Tomorrow we are buying a house. Or, more specifically, we are getting the house keys.
Hold on, you say – didn’t you just move, and then go silent for a few months? As things often (usually) go with a long-distance relocation, we moved, we unpacked, and that is when life happened, and I had no time to blog for several months. Because when you are relocating to a set of different circumstances (to another country, to another type of landscape, or climate, rural-to-urban, or the reverse), there are always unexpected consequences.
So, first we ended up hurriedly buying a car despite having lived without one for many years (T has never owned one before, and I haven’t since leaving USA), because we lived in urban areas well-supplied with public transport. And now we have moved to the sort of place where some of our neighbors take their tractor to shop on a weekend (or open-bed truck, though probably not the harvesting combine as they aren’t very good on a road). There is a farm down the hill from where we live – as in, an actual functioning smallhold with wheat fields, tree-planted alley drives, and an ancient gate (I should take a picture of it – it’s not the same gate as in the previous post, it’s older). They wheat harvest is in progress right now, in fact. So we bought a car because it’s helpful to be able to get around the many tiny valleys of Telemark, not all of which have regular public transport due to being remote and tiny, and visit pretty places, which are more or less the entire county of Telemark. We hadn’t known this when T got the job, but apparently the local area is considered a tourist attraction even for being Norway (not a fjord area, but the tiny-cute-valley landscape, and it’s rather warm here, at least by Scandinavian standards). Here’s a gratuitous photo of another view for you.
And then it occurred to us that no matter how we wiggle our stuff around, the apartment is a bit too small to fit all our things (though I do not put it down – it would have been awesome 20 years ago when we were students and had less books/cookware/large wool winter coats), and maybe we should buy a house. And since it was the house-buying season (summer! pretty and warm! come see houses and gardens!), and we had a car so we could easily drive around, we went looking. And found one we really liked. So we did.
Say hello to the Little House in Telemark.
The house isn’t actually ours yet – we get the keys to it on Friday (tomorrow), but the contract is written, the bank has forwarded the money to the current owner, and the current owner (who is a lovely lady originally from the Netherlands) has even permitted us to start outside renovations (more on this below, too), because winter is coming (it does every year in these parts, pretty much on schedule), and outdoor renovations are not something which is good to do when the temperatures plummet below zero. The house comes with 1240m^2 of land, some of which is made into a pretty front and back garden, part of which is a piece of local forest biome (complete with a couple of young pines and a patch of wild blueberries under them!!!), and some of which is entirely unmaintained, and currently contains 2-meter-tall thicket of (rather nice and vigorously fruiting) raspberry canes and bracken ferns. I am not kidding about the two meters. It reaches well and easily above my head, and I think above T’s, too, so it’s no shorter than 1.8m. Another part of land belonging to the house is a piece of sunny meadow with wildflowers and tall grass on the slope between the house and the main road, which I think will be a great place to put a fruit tree or two.
The house itself is wood on a leka block foundation. It was built in 1983, and has been maintained in very decent condition. However, the lady who owned it for most but not all of its lifetime (I can’t blame her for some of the really bad garden decisions which I will talk about later on – they were done by the original owner of the house) got rather old (as do we all eventually), and had neither desire to do renovations, nor the strength to go into single combat with the hedges. The outdoor renovations which we are doing include things that were made well 35 years ago, but have naturally weathered, such as the house bargeboards (I actually learned this new word for a part of a house when trying to figure out which part of the roof inspector noted as needing replacement – a bargeboard is a board that protects edges of roof timbers from the elements), and the entirety of the balcony that runs across the entire back of the building above the ground floor. The wood used to build the house in the 80s wasn’t the same as modern-treated lumber used today, and after three-plus decades of exposure to sun, wind, and water, the parts of it which were most exposed (balcony and bargeboards) have dried and cracked. But, I digress into technicalities.
The house is beautiful. It was designed in the 1970s, and apparently the architectural plan/builder’s execution of it (Block Watne 99) was the most popular house plan built in Norway for about two decades – which makes sense because it has a beautiful exterior that looks more complex than it actually is (roof plan is actually very simple, which is good for maintenance, and which is more evident when viewed from the rear), and the sort of floor plan which fits excellently well into slopes (and most of Norway is more or less steep slopes). As luck would have it, it was potentially not the most popular house built in the area, so it doesn’t have a gazillion neighbors looking exactly the same, which makes us even happier. The floor plan is split-level: you enter at level 1.5 containing an entry hall, bathroom, and laundry room, and go one flight of stairs down to level 1 where the bedrooms and main bathroom are situated, and one up to level 2 containing the kitchen and the huge, 48 m^2 L-shaped living room with a wall of windows looking out over the view. Two more flights of stairs up from the living room level there is a full loft (with its own landing and door, but as yet unfinished), and half a flight of stairs down from level 1, there is a cellar which is fully submerged underground and is, in fact, located right under the entryway area. All of this is tied together by a large solid-pine stairwell, and the house, since it sits in the slope, has a much taller rear elevation than the facade, so it towers gloriously above the back garden. I will be posting more photos (before-and-after the renovations) after we actually have the keys! In the meantime, here’s another photo of yet another pretty lake in the area, which we took when driving around this summer.
I can’t promise that I will write more regularly now, because well, the whole moving-and-then-moving-again thing is guaranteed to make life busy enough that there is little time to blog, but I will try to update here from time to time, in-between the bouts of packing, unpacking, explaining to the kitchen contractor exactly what I want in terms of steel counter (yes I want the sink to be integral in the steel countertop with no seams, please, because what if I want to cut up a whole goose, or dump 5kg of bread dough on it?), and trying to not run over budget with renovations. The dread of over-the-budget situation is something which is currently unfounded, but I do hope it will help keep me in line.
So, tomorrow we get a house. Wish us luck.