Krystyna Batruch from Smołdzino created a cosy family guesthouse near the Baltic beaches
I lived in Germany for over 30 years. My husband was a doctor, I ran a gallery and sold paintings by Polish artists from Cracow. It was comfortable life, but I missed the climate and scenery of my childhood. Every year I used to come with my children to my beloved Baltic beaches. Wild, uninhabited, with dunes and sand as soft as the surface of the Sahara.
Unfortunately, after 10 years I had to close the gallery. Concurrently to this professional crisis, problems in my marriage appeared. After the divorce it was difficult for me to come back to life – I was 50 years old, unemployed and I didn’t really know what to do with myself. But one thing I was sure of – I wanted independence and contact with people. I dreamt of running a a cozy guesthouse. And then the thought of coming back to Poland came up.
In my imagination, I could already see my resort in a forest near the sea, with a family atmosphere, and a big kitchen table. To collect my thoughts I went where I felt best – to the wild Polish beaches. While walking in the nearby forest, I met a man. ‘Are you looking for a plot of land? he asked. ‘I have one for sale at a very good price,” he added. The plot was wonderful – on a hill, among unspoiled nature, like from a fairy tale. Exactly as in my dreams! I took it as a sign from above, a favour from fate. I did not even think for a moment! ‘I will build my house here’ I decided.
I didn’t take a loan. To get the building put up I used money I had left after the divorce. There was so much work I didn’t even have time to get upset. Everything was going fast. When I saw the house shell, its large roof truss, I started panicking. ‘What was I thinking,’ I asked myself. ‘Where will I get the money from to finish it off?’ The savings were gone, and I had to start to earn my living as soon as possible. With the rest of the money I had left, I arranged the kitchen so that I could live in it. I also managed to make the first guest room. The one which helped me pay my modest needs and provide finishing touches to the next rooms. Today I have a total of 6 rooms and it took 6 years to build them. Thank God I met very cordial people who helped me. An antique dealer gave me furniture. ‘After the season you will pay,’ he offered generously. The roof was found with help of my other friends. It is made of one hundred-year-old, hand-made tiles from a demolished barn, the windows – from the ruins of a palace, and the lamps brought from a railway station.
Every day in my little resort we start with breakfast, which I prepare myself. Vegetables are from my greenhouse, I treat my visitors with sausages and cheese from the local producers. All guests, even though they don’t know one another, sit together at the big kitchen table – just like I dreamed! They eat eggs, crispy bread, homemade preserves. The morning conversations stretch out to 11, and then the company heads to the beach, to the woods or just lies down on deckchairs. Meanwhile, I clean the rooms. A lady friend is helping me. We always spend the evenings on the terrace with all visitors.
After the season I feel tired, but happy. I visit my grandchildren, have a family holiday. And then it gets warmer and you have to get back to work. But I’m not complaining, I love the countryside life and my business. Here; time goes differently, more slowly. Whenever worse moments come I still have the same recipe – to walk on a wild pine forest beach, listen to the sound of the sea and talk with my guests at the kitchen table.
I couldn’t have come up with a better idea!