Here we go…first post
Almost four years ago, in January 2017, I met Brian – a Kiwi living in the UK, a software CEO who also had a penchant for digging, building, inventing and getting his hands dirty whenever possible.
After falling completely in love, we wanted to get our own place together. I was living in a 3-bed Victorian terrace in Faversham (south-east England) at the time. I loved it, and it had been perfect for my late husband, Ben, and I – and then later for my daughter and I. But, then Brian arrived – with his guitars, his tools, his boxes of accumulated life ‘stuff’ – and it seemed a bit crowded. But mostly, we both wanted more garden – more outside space to spread out in.
I imagined one step up – a 4 bed house, a garden rather than a little postage stamp of grass. But Brian had different ideas – bigger, grander, bolder. Being hopelessly in love, and also a sucker for an adventure and the thrill of the new, I agreed to go big. I agreed to Langdon.
Langdon is a red brick Victorian farmhouse, sat in the middle of three acres of land, just outside Faversham. There are hundreds of trees, a big pond (to me, it’s a lake!), scrubby wilderness, secret spaces, an expansive lawn, ramshackle old outhouses, and more wildlife than I have had ever shared a home with before.
When Brian first saw Langdon his eyes lit up – he immediately saw exciting possibilities and projects. I was overwhelmed and cynical. Too big, too grand, not me. In the end I agreed to join him on this madcap purchase, but the ‘Project’ wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to get sucked into renovations and decorating and managing builders. I wanted to revive my career as an English and communication coach which had been waiting patiently on the sidelines while I concentrated on bringing up my young daughter.
Well it took a few years, but Langdon has finally sucked me in entirely, despite my resistance. What I’ve fallen in love with more than anything here is the world outside our windows – the mini-ecosystem that surrounds us – from the tops of the towering poplars to the tunnels burrowed under the soil, from the dense dark hedgerow, to the lily pads lying in the sun on the pond. I have become obsessed with growing vegetables; creating and preserving habitats for bees, bugs, and other beasts; excitedly identifying new bird visitors; making compost; establishing a wildflower meadow…
Meanwhile Brian has thrown himself headlong into landscaping and building projects. We have lots of brilliant builders and tradespeople that do the bulk of the work, but Brian is always amongst them, sometimes leading the way, sometimes learning from them – one day he’ll be learning how to fit copper plumbing pipes, the next he’ll be wiring electrical boxes, the next building wooden raised beds.
My other partner in crime is my daughter Saskia. She swears she’s going to live here forever!
Becoming an ‘owner’ of land has been an unexpectedly rich and transformative experience for me. It’s a huge responsibility – suddenly I have trees that are hundreds of years old, and which are home to many species of bird, insect and mammal, and we are their custodians.
This is a responsibility that I now find so exciting and absolutely bursting with opportunities and possibilities – for the wildlife residents, for us human residents, for the soil we walk on and grow things in, for our communities – family, friends, neighbours – that we can share the space with, for the cultural legacy of a farmhouse whose history stretches back to at least the 16th century, maybe more.