Mark now found himself out of a job and so started pushing a lawnmower and doing garden maintenance. We still had access to the ponds, as his ex partner still owned the farm and wasn’t in a hurry to sell, so Mark still did some work on it in his spare time, breeding a few koi each year.
The garden maintenance turned into garden design and construction, as well as koi pond construction, which in short, resulted in Mark becoming one of the country’s top garden designers, winning several RHS Gold awards for garden design and construction including the top award for water garden design, the Tudor Rose, at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2000.
It was during this period that we started our family with our eldest son being born in 1994 and our second son in 1996.
In 1998 Mark’s ex partner decided he wanted to sell the farm. We couldn’t afford to buy the whole 15 acre site and so bought the 6 acres that contained the main ponds. Now that we owned the site ourselves we decided that we would try and make it a business again.
There was no accommodation on-site and, although we lived in the village by now, we realised, from experience, that there was no way we could successfully run the farm unless we lived there, so we applied for planning permission to live on site.
We now had a six acre field with ponds on it and nothing else, we had no mains electricity, no mains water and no sewage. We had to first build ourselves a 150 metre driveway which had to be 1 metre thick to cope with the water logged nature of the land. Next we had to get mains electricity laid on which cost thousands of pounds, once we had done this we could then construct our living accommodation!
|Our temporary home in 2000 (not quite finished!) whilst we developed the farm.|
We also had to dig a well. Fortunately Mark had perfected the art of dowsing for water with metal rods and was able to find a suitable spot to dig a well for our household use. Now we had water we had to install a sewage treatment plant for the house. Finally, and only once we had done all this, we were able to move in which we did on the 11th December 2000, our youngest son was not quite four years old at the time.