Anyway, I’ll try and work round the obstacles in my head and give you the two very good reasons for us finding ourselves unable to communicate with you until recently…
The two reasons are:
- The arrival of the caravan, and
- The arrival of the caravan!
I’ll cover reason number one first!
We agonised about making the right decision for providing a restroom on the farm and considered all of the options available to us.
- We could have bought a touring caravan, but we decided that the space available to just us and Bob would not be entirely comfortable, and, for the budget we had set ourselves, the caravan was likely to be quite old and have leaks and damp issues.
- We could have bought a camper van, but again, size would be an issue without the use of an awning, and, for the budget we had set ourselves, it was going to be quite an old camper van that could also have mechanical difficulties, and/or leaks and damp issues.
- We could buy a static caravan that would be big enough for us, plus a team of people there to help with the construction, could be tethered down to resist the inclement weather, and, due to there unpopularity of statics in the second hand marketplace, we could buy a much newer one that would be less likely to suffer leaks and damp issues.
The trouble is, once the caravan had been delivered to site and we no longer had the other caravans in Keith’s yard to compare it to, it looked filthy and not at all as we remembered it from viewing it prior to delivery. In truth, we were both heartbroken. In the first two weeks that the static had been placed on the farm, I had probably spent no more than an hour in it, and Adrian had been in it for no more than 10 minutes. The increased budget for it no longer seemed worth it! We could see other things on the farm that would’ve benefited from the extra investment…
We had a long hard chat with ourselves and decided we needed to go and bond with our caravan/restroom, so with buckets and bleach at the ready, we headed to the farm and all but locked ourselves in to the caravan for the day and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned… That evening we had a friend from the local village pop in and say hello and he was very complimentary about the caravan. Then not long after his arrival, two friends from Brighton turned up and were also very complimentary about the caravan! We sat with 5 people and Bob in the static and we were comfortable, warm and could drink a cuppas without suffering from the elements. Our hard work had been worth it, and following our visitors compliments, we got over our disappointment and started enjoying the caravan for what it was.
So, on to reason number two…
As I mentioned in my recent blog ‘If you go down to the farm today…‘ on the day and day after the caravan was delivered to the farm I had two visitors. One visitor was very friendly and polite, wished us well with our plans, and asked that we removed the branches that had been correctly left for him as the landowner, as he did not wish to make use of them. No problem. We went and collected up all the wood we could see, and even went back for another load that had been placed onto the verge a few days later, as we’d obviously missed it first time around.
The other visitor decided to issue me with a guarded threat/warning about any future planning applications we may be considering. That he’d personally look to block any applications we make, and this was all within the first few sentences out of his mouth. He also went on to misquoted planning laws at me, query how we could build our barn were we’d been authorised to put it, and basically wished us nothing but failure… ‘That won’t grow here, that won’t work here, ad lib to fade…’
I felt very upset and quite threatened. I was so grateful that this had happened whilst I had my cousin and friend with me. But, I’m a Yorkshire lass, so very quickly my head came back up and I decided that I wasn’t going to let the incident bother me. I have a dream and nothing and no one is going to make me feel I don’t have the right to try and achieve it! We are building a smallholding in an area littered with smallholdings. I’m creating work for myself, post-accident, in an area that struggles for employment opportunities. We are aiming high and fully intend to get there, selling our quality produce right across Cornwall and beyond.
On a whim a few weeks after the caravan had been delivered to the farm, in fact, it was the Monday after we’d cleaned up the caravan, Adrian decided to look on Cornwall Council’s Planning website. Lo and behold, a complaint had been received to them stating that we were living in the caravan full time and had created a garden… This is funny on two counts: Up to the day we cleaned the caravan we’d spent no more than an hour and 10 minutes in it, and secondly, with 13 acres to play with, why would we section off a garden that’s only 7 metres by 7 metres!
We had the Council’s enforcement officer come out to look in to the complaint. The so-called ‘garden’ is Bob’s dog pen. It is clear we are not ‘living’ in the caravan as we have no water, no electric and no gas to it. We’ve done nothing wrong whatsoever. It is disappointing though, because up to this point we’d had nothing but warm welcomes and encouragement. We won’t be deterred though. In fact, this complaint has done nothing but strengthen our determination and resolve to succeed, and we will move forward positively and build ourselves a successful, sustainable business. After all, that is all we’ve ever set out to do.