(Originally written 1st April)
I have had a couple of major changes in my life. The move to italy to the center of a big city, the move from a big city to a remote house in the hills, with no running water, electricity, bathroom, kitchen to a big farmhouse in the hills. Now it seems that another life changing move is about to happen.
I had visions of living here until death do us part because I am phenomenally happy here but friends of ours have put their house on the market and it is a house that we love as well and considering my age, the kid’s age, the wife’s working life and just plain comfort we’ve decided to go for it. We put our house on the market a couple of weeks ago with an excellent contract which ties the sale of this place in with the purchase of the other. If they sell before we buy the contract disintegrates. We have just had a second lot of people coming to look at it and they seem according to the estate agent, really interested. They’re coming with the builder next week to check the place over.
Both the wife and I, now the reality has struck, are not as certain anymore. Put it this way, we love living here, but we’d also love living there for a whole lot of different reasons.
Our present house, la Vignassa, is a little too remote for it to be a successful B&B and this should be my job after I’ve finished building. When I say successful I mean in economic terms; the other B&B is already a great success. They live on the money they get from it, quite comfortably too. We have two B&B rooms, they have three. We have dirt track access they have tarmac. We get walkers and naturopaths, lots of naturopaths, meditationalists, retreatists, they get all the above but also the sales reps and long termers and the overflow from a organic farm restaurant down in the village and mountain bikers, aborigines for the digifest and old ladies with dogs staying for months. One of the major consideration though is that here with 20 rooms not all of which have been done up and 2.5 acres of land with a layout which prevents the use of machinery on it, I am not going to be able for many years longer to keep it and the house up to scratch. Something is going to have to give.. The other place on the other hand has zero land and the house is completely finished. There is no work to do. This would mean enforced labour free life but a lot more time dedicated to the B&B. At their pace, a full time job. But I love working outside and I don’t love people as much. Could I really swap a life outside with grubby old trousers and a billhook on my belt, stupid dog by side for making beds and polite conversation?. I’m adaptable so probably yes. I like B&B because the guests eventually go and you get to meet a lot of great folks.
Here we have no immediate neighbours and the area is surrounded on all sides by woods, going west from here you can walk for days without touching civilisation where as there there is a functioning church, two houses and a castle, though that’s it. Neither of the places get many visitors but there probably gets a few more. Sunday apparently is hectic. The bells ring on the hour every hour day and night (which is not a bad thing maybe) and though the house is in the woods on 2 sides one side has the church and the other a cemetery.
There is a lot of unbroken land just up the road and is ideal for mountain bike and hiking but it starts off on tarmac.
There’s also the consideration that here there is nothing in front of us, just air and trees. There in front of the main house there is the B&B which means that there is a lot more physical privacy from passers by which we don’t have here. Anyone passing along the track here (not that anyone does much, except my nearest neighbour) is more or less walking on our garden. There there would be a lot more privacy for the house as we are off the through road. The little patch of land on the other hand is a bit more exposed.
Then, for my wife, well and myself too, to be able to get away from out neighbours is a major consideration. We only have 3 but boy do they cause problems.
This house was around about the late 1500s the other a hundred years later. I have researched the family tree of the people who lived and died here since 1650 and feel they are friendly to me. I would be exchanging this for an unknown. The thing that worries me most though is to do with people. There I would have neighbours in earshot and the dog would have to be chained when we’re not there and she wouldn’t like that as now she runs totally free. Mind you there is a double garage which the wife says I could have for piping purposes as we are not garagey people.
Then there’s also the financial question. Here we have no mortgage there we’d have to get one but theoretically the payments would come from the B&B.
Then the wife would be nearer to Turin where she works and the village, not being waldensian would be less snobbish, though we’d lose all our friends in the shops we shop in.
But all told I think we have to start to be serious and concentrate on the financial aspects. There we would make a living, here, once I’ve finished doing the place out I would have to start the farming bit, which I would love but as everybody knows farming doesn’t pay, well at least hill farming doesn’t. The wee’un would have her own room in the new place. Here we’d have to do another conversion. And so the list goes on.
I have put the matter in the hands of the goddess. Both wifey and I would be really sad to leave here but pastures new and new experiences and a radical change of life would mean new interests new buoyancy and a lounge!!! Something we haven’t got at the moment.