I’ve always wanted to live in the countryside
And more specifically, The New Forest
Round about a year ago, in September 2016, I popped up to see a house in Thorney Hill, a small settlement close to Bransgore and just inside the New Forest National Park boundary. I’d been living in Christchurch and Bournemouth for a long time, so I was close to the forest, and visited it frequently, and ever since I’d been a little boy watching “Out of Town” on ITV on Sunday afternoons, I’d dreamed of living in the forest.
First impression was the smell! The house had been closed up for a long time, with no fresh air circulating and so smelt a bit stale. And the area itself has had a certain reputation locally for a long time, since the New Forest Gypsy community were resettled there in the 1950s.
But I saw a future here, and brought my partner Barbara to see the house on Sunday, just from the outside, and then for a proper visit on Monday morning before she headed back to work in Dartmoor.
Within a week or two, we’d visited a couple more times, and had our offer accepted! And we were making our plans. Big plans.
Then we were stuck in the good old English house buying system for a long time… it wasn’t until February 7th we finally got the keys, and we began work on the 8th!
Mid-summer moving in
We wanted to move in as soon as we could, to save time and money, so as soon as we had a proper working tap (albeit on the outside), a proper flushing loo, a hot shower and electricity coming through the walls and not extension cables, we hired a van and moved in, choosing the day of the summer solstice, a beautiful day to make big changes in your life. The summer solstice has resonated for me many times during my life.
Another life-long dream
I’d also always wanted to do a renovation project too, and this house was perfect for it. Structurally sound and well build, as council houses were in the 50s, nothing had been done to the house for about 20 years so we felt free to rearrange the property to suit our dreams. Move the kitchen into the dining room, and then make one big room by combining the old kitchen with the sitting room. Take out the old fireplace and replace it with a wood burner, and use that to partly power the hot water and heating. Oh, and we needed gas too – that wasn’t connected.
And we plan to convert the loft into a big bedroom with an en-suite, though this will have to wait a little while until we’ve saved up some more money. We also future-proofed the hot water and heating system by allowing for solar input when we have done the loft conversion.
Animals, lots of animals
And even if this is starting to get a bit unreal, another life long dream has been to have a dog… and we are going to get one pretty soon. After all, living 100m from the open forest, you just have to have a dog. No excuses! So we have one cat, Jupiter, a rescue cat from The Ark at Fareham, and we’re going to get him a feline playmate, another rescue cat, and then when they’ve fully settled, we’ll get chosen by a dog!
In the meantime I have hens back in my life. I’d missed having hens, but it hadn’t been practical for the last few years. We have Gertrude and Jessica, two modern hybrids from Longdown Activity Farm in the New Forest. Fresh organic eggs from happy hens! Delightful, especially friend and in a sandwich of home-made bread.
Fruit trees – we want fruit trees too, even if we have struggled to get through the ones given to us by one of ou new neighbours; we’ve eaten lots of apple crumbles, often with blackberries from our hedges. Though we’ll have to make sure we do close the gate; otherwise we’ll have ponies in the garden – again!
And if all this does start to sound like The Good Life, well it feels like it too! And I am doing it with Barbara after all.
And there are new wedding venues to reach out to and hopefully start working with on a regular basis, such as Burley Manor, Sopley Mill, The Old Vicarage, Balmer Lawn, Rhinefield House, Sopley Lake, Careys Manor and Weddings in the Wood and many more. If you are planning a New Forest wedding, check my wedding pages and drop me a line using the Contact Form