One of the reasons I've not blogged as often as I should recently is that this cold snap has conspired to come at the height of my bare root delivery season. It's hard enough to get people onto the website and then to buy. How agonizing then for their trees to sit in a courier's depot in Hornsey for three days. Dear customer, if it's bad for you, it's worse for us.
The other reason is that we're moving house in January, with all the palaver that involves. You would have thought that conveyancing solicitors might have upped their game over the last couple of years; it's not as if they've been overwhelmed with work.
Anyway, having cut our way through a legal Gordian knot we're now confronted with the practical issues of moving my home office and sorting our way through years of accumulated family stuff. This is an aspect of downsizing from our beautiful big house I'm finding very positive; I love chucking stuff into the skip when no-one's looking. I love the idea of not spending a mortgage each year on oil bills and replacing window frames too. I love the prospect of new challenges and new land.
Of course we're sad as well. It's a beautiful house. We've been here for over ten years and, however unrealistic it might have been, at one point we thought we might stay until carried out in coffins. I think Caroline has just about got used to the idea of not being buried in the village church and leaving our little community on two feet. It has been brilliant fun and we've been very lucky to have had the chance of looking after the house for a short span of its life. We have lots of happy family memories here, as do the children. I've fond memories of the land as well; renovating the orchard, making our meadow, ditching, tree planting in the field, my first efforts at hedgelaying, and Mike's veg patch. As to the fauna, there were the Barn Owls in the box at the top of the field, my bees, pigs and sheep, mad Runner Ducks and more recently dragonflies, bats and swallows over the new pond. Looking after it all properly has been a great joy, but has also represented a huge investment in time and care.
I hadn't realized what a threat mobility is to our relationship to the land. Would I have done the things I have if I knew we would be moving house? It's easy to rationalize putting an orchard in when you know that there will be another generation following you in the same house. It's trickier when you might not see the trees past 5 feet tall and there's no prospect of financial gain from them. A friend of ours at Devon County Council says they have problems persuading retirees to plant trees as they can't see the point. Perhaps if there were a financial motivation it would help. As a beautiful formal garden adds to the value of a house, maybe we could also learn to appreciate the aesthetic and practical attractions of meadow areas, ponds and trees.
The Estate Agent had no real idea what was happening outside the back door when they visited and wanted to describe it as "paddock", which they thought would be more commercial. We don't know how to value this sort of stuff.