Tuesday 24 April 2007

The one that started it all

I thought I’d try out my new blog for size and, for starters, want to haul over some (possibly not all hundred or so you’ll be relieved to hear!) from the old site. If any of you have ever wondered how it all began for me, here’s the first ever exmoorjane blog…..ah, memories.

Wednesday Nov 22 2006
I swore I'd never do a blog. Thought they were just for desperate saddos who wanted their tiny bit of on-line fame. But, I don't know why, maybe I need to get stuff off my chest - this seemed like a good idea. Of course, by the time I get home in a couple of hours, it might seem a very stupid idea and I'll be feeling very red-faced and abashed. But, hey ho, what the heck. Let's give it a go. We've lived on Exmoor now for eight years - and I never want to move. Well, there's the rub. I do want to move - just not from Exmoor itself. We need to downsize (not the 'need' bit) and we've been trying to sell the house for the last year and it's driving me potty. I figured writing a blog might be a way of venting a bit of frustration!

But it's not all doom and gloom and I hope I can also give you (if anyone wants to read this) a bit of an insight into a very lovely part of Britain - one that is often overlooked. Exmoor is a bit of a 'secret' park - it's small and is mainly in Somerset - not Devon as everyone assumes. As I write this I can see a cloud drifting across the valley, making everything soft around the edges. The colours are fabulous - the bracken has turned its dark russet and the hawthorn is stuffed with bright red berries. A line of pheasants saunter down the hill, taking the odd peck at each other and our neighbour's horse has obviously been rolling as his coat is a grubby brown rather than his usual smart grey.

By all rights, we shouldn't still be here. We had, we thought, sold the house - we'd been given a date for exchange and I'd started getting rid of all the clutter - including spare furniture - in preparation for our move. Then what happens? Our buyer's buyer pulls out. This really is cutting a very long, tedious and stressful situation short. In reality it lurched on for about two months (having been under offer for five) and there was much sobbing and gnashing of teeth and kicking the Aga. But what can you do? I felt like hurtling down to Guildford and cracking their heads together. We'd been off the market all summer and were now faced with losing the house we had set our hearts on and trying to find another buyer in the winter gloom.

So it's back to keeping the place clean and tidy (!), back to forcing a smile when you deal with complete and utter idiots who know nothing about the countryside - and obviously have no intention of learning about it. One lot asked what kind of mower we use to mow our ten acre field!!!!! The sheep or horse kind, I replied. Another lot pointed at the cows on the field opposite and said, 'Oooh, is that a working farm?' Er yes. 'Of course it is, darling,' said the chap, 'They make yoghurt or something.' Er no, darling, those are beef cattle and they make meat.

We just can't win - we're either too isolated, or not isolated enough. We're too far up the hill or not far enough up it. We've got too much land or not enough. We don't have roses round our doors and we don't have beams. Aaaaghhh you could scream, you really could. One couple stayed for three hours (seriously!!). They wanted to inspect every single nook and cranny and they asked me to beat the boundaries with them. They looked under our bridge, they peered into the neighbouring fields. At one point I thought they would ask me to get the septic tank opened up for inspection! We trekked up the hill to look at our spring and they sat and gazed enraptured (or so they said) at the views. I made them coffee, I fed them biscuits. At one point I thought I was going to have to offer them lunch, dinner and maybe even bed and breakfast. My husband and son, who'd been keeping out the way at football practice, returned stunned to find the car still sitting there. My neighbours, whose horse uses our large field, came and took down quarter of a mile of fencing, cleared up and left - and still they were there.

Finally they left and Adrian and I looked at each other.
'They loved it,' I said. 'They adore the area, loved the house, loved the land, loved the views. I think we've got it!' And you know what? We got a no-thank you - he was worried that our broadband wasn't fast enough!!!! My husband and I both run businesses from home - we are, I like to think, professionals who run a tight ship. If it's fast enough for us.....but no, you just can't figure out what makes people tick.

Reeling from that, the next lot were even funnier. A huge Landcruiser lumbered up the hill and out got two tiny people who looked for all the world like gnomes. Full-on shooting regalia, even down to the pom-poms on the socks. Personally I find it a rather silly look at the best of times, but really someone should have told them that if you're height-challenged, britches and garters aren't a good look. I'm just glad my son wasn't there or he'd have asked where Santa's grotto was. This lot stayed for a full ten minutes before briskly informing us that they wouldn't waste our time - the house was too large and we didn't have a cellar!

I've got to get going now. Off to my aerobics class - held in the local village hall and comprising a very odd mix, from twenty-somethings to Marjory (bless her) who's in her eighties and has a hip replacement. Holmes Place, it ain't. We shuffle around a bit, chat too much and then gather for coffee with various babies and toddlers navigating between our legs in the creche. It's good fun though. If this is boring as watching the proverbial paint dry, let me know...... Otherwise I may just whitter on for a bit.


Inthemud said...

So that was how it all began with the blogging! So good to hear about it from the start!

Pipany said...

That was lovely, Jane. I missed your early blogs and sort of worked it out as I went along, but it's good to read it properly xx

toady said...

Yeeee, Jane's back. Now get us up to date for Gawd's sake, the suspense is killing me. Toady

DevonLife said...

Good to have you back Jane. I have to admit (saddo that I most certainly am) I printed off your blogs in total one lonely evening and read them all in front of the fire. Was almost better than Rachel Johnson (joke, stop don't shoot me, it was a joke). But I will surely read it all again. J x

Carah Boden said...

Hello girl. Had already peeked at how it all began while still on The Dark Side. It looks a lovely house. What's the latest?