Friday Fun: Where Should Marina Retire?

Every couple of weeks I start looking at property websites and planning my next move. The house in which I live now is probably the one I have spent the longest amount of time in (we bought it the year my younger son was born, 16 years ago), but we lived there intermittently, moving abroad twice during that period, for a total of seven years away. I fought tooth and nail to keep it in my divorce settlement, because I couldn’t face the hassle of yet another move. Yet, once both sons have swanned off to university or jobs or whatever they plan to do, I am planning to ‘downsize’. In my case, however, the downsizing might be more a case of moving abroad (in the EU, to be precise), where houses are more affordable (although not the ones I am showing below). I will obviously be spending some of the year in Romania, in a landscape somewhat like this:

But for the rest of the year, there are three places that are calling to me, each with its pros and cons.

Option 1 – France – for the skiing, food and culture

Lyon has that big city vibe but is close enough to stunning mountains, from Barnes International.
The apartments in the old part of Lyon are just perfectly proportioned, from AK.SO Conseils.
And this chateau just outside Lyon would allow me to invite Emma from BookAround over, and we could run reading retreats for all of our friends. From AK.SO Conseils.
If Lyon is too expensive, then Grenoble might prove a good alternative, and is closer to the pistes. From Espaces Atypiques.

Option 2 – Berlin – for the friends and lifestyle

Berlin is all about apartments or penthouses, and I like these stairs going up to a roof terrace. From FarAwayHome.
This penthouse flat overlooking the Bundestag is or was apparently the most expensive apartment in Berlin, from Peach Property Group.
I personally prefer the villas on the outskirts of Berlin, close to the lakes, such as this Villa Am Grunewald.
This Villa Bermann also overlooks a lake, and is probably big enough to accommodate a few reading and writing retreats.

Option 3 – Ireland, County Cork – for its natural beauty and remaining in an English-speaking environment

A view from the kitchen to die for, especially if you start sailing in your old age. From Christies Real Estate.
Maureen O’Hara’s house was up for sale a short while ago, nicely tucked away amidst the green. From Cork Beo.
But there are some surprisingly modern constructions as well, like this bungalow in Kinsale. From Irish Times.

So where would you advise me to move in a few years’ time? Where would you like to join me for writing and/or reading retreats, coupled with a bit of hiking or Nordic walking?

Dream Houses

At the risk of starting to sound more like an estate agent than a wannabe writer, last night I got caught up in a bit of dreaming about what we can never have.  Here are some pictures of real houses featured on estate agent websites in the Lake Geneva area where I currently live. Any one of them can be yours if you have a few million euros to spare.  I moan about not having time to write, but spent nearly two hours last night drooling over them.  Because – of course – I would get soooo much writing done if I only had a retreat like that!

The websites featured include: Affinity Prestige Immobilier, Immofrontiere and Agence Clerc.

Chateau, exterior.
Chateau, exterior.

Chateau staircase
Chateau staircase

Chateau interior
Chateau interior

Villa near Geneva
Villa near Geneva

Villa entrance gate
Villa entrance gate

Chateau near Chambery, Savoie.
Chateau near Chambery, Savoie

Vie of Chambery chateau from the garden
View of Chambery chateau from the garden

However, my own tastes run towards the more modest end of the grandiose spectrum.  A traditional manor house with those ubiquitous blue shutters. No pool but massive old trees and an orchard would suit me fine.

More modest, but sufficient for me
More modest, but sufficient for me

Or this
Or this

I would have a vineyard, keep a few beehives and write all day.  Of course, reality came crashing in this morning, with more work commitments in far-flung places which I would rather not do but cannot turn down.

Home Burrowing Time

After a few weeks of business travel and hard work, it is time to burrow and enjoy some home comforts.

But because other people’s houses are so much more spectacular than mine, here are some homes that make me dream…

The Beach House for Those Who Don’t Want to Go to the Gym

thingsoftheday.com
thingsoftheday.com

The ‘Can’t Believe It’s Not Public’ Home Library

Oresman Library
Oresman Library

The ‘Bet I Could Create in that Environment’ Mountain Cabin

Mountain Concepts Files
Mountain Concepts Files

But a modest microhut will do just as well…

thetinylife.com
thetinylife.com

And on that dreamy note, I’m off for a week of holiday to reconnect with my family somewhere far away from the Internet. Have fun, be good, and look forward to seeing you again in a week’s time!