Sunday, July 27, 2008

Going for a song

Who among us has not pondered listlessly on what a traditional Szekely peasant house looks like? Who can honestly say that they haven't lain awake at night wondering if there would ever be someone, anyone, who might assuage their thirst for this gap in their knowledge? Well, fear not because help is at hand. No longer will you need to feel that emptiness in your soul, no longer will you contemplate the days stretching unending before you without knowing what the Szekely paraszthaz resembles. Because, here, with only a mere paragraph of bush-beating to precede its unveiling, is one:The roof is shingles, and there are basically two rooms. As with all old houses round these parts there is no bathroom (as there is rarely running water).

Why, you may now be asking (having slaked your thirst for knowledge re images) is he showing us this house at this juncture? Well, it's because it's ours. We bought it this week. It's ace. I mean it's utterly knackered and would be politely described as a "fixer upper" by a British estate agent, but we fully intend to fix it up (slowly and surely bit by bit as we have the money to do so). It's in the small village of Csikbankfalva (Bancu in Romanian) which is about 15 kms from here (but on good roads). It is surrounded by 11 ares of land. I had never actually heard the term "are" before I came here, but it's always used for describing the area of properties here (and I have discovered that we do have the term in English, we just don't use it - one are is 100 square metres if you can't be bothered to click on that link).

Anyway, this week, in between apocalyptic rain storms we started cleaning out the barn - didn't I mention the barn? It has a barn. We intend to make the barn something we can live in on weekends while we use the garden, and next year work on the house. It's in better shape than the house and looks like this:As we cleaned it out, we happened upon loads of bizarre antiques which would go well in a museum (somebody suggested we should sell them on ebay). Things like old milk pails, knife grinders, various kit for weaving stuff, and a few things that I had no idea what they were. One of them was made from a hollowed out horn and had a hook on it - this turned out to be something you fill with water and hang on your belt, then you put your sharpening stone in it and when you are out in the fields with your scythe, you can sharpen it without going home. Fascinating stuff, hey? (He says, trying to wake everyone up). What would Arthur Negus make of that? (I expect Arthur Negus is dead these days, so he probably wouldn't make much of it, but what would he have made of it when he was alive? Huh? HUH?)

Oh, and it has an outdoor bread oven too. It's mint.

Anyway, our new house. I'm in Barcelona now, but I'd much rather be in Bankfalva. I'm guessing that is the first time in the history of human thought that that particular sentence has ever seen the light of day.


Gadjo Dilo said...

Sounds like a lot of work, Andy. I also tried to pursuade my (Romanian) wife to move to a lovely village near here where we live in Cluj (Kolozsvár), but she wasn't going for it. And her family though I was mental - probably still do. Best of luck though, it does look attractive.

Andy H said...

The advantage us that we don't have to move (and indeed we couldn't yet). So we get to stay in town and use the house on evenings and weekends. Eventually, maybe we'll move out there, but at the moment we're staying where we are (this was a big to-and-fro piece of indecisiveness actually - buy a place that we can move into, which we would have to, because we'd need to sell the flat to be able to afford it or get this place which we could afford without selling up, but not be able to live in it.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Ah, yes, I see the dilemma. My wife and I ended up buying an old house in Cluj which we are renovating. I don't know about your situation, but one of the pleasures of this experience for me has been to get closer to my wife's extended family by being able to give them bits of employment on this project.

Dean said...

Hi! I'm a Brit, my wife is Romanian and I lived in Buzau last year - we live in China now but we may go back some day! How did you find the place, check out the 'actele' and go about the purchase. Was it tough? Would be grateful if you have the time to give a few pointers based on your experience.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Hi Dean, Andy may well have different experiences to my own, but it seems that one cannot get enough word-of-mouth advice in Romania. The laws have changed a lot recently, some laws are seemingly bendable, and so many people are not certain. The advice may conflict, so it's good to have professional contacts who get you as close to the "truth" as possible.

Having said all that, it may not be the best time now to buy anywhere in one of the popular cities: prices have doubled and redoubled, and seem now to be stationary, some of them are falling, so you might to wait a while, it's up to you. But Andy's purchase is probably altogether different, being in a village.

Hope this helps in some way.

Frank Sellin said...

Belated congrats, Andy!

This is me, now seething with jealousy. :D

Although I would get utterly frustrated fixing up anything, let alone without a good home / tool store nearby. God, how American of me. :D

Good luck with it! Where are you going to get water?