About living in the foothills

Living in the foothills

Here in Kamionka Wielka, we’re in a “mountain” range called the Eastern Beskids, part of the Carpathian Mountains, and close (less than 20km in a straight line) to the Tatras and the border with the Czech Republic.

The first thing we realised about living in the foothills is it makes getting satellite TV a bugger! Four companies assured us we’d get an excellent signal – three lied. The fourth gave us (sold us) a dish that works unless it gets clogged with snow or “atmospheric conditions” interfere with the signal.

Today, it’s atmospheric conditions …

Most of the time, it’s OK. But Polish TV is not up to much and the English language channels show the same shows and films day after day after day.

So John tried i-player – doesn’t work.

Then there’s electricity. It comes on poles (actually, ugly little concrete towers) and gets cut off in storms and strong winds. Then all the clocks and timers need resetting. About once a week.

Internet. We have broadband! It took several goes, but we eventually got wired broadband – at a speed somewhere up there with Stephenson’s Rocket and the cable comes from Gregory’s house, via a wire through the canopy of our big tree.

Our ISP? His name is Gregory too, and he lives down in the village. This is another Gregory – not our neighbour. His power goes off more often than ours does, and at different times. Humph.

Our water comes from a spring. When we’ve had damp weather, we get water. After a prolonged dry spell, the ground water dries up and we empty our cistern, so Rajmund, neighbour Gregory and Gregory’s brother take a big plastic tank into the forest and fill the tank with water from a spring. Then they fill one cistern after another.

We aren’t on mains drainage either. Septic system ‘R’ us. There are all sorts of do’s and don’ts when you have a septic system. We think ours lets everything soak into the ground. Not sure – but there’s no sign of a tank and the vendor said that in the ten+ years he lived here with his mum and dad he was never aware of an emptying.

A slight oddity is that we do not pay any local council rates/tax because the house is so old. We do have to pay for rubbish collection – which means we must buy and use bags supplied by the council. The bags which are see-through to show you’ve separated plastics, cans etc are cheaper than the black ones for those who can’t be bothered.

When we mentioned “what a good idea” this is to the neighbours they looked askance – what, you sort your rubbish????? They all burn everything but cans – well, we’re in the country, aren’t we?

And mobile phone signals are rubbish here. Rajmund uses a Samsung Galaxy and has to go onto the porch to talk to anyone. John uses Skype through his laptop or his IPod. Neither is what you’d call convenient!

Amazon (.co.uk) still delivers free to us in Poland – so long as you still have a UK address on file, they’ll deliver wherever you like. Mail goes into our mailbox down on the gate, but anything remotely parcel-like or official looking they come to the door (and knock on the window in case John did not hear and wants to take whatever they’ve brought without getting to the door!) But Amazon’s free delivery only applies to things they sell and deliver. Anything where there’s a third party involved will not be sent (nor will they charge postage – they simply reject your order).

Still, living in the loghouse is wonderful; the view is still magnificent; John spent the (32 C) afternoon in the garden with two dogs, three neighbour’s children and a neighbour; we’re going to be planting tomato plants Rajmund’s sister gave us in the next few days and starting our herb bed.

Chickens are still in our near future and Rajmund still intends to get “Shakespeare” by Xmas. Things on the goat front have gone quiet again – probably to be discussed again when someone we know has a billy they want rid of.

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