Tuesday, 29 August 2017

How we bought our smallholding


How we bought our smallholding... A bit of a ( drastically edited) life story really.
Are you sitting comfortably? then I'll begin...
 I met David when he moved into a council house 12 doors away from our council house. I was just 14 and he was all of 15 and a half.
Nearly six years later (1966) we married. My parents, who had to give consent as I was a minor, weren't too keen, but I informed them that if we didn't marry soon we might well have our children as bridesmaids.. that did  it! We rented a terraced house a couple a streets away from our parents. The house had an outside loo and a long back garden, which we never used for anything "useful" that I remember. A couple of years ( and a daughter) later we had saved the deposit for a new house on what was then, one of the biggest new private estates in the midlands. My father, a staunch socialist,  was taken aback and not a little disappointed by us being "owner-occupiers" he thought we had overstretched ourselves, a sentiment we had to concur with a couple of years later when fuel prices went through the roof and the interest rate on our mortgage rose to 15%! Those were the days of  real hardship and only the skills taught to me by my mother, much ingenuity and a frugality that had helped us raise the deposit for the house in the first instance, helped us to hang on until things got better. Around this time our second daughter was born.
Living on a new estate meant that most of our neighbours were of a similar age and we had a really good social life. We met people who are still dear friends today. Two people, in particular, we became close to. Newlyweds, they moved in five doors away.. After a while we saw them daily, went on holiday together, played cards into the night and generally lived in each others pockets. By now David and I had started to grow vegetables, keep bees in a friends large garden, rear rabbits for meat, forage, make wine (I had always cooked, baked, made jams and preserves) and yearn for "The Good Life". Our friends became interested too and when we watched the serial "The Survivors" together we were agreed that we were the types who would survive. Coming across John Seymour sealed our growing ambition which was held back purely for economic reasons! As we spent so much time together we reasoned that we stood a good chance of living together and we began to search for a property that our joint incomes could afford and that was big enough for two families (though they still had no children at this time)
Over the next few years we looked at properties, bought "useful things"  for our future life from car boots, read up and practiced skills that could be useful and after many false starts and horrors we found a property that could, with work, meet our needs.
 In the summer of 1981 we sold our houses and arranged to move in the September. One buyer fell through and we decided to take our chances with a bridging loan . Crikey that was financial fun for the next nine months!  Moving two seperate houses and households into one house (that we had yet to convert derelict rooms into liveable accommodation) in what turned out to be a bitter winter is another story really, as this one is telling of how we afforded our little bit of land.
Twelve years later our lives had changed in many ways and we decided that we and our friends wanted/needed/prioritised different things. We bought our friends out and the smallholding became ours alone. (they remain our close friends and we see each other at least weekly)
In short, we moved from council house, to rental , to owner occupier, to joint owners and finally sole owners of a Derbyshire stone cottage with two beautiful acres bounded by a river.
Here I sit feeling pretty smug in our little piece of heaven, bought entirely by our own means (we have never inherited nor won anything) it hasn't been easy at times for all sorts of reasons, but it has always been worth it.
Anybody want to share how they afforded to buy their dream?
Back soon
love Gillx


16 comments:

  1. Working for it makes it that much sweeter, don't you think?

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  2. You've worked hard for it! Lovely part of the country too - am not far away here in Nottinghamshire. Nice to hear of people who do it this way for a change rather than inherit. We've not "bought" our dream yet but we've paid our mortgage off on our little semi. Anything we may inherit in the future will probably come too late for us (in our mid-50's now) but our children will benefit.

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    1. Same here re any inheritance, but we certainly have something to leave to our children now. We paid our mortgage off when I retired (9 years ago) we used all of my golden hand shake but have never regretted it as we have those repayments extra each month.

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  3. A lovely story and I'm looking forward to the next chapter. Thanks.
    J x

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    1. Thanks Joy. Not sure if anyone wants to hear more though!
      x

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  4. Gill what a lovely story of hard work and dedication. Dare I ask if either of your parents is still alive to witness what you have achieved.

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    1. My father died, aged 64, before we bought our smallholding. By the time he died he had got used to us owning and was actually quite proud of us by then. I sometimes talk to him when the light is particularly good outside(he was quite a passable water-colourist) and tell him how much he would have loved this place. Mum lived until she was 88 and knew and loved our place.

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  5. You are an inspiration to all the youngsters out there who want everything "now". Anything worth it's salt is worth working / waiting / sacrificing for - as you have so adroitly written. You have every reason to be "smug" :D

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    1. I think if I had known that it would take as long as it did I might not have been so enthusiastic for my dream! I hope my granddaughter, who, with her partner, would like a smallholding does not have to wait quite as long!

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  6. Well done, an inspiration to everyone who aspires to become a smallholder.

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    1. Thanks Cro. It becomes increasingly difficult nowadays I think.

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  7. What a lovely success story. You have worked hard and achieved your dream and I'm so happy for you. We are still looking for our 'forever home' and are now a bit too old to live the dream on a smallholding, even if we find something we can afford x

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    1. Sometimes a large garden and maybe an allotment, can be as fulfilling though don't you think?

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  8. We were working class weans from council houses. Lived in council house for 6 years, bought a house and within 9 months the MR was 15%. Moved to our current home in 1988-seven months later, MR went to 15%. When people tell us how lucky we are, I breathe deeply and say "aren't we just!" Whilst resisting the urge to give them a Glasgow kiss!! Catriona

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    1. I had to ask around to find out what a Glasgow kiss was!. I too get a bit peed-off about being told that I am lucky. Luck has NEVER come into it!
      Your early foray into house buyer was similar to ours then. Scary isn't it?

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