As I mentioned in my first post, I went ‘live’ with this blog about a month later than I’d originally intended because I was suddenly busy with sorting out a workshop. During that period, I had several people ask me why I needed a workshop, what sort of a workshop it was and what I would be doing in there, so I thought a short post of explanation was in order.
I moved from Corfu to Patras (the third largest city in Greece and the main port for ferries to Italy) last November. I hadn’t actually meant to move here, but circumstances can cause life to take unexpected turns sometimes.
I bought the place a couple of years ago, but it needed a lot of sorting out before we could move in. It’s a single house, but split into two apartments (one up, one down) with separate entrances. Not huge, but with about 65 sq m on each floor, big enough for a couple to be comfortable. The ground floor apartment was like the black hole of Calcutta (but had potential if you could see below the surface), but the upper floor wasn’t too bad, and needed minimal work to make habitable on an immediate basis.
So over the next year or so, my wife and I made week long visits to Patras every month or six weeks to make the upper apartment livable, and then finally last November we made the move. However, all my tools and equipment (plus a load of other junk apart from my saw, which was too big to go through the door), got dumped in the ground floor apartment, which I want to do up and sell or rent, but with it being chock full of stuff, could do nothing with. Plus I needed somewhere to work to make stuff. Hence the hunt for a workshop.
I had several criteria which needed to be filled re the workshop. It had to be big enough to be able to work; it had to be cheap; it had to be away from residential areas that might be disturbed by machinery noise and dust; it had to have space for me to park close to the entrance; it had to have water (toilet) and electricity, with a good enough supply to run the saw; and last but not least, it had to have a reasonably friendly and amenable landlord.
I’ve been religiously buying the local weekly small-ads paper (called, with great originality: ‘7 ΜΕΡΕΣ ΑΓΓΕΛΙΕΣ’, or in English: ‘7 DAYS SMALL-ADS’. Still, I suppose that’s an area of journalism that doesn’t have much call for artistic flair…) and checking out the commercial rentals, but they were all too big, too small, too expensive, in the middle of town etc etc. I was despairing of finding anything – I thought I’d perhaps set the bar too high. But, finally, a month or so ago I saw something of interest. I called up and went to see it. To be honest, it’s smaller than I would have liked, and more expensive than I wanted, even after knocking the landlady down 20% on the price, but the location is ideal, and Angeliki (the landlady) who owns it is delightful to deal with. Sightly scatty, very pleasant, fascinated to have an Englishman renting one of her lock-ups, and non-intrusive. I’ve only seen her a few times since I took the place, and she lives in the building above. It’s also a very informal arrangement, which I like. No contract, and all done on a handshake. I realise that an informal arrangement can backfire, but I’ve had ‘informal’ (read “don’t tell the taxman”) arrangements here before, and they’ve always worked fine, so I’m optimistic.
It didn’t actually look so prepossessing when I first looked at it:
But then nothing ever does, does it! However, it had potential (‘has potential’ – you can tell I used to work with estate agents when I was renovating places in the UK!), and I was desperate. All it needed was a bit of work…
The first thing was to get the saw out of storage and delivered. As I think I mentioned, it weighs about 350 kg, as the table is solid cast iron…
Once the saw was in, I had to create storage and workbench areas:
And wiring had to be run in too.
And once I’d started to establish some storage areas, then of course all the stuff had to be transported from here to there. It’s not too far away – about a fifteen minute drive, mostly along the coast, which is pleasant, but with temperatures running between 35°-40° C, it was bloody hard work loading and unloading the van.
Anyway, I’m just about there now, and the ‘shop’ is finally a viable work area that I can actually use.
I’ve still got stuff to take down there for storage (which is why I made a mezzanine over the workbenches), but there’s no panic on that.
So I’m now in a position to make the bits and pieces that I need for the apartments. Downstairs, I’m changing the layout a bit, and I have to make a kitchen to fit, built-in wardrobes for the bedroom, new windows and shutters, new front door and lots of other stuff. The upstairs apartment, where we now live, needs a lot of work still also. I’ve made a few kitchen units (oven housing etc) so it’s functional, but the plan calls for knocking a wall out, which I haven’t got to yet, and a major overhaul of the plumbing system, which will be a big and disruptive job, so we’re just muddling through at the moment. I want to concentrate on the ground floor apartment as a priority, as that’s the one that needs most work doing. Plus I want to be in a position to rent or sell it as soon as possible so as to alleviate the current strain on my finances.
So there you have it. ‘The Workshop’. Quiet and tucked out the way, five minutes from the beach if I fancy a swim (not that I’ve had time for a swim yet), various shops just down the road and a very comfortable ambience. My neighbour Yiannis in the unit next door makes / repairs / refurbishes windsurf boards, and looks like a typical surfing nut; tangled frizzy hair from being out on the waves most of the time, board shorts and faded T-shirt, and that slightly glazed, faraway look in his eyes. When I talk to him, I can tell he’s only half listening – his mind is more focused on wind speeds and direction, and thinking about getting down to the beach as a matter of urgency. Very nice chap, though. Very friendly, in a sort of distant way. The other units seem to be used primarily for storage rather than as workplaces, so that adds to the tranquility of the place.
Now I have to utilise the place sufficiently to justify its cost. which means I’ll probably be back to working seven days a week, albeit somewhat shorter days than used to be the norm when I was younger.
I didn’t really want to retire anyway…