Through the patio door, looking out from our main bedroom, across the pool, I can clearly see the Mediterranean. There is a slight mist which will soon clear. Dogs howl and the sound carries across the valley above which the villa we built stands on the small hill. We call the villa Beyaz Ev, Turkish for White House. Two years ago when we bought the land the villa now stands on, we were alone, but once we brought electricity down from the village above us, neighbours started appearing. Now, to the East, the other side of a tarmac road, and down in a dip, is the Dog House. Even though this house has no roof, the owners are using it to run a kennel. As I write I hear dogs barking. On beş kï¿½pek, fifteen dogs, board there at the moment. Willi and Lena, a Swedish couple, visit every few hours to see if their charges have not been released by the disgruntled villagers.
Directly in front of us is the Kremlin, a house being built by a Russian. Will it have one or two stories? If only it has one story then the house will have little impact on our view. If a second storey is added then we might be looking at spires as we sit on our terrace and gaze with stunned expressions across the villages of Incesu and Alsancak towards the Mediterranean, a little shocked at what we have achieved in such a relatively short time.
The Kremlin was rumoured to be finished by now but building has suddenly stopped. Perhaps, we wondered wistfully, this has something to do with it being situated on a small strip of land jutting out from the road into the steep valley. This has meant that the house on both sides is very close to steep inclines. The last time we were here, in June, we watched for several hours as lorries lined up to pour thousands of tons of concrete into the foundations. Perhaps this didnï¿½t work and the Kremlin will fall?
To the west of us we are expecting more houses to appear as the owner of the land has been bull-dozing the land in preparation for a project which would have to fit into his steeply inclined land. It is not immediately apparent how houses will fit into this land as at the moment it is a series of paths with very little room for houses. This will not stop him weï¿½re sure, as weï¿½ve seen houses appear on far more difficult terrain. With land now being sold at up to ï¿½120,000 an acre, compared to ï¿½30,000 a few years ago, every landowner now wants to cash in there assets and enjoy a few years of being well off after decades of near poverty.
Behind us we have two blocks of land owned by two people apparently related to each other. We met the new owners of the largest plot when they were being shown around it by their builder. The couple had been given this land as a wedding present and told us they did not intend to build on it for a few years. At the moment they were living in the USA and when they returned to the island then they would then build a home for themselves. Unfortunately as the builder checked the land against the kocan, the deeds, he was carrying he discovered that our builder had placed our car hardstand and part of our perimeter wall on the coupleï¿½s land. Thankfully our builder has now negotiated a land swap which satisfied the couple. However, weï¿½ve yet to see this officially confirmed. At the end of these negotiations as the coupleï¿½s builder started to walk away, he turned to me and said, ï¿½You know that my brother-in-law owns your drive?ï¿½ Then without further explanation he drove off.
A few days later his brother-in-law appeared with a Tapu, Land Registry, man. He confirmed that the land we had been using for access did not belong to us but worse still, for the brother-in-law, nor did most of the land he thought he owned. It turned out that many years before the government had appropriated his land, and some of ours, to expand the small track joining the villages of Incesu and Malatya. All he now owned was our drive and a three meter strip next to the new tarmac road. He was so stunned he left without complaining about us using his land as a drive. We know he will return and try to recoup some of the ï¿½60,000 he has lost. Fortunately for us we have a few other ways of entering our land but both would mean very steep and costly drives, and would result in the loss of potential garden.
To the east above the Dog House the government has planted fir trees on the bare hillside, decimated by the 1995 fire. Hopefully in a few years this will make the pleasant walk along the ridge of the hill even more pretty than it already is. The path rises to give a wonderful view over the valley and reveals even more paths which link the Kyrenia Range of mountains along the north of the island so that you can walk for twenty or more miles past old castles towards the undeveloped north-east tip. This is something we intend to do when the weather cools in October.
Our villa is a single story building, 165 m2 in area, with 20 m2 of this being taken up by an 8 m long terrace where we sit and gaze across the terrace pool down to the Mediterranean, a mile away. Cool breezes constantly fan us so that despite the day time temperature always being above 30oC it rarely feels uncomfortable. However, sometimes these breezes turn into sharp winds which force us to lower to large umbrella lest we end up with a situation we once saw where the umbrella took off and drifted up into the mountains. We have yet to live in the villa during the winter!
Immediately off the terrace, through a patio door, is a large lounge with a kitchen attached. Whilst you cook you can enjoy the same view as from the terrace making this chore much more pleasant than in the UK. At least thatï¿½s what I try to convince Maggie, my wife.
Off the lounge is the dining room/study which triples as a third bedroom. Across from this is the second bedroom with its own bathroom. Between these two rooms is the front door outside of which we intend to create a winter terrace, facing south into the sun.
The large main bedroom with two patio doors out to the terrace, swimming pool and magnificent view, includes a walk in wardrobe and en-suite bedroom. This is where we wake up in the morning, open the patio doors and stare at the Mediterranean drinking cups of tea. Did I tell you this in before? Youï¿½re not getting envious are you? How did it all come about? I imagine you are assuming we are rich and are nothing like you, whereas the truth is that when we married in 1998 our combined net assets were a minus figure. So how did we manage to achieve building a villa with no mortgage, owning a place in the UK with no debts, and having enough income for us to retire early? Well it was all down to taking a chance and believing in ourselves. Many of you reading this are in far better financial positions than we were but we took a chance. So how did it happen?