Friday, 17 August 2007

A quiet life in the country

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About ten years ago when the kids were no longer kids and standing on their own feet (more or less) we decided it was time to quit town life, near to the schools and shops and move out into the green belt of our local market town. Actually it is only about a kilometer down the road, but no busy roads, waking up to the song of the birds in the morning and being integrated into village life.

All these things are true and we really enjoyed our first 1-2 years of living in the green. The estate where we bought our home was new and we knew it would be devloped over the years. When we arrived we had a view similar to the photo above, although the lawns and hedges were then actually a maize field stretching to the trees with a clear view of our local cathederal, the St. Urs in the town of Solothurn.

One fine day a group of white collar men were seen standing where the maize field was (it was Autumn and it had been cut down) with paperwork in their hands and a day later a small work troup arrived and pounded poles into the ground. As every Swiss citizen knows, these poles represent the outline of something that will be built within a few months (of course, not being any objections raised). These poles seemed very near to our home. Although we knew we would one day be expanded, we did not really expect it so soon. There were some neighbours that became shocked to the extent that meetings were called and objections raised, but with no positive results. The bulding lords had the law on their side and within a few months the construction people arrived and a large pit was made opposite our garden. There soon followed a few more pits and 2 years later we were a settlement with many neighbours.

The appartments are all bought appartments and basically the neighbours are mostly in our age group (sort of the interesting age as my son says???) and we get on very well together. There are a few families with children and most of us have cats. We are very happy living here and despite being the second largest building site in Europe (next to the Potsdamerplatz in Berlin where at the time the new government buildings were being constructed), we accepted all the alterations with patience, although groups of neighbours moved out as they thought they would remain alone (after all the building group did tell us they were going to build further).

We have now been living here almost ten years. The wide open spaces have been reduced, but instead of a maize field we now have lawns, flower beds, trees and shrubs and a farmer that even lets his cows graze once a year on a field around the corner. My cats have got used to the area. When they have had enough of our settlement they take a walk over the field and visit the gardens of a villa nearbye belonging to a rich industrial family. Probably the lawns are more cat friendly.

We think they have now reached the final stages of the architectural attack on the landscape. The last row of flats are being built. The flats are much larger, 5-6 rooms covering one floor the quality being almost in the luxury class, the only thing missing being the indoor swimming pool in the basement. As far as the prices are concerned, we are sure that there will be no families with children moving in as they probably would not be able to afford it. At the moment we are surrounded by doctors, lawyers, dentists and the new flats will probably be very similar. The advantage of the new buildings is that we are now completely cut off from the main road as they have been built on the edge of the area. The biggest problem for most people is that the new flats have been built - oh shock - one storey higher that all the other blocks. Objections were raised, disputes were inflamed, but against the Swiss building laws nothing could be done. It was all in vain and within the next 2-3 months the first inhabitants will be moving in.

Basically it is quite good for us all. The more the merrier and by being in the luxury class it means more taxes will be paid in our village keeping the level of taxes to a minimum. Our cats have got used to the new buildings already and regard them as a sort of adventure playground at the moment, although they too will have to go back to playing in the garden of the nearbye villa when they are inhabited.

At the moment the new flats look more like a modern art work from Christo, especially when it gets windy and part of the coverings tend to flap in the air. I made a few photos last week-end.

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One thing is definitely sure, there will be no further building on our side as there is no space left. However, on the other side there is still room, but we can rest assured that here will also come to a stop one day. Either the farmer refuses to give his land, or the River Aar will refuse to dry up.

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