I have just returned from my holiday and my professional radar was well and truly switched off; away from the push and shove of the office, the daily quest for a parking space in my beloved Rickmansworth and the hourly dash from penthouse flat to show home, viewings in Maple Cross, Watford, Croxley Green and Chorleywood, all at break neck speed. YES, I’d left it all behind for a weekend in the Austrian Alps and the years just dropped off me….. The sun was out and my sunglasses were on and as Michael Bublé would warble, “I was feeling good”…
Standing in the cobbled streets of Zell-am-See, just outside Kaprun, about an hour from Saltzburg and everywhere I looked was easy on the eye: Picture postcard stuff, pretty wooden lodges perched up high above us, cut into the steep mountainside, flower boxes bursting with colour, backed by a vast expanse of hinterland, trees and rolling green hills in the Summer that turn to the purest white snow and ice in Winter. Just when I expected Julie Andrews and the Von Trapps to take their cue and declare the hills to be well and truly alive, I walked down to the famous Lake Zell-am-See and the air suddenly turned wonderfully crisp, so much so that I felt I had suddenly been given a free blast of nasal irrigation! The breathtaking scene had just been cranked up a notch: Water like opalescent glass, low hanging cloud trying to reach for the sky and hug the surface of the lake at the same time; and if that wasn’t enough, the Alps, in all their Bavarian majesty in the distance, provided the perfect backdrop.
I paused momentarily, then I began turning around slowly panning like an off duty Spielberg, so as not to rush taking in this astounding panoramic scene. Cobbled streets and charmingly quaint rooftops to my west, lake Zell to my north, the imperial Alps to my east and behind me, to my south, the signature scene from the ‘Sound of Music’………..; I suddenly stop my sweeping arc: “There it is”, I cry! “What?” my ever patient, long suffering other (so much better) half enquires. “After all these years of doubting that it ever existed”, I babble excitedly under my breath, “there she blows”……. “Who do you think you are, Captain Ahab?”, says the wife, starting to realise that she had once again been lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that I had begun to well and truly chill out on our latest weekend jaunt in Europe. “That’s it, that’s the perfect property, it does exist after all”, I exclaim like Phil Spencer on steroids. As if momentarily doubting myself, I panned back slowly the way I came, still pointing at the picture postcard mountain lodge carved into the landscape, with cattle grazing in the neighbouring valley, alps – yes, Lake Zee – check, toy town street scene – roger that, all correct and present!
“I just want to take a closer look, I need to be sure”, I say to the wife, like some cautious GP, wanting to make sure his diagnosis is on the money. Please tell me you’re not going to ask if they want a valuation”, she says, beginning to sound exasperated. “What do you take me for?”, knowing without needing to turn round that her facial expression, complete with perfectly manicured raised eyebrows will suffice as a reply.
So, from our position at lakeside, we started scrambling up the beautifully landscaped bank (think Central & Holland Parks, rolled into one) and we headed for the pretty looking bridge, the only obstacle between us and the front door to the proverbial ‘Hanging Gardens of Babylon’. Only, what’s that droning noise? … I couldn’t see anything to blot the landscape! “Come on, Come on!!,” I shouted to Janet, ala Don Quixote to Sancho Panza, as I charged towards my newly found windmill with uber cathartic view. I turn round to find Janet aborting what I initially thought was the international signal for ‘speak to the hand’, but in a flash realised this gesture was made with an open palm, not an extended forefinger…….. I turned around to face Shangri La, like Indiana Jones about to feast his eyes on the Lost Ark, finally taking hold of the first section of the bridge rail. “Noooooooooo!!!!!!!!” I DON’T BELIEVE IT!!” I shouted. “Are you hurt?”(touching), “Are you a raving lunatic”(factual), Janet hollered from below. She finally emerged from the serenity and tranquility of the gladed area to join me on the bridge, she looked at me, then looked below and through the glass balustrade of the bridge, (which we later named “The Bridge of Sighs” – move over Venice, Kaprun’s sigh was more resounding) and there below us was the noisiest of dual carriageways we’d ever seen, twinned with a railway track running alongside it.
Yes, from the front door of the dream house you could see one of the most beautiful, therapeutic views in the whole of Europe, possibly on planet earth, only, you have to get your eyes and ears past Austria’s very own ‘spaghetti junction’ beforehand!
“You know love,” Janet whispered soothingly, as I ordered yet another double espresso in our favourite little deli down the road, whilst she mopped my aching brow with a dampened serviette “the perfect property really doesn’t exist”. “You know my sweet Sancho”, I replied, as she broke into a triumphant smile in readiness of my surrender at the Battle of Zell-am-See, “you’re beginning to sound a lot like an Estate Agent”.
Mark Tibbles, Senior Sales Negotiator
and newest Sewell & Gardner blogger!