I think now it is time to tell you the full story with the backdrop of photos from a very special place, a place you have visited if you have been reading this blog for a while. The cabin. Grab a cup of tea and settle down.
My grandparents were farmers. My dad was second oldest of four brothers. He passed his 11+ in the 1960's and went to Grammar school. His bothers stayed at home and farmed so did his many cousins. We lived a very separate life to his farming brothers: later having a large house, company car, foreign holidays, an interest in education. We still however had this link to dad's home village; helping out at harvest time, staying there as children through the summer holidays when dad did his renovations on our derelict house. My grandparents tried to get planning permission to turn the milking sheds into a house for their retirement but planning restrictions in the 1980's were more restrictive than now in rural areas and sadly, for my Grandad, it never came to fruition. After my grandparents died my dad picked up the baton and tried to get permission to build a home there for his retirement - again it was difficult but he was tenacious.
Who wouldn't want to have this as their early evening view? My dad took 10 acres of land as part of his inheritance, including the milking yard, before selling the farm house and the rest of the land to split with his brothers - the initial farm was no more. He continued to try to build a house. He succeeded in gaining permission around 2012 and we decided to build a cabin in 2014 in the field so that we could stay there, help him build his house and the children could visit their grandad when he lived there.
In the meantime while building reglulations were going through, we all liked to go to the farm cabin for a cup of tea with my dad and his wife after we had mucked in with farm tasks like hedging, shearing, vaccinating lambs etc. The cabin blew down in 2016 but I have my fathers tenacity, and I encouraged Andy to build it again.
When we found out that my dad had cancer in 2015 we came to a crossroads. He seriously asked us if we would like to live there, carry the family baton and build the house he had tried, and succeeded in getting permission for or should he sell it all. My family tie felt so strong that we decided to take it on - we had no idea how to build a house but didn't want to let the land go. We loved the pond, the views, the freedom it gave our girls, the restorative pleasure it gave us all and the opportunity to have a little slice of rural Shropshire.
We started to think like people who were going to change their lives. We planted fruit trees and went to the Grand designs show. We bought Bruce who loved to chase pheasants and run like a mad dog... but that was only the naive start.
As my dads health worsened over the years we had to learn how to look after sheep at weekends, do some land management because we are always at the mercy of mother nature and primarily build a house from his drawings.
Andy decided to give up work temporarily in September 2017 to help my dad try and see the vision of his house plans and be his carer/companion. Although dad had given us this project, he was not actually ready to let it go. It was one of the things that helped him hang on to life for so long.
They built the foundations together through chemotherapy breaks and in January 2018 in those -10 degree conditions, when Andy's water bottle and yogurt froze in his lunch box, and it was too cold for my dad to be outside, Andy took delivery of a timber frame for a house and helped to erect it.
It was hard for Andy to work with my dad. They are very different people and dad's drive to still be in control was at times infuriating but we tried so hard for him to see as much of it as he could. His last visit there was to see the roof tiles on. He told me that he wished he could see the stonework on the outside but he knew that he wouldn't.
So this weekend we all stayed at the cabin to tread the fields that are now ours, to feed and water the sheep that are now ours and take stock of a half built house that is now ours.
We watched the sun go down which was a deep red globe and felt very lucky and unlucky all at the same time, a phrase I had said to my dad only a week before he died when I thanked him for this special rural gift.
So there you have it, in the background of sewing clothes, knitting, crochet and family life we have been building a house. Other peoples house builds can be a bore so I have not mentioned it here before but it might pop up it in my news over the next few years - there is not a time frame - Andy has just got a new job. Our weekends will be a steep learning curve in house building without my dad to advise us but we will be fine. A new chapter begins as the sun goes down on the last.
I carry the baton for the third generation. Exciting isn't it? Thanks for listening. Jo xxxxx