Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Corsica Bound: Diary of Departure: 10
If we do sell I’m going to miss these easy days and the sanctuary of the house itself. The homely bliss was briefly compromised by being rendered a building site for a couple of years when our neighbor brought a tiny bit of land to the left of our bottom terrace and somehow managed to squeeze a three story villa on to it, removing half of our mountain view from both bottom and top terrace. “I just want to share a little in your beautiful view” was his initial line. What started as cordial acceptance on our part somehow became a little testy as he and his builders tested our patience. The walls of what Di calls ‘Le Chateau’ are built right up to the wall of our terrace; ‘a limite’. That’s the way in the Corsican hilltop villages, space is at a premium, there are no borders, that way no land is wasted. There’s no planning permission to discuss, no 45 degrees of development to ensure that quality of light isn’t compromised or stolen. Our neighbor (let’s call him ‘X’) is an influential Avocat, a Justice of the Peace. He’s Corsican AND a politician, so... an irresistible force. Christ, he even buys the Montemaggiore village church of St Augustine a new organ.What could we do but acquiesce? This development is his holiday home so we sit in the shadow of an often dormant domicile. I suspect that it’s more of an investment than a home and a massive part of that investment is the view that he’s appropriated from his hapless English neighbours. When I questioned ‘X’ on how he could build right up to our walls without using our property as a building site, he muttered something about the wonders of ‘floating scaffolding’. We arrived unheralded one Easter and were unable to get out onto the terrace as there was scaffolding everywhere. Our recently tiled terrace was a buzzing platform for the development. Tiles were scuffed and cracked, tempers frayed. Thankfully there was only minimal damage but we were aware that, with the extremes of weather – 40 degrees in the summer, ice and snow in the winters – any imperfection in your exterior (however slight) might become a crack, as it dries out after being permeated by water and ice. The 12K that we’ve just paid for the roof terrace is testament to that.
We are assured by said neighbour not to worry and that any damage would be rectified. We are more upset by the disingenuousness. I get prickly and it’s reciprocated. Unbeknown to us one of our local friends rings and chides ‘X’. ‘X’ thinks we have prompted this and writes an unpleasant note, telling us that we are trying to get improvements made to our house on his tab. He will no longer speak with us! Somehow we have become the villains. There are 60 people in the village and 3 are in his employ. As in any small community people gossip, takes sides. Some handshakes are not as firm as they once were, same with the eye contact… For a while it seemed that what was intended as a place to escape the rigours of London life was anything but sanctuary; we were flying into the stress rather than away from it. We’re now a couple of years beyond the completion and are learning to live with things. Seems that there's no such thing as a protected view. We’re forgetting the old view and accepting the new one as still pretty special. Truth be told, besides the loss of a vista, X's place has prettied up the neighborhood. We’re beyond the bitterness I think, although I suspect that you can gauge from the above rambling that paradise, if not lost, has been compromised as we shelter in shadow.
Supper is fish. Rascass fillets baked in a piquant tomato sauce of anchovies and red peppers. Balsamic chips help soak everything up.
Ipod: Anouar Brahem ‘The Astounding Eyes of Rita’
Song of the day: ‘The Lover of Beirut’