My dad is in his mid 70s and has just moved into a grade II listed barn that he has spent the last 2 years converting himself.
We all thought he must be mad because lets face it, most 30 year olds wouldn’t attempt such a massive project, let alone someone in their 70s. To add to that, he suffered an aneurysm during the works and spent weeks in a high dependency brain ward while he recovered which was then followed by months of rehabilitation.
Not to be put off by this ‘set back’ as he calls it, he carried on and managed to regain his fitness which has remained phenomenal all through his life.
I did his planning application for him, which has been problematic to say the least, but he has negotiated his way through the conditions attached to the permission and dealt with the problems that came with the council’s inconsistency and constantly changing personnel. Difficult enough dealing with this on it’s own let alone physically doing the work.
Because it is listed, the barn itself had to remain almost untouched to the casual passer by so it is extended to the back and part of the sides. It has been a huge undertaking with lots of new foundations, walls, roofs, windows, drainage and a million other things.
Building sites are dangerous places and he has climbed up and down scaffolding, worked with heavy machinery, lived in a freezing cold caravan on site, had his fair share of slips and minor injuries but none of it has made him consider giving up or getting someone else to finish it for him. He’s quite bloody minded!
He managed to employ some labour to help him get through the toughest days and managed the sub-contractors and suppliers without too many other ‘set backs’. My nephew is a very good joiner so I hope my dad took his invaluable advice too.
It has been annoying to have no conversation with him over the last 2 years that wasn’t about the barn, and he may not always have done things as advised but I’m very proud of him. What he has done is no mean feat.
Now, the work is done and he has moved in. His excited phone call to inform us that he was now living there was quite sweet and the event had to be marked by a card.
A few weeks later, he had already forgotten how tough it had been getting to this stage and how despondent he felt at times. It’s obviously similar to the pain of childbirth; soon forgotten!
This weekend was the house warming party when family and friends collect to celebrate and appreciate dad’s hard work.
To mark the occasion, I made him one of my pictures (similar to the one I did for Henry’s Christening). It has elements of the house and surroundings to it but is a stylised versions of them as well as little snapshot about him, his sheep, his dogs, there will be an orchard and veg patch when the landscaping is completed & dad is passionate about hunting rabbits so I had to show all of these things too. It’s as much about him as it is about the actual house.
I hope the sun shines on it for a very long time to come.
I gave it to him at the party and he seems to be happy with it finding the personal references quite amusing. Perhaps the pain of it all really has gone and has now been replaced by pride.