As the barn begins to take shape, and the garden will soon be (partially) transformed by an imminent planting spree it occurred to me that perhaps it was time to share some ‘Before and After’ pictures of Oak Tree Barn. I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, but it has taken until now to to be able to look back upon the last couple of years without gritting my teeth so firmly that my dental work is endangered! I’ve also been procrastinating as I wanted to have the perfect photos. My photographic skills are slowly improving though I have much to learn, but I thought I’d just get on with it and share what I have. The barn isn’t totally finished (what home ever is?), but finding the right pieces of furniture and waiting for the garden to grow is simply a question of time and I will enjoying sharing its transformation here.
For those of you who aren’t already familiar with the story, I have known this building all my life. I grew up just over the hedge so to speak and could see the barn from my childhood bathroom where I recall brushing my teeth and thinking ‘I’ll live there one day’. It took almost 40 years, a lot of wishful thinking and much more patience than I ever thought I had for us to reach this point. But, here we are. Creating a special place in which our family can make some happy memories whilst knowing that we won’t have to leave. I’m certainly not wishing my life away, nor do I want to hasten grandchildren (in case you’re reading girls!), but I do very much hope that generations beneath us will benefit from the sense of peace and relaxation that I feel here.
It has been a story of taking chances, and a mixture of good and bad luck along the way, but it began when my then fiancé and I returned from Australia just over 20 years ago having decided that we would really love to build our own home. It wasn’t to be at that time due to planning restrictions, but my parents took a punt and bought what was rapidly becoming a dilapidated eyesore within the village. The next few years saw it tidied up and used in part as an office for my father, a painter’s studio and a preschool. Thoughts of living there never left me though, and while living in Belgium I eventually persuaded my parents to sell it to us. It is at this point that my long suffering husband deserves a great deal of credit, for agreeing to purchase a plot of land and an agricultural barn which at the time had about a 0.1% chance of gaining domestic dwelling status, for believing in my dreams that I could ‘definitely make something good happen there at some point in our lives’ and for carrying the burden of mopping up after our disastrous project manager.
I won’t even begin to share the painful process of planning, but suffice to say that we were extremely lucky to make a successful application for change of use given that we are in the Mendip Hill Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which complicates matters considerably. It was in August 2016 that the physical transformation of what had originally been constructed in 1969 as an agricultural barn (albeit with an ulterior motive by the builder) commenced. We were promised, and naively believed, that we would be able to celebrate Christmas in our new abode. Looking back it seems laughable since we weren’t in by Easter of the following year either!
We have now though been able to enjoy some really special times at the barn, just the four of us, and with extended family too. It is becoming exactly what I had dreamed of and I really hope you’ll enjoy watching its progress here. I have already hosted a few workshops at the barn which have been a real pleasure, I am confident that people feel comfortable and calm here so are able to enjoy whatever has been on offer. I have more workshops booked in and others in the pipeline so do keep an eye out if you’d like to come along – or sign up to my monthly letter so you don’t miss them. At the end of April I’m hosting Tamsin Acheson as she leads a two day personal development workshop. I have to confess to being initially sceptical and wondering if it was all a bit ‘woo-woo’ for me, but I am actually coming around to the notion that looking after what’s inside our heads is every bit as important as the rest of our bodies. I can’t really think why this sort of thing hasn’t piqued my interest before as I am, if nothing else, very curious!
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