside… we were beginning to relax. We found this nice looking restaurant in Bucharest that looked like Bugsy Malone’s place… the Godfather was in the corner giving tips to the band that where only playing to him and in the other room there where ten head shaven villain types sat eating there dinner. Our imaginations were running wild. We had a nice dinner, gave them a large tip and asked if it was OK to stay the night outside. ‘ No problem, we are open all night’ in a Romanian gangster type voice. ‘ No one will bother you out there’ He smiled, I believed him. We felt we had lost the Mafioso… sorry the real estate agents and we’re looking forward to breaking for the boarder in the morning… and no, we weren’t out pıckıng mushrooms when that bear fell on two people and killed them.
That’s how it happened. If we were without the kids we would have thought nothing of it and drove all the way back to Brasov and let them puff their chests out at us. I was convinced that if there was the slightest chance that they were Mafioso and might had done something to us, our lawyer, the Notary or someone would have said something. The fact that we where with the kids we really did feel we where being threatened and did not relax until we parked up the next day at the Naval museum in Varna on the Black sea coast in Bulgaria. It had real life helicopters and war ships in it and suddenly Mafioso were history.
I know your sitting there thinking we are either completely off our trolley and very irresponsible to put our children in this situation… but… conscience… go away… not now… its done, its over….
or it takes balls… and we have pulled of a really good deal.
The land is 6.5 acres of pastureland. We have done all the checks and we can build on 25% of the total space… so we could build a house with a floor space of 1.5 acres. The view is stunning. To the front you can see rolling hills in the foreground with people cutting their hay by hand and then taking it back to their farms on their horse and carts. In the distance you have the Bugeigie Mountains, (OK its spelt wrong but they being with a B) were the sun rises over the top in the morning. To the left you have a small farm that has been there for generations and the house is one of those Adams Family looking places. A similar farm is to the right and the national park starts right out side the back door going up the mountain, covered in pine and oak trees with the gorge over to the left. It is just over a quarter of a kilometer long and has steep bits, flat bits, small trees, big trees a sheep shed, a stream and loads of grass.
You know ‘the hills are alive with the sound of music’…. yep that’s it.
It was a lot of work but at least it is all done now. We are still finishing off things with the land in Sri Lanka when we get there in December and have still to complete on the vine yard on Vis, the lawyer has had a tough job convincing the company set up department we are for real and will really be growing grapes on our land and not just building a house there… honest.
So that’s it. For me, phase one is complete. I will delegate the loose ends of all the buying to Penny now and start the next phase when we get to Arugam bay and need somewhere to live. We have spent two years deciding were is somewheredifferent and we have spent the last three months actually looking for it. I really do think the places we now have… are somewhere different and really rather special. It has been a very busy two years planning researching etc whilst still doing the day job and now… we are a day or so away from being with the Murray’s an Australian family that are as mad as we are and who started their journey from St Albans in an American camper as well a few weeks after us. We will travel with them down the coast of Turkey until we get to Oludınuz where we will park up and spend half term with some families from St Albans.
Life’s a beach…
I don’t need a holiday as I really have been on one big one since the day we left the UK, but staying still for a week and not driving up that mountain every day with surveyors etc in our ‘Supa Machina’ will be nice!
It’s 6.46am I can see the sun beginning to show it’s self… time to put the kettle on and catch up with those Murrays!