This is so not a New Year’s resolution post, nor will it be “summation of a fairly tumultuous year” post… or, at least, not entirely. 2018, whilst having some fantastic moments, was blighted by a serious injury to Jamie, the Estate clerk of works, who has lived at Hungerton all his life. We all miss him and wish him an easy recovery.

As a result, a review of all else that has happened seems somewhat out of place, other than to say that we’re still here, the farm goes on, and future plans keep being made.

And it’s a difficult time to make plans, or, rather, it’s a difficult time to put plans into action. With no knowledge of what is going to happen with farming post-Brexit, no idea as to the financial climate, and no clue as to which direction Westminster will face, feeling confident in spending money is nearly impossible.

Underlying the uncertainty is the fact that the Estate is still in probate, with the accompanying flock of lawyers and Executors. As a result it’s not the most streamlined structure, but as we’re not in a position economically to make expensive decisions, then I suppose that it doesn’t matter that the authorisation process is somewhat laborious. It does, however, mean that our future projects should be robust, for we have had plenty of time to chew them over.

We did spend a great deal of last year developing plans for a new wedding venue at the old Shooting School – working with fantastic architects, conducting wildlife surveys, applying for planning permission, pricing road-works, hosting development workshops, iterating through endless financial projections, writing tender documents, conducting market research, and talking ’til we were blue in the face. And when it all came down to it, when the tenders came back and the numbers were added up, we felt we just couldn’t risk such a significant financial outlay. We’re still pushing the planning through, and will explore how we can approach the project in smaller, more manageable stages, but the substantial development is on hold for the foreseeable.

In the meantime, we’re going to host weddings here at the Hall, using the great contacts that we’ve built over the past year to provide the perfect backdrop for those special events. You can find out more about what we are doing over at Shotgun Weddings.

And the endless other work is endless; rebuilding roofs, replacing windows, reinvigorating the garden, extracting ash trees for Irish hurley sticks, refurbishing cottages, hosting and planning and trying to work out where we are.

We need to keep reminding ourselves that there is a lot to be grateful for, and, when we do, the community here features strongly. We’re small enough so that it’s easy to know everyone, and the times that we all get together, whether it’s in the Village Hall, or the house here, are always worth their weight in gold. We tend to kick ourselves afterwards for not taking more photos – or any photos for that matter. Maybe one year it’ll all become second nature and we’ll find the space to think of the camera… but that graceful moment hasn’t happened yet. Maybe next time.

Alongside the Estate work, I’ve been building Amazon Alexa apps for the music industry – most recently for Little Mix and Michael Bublé – providing a nice balance between the Estate and the outside world (and some most welcome income). It has meant that I’ve spent more time in front of the computer than I’d like; I’ve barely been out on the farm, and long dog walks have become a reluctant pastime. It’s also my excuse when it comes to the “not updated the website” bugbear; there’s just not enough hours in the day!

And neither has there been enough hours to spend time with the brush-cutter, or chainsaw. If anything could be my New Year’s resolution, it would be to spend less time tapping away at a keyboard, and more in the woodland. So with that in mind, I’m off to chop something up. Later!

Edited to add: First bonfire of 2019, with my lovely new assistant

Categories: General

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