Through a series of fortuitous inheritances and ingenious purchases by my parents our family has found itself in possesion of a few pieces of lovely property in rural Greece. As children we took for granted the ability to escape to these places for three to four months a year while other city kids made do with a few weeks of summer camp. As adults we have become more aware of the work, and money, that goes into mantaining property and try to contribute our share, with varied success since we both now live abroad.
Now don't go thinking that we have half a dozen homes in idyllic holiday destinations, some are nowhere near fit for human habitation. Until recently the house my grandfather grew up in had been abandoned with the last inhabitant having left 50 years ago. Over the years it suffered cars driving into the roof , looting of most furniture and a slow but steady case of woodworm. Finally, in 2008 it was decided it was due a restoration. Which slowly turned into a bit of a reinterpretation... Land was sold, funds were raised, work began and slowly the transformation happened:
Once the building work was done by the mighty Parent & Contractor team it was time to prettify this new addition and give it some character. My brother and I decided to have more input and save some cash with this one. Both of us, while not professional, are quite handy so we left our northern european homes and arrived in Athens with tools and big plans in hand. After a few days of catching up with friends and family we arrived in Ithaki for two weeks worth of creative construction. Of course, accustomed as we have become to our city way of life we did not take into account the complexities and added expense of trying to purchase supplies and equipment in a remote village in a small Greek island. Despite the difficulties, delays and minor arguments things proggressed.
Neighbour's wooden windows (because everyone seems to be swapping aluminium these days) were recycled into a kitchen cupboard:
Bathroom furniture was built, though the delayed delivery of wood meant the sink table was not completed:
Old doors were restored:
And, finally, five lovely iron corners were placed above the door and windows where eventually the traditional grapevine will grow:
Although we did not do as much as we had hoped we did do some unplanned work while waiting for deliveries - one of which was a matress we needed to sleep on which arrived two days before we left. These were more functional rather than pretty. Like putting up shelves in the storeroom, tidying the yard from construction leftovers, fixing the attic steps in place and fitting new slats to the old iron beds.
So far I have mostly seen our homes finished due to living in another country or because I was to young when they were built to appreciate the joy of being part of the construction team. I always visit and add my enviromentally friendly touches, handcrafted decorations and strange garden plants but must confess I am now rather smitten with the idea of developing a property all by my little self. And surely there is one waiting. Though my part-time salary might not allow work to commence in the near future, it does give me plenty of time to make grand desings for this wee ruin...