Once a dream

I’m not sure if I have any readers left who still recall a post I wrote sixteen years ago, in which I remembered:

Throughout my teenage years I was something of an eccentric. While my friends were interested in mountain bikes, football, Nintendo and Baywatch, I was a dreamer. I yearned after a romantic past, of a wood-framed house surrounded by the cottage garden, of self-sufficiency, spring-fed waters, of the homestead farm.

My Heart, 11 June 2006

I brought this to mind thinking of our construction project the past couple of years, rebuilding a family home over there, set amongst tea and hazelnut fields. Sadly, the latest building regulations — which stipulate that the house must be five metres from any road or boundary — do make this quite a challenge when building on a hillside. Naturally, the policymakers of Ankara are not very popular in Karadeniz, where the terrain is mostly mountainous, though admittedly some idiots circumvent this problem by building on reclaimed river beds. Good luck to them.

Armed with a fistful of approvals signed and stamped in triplicate by the municipal officials of our local provincial capital, construction got underway in autumn 2020, project managed by our friend and neighbour there. As can be seen, it’s not exactly the house I had imagined in my youth. As I recall, I actually envisaged building the house from bales of straw, which I imagined would be more affordable for one who was clearly destined to be a failure in life (or so others had convinced me).

It turns out, however, that the old ways are actually more expensive and unattainable than modern construction methods. Only Gulf Arabs and Turkish movie stars can afford to build traditional houses of wood and stone. After receiving eye-watering quotations, we civil servants reconciled ourselves to working with the reinforced concrete, brick and cladding once despised.

Were it not for international travel bans, we would have travelled there last summer to gift it to one another as a fitting present to mark twenty years together. Instead, we had to make do with a four-day stay in a flea-ridden budget hotel in Swansea. But patience is a virtue, as my grandmother always said. The money saved on airfares last year was spent on finishing the house. We live in hope that this year we will finally get there, to rest our heads in comfort.

Not bad going. I think I first dreamed up this plan in 1990. Who knew that I’d end up with a companion who shared that vision? One day, if the Most Merciful wills, that dream will come to fruition. After the kids have finished university, naturally! It’s good to dream, so keep your dreams alive, however ambitious or seemingly unlikely.

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