Extremes.

Recent weeks have seen all those bits that you see going horribly wrong on Grand Designs happening to us, it doesn’t just make good telly, it happens. In a nutshell; finances have become difficult and the lender we have approached is making us jump through so many hoops we could very well have a new career in circus skills at the end of this project. This, in turn, has meant that the build has had to come to a halt. The knock on of which will be delays, delays, delays and, you guessed it, more delays. Which for me spells longer living in my not-so-dream home caravan…oh joy.

We’ve discovered the thrill of planning regulations and all kinds of nonsensical, bureaucratic red-tape. Yet more hoops to jump thorough, see what I mean about those circus skills. For example, who’d have thought that the evidence of one bat feeding in your roof would mean the need to spend several hundred pounds on a bat survey and several more on a bat licence. Batman, as I’m now calling him, arrives on Monday to help me sort this out.

And then there’s the wind, and I don’t mean that we’ve been eating too many baked beans. This week has seen winds of up to 70 miles per hour hit Norfolk. If I was Michael Fish, I’d say that they’ve mainly been circling our caravans, at least, thats how it feels. At times, I’ve been utterly terrified as my darlin’ husband has lay snoring next to me, telling me in the morning how cosy it felt, whilst the bags under my eyes are slowly growing into cases. Sleep; who needs it, very underrated.

As I write today, the wind is still howling and the sleet is falling heavily. This is the first day that we’ve felt the potential of how cold it might get and it’s only November, eek!

I haven’t mentioned the mud yet. Well, it’s clay but there’s a lot of it.

The current scenario we find ourselves in is a good learning curve for me. I have to master the art of patience whilst we wait for all the red-tape surrounding us to be cut. I’m not good at waiting. In fact, I’m dreadful at it. I want it now. Maybe this will be another skill I master. Is there a market for patient hula hoop girls?

But it’s not all bleak. It doesn’t take much to shake me out of the ‘what the hell are we doing’ feelings. In fact, a walk round our beautiful land and breathing in what nature is providing us soon clears my head and helps me see the bigger picture. The meadows are full of bright red berries, sloes and the last of our apples, some of which I intend to pick later today before embarking on a mass chutney making session. This week I’ve seen a beautiful falcon flying through the meadow and a deer with her fawn. David Attenborough has nothing on me.

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Some of that mud, well, OK clay.

 

 

We have lift off!

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Our meadow

It’s taken me a lot longer to get started on this idea, the blog that is, with a total lack of telecommunications for the past 10-12 weeks. I can’t begin to describe how debilitating it’s felt. Aside from the lack of phone line, our mobile phone signal is fairly non-existent so getting the barn project started has been interesting to say the least.

Things are in full swing on site now so I need to think back to the beginning of the summer and recall what’s been happening.  Just to keep us on our toes, we moved onto the site and into our caravans during the first week of the summer holidays. We knew that our utilities weren’t going to be up and running so it seemed like a sensible idea to go last min.com and book ourselves a holiday, leaving the day after we moved. All in all making for an interesting pack; the house and the holiday.

Those sun-drenched days in Brittany now feel like a distant memory but we had a fabulous trip and came back, after indulging ourselves with 2 nights in a 5* spa hotel, ready to face the reality of what we were about to embark on. Or so I’d hoped.

Home sweet home
Home sweet home
Renovating Finn's caravan
Renovating Finn’s caravan

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That first week in our caravans was hard going. No electricity, no running water, no flushing  toilet. Cooking on a one-ring camping stove. Cold showers. Trying to unpack from our holiday and to unpack our belongings. Trying to decide what items we wanted in our small spaces. My Mum was a lifesaver that week. Cooking us delicious meals, inviting us over for baths, doing our washing; all felt a bit regressive but in a rather comforting way.

Two weeks after we’d been on site in these very basic conditions all I’d really done was unpack boxes and try to make the caravans feel more like home, but it was time to hit the road again. This time we were off to the Brecon Beacons and the rather fabulous Green Man Festival with The Holloway Jugband. An annual jaunt which is not to be  missed.

The Green Man himself
The Green Man himself
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The Holloway Jugband

Slightly bonkers to head off camping at a notoriously wet and muddy festival but…come on keep with the programme. We when finally landed back in Norfolk on the August bank holiday, I can honestly say that was the most depressing day yet here. The heavens opened and didn’t stop for 24 hours. I felt as if I was sitting in a tin box and someone was outside throwing stones at the roof. The caravans were full of all the wet gear we’d brought back from Wales with us, no phone, no TV, it felt cold. There was nothing for it but to get the hell outta there and find a launderette. It felt like I’d gone back 30 years and memories of student life came flooding back as I sat in an empty launderette on a wet bank holiday Monday doing 4 loads of washing. Oh joy! Definitely the lowest point so far.

Four weeks on and the beautiful barns we’ve bought are slowly being dismantled so that they can be put back together in a more homely fashion. Well, lets face it, the last thing, in fact only thing, that lived in them was a bunch of cows so they need a wee bit of work. We now have electricity and a borrowed water supply from our neighbours. We have hot water, a flushing toilet, a proper cooker and it feels almost like home. AND A PHONE LINE!! Which means internet and TV, whoop whoop.

A kitchen in the making
A kitchen in the making
Floors taken up, waiting to be crushed and go back in as hardcore
Floors taken up, waiting to be crushed and go back in as hardcore
The floors have gone
The floors have gone

We have diggers and dumpers on site. The floors have all been dug out, the front of the single story barn has come out so that we can put sturdier foundations in. Today we’ve had our first concrete pour. It’s all very exciting and all a bit stressful, but in a good way. And of course, everyone, yes everyone, keeps telling us that it’ll all be worth it in the end.

Pond
Pond