After a truly lovely two week holiday family in July it has taken me a little while to get myself going again. I have been working, but mostly on behind the scenes stuff. One of the many, many things I have learned over the last 18 months is just how much time and energy goes into the running of the business as opposed to the actual workshops.

From having the vaguest notion of what a business might look like, being brave enough to plan my first workshop, learning about social media, marketing, blogging, photography, photo editing, networking, email lists, ticket sales, administration, cooking, cleaning and finally (my favourite bit) welcoming people into my home to enjoy getting creative, it’s been quite a journey. I do sometimes have to remind myself, that in this consumerist society where we expect to be able to buy the perfect product off the shelf, I must take pleasure in the creation of this little business of mine and worry less about my lack of knowledge and experience or getting everything ‘right’ the first time.

Do More of What Makes You Happy Mug with Notebook on Kitchen Table

All this has happened alongside the renovation of Oak Tree Barn which, as those of you who know me well will remember, was not all plain sailing! Still, we are all but there now with just a couple of small snagging items to be completed such as uncommunicative thermostats and a certain amount of organisation to be achieved in the garage. We have now spent the last two weekends here en famille which has been just lovely, everything I had hoped it might be in terms of spending quality time together feeling relaxed and happy. I don’t think I can adequately describe the pleasure I gain from pottering out in my pyjamas to open the chicken run; seeing my feathery friends waiting at the door and hearing their gentle clucking puts a smile on my face and picking up a fresh, warm egg is simply the icing on the cake – or should that be the yolk on my soldiers?! In fact as I type this Princess Leia has just walked past the french doors and had a little peer in!

Vanessa feeding the chickens at Oak Tree Barn

We still have some external landscaping to do, and hope to do so before the end of the year in order to be able to start planting the garden I imagine myself working on and in for the rest of my life. We do have a plan which I keep changing, and I have started collecting images of the sort of garden I picture in my head on Pinterest here and Houzz here, but if you have any favourite garden resources I would genuinely welcome any suggestions in the comments below.

I am now delighted to also be able to offer Oak Tree Barn as a small, creative venue for others to enjoy using. I have chosen to embrace the sharing movement and use the barn in this way as I dislike the feeling of guilt that having two properties, unplanned as it was, has brought with it. I very much like the idea of people sharing resources, from the traditional library, facebook groups who trade local knowledge, Airbnb and BorrowmyDoggy.com, I have benefitted a great deal from others’ willingness to share.

I have chosen to list the barn with Spacehop.com whose mission is to help people find “more than just a place to work but rather somewhere you go to feel fulfilled and inspired”. I would really welcome creative people who would like to use the space for meetings, workshops or photo shoots and have tried to keep the barn’s décor fairly neutral… if pressed to describe its style I would say ‘Rustic Skandustrial Chic’ if that is indeed a thing! This morning my very first ‘hopper’, local photographer Janette Edmonds, spent the morning here using the space for a photo shoot. Janette lives just up the road in the next village and using the barn will avoid her having a half hour drive to the location she otherwise uses. She is delighted with a 5 minute commute and was happy to arrive this morning to see the log burner lit, bonkers in August but it was so wet and grey I thought it would make her smile.

Open plan downstairs at Oak Tree Barn now available as creative venue via spacehop.com

So, with a pleasing line up of workshops to come over the autumn, and more in planning for next year, along with the barn having real purpose in addition to pleasure, I am feeling content and enthusiastic about the months ahead. Now, if the sun would just like to reappear that really would be the yolk on my soldiers!