tisdag 8 juni 2010

A dandelion that will not be loved!

I thought I had finished writing about dandelions; I thought that learning to love them was the beginning of a healing process where all would live happily every after.

Ystads Allehanda today has two articles about Brantevik. One begins 'All of Brantevik is a meditative place'. The other, on the same page and with three times as much print space, credited to Emma Lawesson, reports that the 'questioned' house on Vejastigen is vandalised for the second time. This time, the report reads, someone has damaged the mailbox and painted two long lines with blue oil paint on the house's facade, with damage estimated at 50,000 SEK (about 5,000 Euro). The damage is reported to have happened sometime between the 1st and 4th June and the owners cannot be more specific than that because it is a 'free-time' house. The article continues that the house borders a nature protected area and that the extension has been objected to by neighbours.

I read the article over breakfast and went out to see the reported damage. I couldn't find the mailbox but, guided by one of the garden workers, I saw and photographed two very small blue marks.

The house has been a building site for about nine months, with building workers and now gardeners working full-time, and the owners are regular visitors to the site. The mailbox was taken away last October when the fence was taken down by the builders.

Neighbours are bewildered. They must live with the arrogance of the owners, the offencive extension (yes, even if it is an expensive and high quality building, it is offensive because it is in the wrong place) and, now while the Administrative Court considers their verdict, there is what seems like the 'seeding' of an impression that the neighbours are the problem.

Yet again, an article in Ystads Allehanda leaves a bad impression and leads one to wonder about the motivation behind the articles. There is the added problem that someone is coming to this beautiful and meditative area and causing physical damage, even if it is on a minor scale.

onsdag 2 juni 2010

Learning to love dandelions!

I just read a story about a man who took great pride in his lawn and was plagued by a large crop of dandelions. He tried every method he knew to destroy them, but to no avail. In desperation, he wrote to his local Department of Agriculture. He recorded for them all that he had done and ended by asking what he could do next. In due course he received the reply: 'We suggest you learn to love them'.

Two weeks ago I thought 'this is the year of the dandelions' - there were so many in bloom. The fields are still yellow, but now it is with buttercups and rapsoil; the poor dandelions have grey heads!

What's the difference between dandelions in a lovely garden and a lovely house in the wrong place? 'It isn't a lovely house; the roof is full of technicalities!' is one response I got. And 'you don't have to feel sorry for grey-headed dandelions; those grey fluff-balls will go where they please.'

Well, I acknowledge that I do feel sorry about both dandelions in a lovely lawn and a lovely house in the wrong place. And I believe that sorrow may be the beginning of healing. I have started practicing to learn to love both!

The summer has returned to Brantevik!

tisdag 1 juni 2010

Marginally worse is still worse

The regional newspaper, Ystads Allehanda, today carries an article about yesterday's meeting at Vejastigen. Gert Ljungqvist writes that it was a hearing of the Administrative Court in Malmö. This is a higher level than Länsstyrelsen who are reported to have given approval for the changes, extensions, and rebuilting. The Administrative Court hearing, on site, is part of the review process that is to give a result in two weeks. The neighbours are reported to feel pushed-over by the owners of No. 21 and by the local Building Office, who argue that the changes and extensions make the situation for the neighbour in the adjoining house 'only marginally worse'.

The article doesn't create a good impression. I find this very interesting.

Most people who comment on the extension and rebuilding on the northern side of 21 Vejastigen express shock and horror that it can happen, and can be allowed to happen. All are sympathetic towards the man who lives in the adjoining house and who would appear to be the big loser in all of this. He is in his early 80s and his lifestyle reflects, on a micro scale, all that is good about Sweden and how Sweden earned its reputation for fairness and sustainable living.

I am reminded of expressions my mother, who is now in her 100th year, loved to teach us as children : if you are big, be mercyful! Might may not always be right!

måndag 31 maj 2010

Just a little bit too much!

My husband is a gentleman and quite a patient man. Sometimes, though, it's just a little bit too much! A meeting today, called by Länsrätten in Malmö, with the venue Vejastigen 21, was one of those 'just a little bit too much' occasions.

The purpose of the meeting was to examine objections by neighbours to the changing and rebuilding of Vejastigen 21.

I was not at the meeting today but from what I heard, it is noteworthy for a couple of reasons.

The meeting was announced for today (31st May 2010) about two or three weeks ago. It was in response to objections to the proposed changing and rebuilding of Vejastigen 21 that were submitted to Länsrätten in August 2009. At that time, nine months ago, neighbours were told that Länsrätten couldn't make the journey to Brantevik (about 100 km) during the autumn or winter months and that the earliest would be March of this year. In the meantime the owners of No. 21 decided and informed the neighbours who were objecting that they were going to rebuild and make the changes anyway and that they were willing to take the consequences. The rebuilding with the questioned changes is now in the finishing stages.

It is probably fair to say that we have not had many rainy days here in Brantevik over the last couple of years. Most summers in the last ten years, especially in the month of May, have been very dry. Today has been an exception and this morning at the time of the meeting the rain was very heavy.

My husband went to the meeting in good time, as is the custom here in Sweden. He saw no people outside but some inside No. 21 so he went in. The mistress of the house suddenly appeared in front of him and abruptly asked him what he wanted. He was a little taken aback but said he had come for the meeting. She indicated that it was outside. He came home to collect his raincoat and leggins.

When he went back, dressed for the weather, the meeting had started. He asked the man who was speaking in a low, mumbling voice, to speak up - so that he could be heard above the rain. This didn't achieve much. A little later, when my husband intergected that the problems with the changes to No. 21 for the immediate neighbour had been clearly written in the submission, the chairman responded that he would indicate when people had permission to speak.

This was just a little too much for my husband so he came home.

Later we heard that neighbours felt the meeting was a waste of time. It all took place out in the rain; there was no agreed agenda; the visitors from Malmö did not have the written submissions with them; people found it difficult to hear what was being said; people felt they were not listened to.

söndag 30 maj 2010

Just a little!

When is 'just a little' too much?
The rebuilt house on Veja Stigen is just a little too high; just a little too close to the neighbour's boundary. The new shed is just a little too close to the boundary of grönet (the nature protected area) and just a little too high. The attitude towards the affected neighbours is just a little too aggressive; just a little too selfish!

lördag 29 maj 2010

Mystery deepens

We must admit that we are very lucky. We rarely see police in Brantevik, or Simrishamn for that matter. So when we do, it is a reason to wonder what is happening. Yesterday a neighbour told me the police were in the neighbourhood at 9.00 p.m. on the previous evening. At that stage yesterday no one locally knew why. Today, our Regional Newspaper, Ystads Allehanda, has an article by Gert Ljunqvist: 'Questioned house in Brantevik vandalised'; 'A summer house in Brantevik has been damaged'. Gert reports that someone has damaged two windows and a door with a sharp object and that the damage is estimated at around 50 000 Sek (about 5,000 Euro). The article continues that the rebuilding of the summer house was questioned and some protested that the rebuilding was too near the nature protected 'Grönet' and would disturb the other houses nearby. The police have registered this as a 'damage' crime.

torsdag 27 maj 2010

What is a beautiful house in Vejastigen?

A beautiful house? In the wrong place, is it still a beautiful house? It is said that a thing of beauty is a joy forever. Unfortunately, the house about which I write, is far from a joy to its neighbours in the southern part of Brantevik, in Skåne, Southern Sweden. It is an old house, built in the mid 1800s and, since autumn 2009, is in the process of being rebuilt. If one looks at the 'new' house in isolation, it could be said that it is beautiful. However, because of where it is located, it is not possible to do that. It is a semi-detatched house in an area with small access roads, and borders a preserved nature area.

It is not long since building regulations and practices in this area prevented major changes to the outside, and particularly to the street-side of old houses. These have been disregarded in the redesign and reconstruction of this beautiful house. The roof has been raised, an extension has been built at the front and right up against the boundary with the attached house, blocking light and view, and a small house has been built on the boundary line where normally construction is not allowed.

One of the terrible things about this beautiful house is that it has been built without respect to the process of appeal and objection by neighbours who are directly affected by it.

The owners are well versed in Construction laws and regulations - one is a director of a major construction company and the other is an architect. The architect worked with Simrishamn Kommune Architectural Office at the time she applied for and was granted permission to build. She told neighbours that she intented to build, despite the objections by neighbours directly affected that were still being processed, and that she was willing to take the consequences.

The tragedy is that the consequences for neighbours and for the beautiful area where we live, are likely to be much greater than for the owners.

How can this happen - in the 'perfect country', Sweden?