It was a family affair from day one, with our two children, aged 5 and 8, initially very keen to help their parents and grandparents on the building site. School holidays were a great opportunity for the kids to experience the world of work, after all who needs Legoland when you can have real building experience labouring on site, cleaning down stone, or painting walls. Needless to say their initial enthusiasm was fairly short lived!
With the benefit of hindsight it's easy to see how rewarding it is to create something new with the people you love. However, I think we probably all reflected on the saying 'never work with family or friends' at some point or other during the process. Artistic differences occasionally creating a battle of wills. My preference for vintage and quirky, dads for new and orderly. As for who won the battle? I'll leave you to decide!
Despite any differences there was still plenty of laughs to be had. Like the time the 1st floor window slipped through dads hands and smashed on the ground below, just as he'd marvelled at how perfectly they fitted! Oh how we laughed!! Or the times one of us would stand up too early when working under one of the unforgiving oak beams. We'd describe seeing stars whilst lying flat out on the floor....admittedly, this was far more amusing when it was someone else's head and someone else seeing the stars.
The process of turning something old into something new extended beyond the barn itself, like turning a field of thistles into a tranquil garden and a concrete yard into a welcoming entrance. The history of The Grain Loft isn't just in the bricks and mortar but ingrained within its decor. Hunting around the farm we were able to find old items that had been gathering dust for 30 odd years. Don't be rude, I'm not talking about my dad, I'm referring to the likes of the old butter churn in the hallway, and the cartwheels and milk churns adorning the stone walls. With a little spit and polish we were able to turn them into something to admire.
It took time to transform the barn and gardens and it wasn't without setbacks, but it's not lost on me what a great opportunity it was to work with my family and build something we can be proud of and that can now be enjoyed by others.