Off track

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Poptop2, Apr 5, 2019.

  1. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    In 1988 Lou and I had been married six years. We'd bought an house in 1981 and renovated it before moving in on the day we got married, March 6th 1982, my 21st birthday.

    We both worked hard, me as a transport manager for a large window company and Lou as a supervisor in a supermarket, however, in 1986 we decided to sell up and move down south to Bournemouth. It was a a mistake, we didn't take to it and in the autumn of that year moved home to the Midlands. We were broke and had nowhere to live. Lou' s parents allowed us to stay at theirs for a while until we could rent a place of our own. Jobs were hard to come by and even though we tried, we had little success, so we used the one asset we had ( our camper ) and set up a mobile fruit and veg shop going around the country lanes selling from door to door. It was great fun and we made some good friends including a member of the Cadbury family and his wife.

    Sadly the truth was this business wasn't really a goer, some days we spent more than we earned. The winter was hard on the van and in the warmer spring months the customers sometimes didn't buy, it was not a reliable way to earn a crust. We looked around for alternative jobs.

    In the meantime we had moved into an house with two very good friends Maureen and Bob. They were older than us,but we had got on so well for years that living together was just pure fun and laughter. I got a job lorry driving and Lou went back into the supermarket. We saved and saved for a deposit on an house and in the spring of 88 bought a Victorian terraced villa in Stourport on severn for the grand sum of £22000. It needed no work, the neighbours were great and we soon felt completely at home. We had barbecue parties at the weekend and even found time to restore a Morris minor that year. That summer was a fantastic time.

    The funny thing was, when we appointed our usual solicitor to do the conveyance on our purchase, she off handedly said ' "oh, I have a cheque here for you from your previous building society, you overpaid your mortgage by £2300!" She had had it in her account for nearly two years!

    Anyhow, at the end of the summer Maureen and Bob had sold their house and decided to semi retire to a caravan park locally. Lou thought this was a good idea and asked me to have our house valued as they had gone up drastically in that summer.

    I got the house valued, and couldn't believe it was valued at £48000 just 6 months after we had moved in, an increase of £26k.

    So we put it on the market and sold it within a day.

    Maureen and Bob asked us to come see the mobile home they had put a deposit on, so we obliged them and went to view the place. It had a golf course, fishing lakes and was in a beautiful setting, in short, we were hooked and decided to buy one.

    We made an appointment to see the park owner, chose a mobile home and headed in with all the enthusiasm in the world.

    Maureen and Bob waited outside excited at the prospect of our new adventure at the restaurant. They were soon to be as forlorn as we were when the owner said he wouldn't allow young couples to buy on the park as we were likely to have children and the place wasn't geared up for that. In truth, he was a snobby sod that had a very upmarket place with a very pretentious clientele and was very particular about who lived there. We weren't upmarket enough in our 15 year old campervan.

    There were tears when we went back to Maureen and Bob, and lots of vacant stares while we took stock of our predicament. We'd made so many plans together, we'd had it all worked out, and even chosen two nice plots overlooking the golf course and lakes that we could have our homes sited on, but now we were at a loss.

    That week, in the local rag I'd seen a advert for a very odd looking cabin by the river in Bewdley, it was out in the sticks, had water and electricity, was fully residential, and was up for £11500. I mentioned it to them and off we set to go look see.

    The lane to it was long and winding, the Severn valley railway meandered along the one side of the lane and the river Severn the other. It was picturesque to say the least. As we neared the property: Bob's arm that was hanging out of the passenger window hit something. It was a plasterboard sign with the words ' for sale' written in felt pen on it with a Birmingham number.

    We arrived at the property we originally went to view and met the owner. Bob Maureen and Lou went to look round, I in the meantime went to view the one with the plasterboard sign two hundred yards back down the lane.

    I fought my way through the brambles that had grown over the gate, teetered over the broken bits of retainer wall that held the lane back from falling into the cabin and found my way around the building ( loose term ) to the front. The view was amazing, in front of me 100 yards across a field was the river Severn, beyond that the rest of the valley and the wooded hills beyond that, the Wyre forest.

    That was a view I would wake up to for the next fifteen years, but I didn't know it at that moment.

    I turned and as a sort of after thought viewed the cabin behind me. God it was in a state. Rotten, no sign of a water supply and a distinctly outside loo that was of the bucket and Chuck it school. Phewwy!

    Maureen then appeared behind me, she too had decided this one needed inspection. She stood aghast looking at the view and declared " I want this one" I looked at her and although I truly thought the world of her said, " no way mate. I'm having this" and went down the phone box to phone the Birmingham number on the sign.

    We met the owner the very next day at the property. He explained the peculiarities of the place, the land ownership and the strange conveyance system, told us how his wealthy family had it built originally in 1890 and the resistance to modern facilities in their quest to get away from the hustle and bustle of big city business. He then took a £90 cash deposit off us, handed us the keys, said he wanted the rest in cash next week ( £10,480 ) and we would sign it over at the local conveyors next Saturday. A funny archaic system, but a £90 deposit got us the keys and a week to knock the place into shape, because we had to be out of our house on Friday. God, what had we done?

    We’d bought this for an home. Bats in the roof, mice in the walls and squirrels under the floor, and it was filled with smelly old furniture too :confused:

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    The toilet and back entry

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    Some of the front view

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    The Severn valley railway behind us

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    Sort of our view of the river ( not my picture. I don't seem to have one) the river and hills beyond were our view not this angle.
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    Maureen and Bob. Sadly both now deceased, bought the other one and we remained firm friends forever xx

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    Eventually ( after battles with the council ) we got it into shape a bit

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    TO BE CONTINUED... when I feel like writing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
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  2. Great story Malc but get to the most important bit, how was the fishing??
     
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  3. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    Brilliant. Barbel city. I’ll tell you about that as I continue the story!
     
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  4. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    Hawkesbatch was our stretch that we had rights of 2 mile on

    upload_2019-4-5_16-15-12.jpeg

    Google it Bazza.
     
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  5. Love it Malc
     
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  6. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    Thanks Nick. It was a great adventure, I will tell more in time :thumbsup:
     
  7. Looks like it’s run by the Kidderminster and district AA these days
     
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  8. Your stories are a fantastic read cant wait for part 2 :thumbsup:
     
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  9. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    Yes, it could be, but back then the 100 cabin owners had rights to a good stretch of it. In fact the whole place was developed by wealthy Birmingham people that came down on the train to fish the Severn. They bought plots off the local farmer to build cabins on and came to fish. The upshot of that was, that in 1947 when planning laws were drafted up, they were already built and so inherited residential rights too. This was an important find for those of us living there at one point with the council!
     
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  10. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    Thank you. There is so much more to tell about that place :)
     
  11. Hurry up then ;)
     
  12. yeah, get on with it! :D
     
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  13. Did you fish it? What size barbel ? Chub?
     
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  14. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    We moved in in October 1988. We were 27 and 26 years old and mortgage free, the place we'd bought was in essence a rotting shed with a nice view in a nice location. I had immediately given notice to my long distance lorry driving job and taken a day job with Cow and gate as a relief driver, Lou had finished work as a manager at kwiksave and taken a job locally in a garage. We had the winter coming, we were without running water, an indoor loo and any decent heating, the roof leaked, the walls were draughty and the floor was infested and rotten. There was a family of squirrels living under the bedroom floor, a colony of bats in the roof and a mouse we called ' Mr rich tea that stole one rich tea biscuit every night from our single less than hygenic kitchen cupboard.

    The week we had to clear the place out was taken up with us having lots of bonfires in the garden and burning furniture that even Drew Pritchard wouldn't take. The carpets such as they were had pretty much disintergrated into dust. My family came to help and by Friday we'd painted and cleaned until our hands were numb. The place was just about habitable. Cold, damp and infested, but just about habitable.

    That day we signed over our old house to the new owners and arranged a withdrawal of the remaining balance on our new home. We fretted all night with a Sainsbury's carrier bag full of cash under our pillow.

    We saw the pity on our friends faces when they visited. Lou's dad said we'd gone nutty and said in his comical Italian accent that he would not pay one penny for it or any one of them . Ironically, he loved fishing and a few years later he was prepared to cough up £60k for a doer upper :confused:

    Our plan was simple. we would install a water supply from the standpipe in the field, get my brother in law to fit a calor gas central heating system to get us through the winter, and in the spring after seeing the planning office build around the existing building and knock the old building down from the inside. Actually, this all happened to plan, the only thing I'd forgotten was sewage and plumbing waste. This was overcome by digging a very basic well like system with a gravel bottom that became our cess pit, a proper non detergent system . It was a system I'd seen working well in Italy and read about being used for years in this country. It worked so well I was asked to build similar systems for our neighbours. Another income that was handy.

    Anyhow, that first winter was cold, the temperatures throughout December January and February seldom got above freezing. Four days a week I drove trucks the rest I dug footings and cesspits, built a bathroom and heating sytem, dug a half mile long trench across the field to a standpipe and connected our cabin to mains water for the first time in it's nigh on 100 year life. It was an occasion. We actually had a water connection party.

    The council planners were less than helpful. They viewed the buildings as eyesores, a blot on the greenery, and became the bureau of misinformation: in our minds. We had to learn things and go armed with full facts when we met them. The fact was, we weren't doing anything wrong in wanting to improve our property, they just had a dim view of the area as they knew once more people moved there they would have to provide services. There was nothing they could do to stop it, but they proved very difficult.

    However, they eventually granted me permission to renovate my home. We set about digging footings beneath the existing sheds, and then building the outside wall up from there against the existing wooden walls. when they were built we then knocked down the inner walls and built new inner walls. We suspended a new roof on top of the old roof and built the walls up to it. The central heating was built onto remaining inner walls that were renovated and not disturbed during the new build process. This was a godsend because otherwise we may have froze to death that winter.

    If you look carefully at the renovated picture in the first post, you can see where the awkward council had allowed me to renovate all the outside walls bar the actual front aspect. the new block wall overlaps the lefthand window. They did let me put in a patio window and door, but not brick the wall up :confused:

    In the meantime we learned a bit more about the place and the wealthy inhabitants that still owned a lot of them, we learned of a court case where the council decided to compulsory purchase them in the 50's and knock them down, we heard about the owners simply getting together, employing a London barrister and wiping the floor with the council. They remained, the council retreated.

    We met some of the more down to earth locals that winter too.

    Tom the local builder's Staffy bull terrier ate our cat flap to get at our dog Lady who was in season. He literally ate the cat flap and it's surround. He drove Tom mad and we met in the lane, he looking for his dog, me holding his dog in one hand and the remains of a cat flap in the other. Tom was the most genial, bearded giant of a builder ever, we became firm friends from that day on, his grandson is in Will's rugby team. Tom loved to fish, he was a builder, but he loved to fish, his unofficial title locally was 'gone fishing' It wasn't unusual for locals to answer people that employed Tom to build for them and be consistently late by humming or singing Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong's song- Gone fishing, there's a sign upon the door... His smile, laughter and warmth, made you forgive him for never turning up, and even his dog eating your back door!

    Another neighbour was old Frank, a know it all Yorkshireman ( sorry Yorkshire folk, I know there's only the odd few like him really ) who was very good at DIY, and carpentry in particular. He taught me a lot when he wasn't getting on my nerves. Frank would say "Hail fellow, ill met" I never did understand what he meant, he never liked anyone.

    Slowly but surely that winter we set the foundations for the spring build, we had meetings on site with planners, meetings off site with planners and by March were sick to death of their antics. We knew we were perfectly within our rights to clad the build if that is how we chose to describe it, and just got on with it.

    Afterwards we heard nothing from them and threw a party.

    Our only form of heat for a month or two

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    The cesspit
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    The process. outer wall built up outer wall. You get the gist.
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    We were happy when we'd got past the bureau of misinformation

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    Our parties were good odd!

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    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
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  15. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    Dan my nephew had a fourteen pound barble one night, my best was 8lb and a net of 100lb in a day. barbel. chub up to 4lb.
     
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  16. This is a great story,please continue.
     
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  17. It's from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
    When Oberon meets Titania in the woods- they are feuding fairies and their fights control the weather - Oberon says "Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania." meaning it's not nice to meet you. :confused:
     
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  18. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    I will in time. Thanks :thumbsup:
     
  19. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    I absolutely love Will's MSND, I saw it last in Ludlow castle grounds. :)
     
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  20. That’s great :)
     
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