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?