That summer we looked at quite a number of chata (forest huts) which were on estate agents books. Most were pretty basic and in need of work, and quite rightly the prices were much influenced by the chata's situation - the Czechs put a premium on idyllic locations. The trouble with idyllic locations was that they are often very difficult to get to. One lovely little cottage we saw, with the most brilliant views of the Sumava, was an extreme example of this - it was up a winding and narrow gravel track, which eventually petered out at the brow of a hill. Rather than slide the hire car down across the grassy meadow we parked up and walked the remaining section. It was a wonderful location and the female owner was keen to point out ideally suited for mushroom picking, but the thought of negotiating the lane in the winter snow was too much for us English wimps.
Having exhausted the choice of chata to be found on the estate agent website, my friend started to use her network. The carpenter, who had been creating quirky furniture for her, took on the job of looking out for me. He found three properties - one was a derelict cottage by Lake Olsina, he wasn't sure who owned it but it was in a lovely setting. As I suspected it was owned by the Czech Army as it was in the Boletice miltary zone and so unavailable. The second he had heard of via the grapevine but couldn't find when we went out looking for it. And the third was a farmhouse on the edge of a small village near Horice na Sumave, opposite the home of one of his friends. The house looked enormous - this couldn't be it, I thought, it must be the cottage next door. He went up to the door but it was locked, the owner was not there. So convinced was I that it was the cottage next door, that I took a photo of it to send to my husband and then we went back to my friend's house. Our carpenter friend agreed to talk to the owner and arrange a visit.
That Sunday we were back. Duvets hung from the windows of the large house airing. Our carpenter friend rang the doorbell and the gate swung open and the owner came out beaming - I was wrong it was the big house that we were to view. We went in.