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Mountain retreat for a Transylvanian

What a long day today. We finally completed our property purchases by signing for our rear barn and mountain house. I hadn’t slept well. Over did work at the farmhouse and my back was angry. On the second signing I was drifting off. I can understand French ok. Can’t speak it but it’s tiring when not your first language.We bought on Tontine clause as typical Brits, to avoid handing part of the property to children in either of our lifetimes. It sounds harsh but imagine with family squabbles or wrong marriages, your partner dies and your potentially forced out of your home to accommodate the split inheritance. In France children inherit along with the remaining parent. The reality is many children sign a “Usufruct” clause to allow the parents lifetime security to still use or live in the property even though they no longer own it in totality. It works ok but for us and many Brits it’s too restrictive and Tontine works. You can still Will the property as in UK. It just bypasses the Napoleonic Code which still holds strong here in France.Going from homeless to owning five properties is surreal. Leaving money in the bank is just madness. Property appreciates and with a bit of a push to renovate them, we will increase their value far quicker than any bank investment can achieve. It made sense to try and find properties that had scope to renovate but we’re not money pits or the work unachievable in under 3 years.The properties give us scope to do very different projects. The barn is close to our factory and easy to manage. It’s not huge, all open plan and more about the gardens. I have plans for wild flower garden as the poor bees have little or no pollen here with the farmers continuously mowing for hay or the council strimming roadsides. The irony of living in “managed countryside”!; a cutting flower cottage garden English style with the craziness of colour I love and herb garden. Tony loves to cook.The farmhouse is a weekend retreat and home for our feathered friends and orchards. Ideally we want to leave a legacy of native trees here. A rebellion against the French inclination to fell trees for fire but never replant. The chickens will burst with excitement having half a hectare of worm filled meadow to peck. Their new coop and barn run is just about extreme spoiling as you can get. Funnily they get their home completed as usual before I get mine. Chicken love rules!The mountain house was an impulse buy but also a long term dream of my husband to have a property that reminded him of home – Transylvania. His dad was a mountain walker. Passionate about the local Carpathians and his favorite mountain Cozia. A beautiful but relaxing sharp peak to walk to. A way to get away from the realities of the communist world below. On Saturdays the whole family would head off with food, sleeping bags and illegal music mix tapes to trek to a small mountain house. Its still there. Sunday would be relaxing. Enjoying freedom and catching news on the secret radio.MClearing out previous owners rubbish. Lucky we have a trailer.y mother in law has given us much of her heirlooms and family china, linen and local gothic style furniture as we had none of our own three years back. Transylvanian style is very rural. Lots of red and black embroidery, smocking and amethyst coloured glassware. Horezu pottery is a local speciality and hand painted and hand thrown. Bright earthy colours and all pieces different.I used to hike in Scotland and the lake district and adore the outdoors too, so it made sense to put the effort into finding a mountain retreat.The agent laughed when we stated we wanted a tiny cottage in the mountainous region north of our barn. It’s an area of panoramic views, winding lanes that twist and turn between pine forests and rocky outcrops. She told us it was rare properties come up for sale.Two weeks later a phone call. Surprisingly a cottage with an amazing view was for sale. The owner had cancer and needed a quick sale. We didn’t hesitate.The property has been totally renovated structurally. Probably 4 months of work to point all the walls and install utilities and the ubiquitous septic tank and voila! Finis!Walking, bike riding or simply enjoying the views will make this our retreat for small seasonal breaks like Easter or Christmas. And we will be getting dogs. Two mutts. Heinz 57. Family complete.The garden needs little done. Tree pruning and grass cutting only. It’s the view beyond that matters.Going to leave the the interior simple to show off the Transylvanian heirlooms. Our big gothic black mirror will glare down at all visitors. It’s an ancient thing and probably has some tales to tell. For the bathroom we are reusing the green 1950 suit and enamel bath found outside our factory (Lucky finds. The bath is in great condition. Its enamel and very heavy. My grandmother had a similar one and we just don’t see the point buying new when these are so well made and do the job. Back in England I remember my mother in a government brainwashed 1960 mode, ordering my father to throw their old cast iron bath out through the window. She thought it old fashion in her modern world. I can still see it landing below and cracking in two. Just criminal. I asked her why. I was just three at the time. Because it’s old she replied. Oh how times have changed and for the better. ) A simply second bedroom on the floor above… a curtained area with a sofabed that can double as another lounge area if needed completes the build work. Our bedroom with its high lofty ceiling and beams just needs a bed, a wardrobe and my next door neighbours cast iron bed transformed into a day bed come seat. We found it behind our barn propped up with rubbish. Pale blue and pretty with floral patterning on the main posts. Apparently it belonged to our neighbours grandmother. Of the same era as my mother, the old lady had thrown it out. We gain. Preloved rules!And a happy extra for me today. In the garage we found loads of boxes full of 1960 Elle magazines in tip-top condition. Heaven! Retro fashion, taboo smoking adverts, sexists adverts of women in aprons welcoming their man home with home cooking or sending him off to work with his Omo washed pure white shirt on. Everyone smiling.Perfumes, interviews with famous actors and French chic fashion spreads. It’s all here and for me loving design and history I can’t wait to read them. An Elle magazine with a top model or film star on the cover can fetch €120.00 resale. But I want to keep these for now and indulge myself.Tomorrow I am off to pack them all into bags and clean up the house. Operation goose pond at the farm is the next project. Grass is growing and geese love grass. Time to get them moved and let them free range more.As the day ended we celebrated with our neighbours. The wine flowed and the language barrier fell. Even if back in UK Brexit is faltering we are making progress in France and happy we decided to stay pro-Europe.

8 thoughts on “Mountain retreat for a Transylvanian

  1. Well you certainly won’t be busy now!!! hahaha… That is such a trip about the inheritance thing…but I suppose I get the reasoning behind it, as when my dad died everything went to his wife, my stepmom, and I got nothing. Not that I’d want her house, but now when she passes since I’m not her biological child there’s no part of what was once his being shared amongst both myself and his three kids he had with her. Inheritances are so weird anyhow – I never thought I’d care about that until I was left with nothing when he died and my three half-sisters were suddenly living with their mum yet suddenly travelling the world….

    1. We have actually included the children in our will. It’s just under French law it makes the property inflexible if you want to leave it say to friends if in our case you have a few properties. I almost didn’t inherit. I didn’t get on with my mother. The last year she had cancer, was awful. Not because of her illness but because of the hate in her. My ex muscled in on the situation and I felt like I got divorced a second time round. Just so stressful. Sad for you though. Parents should share with all their children.

    1. I am over the moon. It’s like a window into the world of my childhood which being only 5 years old I only have vague memories about fashion or interior decorations. We all grew up and the 70’s dissapeared. 😦

  2. So, who is the Romanian? Your husband? Wow, amazing! These Romanians are everywhere in Europe; if it is correct, send him my warmest greetings, from another Romanian living in Luxembourg. And also tell him that Romania is a country with some of the best people in the world 🙂

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