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Our Chapter at York Cottage

By the end of 2005 we had got to the point where our current house was completed and very comfortable, but I was looking for my next challenge. Due primarily to my work situation we decided that if we were going to buy a "dream" house it was either "now or never". Karen would have happily stayed in our home but the postage stamp size back garden did not really give any scope or enjoyment, especially when "witch woman" was yelling at the top of her voice with East Enders at full volume. So, we decided that now was the time to make that final move. Our main criteria for a new house were: it had to be big, it had to have lots of scope for improvement, it had to be a decent distance from neighbours, it had to be something special.

We started looking around and found various houses but the majority if them failed to meet my main criteria, scope for improvement. For some reason I felt that I needed something to keep me busy! We eventually found a property called Beeches in Charing. Set in 9 acres of fantastic ancient woodland the little bungalow needed to be demolished and a new property built in its place. However, this purchase fell through and we had to start house hunting all over again. However, two good things came out of this. Firsly, it gave us ideas of what kind of things we would want from a property and we realised that I really would be out of my depth if we bought something requiring that amount of work. Secondly we got to know Brian the owner of Beeches, a very genuine and unique man, an artist who was involved in the creation of the Cheriton Horse. On one of the occasions that we met with Brian at Beeches we saw a fantasic piece of art that he was working on, a relief of the Cheriton horse. Karen liked it so much that we commissioned him to make one for us and since then we have kept in contact with him.

Brian is a bit of a philosopher on the quiet and when the purchase of Beeches fell through he said that he believes that "fate makes things happen for a reason" and he was right. Not long afterwards we found York Cottage for sale. It had been empty for 6 months as the owners had already moved to Spain before the previous sale had fallen through. Completely different to Beeches it was more like a blank canvas on the outside but "interesting" on the inside. This really did tick all the boxes for us; it was big with planning permission to add another bedroom, had a games room, double garage and workshop, as well as plenty of scope for improvement. It was also somewhere that we could move the family straight into (provided we could close our eyes to the white artex and anaglypta decor). One major advantage was that it gave us the best of both worlds; country living but only 5 minutes from the motorway and a short drive to work.
By August 2014 a lot has changed about the buildings on the property. We have rebuilt the outbuildings and most of the internals of the house along with our bedroom extension. This arial photo shows the property with about three quarters of the work done. We are still working on the patio area and hope to do the drive in the next few years. It is all taking so much longer than expected.