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#1. Escape to the Country

So many people have asked us about our story so I finally decided 9 years later to write about the our tales in the country. I hope you find it useful, entertaining or a bit of light reading after a hard days work. I’ll try my best to write a blog post every month. Enjoy!

One dreary rainy day,  while walking down a crowded street in London, having been squashed under the arm of a particularly stinky guy in a tube just before, I wondered what would life be like if we escaped to the country, to live on a farm, surrounded by fresh air and farm animals. All my life my Mum had spoken about the epic adventures she had had, growing up on a farm in South Africa, riding bareback across the valley (to be honest I can’t picture MY Mum doing that!), waking up early to milk the goats, baking bread in the Aga, getting vegetables from the veg garden to use for Dinner… The life she described obviously had lasting memories for her and seemed dreamy to me. It seemed so idyllic and simple, yet filled with pleasures and freedom that I could only imagine. And I wanted that for our family.

Paul never really loved animals like I did (I wanted to be a vet when I grew up..long story for another time) but to see him now you would never have guessed that! Lucky he is always up for an adventure and we decided to up sticks, leave our well paying jobs in London to opt for a more simple life in the country! Our friends and family thought we were mad. No income, twins on the way (I fell pregnant during this process with TWINS!!) and getting into a HUGE mortgage so we could have the ability to run a business from the Farm.

So after much searching we decided to enlist the help of BBC Escape to the Country to help us. Our few moments of fame (was cringeworthy!! for us to watch) but was worth it for the invaluable help the experts behind the scenes gave us. Although we did not buy anything they showed us, the process shaped in our minds what we needed to focus on in a property and what we should compromise on. It also showed us Hay on wye,  a gorgeous little haven that we had no clue about that was so entirely magical.

We found the estate agents did not take us seriously and very time we rushed out fro London to see a property, we were inevitably too late!! We decided to sell up and move to this part of the woods and rented nearby. Suddenly we were very important to the agents and they all jostled for our business. We were now in a much better position to buy since we had no chain. At the same time I managed to land a consultancy job with Unilever to do their global training. Phew!! Huge sigh of relief as this could contribute towards paying the HUGE mortgage (every assumes if you come from London you must be loaded!!). But it meant I wouldn’t be living the dream immediately (well at least not full time! and secretly I do love Unilever and this way I still got to be part of the big U family)

After searching for 2 years we were about to bid on an auction property near Cwmdu in Wales, when Paul spotted this property advertised in the newspaper and which I DID NOT want to view as the pictures did not look great at all. Since we had nothing to do we decided to make an appointment and see it on the way to the auction. And thank god we did. As we drove down the wooded lane and drove into the farm courtyard, I turned to paul with chills running down my spine and said this is it! We were happy to make an offer without even seeing the house thats how magical it was! It simply was the most beautiful farm I had ever seen. With gorgeous outbuildings in a great location. The drive is impressive along a wooded lane, through a green tunnel of leaves, leading to our farm which backs onto Little Mountain Common. All stone buildings and wonderful views as far as the eye can see. No near houses yet only 3 miles from Hay on wye! Could this be real??

In Sept 2010 we moved in. And have never looked back despite the many many set backs we have had with gaining planning permission,  unfairness to incomers (add to that foreigners from another country!!) loads of objections to what we were doing (even though it affects no one, we have done everything very sympathetic to the landscape and nature which we love and as our land surrounds us no one can see or hear what goes on). We do love the area, the people, the vibe and the business we have created. It’s harder work than our jobs back in London! But it’s all been worth it. The kids have the freedom to run free. They love all our animals on the farm and I get to live some of my mum’s memories in real life. Bliss. (She was so ecstatic when she first visited from South Africa and taught us loads!!) I hope you will come visit and see what we have created with a lot of hard work, passion and love. Until next time…

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