Thursday, 17 October 2019

How Did We End Up Here?

Would help I guess if you knew where 'here' was huh, not least find out why I'm so surprised at where we are and how we managed to arrive? 

Just read that back and managed to confuse myself; let's start again shall we.

For those who may not know, or those who've forgotten during the massive break I took from blogging, my family is Hubs, myself and our two boys now 12 and 9.

A half South African and half English family, we moved to the U.K. in 2015 for lots of reasons but our plan was to start our second business, having sold our playground business in Johannesburg, and we got the boys in school and set about making our plans a reality.

Best laid plans and all that so now we fast forward to just a few months ago and Hubs and I are at our wits end.

Those that live here in the U.K. are fully aware of the ongoing effects of 'Austerity' in the country not least of all being the stagnant wage growth for ten years whilst the costs of living keep going up and up.

Successful though our little shop was, it was never going to create the income we needed to cover our increasing shopping bills and rent.

Four years after arriving and we had moved a total of four times with some temporary stops in between.

The area we live in currently is home to Europe's biggest construction site (at Hinkley Nuclear Power Station), one of the results of which being an influx of workforce looking for homes in our rather small town in Somerset which both increased quite dramatically the average rent as well as giving all the private landlords a chance to cash in by changing their family homes in to multi occupancy properties. Three bedroom homes have become so sought after, it's very hard for a couple of self employed dreamers entrepreneurs without a regular monthly income to be at the top of the long list of applicants.

Hubs and I knew that in order to achieve the kind of freedom from daily financial woes we craved, we had to think outside the box.

We couldn't handle moving any more, especially to increasingly smaller properties - the last with no garden!

Having received notice on our home for the third time in as many years, we struggled to even find the motivation to start looking at properties we could afford. Knowing damn well that the prices had all gone up again. And that's accepting, in our forties, that we were still no closer to owning our own home one day.

I know, makes for quite depressing and self pitying reading I'm sure but stick with me. It gets a whole lot better.

Two weeks until moving date; we'd cleared out and packed boxes ... as if we had somewhere to go haha! Panic setting in and an impending visit to local council Housing Officers on the cards we decided to take a drive out of town.

Our dream has always been to live in one of the many beautiful little villages that surround the town and live a rural life so Hubs and I dropped the boys at school and headed out in the general direction of the villages on the West side, that being the side of town where the boys schools are.

We took with us some pre-printed cards explaining our plight which we began distributing to notice boards in village shops whilst curiously checking out any properties that had To Let signs as well as some empty and part derelict properties we found.

And then it happened. The stroke of luck on which we still currently ride began with a message from a lady who had seen one of our cards and thought she could help. At the same time, a lady we met walking her dog suggested that we talk to 'the main landowner' in the area only to find out that he already knew about us and our quest ... as the lady who'd messaged was his cousin!!

Skip forward a couple of days and we are being shown around a Country Estate of some 2,000 acres (!!) that needs live in Caretakers.

Live in caretakers for ONE of the many amazing properties that are part of the estate. A stunning wedding and conference venue, no overnight guests, hubs will manage the grounds and I the house. 

I know, sounds like a fairy tale doesn't it?

Currently I sit in my flat, above the stables in the Courtyard of the 'main' house, finding I have time to blog as I listen to the geese and many tweety birds outside. We're due to take over at the other house (3 miles away on the other side of the estate) after Christmas so we didn't even bother to unpack fully.

From being under 'duty of care' of our local council's Housing Department to working at and living on a country estate. Nope, still not sinking in.

You can imagine the children's response. Already they've named the cheekiest of the chickens (Nosey; she won't hang with the other chickens, she spends most of her time following grounds staff and trying to get into the buildings) and the scruffiest of the peacocks (Scruffy. Who has overcome his initial shyness and is now to be found outside our front door most mornings hoping the boys will drop him some cracker crumbs). 

They've checked out the grounds in their wellies finding nature galore along with swings in trees, fishing lakes, woodlands, meadows, orchards and nut trees and so much more. And they've wandered, open mouthed in awe, around the houses themselves. Steeped in centuries of history and crammed full of antiques and possible ghosts.

I've never felt so thankful in my entire life. So blessed, so amazed at the kindness of others.

So here's to our new adventure. If anyone fancies booking a wedding at a beautiful venue in Somerset, U.K. do give me a shout. I'll be helping the boys with their new daily task, bringing 40+ chickens in for the night, or if the sun's shining you may find me on the swing.

Nosey *

WF xxx

* Since found out her name is Henrietta :)