By Nik Paddison
Come to Montenegro they said, join us for the summer they said, enjoy the nature of The Land, the sun and our company. So I did, trouble is ever since I arrived they have stuck me down some hole in the ground that will someday be a toilet and made me work 12 hours a day! I have a hammer and a chisel and spend my time breaking up concrete. I get fed bread and water and am allowed to wash once a week. They said it was a camp site they didn’t say anything about it being a sunny version of a Siberian Gulag!!!!!
Actually I am having an amazing time – though I really am mostly working in a hole in the ground that will one day be a toilet, and I am using a hammer and chisel to break up concrete, but you will be happy to note they are feeding me more than bread and water and I do get to wash more than once a week!
If you have not visited The Land then I can only encourage you to do so. It is a place of tranquility – often crazy but always tranquil. This is not a cliché, even if it sounds like one. This small piece of Montenegro on the border with Croatia really has something special about it. Added to this is the rare combination of Den and Steve – put this amazing couple with this amazing land and something special was sure to happen. And note I am referring to ‘The Land’ all the time. It is a strange phenomena here, people, ex-pats and locals, refer to; this persons house or that persons land or that persons project. But when it comes to Den and Steve, everyone refers to ‘The Land’, you don’t need to ask which land or where? It just is The Land. This is a place to relax and enjoy the moment and the moment can last a few hours, all day, a week or a month, its length is dictated by you. Hmmm, starting to feel like an advert, so I will stop with this.
The Land is slowly but steadily becoming a camp site – or maybe that should be ‘The Camp Site!’ . The toilets/kitchen block is the main focus of attention right now. Steve working diligently on the electrics:
Den painting anything that doesn’t move:
And me, well you already know about me, I am down that hole! While waiting for construction materials or just looking for an excuse to stand up straight I have been planting a few things, Pear tree, Kiwis and Passion Flowers. Saturday, Den and I spent most of the day in the basement (yes underground again, is there some kind of pattern here?), laying out floor tile designs with the amazing odd assortment of tiles they have accumulated. We have most of the floor area sorted now with some pretty funky designs. I am really looking forward to starting the tiling, it should be this coming week. Though I suspect that after several days of tiling I will be wishing for that hole in the ground again.
My small contribution to this camp site project is my limited abilities in labouring and the fact that I spend my life sitting in front of a computer so am incredibly unfit – believe me when I tell you that at the end of the day working up on The Land I can hardly move, but it’s a nice kind of a feeling.
It is a pleasure to be with my friends with their tanned bodies, their building scars, lean muscles and relaxed ‘we are out of the rat race’ smiles. That’s not to say they don’t have stresses and worries especially with this economic climate, of course they do, just like everyone else. But they have The Land, that special something. I have been up there on and off for more or less a week now. My body is still pale and white, it is certainly not lean and muscley, but that smile is spreading across my face more and more each day and I have my first working injuries; bruises, grazed knuckles, knee cut and a scratch on the top of my head!
I guess the best thing about all this is that Den and Steve do not hold their dream and The Land as something they greedily own and is only for them, they hold it as something to share with others and let others feel a part of. I am looking forward to them welcoming their first guests and am glad of the opportunity to leave the desk behind for the summer to be part of their project for a short while and so I wear my scars (scratches) with pride!