Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Homes and Gardens

 




Knowing “a house is made of walls and beams” while “a home is made with love and dreams”, I guarantee our sixteenth century grade two listed barn most definitely fell into the latter.  From the moment we saw its derelict shell towering over unobstructed views of the countryside towards the river Severn, we knew it would make the perfect family home.

Over a ten year period we were diligent in our search for reclaimed materials to maintain its character and used locally grown green oak to restore its magnificent vaulted ceiling complete with mistral’s gallery.  With an enormous log burner at its heart to ensure our family was always warm, this lovingly crafted restoration project was my husband’s pride and joy and regularly left visitors gasping at both its beauty and location.
As my children grew old enough to enjoy their surroundings, they discovered our home made a wonderful back drop to the freedom that two acres of land and an abundance of local friends afforded them.  I, in turn, was delighted to finally have a home from which we could put down roots which also allowed us to bring up and school our children in a village community.  Being a developer’s wife had meant numerous house moves throughout the years as a means of growing my husband’s business so I happily embraced a more settled outlook and threw myself wholeheartedly into country life. Quickly making many friends led to our home becoming the venue for many wonderful gatherings and  it was often filled with the camaraderie and laughter of our guests.  

In October 2008 my perspective completely changed.

Discovering we were to be faced with repossession, I soon realised everything I had once considered my own fell into two categories neither of which had anything to do with whether one's property is merely a house or a wonderful family home. A threat of this nature instantly dictates that everything must be viewed either as items against which a mortgage is secured or items against which a mortgage is not. 

As the forced sale of our home gathered momentum, repossession became HBOS’s “hangman’s noose” in the eevnt we be tempted not to co-operate.  During this period I watched my husband carefully strip each and every mortgage free fixture from our home in the hope the harvested items could be sold or reused for our families benefit.  When it came to dismantling our children's enormous wooden climbing frame (which he had designed and built in our field) he endured the sub zero temperatures of one of the coldest Januarys on record. In spite of the adverse weather conditions he carefully removed each and every part of this structure and, piece by piece, transported it to our newly rented home. 


For nearly three years the pile of wooden planks representing all that remained of our beautiful sixteenth century masterpiece was left discarded and ignored. Grass and weeds grew up amongst what appeared to be nothing of value and our children all but forgot about their much loved climbing frame's very existence. Believing its presence was only an unpleasant reminder of “old oak beams and thwarted dreams” I accepted it was unlikely ever to be resurrected again.  


However this week, to the astonishment and delight of everyone, my husband announced his intention was to build a tree house. With a spring in his step and  a renewed vigour I have not witnessed in some time; he resurrected and transformed the remnants of our old climbing frame. Three full days and nearly four hundred screws later it has become a formidable play structure in the enormous sycamore tree at the bottom of our garden and all three of our children have been in excited attendance for every step of its construction. Having now completed this project I believe my husband has not only created another masterpiece but has also laid one last ghost to rest. 

I am told there is no ghost so difficult to lay as the ghost of an injury and the forced sale of our home along with the simultaneous demise of our business, our livelihood and our financial future is most definitely an injury from which recovery has proved extremely difficult. Nevertheless, a tree house rising from the ashes of our lost life has been a very therapeutic start on the road to recovery for us all.
 

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