Lights, Camera, Action

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There’s a story about my parents attending my year 4 parents evening.  The new teacher talked about how I was doing with my times tables and spelling tests etc, and then there was a long pause.  “She’s got a very vivid imagination” she said, apparently rather hesitantly.  “She entertains us all with stories of her pretending to play with Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis and Angela Lansbury”.  My...

I wouldn’t want to be in Theresa May’s shoes

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After years of hum-ing and ha-ing I’ve finally retired from mediating.  I still believe mediation is the only way to go for separating couples, it makes sense in every way; it should be cheaper, you keep control of what happens to you and your kids, and at the end of the process you should be proud that you’ve ended your marriage in a civil way.  However, being a mediator is not...

The Best Bits

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  Unlike accountants who have their year end in April, and the rest of the country who have their year end on New Year’s Eve my year end is the day the kids go back to school in September.  Day One, I clear the surfaces in the kitchen of the summer-holiday-detritus-build-up.  Day Two, I tackle the non-urgent emails that have disappeared off the bottom of my screen in my...

Europe – Hoisting my flag to the mast

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A couple of months ago, the French Tricolore flag flew over St Clere during some filming. I felt profoundly uncomfortable; I am proudly, emphatically patriotic when it comes to our nation and St Clere’s place in it. On the day the referendum was announced, I was firmly sitting on the fence. To begin with my only certainty was that we shouldn’t be having a referendum about something as important...

Return on Investment

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It’s often the Ocado drivers who get me thinking.  Apparently the word in the Ocado depot is that I am Bernie Ecclestone’s wife.  I don’t know if anyone has seen Bernie Ecclestone’s wife, but let’s put it this way, I’m taking it as a compliment.  So that’s always the first thing the Ocado drivers say.  The second always starts “You know what you should do here?…..”  So follows a...

Flatpack St Clere

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It’s difficult to describe what it’s like running an estate, I’m drawn towards analogies to help. When my Dad ran St Clere my analogy was that he seemed to manage the whole thing with one finger on the steering wheel of a car with low revs and quality power-steering. When I took over it felt like I was driving the ford escort I inherited from my granny 20 years...

Slowly slowly catch the monkey…

West yaldham

Looking back through my blogs, they seem to be getting more and more gloomy. I am very aware that nobody wants to hear someone as lucky as me complaining non-stop. Therefore back in April I promised myself that I wouldn’t write another blog until I’d cheered up and had something good to report. I haven’t totally cheered up I’m afraid, but I do have something good to report. My...

A bit bruised and battered



It’s been a difficult couple of months.  In retrospect I think I’ve been a bit naive.  When I took over running St Clere I thought the changes I wanted to make would be universally supported because I believed they would benefit all our neighbours.  I wanted to open St Clere up more, to share it’s extraordinary atmosphere.  I wanted to communicate more about St Clere to ensure people understood...

What would I do to keep the roof on?



It was at the public consultation about the solar panels that it happened. A very nice neighbour plucked up courage to ask me whether the rumour she had heard was true: were we putting a static home site on the land at Chart Stud Farm?  After I had checked three times that I had heard correctly, I reassured her that over my dead body would a static home site...

It’s raining inside….



About five years ago, I went to a Historic Houses Association conference about energy use in historic houses.  The key message from the conference was that weather would become more ‘eventful’.  Wetter rain.  Dryer dry spells etc.  Their point was that we should get prepared, belt and braces, investing in the infrastructure necessary to cope with such events.  On an estate like St Clere ‘getting prepared’ takes a huge...