The First Year

First veg 1995 I

Our first veg at Merryweather’s

Our first year at Merryweathers was spent observing the land, extending the house to accommodate my parents and planning the gardens. We even managed to grow a few veg – in a totally unsuitable position, but one of the only areas of the garden not covered  with broken glass or scrap metal.

Sheep2 1994

The sheep – in the field for once!

We also experimented with “renting out” the field to a local farmer to graze his sheep.  I put “renting out” in inverted commas because we never did receive any payment.  We learned later that the farmer in question (who has long since moved away) had a reputation for being unreliable.  During their brief sojourn on our land, one of the sheep died and the rest spent most of their time either eating the bluebells in our wood, escaping into a neighbouring field or getting out into the lane and terrorising the postman.  (On my way to work one morning I passed the postman as he tried to deliver letters to the big house on the hill.  He was pressed against his van, surrounded by a menacing looking gang of sheep.  I knew they were our lodgers by the shifty look in their eyes and I drove by guiltily, hoping the postman wouldn’t make the connection.)

Mainly, though, that first year was dominated by the house-building works.  It was purgatory.  At one point there were builders of some sort or another working in every room in the house.

Macavity eyeing up the loft

Macavity eyeing up the loft

Our two cats, Rudge and Macavity, took to spending much of their time in the loft, huddled around the Aga stovepipe and occasionally appearing at the loft hatch to frighten whichever tradesman happened to be climbing the ladder at the time.

Rudge escaping the builders

Rudge escaping the builders

Outside, piles of builders’ rubble were added to the scrap metal and broken glass we inherited with the property.

Builders' rubble

Builders’ rubble

We spent each evening cleaning up and sifting through the rubble to salvage anything usable.

There is an amazing amount of wastage in the building trade – and probably many other walks of life.  Twenty years on and we are still using wood, bricks, screws, nails and other miscellany rejected by the builders, but invaluable to us.