Today is the last day in the office for me until the end of July .. well, not quite true, I do pop in for one day between my Holiday and my next trip away.
So, what’s the plan Stan ?…
Ma has flown over from a wet and cold England, and she is not convinced that the 38 Deg C weather we have been having will be warm enough for her ! but, I am hoping she can relax, have the occasional glass of wine, and spend time with no pressure to anything !…. and of course, for her to spend two weeks with her Grandson. The one thing that does hurt me about living here is being away from my family, and taking Ma’s Grandson here, but that’s life, and that’s something I have to live with. I hope that she can have fun, laughing, teaching some English and getting to know him.
We will spend the first few days just at home, all of us spending time with Matej, and just relaxing and enjoying catching up, the farm, swimming and the occaisional glass of wine …
On Monday we pack everything up and head to the stunning Slovak Mountains, The Tatras Mountains. It is a beautiful part of the country, very old fashioned, and we will find some old villages and what I think is the ‘real’ Slovakia. Ma has never been, so we are looking forward to some walks, again relaxation, some water fun at the local pool, and.. well… you know… the occasional glass of wine.
We have a backpack to carry the boy, but we are not too sure how far we will be able to go with him, and, like most 2 yr olds, he will want to walk, and that can be oainfully slow ! Also, as I said, this is the mountains, so I know parts of the walks we will go on, might not be too safe for a small boy.
We stay in a friends place in a small village, easy, relaxed, the sun should shine, and, if we get a moment, we will sit, read, talk, and…… The occasional glass of wine ..
Well, you have to !
As I said in my blog a few days back, I have been travelling a fair amount for work recently. Those who have been reading my blog from the early days know that travel is a passion of mine, and I love to get on planes and head to new places. I love airports. They are normally very happy places, with family and friends heading off to new exciting places. I will often sit in a departure lounge and look at all the outgoing flights, and wishing I could choose just one of them.
When my work asked me to basically act as a courier with some parts for my Customer in Illinois, I eagerly accepted. It was to be my first trip back to USA soil since my rapid, and unplanned departure a few years before. Chance for me to see a new city, Chicago, and time to have some refreshed memories of a country I really enjoyed living in. After my return home, I assumed that would be all of my travels, but as our business with CAT and my role grew and developed, I am now about to plan my 7th trip out to the USA in about 8 months.
The trip from here is a long one, I have a 2.5 hr drive to Vienna, then 2 hrs in the airport. 2.5 hrs flying into Heathrow, Term 3, transfer to Term 5, 2 hrs in Term 5, then the long flight, 8.5 hrs to Chicago, and then often a 3rd flight to either Detroit, St Louis or Kansas, meaning a travel time, door to hotel, of around 23 hrs …… not much fun.
But…. Something happened on my last trip that has made life a little easier … I have accumulated enough flights with BA to become a Silver Executive Member…. Now I get a few perks that most people probably think “What a tosser” as I walk past ….
Btw …. this is NOT a sponsored post in any form !
With my Silver Card I get to use the Exec Lounges at Vienna, Heathrow and O’Hare. This means free internet at every airport (Heathrow and O’Hare charge), I get quiet surroundings, peace and quiet from the masses, free food and any alcohol, coffee I want. Newspapers, waitress service, showers, private bathrooms ….. bloody lovely. This can also add up to some savings. Airports are not cheap places to eat or drink. On one recent trip via JFK, I paid over $10 for a beer ! Fuck that ! O’Hare is also a shocking airport, the Int Terminal has nothing to do, one small, expensive bar, (Where I happened to meet a Slovak working behind the bar!) and one shop, both BEFORE you clear security. At least now I can get through early, and still have a beer, tweet and FB rubbish …..
Another bonus for me is not having to queue when I transfer through Term 3 to Term 5 in London. I get to bypass the queues and go through the fast track immigration. I also get to board the plane first, meaning I have those few minutes to find space for my bag, unpack and get settled and have a beer before the herds of clients are pushed onto the plane…. Just the small things make flying easier.
So, do I love this travel. Honestly no. I miss time away from Miska and my boy. The place I travel to I know too well now, there is no thrill of landing in that new place to see new things. It’s business, longs drives, meetings, entertaining in the evening, and of course Jet Lag…. Which I suffer from terribly going out to the USA, never on my return, but always going out. There are long days, early start to work with the company back here, then long days making the most of my time there, then often solitary night in a bar, or entertaining people you really would want to spend your free time with, but you have to… because they are your clients…
The small bonus of the Exec Club def does help… and so it should after all the business BA have got from me over the last 8 months !
Ok, first up, this is not a “My god I am so worried” blog, but more one of interest over my boy learning to talk.
He is now 22 months, and I think, although I have no idea, most little ones are jabbering away inanely by now ?…. My boy does not. He has limited vocabulary, and I can tell you his words here very quickly = Ma Ma, Da Da, Goooooal, Ta, Car… I think thats about it !
this is not surprising when you think of the people he is learning to talk from. His Nanny, Grandma and Granddad, family, neighbours etc .. all in Slovak, every day, then at night, weekends it me in English, with broken Slovak, and M in English, apart from when she either forgets, or is angry, then its back to Slovak.
With me travelling once a month as well, I am worried that he will be getting more Slovak than English, and I really want him to be learning both right away. My Slovak is not strong enough, and also, I want him to be able to talk and understand my Mum and his Aunties and Uncles. This is so important for me.
I know he will, I am not worried by this, well, maybe a little about his lack of exposure to English, and it does hurt when people talk to him in Slovak, and I am not 100% sure in what they are saying…. but that’s down to me to improve my Slovak.
So, does anyone have experience of a dual speaking family and small child ? I have been told that they just naturally speak both, swapping from one language to the other without hesitation and with any problems. I guess his brain does not resist this, unlike mine when trying to learn Slovak, my brain comes up with its own logic, rules and sometimes pig headedness that English is the only way !
He understands both easily, If I tell him something in English, he gets it, in Slovak too. He understand, and ignores both ! I know I want him to talk, helping him, encouraging him, before long I will just be wishing he would shut up for two mins !!!
So, who knows when he will be jabbering on, with more Rabbit than Tescos, I fear it wont be that long, it just amazes me how he will do it, without even thinking, he will be fluent in two languages before he even starts school …… just wish I was the same … *sigh
Fucking animals …… as another big tear plops onto the keyboard …..
So, I guess via other outlets I have, you might of heard that my little Beagle, Bilbo has passed away. So so sad in the Moon household.
What makes this even harder for me what that I was away on one of my USA trips. He has been very ill because of a near fatal dog attack he had about 6 weeks ago. He went through a 3 hr operation, 40 stitches and was in a very bad way. With lots of tlc, rest he was finally though all this, the wound had healed well, and he was allowed back to play with Meg, and carry on with his adventurous little life, including escaping still !
Sadly, it was the escaping that finally laid him to rest. As a small dog, he runs through the grass, not over it, out here in Slovakia, we have lots of Tics, nasty little things, and I am regularly pulling them off him, some from Meg and even the cat. We had the most expensive collars for them both, but, there was nothing could be done for the amount he was getting. The Tics are nasty fuckers, carrying viruses, and this is what he caught.
With him being very tired from the operation before, he just did not have the strength to fight this. Just before I went away, I thought he was a little quiet, but eating well, and the weather was hot, so I thought nothing of it, then, Tuesday morning, M called me in the USA, saying Bilbo wasn’t well, not eating, and she had called Domi our Vet. It was all too late, he had lots of blood in the urine, and his kidneys had failed, even as Domi put him on a drip, to see him through the night he peacefully slipped away to the doggie kennel in the sky.
M called me again in the US, I was driving at the time, I pulled over, hung up, and just sobbed, my poor little Bilbo, only 3 yrs old, had 3 major ops, and still couldn’t pull though.
We found him on the street, he was starving, and unwanted, so I hope we at least gave him some time of security, love, hugs, ear ruffles, playtime and food, with a decent bed to sleep every night, and a loyal friend in Meg. Talking of Meg, she is very low, just wants to be around, she has become very loving and soft, but you can tell she is missing her friend
I came home on Saturday, our kind builder had helped bury him, but for me, it was still a shock. I left him one day he was ok, came home later, and he is just gone, no more. I didn’t even get time to think he might be ill, he just might not make it. Just am empty bowl to store away, and empty bed to put in the garage, and only one dog to feed at night.
But, thats what you get with loving pets, we have all been there, all lost them, and we carry on. Yes, only a dog I know, but, my dog, and I think all my readers know how much love, time and effort I put into my dogs, making sure they are happy, contented souls.
We want another one, but we will wait for some poor soul to find us, a stray, a puppy we find by the road, and unwanted dog from somewhere else….. but, right now, these tears are for Bilbo, Rest in Peace my little friend
So, I arrived back from ‘Merica on Saturday afternoon, managed to get home before the little fella woke from his afternoon sleep, and waited for him to wake….. Perfect.
Sunday was a surprising day, in Slovakia, Father’s Day really is not celebrated, and last year, it pretty much went past with nothing doing. About a month ago, I mentioned to M that I wanted to have a Father’s Day, as I have always dreamt about having a day for me that we always recoginised and celebrated for my Dad. I honestly thought she would forget…. but ….
We had a perfect day, and Matej was the perfect little boy. I was woken as always at 6 am with cries of “Ma Ma” … “Da Da” and Monkey woke and wanted to get up…. after his feed, he wandered off, and took “Ma Ma” with him, leaving me to snooze. This did not last long as I was roused from my slumber with a Red, Double Decker bus on the nose…. as you do…. We spent the morning pottering about, kicking the ball around, breakfast etc before heading off swimming. Summer is here for us, touched 33 Deg C yesterday, and the local pool has a retractable roof, and is perfect for Matej. He loves the water, and now is an age where he is more independent, and more and more fun. He spent time hanging onto the edge, and watched all the girls walking by (thats my boy!). After an hr, time to head out, and he is always good at leaving, no tantrums or tears, just a wave goodbye to the pool and into the showers.
With that we headed to the shops for Miska to buy some clothes, and Matej running and giggling, me chasing after him ! Then to Tesco, and then the drive home. This is the tough part, because we really did not want him to fall asleep in the car. We like him to be in his bed for his 2 hr, afternoon snooze. He was a very tired little boy, but with window opening, tractor spotting, and finally hanging out of the sun roof, we made it home for his pm sleep.
It was now very hot outside, and when he woke, all he wanted to do was play football !, I lasted for a while, but conceded to the heat, and took him back into the cool of the house. Finally, to venture back out as M cooked. So, what do do with him now.. easy….
He helped me cut the grass !
On these days I miss my Dad, he died of cancer when I was 19. I was very lucky, in my eyes, I had the perfect Dad, he worked hard Mon-Fri, but weekends he always spent with us, swimming, in the garden, up to Northchurch Common, taking us places, I always remember him being around. working hard in the garden, bad DIY… never off to the pub, but around as a family. I want to do the same, to finally have a Father’s Day for me.. well, it felt like a very special, Proud day !
Well, apart from all the home stuff that goes on, work has turned from a job, to a career.
I am rather proud of this to be honest, I very rarely sit back and think I have achieved anything, but I think I have here. If you remember, or even care, I got this job here out of the blue. I was all ready to be a house husband, with M going back to work full time. While she was on Maternity leave, the CEO of the company called me and asked to talk to me.
I asked M “why” ?
“fuck knows” she replied !
So, I came into to see them, and luckily I had a suit. clean shirt on (you only ever get 1 chance to make a first impression) and they asked me to start immediately. The company was in a lot of trouble, we had taken over one of our competitors, and quickly realised we were in a real mess, and basically, they needed semi-intelligent people to help handle angry customers, organise parts through production, and ultimately deliver the parts on time. Over the 1st 4 months, I got to grips with this relatively fast, and time here began to drag, and I found myself have far too much time free, which leaves me very bored. I approached people and asked for more work, but nothing really came up. The chance came along that they needed someone to help organise part delivery to our biggest customer, Caterpillar, in the USA … I can do that I thought …
So, we had a meeting in Austria, and instead of just asking to organise the logistics, I took the plunge. I simply said :
“Give me the whole project to run?”
reply was “what ? you are asking for more work ?”
So there you go, I now run, organise, manage the whole of the project, delivery and customer expectation for our biggest customer. My people skills are my thing, that’s what I am good at, and I think people have been impressed with my ability to take on and ask for work. We have had a lot of issues in the USA, so I have always said I would go, once within 12 hrs notice, and face the music. I am not too sure many wives would get this, but with M working here as well, she understands the importance of these visits. I am due back to the USA again in 10 days time. The client loves the fact I am prepared to these things, and not hide away from problems. I like the challenge
We both have huge workloads and responsibility, this week alone, M has to go for 2 days to Austria, this means I have to be away from here at 4pm for Matej. We bth try to make sure the other gets decent work times, and as she is senior management, I sacrifice certain things at work so she can attend. We both cannot attend meetings that run into the evening.
CAT is a very difficult business to work with, they have their rules, and because of their size and arrogance, they will not change. I am flying back out there on Sunday morning for a 6 day trip, seeing the different facilities, making sure they are happy with our quick response over quality issues, and discussing new projects.
The balance works, I am very pleased how this has gone from a surprise job in a industry I knew nothing about, to a proper career that I really enjoy. How I went from Credit Insurance to Off Highway Automotive parts is a mystery, but you roll with the punches and give things 110%, you just never know where you might end up…. Vienna Airport it seems….
Life is funny sometimes !
Part of our routine with the Little Terrorist is after bath time, half his milk, it is time for him to sit quietly on the sofa between “Mama” and “Daaaa” while I try to understand the news, and M swears at the gov’t taking all our money …
What strikes me here are two things, the Newsreaders (female) are dressed as though they are about to walk over to Channel 9 (yes…’that’ channel), and how little, serious, bad news there is on Slovak TV. This is a good thing.
Daily I read the news from the BBC website, mainly the sport, but also the headlines. I confess I have no real desire to hear about the US Presidential race, or the collapse of the Euro, but, I do try to read most of it. Last week, I found 2-3 stories I really wish I had not come across
Drugged, naked man eats face off another homeless man, growls at police before they shoot him
Over 100 people massacred in Syria
The Euro about to collapse
11 killed in Mexican drug rehabilitation centre
The list goes on and on .. Not really what you would call ‘Happy’ news ……
Then I watch the news headlines in Slovakia
Burglar breaks into old people house
Sign post for Castle knocked over
Bear spotted in bins
You kinda see my point here …. Now, I haven’t got my rose tinted specs on here. There are nasty crimes here, Aug 2010 a gunman killed 6 in Bratislava, the mafia still has a hold of people and money here… but, in general, the news lead story will be of a nasty car crash. Very sad for those involved, but… not the horrific news I see in other parts of the world.
I live in a very small country village, the kids play on the road, call in on neighbours houses, cars and houses tend to be unlocked (unless you are Miska’s Father, who seems to be convinced we live in Compton).
We have drugs, alcohol, violence, but, not in the extremes that other places have.
I like this .
Here is a typical exchange of words with me and my Slovak Family….
I popped across the village to borrow some dishwasher tablets, we had run out, and needed to wash things urgently (1st World Problem I know), Miska’s Aunt happily offers to lend us some.
All this in my best Slovak btw
Auntie : “How many do you want?”
Me : “Two is great, thank you”
She hands me 6 …
Me “No Thanks, 2 is great, I will buy some tomorrow”
Auntie “Take them”
Me “No Thanks, I don’t need them, thank you”
Auntie *looks rejected “ok then…. Do you want some cake? Grandma made them”
Me *Rubs tummy “No Thanks, I am full, I just ate dinner”
Auntie *Looks sadder “but Grandma made them, they are not sweet”
Me *tummy is still full “Thank you, but no thanks, I am not hungry
Auntie “ok …..”
Yell from the end of her garden where my Mother-in-law is picking Cherries
MIL “Ahoj Simon, Do you want some Cherries?”
Me : “No Thanks, Matej is about to go to sleep, I want to say goodnight”
Auntie “Come and pick some Cherries, they are lovely”
Me “I know, I love them, but I am not hungry, and Matej is about to go to sleep:
MIL “You don’t like the Cherries ?” *looks like I have just shot her dog…
Me “Yes, I love them, but Matej is about to go sleep”
Auntie “You don’t like my Cherries, come and pick some” *looks like I have murdered her children
Me Thanks, but I have to go, I want to say goodnight to Matej”
MIL “You don’t like the cherries?” *looks at me like I am Adolf Hitler
Me “Yes, I love them, but I am not hungry, and Matej is about to go to sleep”
Auntie “But, come and have some cherries, they are very nice” (I fucking know)
Me “I know Aunty, but I am not hungry”
MIL “You are looking thin, why don’t you have some Cherries?”
I love these people, and they are the kindest in the world, they just cannot understand that I don’t want to Mr Creosote !
As I re-kindle my love affair with blogging, to me, there is one natural place to start, with my little boy
Please remember, I have no comparison to make to other children, so I have no idea if he is tall, short, well behaved, a fucking nightmare, difficult, easy …. no clue… but , to me anyway, he seems a dream little boy.
Where to start, well, most of the time, he has that beautiful, cheeky smile, and a giggle that makes you want to roll on the floor and laugh with him. He has his moments, what 21 month old doesn’t !, but, it seems to pass within a few seconds. Normally because he looks up, and sees that me and Miska have just walked away from him……
He never ever just walks anywhere… why is he always in such a rush ! he has a few scars now, a couple of trips to A&E for stitches.
He eats pretty well, rejects chocolate for Olives, eats cherries off the trees, and does love a drop of his father’s beer !
We are still in a strict routine with him, and it works. He naps for his 2 hrs in the afternoon, and after bath time, he dresses, feeds, and then to sleep, regular as clock work, from 7.30pm, to 6am every single night. He loves his bath time, seems to enjoy washing Dad’s tattoo (no, it won’t come off Son), pulling his willy, weeing in the bath, flooding the floor, and giggling throughout. He is not too keen on the hair drier, but, without fail, he runs to get Dad his towel !
He is struggling to talk. I think this is because of the dual language. He understands both, but, to actually get him talking I think will take a little longer, currently is Da, Muma and Goooaaaallllllll !!! He yells alot !, but is quite a gentle child.
All you other parents will all sigh, and say “I know…” but he is clever little sod. Always findings things to stand on to climb up to something he wants, it’s always dangerous when it goes quiet ! He loves the dogs, but we keep him away from Bilbo, but Meg is his soul mate, the play and play, she is so gentle with him as he tugs her ears, and tries to throw her ball. Always wary, never on their own, but it is great to watch.
He is obsessed with tractors, having two farms in the village I am not surprised. They often give him a quick drive, or he is yelling, making tractor noises. He loves the pigs, goats and cows on his Aunties farm, and will “Mooooo” with the best of them !
Last night we had a small storm hit us, we opened the window, and as Father / Son, we watched the rain fall, with shrieks of delights as the cat ran past, the Swifts swooped in and out of the rain, and the puddles formed. We had a night on our own as Miska was away in town, and we loved it, football, TV, dinner and general daftness….
So, as you would expect, he is my life, adorable, amazing, frustrating and a wonder. I look at him and just cannot believe how this little soul is part of my life, 99% of the time for better. An incredible feeling, a love I can never explain, a tiredness that only parents know about, and a proudness for watching my Son !
Really am not sure why, but I think I will start to blog again. To be fair, I am not too sure why I stopped. I think with all the blogging about the house, and the arrival of Matej, things seem to get very dull, and then just naturally seemed to come to a close.
Life is very VERY busy for us both at the moment, but full of things I feel I want to share, so I thought I should maybe see if anyone out there still has an interested in a lifestyle that includes Slovak life, house building, 21 month old Son, beautiful Slovak wife, working in a Slovak Steel company, frequent travels to the USA, dogs, cats, village life and an Englishman living away from home, and terrible grammar and spelling mistakes
So, where to start from my last blog, so much has happened, so little time.
M is now 21 months, adorable, pushing his luck, but essentially a wonderful, funny little boy
The two dogs are growing, Bilbo has undergone a 2nd lifesaving operation after he returned from a wandering with a 3 inch hole in his chest, we think from a dog mauling, he was very lucky to survive a 2 hr operation to piece him back together
The cat, Stella is pregnant
Mrs M and myself are busy, busy and busier at our work
I have been sent to the USA 4 times already, and about to head back there in 2 weeks time
The house is still not finished, and we are already thinking about extending again next year
We have a summer holiday planned with Ma to the Slovak Mountains
Now I read all that, it sounds busy but really dull, ah well, maybe I just need to get back in touch with friends that used to read and comment, we’ll see….. I will start again, and see if you read or not, maybe I just need an outlet for my ramblings ????
I was wondering how many of my Twitter/facebook/friends have ever been to Slovakia ?
what do you know about Slovakia ?
I guess some of you may have visited Bratislava, but, that’s a city, not representative of the country, and in my opinion, apart from the old city center, not a very nice city at all ..
So tell me people, what do you know / think of this central European place ?
Mine seem to be going only one way …
Maybe I am just in a down mood, but I feel that my friendships always come from me. I am a person that likes to be in touch, like to keep the friends he has, and values them very highly. Apart from maybe a couple of you, and I think you know who you are, my friends communications only ever comes when I email someone.
I don’t think I am being negative, but just an honest thought.
I have twitter friends that only react when I send mails, I have email friends who only ever react when I email first, the same can be said of texting as well. Living remotely from all of my close friends, electronic communication and social networking site is how I continue to maintain my friendship links, but surely this should go both ways ?
Maybe I should just stop, see what happens ? Maybe my friends have got used to the fact I will always start an exchange in emails or msgs ? But, somehow I doubt that. I think, if I stopped contacting people first, my communications with people would just end, and that I find sad and strange. It makes me sad that people do not value the friendship as highly as I do. I place my friends at a very high level, but maybe I am kidding myself. Maybe I am not high on their list, and they have 50 other people they do have regular contact with, and it happens I am too low on that list for them to initiate the first contact. Happy to be friendly and to respond, but never to think .. “Hmmm, wonder how Moon is getting on?”
Now, there are some exceptions, but in general, this is how I am feeling. If I didn’t bother to make the contact, see how things are in other people’s world, I am guessing they probably wouldn’t even notice…..
YAY !!!… Finally, just under 1 year of removing the first brick from the wall in the attic, we have moved to our new home. It is all a bit of a mess, but it is OUR mess. As anyone who has moved will know, it takes time to unpack, then re-organise and then re-organise again, but we just don’t care. we are in our home. Our first home to own as a couple, and of course, our first home with Matej. People that have followed this story know the sweat and tears we have put into this project, and the exhaustion felt, esp over the final month of finishing things to a standard that we could move in.
Unpacking was a lot of fun. You have to remember, we packed to go to the USA after only 6 months together, I packed things away that Mrs M had never seen, so to finally unpack and have things about after 4 years was great, so really nice surprises. Then, for us to unpack things we shipped back from the USA was also good fun, Matej obviously helping !
So…. before I show you around, just take a look at this …. this is where we started. I do not have video of the very start, but this is from I think, Feb this year.
So, I will start at the back of the house, which are the two bedrooms… Matej’s and ours…
From here we will go into the bathroom. Not finished just yet, need some doors fitting to the cupboard, but otherwise all very nice, and the little fella loves his bathtimes ! and … this is where the underfloor heating is sooooo good
This is the view from my bedroom door, right down to the entrance. On the left are the doors and windows leading outside to the patio, with the streaming sunshine lighting up the place, and then to the right is the house… the Living Room, Dining Room and the Kitchen… all open..We will have some comfy chairs here, so in the future we can enjoy a coffee looking out into our garden. For now, its a great runway for Matej.. !
Ok, here is the sitting room, complete with my fireplace. We have now got the grate and fire guard, and have had the fire alight for the last two evenings. Perfect end to the day ! It burns perfectly, and gives the whle room a wonderful Atmosphere. Just need a roasting pan for my chestnuts ! lots to be done here, but for now, it is what it is… my place to sit, put my feel up and have a little rest…
Into the kitchen and dining room areas… We still have some doors to be fitted in the kitchen, and at some point we will be having a range cooker installed, but for now we will cook on the old cooker. We have a dishwasher, old farm sink, waste disposal unit. We love the new wooden work tops, although I am little anal when it comes to people not using coasters !!!
This is where we will have our walnut table, once we finally get ourselves organised, move the fallen tree from the garden, and get the wood prepared, but, in time, we will have a lovely, family table..
This is the view in reverse running back down to the bedrooms, and a final look at the fireplace..
So, we are moved in, and now we will start to make it a home. I already feel relaxed here, even though the stress of trying to do all the jobs we have, get things into places we want them, having Matej quite poorly for a week… it is fun. Matej loves the space, the soft carpet, his room and the fact he can run the whole length of the house. The underfloor heating is really great, takes some time to get it right, either swealtering, or cold, but we are getting there.
The dogs are happy too, They are not so keen to escape anymore, and they will settle in the sun when they are not chasing each other round the garden. We still have so much to do, but…. we are here, in our home ….. Wonderful !
So, can you believe it, because I most certainly can’t. Today is the day that we move into our cottage in the sleepy village of Medvecké. Finally.
Those of you who have followed this story will know the journey we have had from 100 yr old, outdated, traditional Slovak cottage to the new home that is ours. I won’t lie, it has been very tough. We have been lucky with our builder who I cannot praise highly enough. You hear so many horror stories with builders, we have simply the best there is. We were lucky that we didn’t really uncover any major surprises along the way, but then again, we expected to knocked down, re-wire, re-plumb the whole place anyway, not too many surprises when you have plans to redevelop 90% of the place. That said, never ever think these thiongs are easy, they put huge strain and pressure on you and a relationship.. be warned
Pictures will follow once we get a little more sorted out, but we are so happy with the place. It hasn’t really hit me yet that I will not have to be sitting on a kitchen chair (my arse is sore from two years of that chair) to use the laptop. I can now go back to enjoying my Parents-in-laws company. Without their support, no way could this of happened so easily, and I am ashamed and angry at myself for not realising this more and thinking more before getting angry and frustrated with them. They are wonderful people, hearts as big as Slovakia, doing all they can just to help us. Sometimes they help too much, and lovely as they are, I do not want to live with them. As lovely as all my readers are, I do not want to live with you.
I think they understand this, however, it is quite common for children to continue living with parents as they gain their own family, just not for me. I am so looking forward to have my home, my domain, my castle !
The transformation of the old to new has been incredible. I watched an old video clip I took back in Feb, and just watched in amazement. I love the fact that when I now walk around the new place, I can still feel, smell, visualise the old walls, furniture, structure of the place. Even though we have redesigned the house, I hope we have kept its soul.
It has been wonderful to open boxes we packed from our time in the USA, even more, boxes I packed that my wife has never seen, and from her storage, old things she hasn’t seen for 8 years. We are stating our new life now. Matej loves, simply LOVES the new place. He runs on the carpets, makes snow angels when he can, and it is so much safer that the PIL house for him. We have wonderful under floor heating… so so good !….
So, now we can settle, take our time to fit into our home. Well, not too much time, my Brother and his wife arrive tomorrow for a weekend !!! still, it will be wonderful to share some time with them, and invite, and all others into our home… but, just give it a week before you come over please !
******** UPDATE ********
We MOVED !!!! yesterday …. WOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
What a nightmare turn of events of Thursday night for poor Bilbo…
After the tough time he had of damaging his shoulder, limping about and biting me in pain, he took a nasty turn for the worst on Thursday. He was also a very lucky lad. Sometimes things just happen for a reason, good or bad, and this time it happened to occur for the good !
I had Meg on her chain, and I whistled for Bilbo to return so I could lock him up for the night in his new kennel. He slowly, decides to limp over, and with me in a huge rush, as always, I lost patience with him, so I walk over to scope him up, and give him a helping hand to his kennel. As I go to pick him up, I feel his stomach, like a football !.. I mean, hard, swollen and big ! Well, big for the little fella anyway. I had noticed earlier, about 30mins before, he had eaten really well, that’s always a good sign after an illness or accident. I decided that his had a tummy full of food, so I chained him, and walked to the car.
As I walked, I had a nagging feeling. I know dogs, I have had many of them over the years, and I just knew something was not quite right. Luckily for me, my cousin over here is a young Vet, about to qualify, so I thought I should call her. I described what had happened and she said, very quickly, “get him over to me now, that is not right”. So, I took Matej home to Grandma, loaded the limping, sad looking Bilbo into the car, and headed over to her place. After a quick examination, in the road, in the pissing rain, she quickly decided that Bilbo had to go to surgery immediately So, she dashed him off the her surgery, leaving me to just sit a wait.
I had a call about 8pm, he was in a tough situation. They could not get him to vomit up enough of the food to release the swollen tummy, so they had to operate. I gave my permission, and just waited… nervously…
I got the call later on to say that the operation was a success. They removed nearly 2kg of food from his stomach, and he should recover just fine. I was so relieved, and yes, I cried again.. (yes a big girl, but he is my dog, my ickle Bilbo)….
The issue was the fact he had eaten so much dried food, then drank a lot of water, and his system couldn’t digest it all, and the added water caused the food to swell. Interesting, this has never been an issue before, and isn’t with Meg at all. But, lesson learnt, soak the food properly first, and use less of it, to mix with wet food as well. He has not got a place inside as he recovers, needs further injections (which he does not like) and he will be ready, in a week, to join his beloved Meg. Meg, incidentally is a sad hound to, every time I let her off her leads, she simply rushes to Bilbo’s kennel, only to find it empty.
Bilbo is a lucky boy. Lucky I went to lift him up, Lucky I decided something wasn’t right, Lucky I have a wonderful cousin who reacted immediately. If we had not of taken the action we did, She said he certainly would have died in the night. Thankfully, he is a sad, but getting better little dog !
So, following my spectacular tumble last week, I have incurred further injuries from Sunday.
I was bitten for the fist time by a dog. A proper, full on, ‘prise the jaws of my hand’ kind of bite ! The sad thing about this, it came from my loving, softest, friendly little wandering soul of Bilbo.
As normal, happens at least once a day, lead by Meg, the two little sods decided to escape and go walk about in the village. I am not to bothered by this anymore, but I feel I am responsible if my two dogs are annoying other villager’s dogs who are kept in their own gardens, so I dutifully whistle (glad I learnt to do that when I was young) Finally, Meg comes dashing up to me, which is strange, as Bilbo is normally the one to return first. In the distance I can now see Bilbo dashing towards me, but not in his normal bouncy style, but is a run for you life, low to floor dash.
As he gets close my heart begins to break. I can see he is only on 3 legs, his front left leg dragging and flopping about. I am sure it is broken. He dashes past me, and into the large drainage channel, scared, shivering and not moving. I cannot reach him, and nothing is making he move. He was so scared, shaking, crying …. Broke my heart.
I sprint Meg back home, ready to face the worst with Bilbo. I as run back to the road, he come rushing up to me, still on three legs, with the third just hanging down. He lets me scope him up, and just shakes in my arms. I take him home, sit quietly, and examine him the best I can. The good news was that the leg wasn’t broken, marked, and just painful, he just lay so still in my arms, I thought I was about to lose him. I took him to his kennel, got a blanket and just lay him down, sat with him, stroking him, and wondering what else I could do.
I think he was either hit by a car, or bitten by another dog. I am not sure. He is quite a timid soul, but who knows. I took him another blanket, and as I tried to get him comfy, he suddenly snapped and locked onto my hand. For a small dog, I can assure you he has a big bite. I had to prise his jaws off me. I did swear. I left him alone to settle, he was so still, motionless, shallow breathing, in shock. I could do nothing, I sat on my house steps and cried. I could not bear the thought of him just slipping away. After a few mines of this, I decided to act my full 40 years, get up off my arse, and check him again. He was sleeping, so I left him for a couple of hrs.
I returned, he wagged his tail, stood slowly, and I genuinely felt he looked sorry for biting me. Not his fault at all, if you poke anything hard enough, it will react. He ate well, and I let him off his lead, and he limped over to see Meggie. Throughout the night he was ok, and this morning, looked 10x’s stronger. I think I might over reacted, but he looked in so much pain, and so forlorn …..
Just shows how much we love our pets ….
I do not like Gravity or Newton, he was clearly a tosser and when Gravity works against you its a bastard I suppose we do need it, but yesterday it was my undoing.
I landed on my Butt… not just a stumble, but a full on, comedy fall .. down some steep steps, carrying a heavy, tiled topped, chest of drawers.
These were not your normal house stairs, these were the stairs that lead up into the attic. I have been up and down these stairs a fair amount, and admittedly had a couple of wobbles on occasions, but never took a tumble. Yesterday afternoon I certainly did. I was moving the first of our boxes from their 2 year vacation in the attic, and rather than moving the shoes from the side of the steps, I thought it would be best (easiest) to step aside of them.
So, when I was in the Kermit position (Where he was not at the bottom, and not at the top, about the stair where the little green fucker stops), maybe he tripped me,… I realised that my center of gravity was a little too far back, and that point when you just know there is no coming back. With my hands full of this bastard chest of drawers, I just knew the worst was coming … Oh fucking hell I might of yelled … At the base of these stairs, there is no room. The is a cupboard full of stuff and the hoover also lives there, not the most comfortable for my peachy arse to land on.
I crashed, from about 10ft up, into said cupboard, with one foot still lodged on the Kermit step….. bugger Ouchee…. the drawers landing on me, and stressing my knee to bend the wrong way, which, btw, it does not like. Some of my readers know I suffer from bad knees, and I was pretty sure this wasn’t going to help…. As I landed, I managed to crash through the two wardrobe draws on the cupboard, pull them off with my tracksuit bottom, now indecently ripped btw, and lodge myself in this prone position …. I might, just might of said a few colorful words at this point.
I managed to tumble the drawers of me, get my other leg under me, and release my trapped knee, remarkably, just a slight twist and some swelling has come from this, a rather nasty bruise on my shin, and a rather Peachy Arse Bruise ……
Yes, I am an idiot !
Twitter is a funny animal…
I use Twitter daily, in fact, I could go as far to say I am addicted to the inane world of 140 Characters.
I have people on Twitter who have the ability to really make me laugh using those 140 Characters.
I have some people that can be amazingly creative in those 140 Characters
I have ‘friends’ that complain about my spelling in 140 Characters
I have an artistic friend who talent amazes me in 140 Characters
I have some people who are just dirtbags in those 140 Characters
I have people who tell me their every meal over 140 Characters
I have coffee adicts using 140 Characters
I have fitness fanatics who eat take-aways that astound me of 140 Characters
I have some people whose self importance astounds me in 140 Characters
I have some genuine friends from those 140 Characters
I have people that never talk to me using use their 140 Characters
I have one member of my family who talks bollocks over 140 Characters
I have a couple of the bravest cancer fighters in the world who tell their story over 140 Characters
I have people who fawn over my little boy over 140 Characters
I have a moustachioed lady using 140 Characters
I have a cat and a dog using 140 Characters
I have genuine helpers using 140 Characters
I have Mums by the dozen using 140 Characters
I have some weird people using 140 Characters
I have got advice from those 140 Characters
I have angrily unfollowed because of the 140 Characters
I have a friend who I have lived with her depression over 140 Characters
I wonder where you fit into these 140 Characters …??
and yes, I am counting …
I haven’t posted much for a while on the house, because I wanted to try to show you all the impact of our recent developments. We are nearly there now, 15 days to go until My Brother and Sister-in-law arrive, and they will be staying with us.
My twitter friends will all know I have been painting…. sodding painting. After a days work in the office, it’s a question of dashing home, getting changed and heading to the house to paint. Not an easy job at all. Fresh plaster seems to just drink the paint, so 3 coats required all over, and of course, having those wonderful Oak Beams also means I have to take care painting between each and every one. The two bedrooms are done, the kitchen is done, but a fair few still to go.
We have finished the windows and doors. It was a huge thing to be able to leave the house on Tuesday and actually shut the door behind us. In the 18 months we have owned this place, we have never closed the house off. It has always been open for people to wander in, the dogs to wander in and out and for workers to see it as a building site, now we can close the doors… it’s a house.
We have removed the delightful outside toilet, and are finishing off this small roof that comes off the garage. This used to be for chooks and pigs, but will be my store for tools etc. Comes off the garage which has now had a new concrete floor to it as well.
We have lights in the place too, do you know how good it feels to flick a switch to have light, rather than dragging lamps all over the house !
The kitchen floor is down ….. all tiled and done !
The trap door leading down the the wine cellar, this will be insulated, and finished in wood.
And this is the dinning room, and we will have a large, family table made from our own Walnut tree.
We have my pride and joy, and about 3 weeks solid work from the builder to have this …. My Fireplace. This is an all English fireplace, Slovaks never have anything like this, and I am very proud to have designed and help create this. I have to give huge credit to Maros, the care, commitment to making this look perfect has been incredible. It looks easy to build right ? well, the guts of this has been near impossible. To cut and shape the bricks to fit around the shell of the fireplace has be slow, painfully slow…. I love it, it has always been my dream to have a house with a fireplace like I have always known at My Mum’s, and now I have my own. With a mirror, a companion set, and a few other parts, it will be just perfect !
and the ever helpful Matej ..
We have some work to do, we have to move a door and relocate the boiler, which is a real pain, but not a disaster.. fit the furnace, connect the water… and we are done …. oh, build a driveway, complete the drains, finish off a new section of roof …… ad infinitum …
It’s exhausting ….. not just physically, but mentally for us both right now ..
As always, we have a lot on our plate, but with the 27th of Oct rapidly coming towards us, we are now in full stress, mental mode !
“Why ?” I hear you all ask……
Well, the date above is the date that we must be moved into the house by.
“Why that date?” again you all chirp ….
That’s the date my brother and his lovely wife come to visit us for the third time in Slovakia. So, we must be moved in by then. The place won’t be finished, that will never happen I feel (think about the painting of the Golden Gate Bridge…..) but, we will be ready for them. I am pleased that we have been set this date for them, it gives us the goal, the aim, that we have to be sorted by then.
Autumn is here now, although we have stunning days, the nights are now cold, and more importantly, becoming damp and foggy. The damp will get into the house if we do not get a move on and get living there.
So, what are we up to ? Well, a few things (there’s a surprise) … Work is manic for us both. Our company is getting stronger and busier, which leads us to be busier and busier. My role as a Program Manager for our newest, and biggest customer is challenging me, and keeping me of mischief, and Mrs M role as product development manager is running her off her socks. I have the client visiting this week, so that will involve some late nights, and then Mrs M has to go to a ‘bonding’ course for managers, which takes her away until Saturday morning, leaving me to do the daddy stuff at home. Along side this, we have money to organise, more and more builders to organise and supervise, and for me, I now have a full time job working at the house.
This week, any spare time I have I will be painting. Sounds easy, but when you have a whole house to paint, inside and outside, that’s a lot of painting ! Fresh plaster takes an extra coat as well, and with my wonderful beams, even more work in preparation and covering them ! I have so far spent two weeks doing this, and so far, two rooms are complete, ready for the carpet to be sorted. I will now start at the other end of the house, the kitchen. White, white and white is the order of the day here. Might change our minds later, but for now, we have no idea on what colour we would really like, need to get a feel for the place.
What else this week … Well, our builder should finish all inside work. The fireplace is the key, and then a trap door for the wine cellar (added numerous grey hairs this week as Matej toddles towards the opening!)…. The kitchen tiles are all down (looks brilliant) and the kitchen will be fitted next weekend.
On Weds, we have the final doors fitted. This means, after owning the place for 15 months, we will have keys, and we can lock our doors. For 15 months, the house has been open to anyone, or indeed anything (hate rats) who wants to come on in. We have been very lucky over the things we have just left in the house, nothing has gone missing…. That’s why we love our village !
We now have lights in our rooms, how cool is that, no more dragging leads and lamps everywhere !
The house ends are now sealed and plastered, ready for me to paint.
All in all, we are on track… just need the boiler to be moved (like we knew you had to have it a meter from the electric box !) and a new door knocked through to accommodate this, the furnace is ordered, needs to be fitted, and I think that is about it …. Carpets delivered, bathroom to be finished, toilets fitted, but bacteria for the waste recycling … anything I have forgotten … probably !
Nothing to say really, just thought I’d ramble on, after all, that is the name of the blog right ???
It has been about 4 years since I left England, headed out to California, and then came to settle into Slovakia. Things have changed in my life more than they ever have before. That’s not supposed to happen to a 40 yr old right ? I mean, are we not supposed to be settled in Suburbia with the Ford in the driveway, and the 2.4 children running around …. I always thought that would be you know, but how different could my life be ?
I don’t think I know of anyone out there who has had such a roller coaster of a ride in life. Don’t get me wrong, apart from my Dad’s death back when I was 18, it has all be self induced. I made these choices, and I am sure most of them have been the correct choice ?
After all, at 40, I am happier than I ever have been. I have more in my life that I ever imagined possible, so that means the choices I have made have all be correct.
It amazes me sometimes how easily I and Mrs M seem to take tough choices. I decided to quit my City job in a few days to follow her to the USA. With 12 hrs of me learning I had lost my job whilst in Canada, and could not return back home, we decided I would fly back to England and Mrs M would follow as soon as she could. We decided within a day or so to come to Slovakia and buy a small piece of land here, and to build a place….. we then also took the decision with a day of buying this old cottage, change our plans of the old land, sell and rebuild the cottage we are now so close to moving into ….
So, how come we can make these decisions so fast ? are we reckless ? Are we lucky they work out ?…. I would say no to both of these. I would say a couple of things, make a choice, and wholeheartedly give it a go, after all, you can always change that choice right ?… and I never ever want to die wondering …? .. I never want to look back and say ‘I wonder if’… Now, I know all of the choices we made were before Matej, and that obviously changes how reckless we can be, but I still think we will always makes choices quickly and then look forward rather than to look back ..
I wonder what choices I will have to make going forward ? I would say nothing major now, but then I would have said that every year since I have been with Mrs M, but clearly, that wasn’t the case …..
I wonder if anyone has had more changes in a short time span as we have ???… if you have…. I’d love to hear about it ?
Do you think we have been lucky it seems to have worked out ? Or do you wish maybe you could make decisions so quickly and go with that conviction
Whatever anyone ever says about me, they can never doubt my enthusiasm to take a chance, commit, and live with that choice !
A huge leap forward in the building of the house. This was the last major work we had to get completed. Obviously, underfloor heating effects the whole house, but also, with this complete, we have our final floor now laid as well. It is not a cheap option, and certainly not an easy option. Lots of preparation goes into laying the heating, but we are so happy now it is done. I walked around the house on Sunday Morning, and I felt like a giant ! from day 1, until now, we have raised the floor by over 40cms. That is a huge amount of concrete, and for the first time, the ceilings were not miles above me. The windows are now at the correct height, the fireplace can be visualized properly….. It really feels like a home now ..
So, this first picture is of the hallway leading into the bathroom. I include this one because it is the only photo I have that shows the polystyrene layers before the black, pipe holding layer went down. Maros and I spent 12 long hours laying this stuff down. I HATE the ‘squeaky’ sound of polystyrene, so 12 hrs of fitting, cutting, squeezing in the bloody stuff, over every inch of the house like a huge jigsaw puzzle was no fun ! It is best to do this in two layers (5cm each) for better insulation, but you have to make sure the joints do not match with each layer.
On top of this, goes the black, plastic layers that will hold the pipes in place. Again, fitted all over the house…. I didn’t fit this, this is where we had the experts come in.
and here we have the first of the water pipes being clipped into place.
Once all the pipes have gone in, tested and fitted to the two manifolds we have, the concrete men come in. It took the guys two days to complete the pipework, they were excellent, worked long days, fast, tidy, and have done a great job. The concrete men then pumped the first layer of concrete all over the house. This is special concrete designed for this application, and after letting it set over night, the following day they came and completed the job. Again, fast, clean, good guys who have done a great job.
The living Room
Fireplace and one of the manifolds
Kitchen and dining room
and the ever helpful….. Matej
Once we are done, maybe our crop of this will help calm the nerves ?
So, where now.. well, we have the patio doors and external doors to come, they will be with us in 2 weeks. We have the fireplace to finish, and on Monday, the kitchen is starting to go in….. On Monday, we are going to buy the paint, so I can start to paint the place from Tuesday onwards… and we have chosen carpets and tiles …. so, nearly our pain, and yours for reading this blog… is coming to end … we hope…. I have plans to be living here within a month……
Hiring workers in Slovakia are a funny thing, like all countries, you get the good, the not so good, and the bloody awful. We had a choice when we took on this project of rebuilding the Slovak cottage, in fact three choices, one of which was never gonna happen !
1 – Get a company to do everything and hand us the key at the end
2 – Find individual trades to do the job for us
3 – Do it all myself
Have a guess which was wasn’t a goer ??
We took the option of finding all the trades ourselves, and when I say ‘ourselves’, I obviously mean Mrs M ! My Slovak is improving, but, it is not that good. We have chosen well, you all know that our builder is just fantastic, his speed, his commitment and quality of work is just great He does get paid above average for Slovakia, but I kinda believe that you get what you pay for, and the added bonus he gives us with looking after the whole project is worth every penny.
We have also chosen well with Roofers, Sparks, Plumber and heating, the only mistake we made was with the fireplace, which turned out to not be a huge error.
But, here is the thing I don’t quite get with Slovak trade…. When we negotiated a hourly rate with our builder (strange in itself, normally you get a price for the job, but as we didn’t know what we were getting into, be decided an hourly rate) it was made clear that not only did we always pay for the lunch hour (to be fair, Maros never ever takes an Hr), but we were also expected to provide the lunch for the workers ….. that’s really strange for me, and fortunately, the builder agreed this was unnecessary, and didn’t push it, but it certainly is expected. We have our heating workers here at the moment, they have come from up north to do the job, the lead worker we know very well, and is a close family friend, but we have had to find and pay for their accommodation, provide lunch and dinner for them…..
I can understand paying for accommodation I guess, but I would expect this to be included in the final price, but for Mrs M to provide lunch, and for me to cook dinner (yes, I did the cooking) for them is strange, something I would never expect to do….
We do provide coffee on site, and for our labourers, part of the deal is we provide them with beer daily….. (don’t ask, we just do) … but never did I expect that we would be a canteen as well !
Things you learn huh !
Tara’s The Gallery’ gave me an excuse to revisit this blog I wrote, and to celebrate by greates pair of shoes !
Sometimes you have to make a panic buy, you know, you have 30mins to get something you need, but you have no time…. Well, that’s what happened with these boots.
We were leaving sunny California for Christmas with my sister in Vancouver, when it struck us that we only had flip flops to wear, not really what you want to stop Jack Frost nipping at your tootsies huh !.. so we dashed of to the local Mall, and rushed into a sports shop, you know the type, we stock everything for every sport, but we haven’t got a Scooby what it all does….. Now, I never buy specialist things from general sports shops. If you want decent walking boots, go to a Hiking shop.. simple, but, needs must. We were looking at expensive, got to the top of Everest type of walking boots when we decided, lets just get something to get us through Christmas, not a big rushed splash out on the wrong boots, so I found a pair for $20, size 8, sturdy, comfortable (for the 10 steps I took around the shop floor) and I was happy enough.
Well, 4 years later, I am pretty sure I have had my $20’s worth ….
They have been sensational… they have walked miles, kept my feet dry every step, and not a blister in sight. They have been walked around Big Bear, Big Sur, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Sequoia, Hoover Dam, The Canyon, Tatras Mountains, Vancouver Island, Bear Watching and Whale watching in Canada and Alaska, Ireland, Slovakia, Northchurch Common, Portland Maine, NYC, San F, San Diego and finally, their final resting place, No 3 Medvecke…. Building our new house….
Just sometimes you get a bargain, and these wonderful boots have seen and done it all…. For $20 !!!
After our first mistake in building this house, we took down the laughable excuse of the previous effort, and had another fireplace man arrive to sort out the mess, and then our ever patient, skillful, determined builder resurrect the new one ..
The results are stunning, and we cannot wait to have it finished.
Our builder is a real rarity, he is dedicated, has never let us down, over the course of nearly a year now, he has been at our place, working in the rain, snow, sweltering heat to get us into our home. He lives in our small village, and he has become a firm friend of mine, and a builder you can trust. He never just does something to get it done, he treats our place like it was his own home. His attention to detail on this fireplace has been admirable, and if you ever want a builder… Maros is your man !
He did have a little help ……
the brighter reading amongst you might have noticed a change in floor colour … well, this is the start of the Hydro insulation… on top of this will go 15 cms of poly styrene, then the underfloor heating, then sealant concrete …. then we are ready to decorate !!!!!