The next stage of our lives in the lane. The lane wasn’t everyone’s idea of heaven. Some of our social climbing type friends were appalled by the place. They genuinely thought we had lost the plot, we were often fending off severe questioning about our life choice. Did we think we could ever sell it when we came back to civilisation, what about getting to the Doctor in an emergency, what if one was to set alight; wouldn’t they all go up, how did we cope without street lighting and would the police respond to an incident in such a remote place. People were genuinely concerned for our welfare. We were only two mile from town for god sake, not the outer Hebrides or Alaska! We were actually living in a place that was peaceful secure and beautiful, our lives were far and above better than the life they lead, the lane went nowhere other than to a dead end, we had zero traffic and the pace of life was such that we had time for our friends and neighbours, even if they had all the trappings of modern life! Those friends never really got it! What we had done inadvertently was to encourage others to update their properties. Being so close to the lane people saw clearly the build and even eavesdropped on our site meetings with the council guys. This in turn prompted them to have a go at sorting things they had been misguidedly advised by other locals could not be done to the cabins. Obviously there was a vested interest from the old owners to keep them as was, but times were moving on people were passing away and the properties sold on by sons and daughters that had no interest in the lane. The new owners like us simply wanted to make them more liveable so that they could maintain them easily and enjoy the surroundings. The upshot of this was I got approached by people for advice on dealing with planners and what they could or couldn’t do without consulting the council. Oddly back then there was an awful lot they could do without seeking consent. For example, they could renew the footings and base. They could replace all the external walls, they were quite within their rights to renew the roof, the wiring, the plumbing and their gardens. What’s more, they could all have water connected for a very moderate fee. In essence the whole property could be renewed so long as it was treated as restoration work, but any enlargement had to go through planning, and that was an whole different scenario. In 1993 Lou and I had our first child on the way. A cause for great celebration. We had thought through tests that we couldn’t have them so had bought our first new car, new three piece suite and booked a month long holiday in Italy. The news was fantastic, I’m not saying we weren’t a little bit wowed by the news and didn’t have moments of thinking ‘ is this really happening and the like, but we were overjoyed. However, the reality was, our little bungalow wasn’t really big enough for a growing family, yes it was fine while he waas little, but as he grew he’d need his own space and bedroom. We could divide ours into two, but that would be a bit intimate and not to mention claustrophobic. We had to think this through again! We’d got our place just right for us by then. We had finished the interior that seemed to take forever after the initial build. The garden was finished, we had two drives, one in the meadow for summer use and a nice accessible drive with a car port off the lane for winter use, the back of the house had been improved where once we thought the road might collapse into us we now had a fully repaired and tidy retainer wall. The gas tank had been installed and I had a shed. On our days off our main hobby was gardening while drinking wine and looking out over the view ( Also we had taken our first tentative steps into property development, but that’s a different story for another day entirely ) We knew this was to change, but weren’t quite sure how, did we stay there and extend the place somehow or did we listen to our friends and go back to ( civilisation)? I had a plan, but it meant dealing with the council again. Urgh!