Evangeline Sarah

4 October 2011

Oh so difficult to choose a picture!  How to catch someone who is changing moment by moment?  So, here, Evangeline Sarah, not many hours after she came from the hidden world to the revealed world… and, unknowing of all that is really out here, she delights in what is close…. and she sleeps… good news this princess!


11 September 2011

The main idea was to create a garage for use of guests, get their cars undercover etc.  However, this budded into the possibility of two craft rooms above the garage….  and utility space at the back of the garage…  but although small I wanted it to echo older themes and ideas… and to sit with what will grow from the old stone walls in the front corner…

See earlier post I am playing with ‘han-gjik’ as the name…  but… a good few months before guests can find lodgings!


11 September 2011

My joke is that this is what happens when you plant British seeds in Kosovan soil.  Anita (4 years) simply says, ‘oh they’ve got curls!’ and carries of a look of surprised amusment.

Demolition Dilemma

5 August 2011

The old house was built in 2-phases.  Phase one in the 1950s: stone down and earth bricks (called qerpiç) on the upper floor.  Phase 2 in the 70s.  Now, in the corner of the two bedrooms upstairs there (were) in each a small cubicle style shower room.  It was my assumption that these were late additions.  However, after their destruction, it became clear that these ‘modern’ en-suite facilities were part of the original construction.  Consequently I woke up the next day in a state of desperation that instead of making the old house live I was in my amateur blundering only destroying something historic, unusual and rare.  Hence the demolition dilemma.  Well ’tis done.  There will eventually be larger ensuite shower rooms exempt from claustrophobia.

This ‘mistake’ has generated some interesting conversation.  Such shower rooms are known as ‘hamman gjik’ – and this has me curious.  Hammam is easily understood as turkish baths… so the little shower rooms were for washing.  Elizabeth has enlightened me to the fact that ‘Gjik’ is from Turkish ‘xhik’ and simply means ‘little’.  So there we have it.  I have since been collecting ‘gjik’ or ‘xhik’ words as used in Albanian, and now have kapigjik (the little side gate for people beside the main gate for horses and carts), kamxhik (a whip), nenexhik (peppermint, possibly because it has smaller leaves than mendër = mint), janxhik (the small back pack in which a shepherd carried his lunch), and finally a modern streetwise mini-gjik meaning tiny!

I am enjoying a 1979 Kosovo book called ‘Gjurmë e Gjurmime’ (Footprints Investigation) by Mark Krasniqi… in that there is an old house layout with a part called ‘hammam xhiku’.  In the drawing this is the arched-off corner of a room with a drain where you might wash.  But, ‘xhikë’, is the name for the woman who accompanies the bride to the bridegroom’s house and who stays over the night to ensure the consummation of the marriage.

This mix of sentimental thinking did leave me with the amusing picture of a woman stuck in the shower cubicle peaking out through a crack in the door!

Moving House

31 July 2011

Renovation of the old house inevitably causes some disruption to the inhabitants of which mice, snakes, swallows… and wasps are all candidates for a change.  To be honest I hate wasps!  It stems back to an incident when I was 6 and innocently messing around behind the sofa when a dozy late summer wasp caught me on the thumb joint!  Later I decided that wasps joined the family of animals after the fall and not before it.  Well today may have changed that view.  I was ripping an old wire insect netting off the side window when that unmistakeable buzz sound made me careful.  For some odd reason some wasps had decided that it was sensible to build home on the wire net.  Then I watched them.  Whether it was the start of loud vibration work on the house (doubtful) or their own intelligence that their choice of home was too hot in the summer (likely) I realised that they were not building their house but nibbling it apart and taking it some where else, or just eating it.  I need a wasp expert!  Here they are in action.  Today it was definitely smaller; they are moving house.

Where Alan is

31 July 2011

On the balcony in the morning.  Hajde!

Where Mary Is

24 July 2011

The story is best told directly by Mary at www.marypacker.wordpress.com so I will say little more than: one route is to follow the black arrowed line and select the fourth red dot from the bottom.

Mary’s ship tried a different route – even so – it is not easy to get there – it is still by sea – and it is a very long way away!

I edge towards what the husbands and wifes of astronauts must feel.

2 up 1 down

23 July 2011

This cute little house sits beside the 14th century castle of Novebërdë.  The castle and the house are in accelerated decay.

I noticed during my last visit to Novebërdë that someone has punched a large hole through the castle wall just above the 3/4 buried doorway  – through which you can enter the inner castle if you didn’t mind bobbing down and a short crawl.

Both the castle and the house seem caught in an impasse between the desire of the municipality to secure and protect, and then draw tourists to the castle area… and, the Institute for the Protection of Monuments which says ‘don’t touch’.  Unfortunately the castle is being chipped away, bit by bit, by careless visitors – so saying ‘don’t touch’ is way too passive.

My thought for the house…  copy it in place of the pleme (previous post)?

Seeking revitalisation of the “Pleme”

23 July 2011

“Pleme” is the regional Albanian name for a cattle shed and hay-loft.  This sad one sits at the corner of the old house.  Many of the beams past protection and only two sides of the old walls left.  And yet, still, still there must be some possibility of something new arising from the dust!

The first step is to strip it down and save what can be saved, and then?  The plan is not clear.

Storm Storm

10 June 2011

Wednesday evening there was (another) huge thunder storm that battered and cracked.  The next morning I was surprised to find that the riverside road in Kacanik was closed and there was water.  The rains had washed tons of silt down from the hills and one of the side streams to the River Nerodime had its exit culverts blocked.  They were at it with diggers and lorries to break open a passage and to truck-away the sand, silt (and garbage – that is the sad addition to all waterways).

Last evening a landslide ran over onto the railway and a goods train and railcar were halted in Kacanik – and the Norweigan-Swedish combination were halted in a tunnel – while guys with picks and shovels worked for 5 hours to open the way.