From 7am yesterday morning I was walking over fields and hills, checking maps against physical contours and landmarks, taking photos to tie in with marks on the maps. By the time we finished at 2pm we were all seriously exhausted, but we had mapped out an area we wanted to buy to plant trees, create a fishery and recreational lake.
It's a most beautiful valley, just beside Mosna. It abounds with thousands of butterflies, birds and flora. We are only using a tiny part of it, so anyone who wants to see the sights I did yesterday can go anytime. One was of about 1,000 small blues and grizzled skippers dancing,whirling and alighting, only to shoot away again. Fantastic.
The rest of the day was spent checking titles against the maps, getting people to sign precontracts and generally doing all the dull and uninteresting stuff that you can't leave to chance.
Most of the land we are buying is derelict in the sense that it is no longer worked - the owners have long disappeared to Germany or into the towns - and our hope is that by giving employment, it will bring people back to the villlages. Or at least encourage them to stay.
All bar two of the people signing yesterday were young people who had inherited the land from their parents or grandparents. They had no interest in keeping it. They no longer had any connections with Mosna or the villages round about. They just wanted the money.
There were two old men , no longer able to work, both well into their '80s, who were selling. The first was going to move to the local town where his children all lived, and the money would help with that move.
The other was a wonderful character and man of honour. He looked every inch like a Roman Senator. But inwardly I was crying whilst he signed the papers.
He had three daughters. They all lived in Canada and America. He hadn't seen them for more than fifteen years. He had never seen his grandchildren, although he had photographs of them. I asked if he had any plans for the money. No, he said, he would probably just have an extra glass of wine or two. In any case he had a bad heart and probably wouldn't last long anyway.
Our buying the land from the old people ( rather than the younger ones) triggers a payment from the State of Eur 100 per year per hectare. The idea is to consolidate the ( very small and scattered) areas around villages. Overall therefore, our buying his land was going to represent quite a significant increase in his standard of living.
But I felt heart-sore for him. I have three daughters too, and I thought, perhaps for the first time ever, about what being old and alone really meant.
It isn't nice.
So go out today and try and find an old person to be nice to.
I promise it will make you feel better.