It’s pitch black at past 9.30pm and there’s a farmer sitting in his cab on the tractor doing God knows what to the field outside merely by the light afforded from his headlamps.
Where once these 200-odd acres supported eight families now there is just one: a father and son set up (plus grandsons under 18) and this is not their only land holding. In fact they farm ten times as much – it’s no wonder none of Roger’s sons wanted to take on the tenancy from the family.
However, that did allow us to get our dream – although sometimes it can feel like a nightmare. In fact it chops and changes between the two with alarming regularity. After I made my dreadful gaffe and basically told the estate agent what we could afford, it was definitely nightmare time. Not least, because it was decided that the whole sale would be done by sealed bid.
There was only one word for it: “SH*T”
We’d been here before and lost.
It is very difficult to find a home when you have so many restrictions: Dear Charlie can be a little unrealistic at times. He wanted land; an attractive preferably old house with water, woods, out buildings, within a 10 minute drive of a station on the mainline to London and definitely not timber framed.
Now I don’t know if many of you know Suffolk but this is the land of timbered houses. Every house we looked at was timber framed. A point I laboured frequently in the nine months we searched.
Me: “So just tell me why you don’t like them??!!”
Him: “I just don’t.”
Me: “Then why pick this godforsaken county then – everything is timber framed.”
Him: “They’re scary.”
Oh god! It turned out as a child he had been sent to stay with a family who lived in a heavily timbered house full of spiders – something that clearly had affected him deeply. And, however much I tried, I could find no sympathy, as I was the one who had to keep looking and vetting and I was so desperate to stop. I was willing to compromise, buy any old house, just unpack and have my life back again.
We’d been married nearly two years and I still hadn’t opened all our wedding presents. In fact I hadn’t seen the majority of my things since before we were married as I had moved in to his house and there had been no room for my pictures, knick-knacks and furniture.
And of course there was one other thing, a little niggle which P kept reminding me about – babies. How could I possibly let myself get pregnant when we didn’t have a home?
So finding out that we had to go to sealed bids was bad, very, very bad.
So there we were in the kitchen just days after P had told me the good news – pissed off and pitiful.
P: “What do you want to do?”
Us: “Sod it say we won’t play.”
P: “That’s helpful… no in fact that IS helpful!”
Dear Charlie and I looked blank. Now I love P but I do find him just a little difficult to keep up with. Never have I known a person who has had so many businesses from Kites to the estate agencies, property development to hypnotherapy. So perhaps you can forgive us if we were a little bewildered.
The next thing we knew P had got on the blower and informed the agent that his clients would not be participating in the sealed bid and that the agent would be doing his client a huge disservice as P’s clients were quite obviously the ones who had the most cash.
Me: “But I thought you said we weren’t meant to tell them that on pain of death!”
Him: “Do you want the house?”
We nodded dumbly.And I wish it had been that simple. We won battle but the war was far from over.