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The Belchalwell Bugle

09/08/2012, 11:16

After a month of being too idle to blog it is time to get back to the discipline of uploading my thoughts.  Hence the new title, which sounds a little more punchy and will hopefully enthuse me.  I have been berated by my internet guru for not not posting every week, it is easy to get out of the habit and  I must admit to not being that keen in the first place but she assured me that it was either this or Facebook or Twitter if I want to keep the site ‘active’ – the least of three evils!  Even as I write I wonder why anyone would want to read my ramblings.

As in all new enterprises, especially where there is no competition in the area, it takes time to get going and one has to be alert to every opportunity to promote the business.  This means time spent visiting and talking to anyone who may be able to help or give a lead.  I have been out on the road with the flyers, agents, schools, pubs, hotels etc, etc.  So far the best response has come from those kindly displayed by Simon Harvell, the award winning butcher in Iwerne Minster.  Then there are press releases to prepare and decisions as to whether and where to advertise.  On top of this is the realisation that being one’s own secretary is not as easy as one imagined, yet alone coping with technology!

Then there is the gardening and handyman jobs as well as ‘life on the farm’.  As feared the cows have failed to produce, which is a blow but the lambs are fattening nicely and the first hatch are begining to lay.  The vegetable garden has been disappointing and only one apple tree has fruited and the pears, plums and greengages do not look as if they are going to ripen.  On a serious note yields are right down for arable farmers and we need more sun badly.

As the economy continues to stutter and the politicians squable over unworkable plans for reforming the House of Lords, the only bright start in the firmament is the Olympics.  It shows that we can do, so the plea to those in power is unshackle us from mindless regulation, be it ours or Europe’s so that we can hold our heads high in the world again for longer than two weeks.

An interesting new job

08/08/2012, 13:56

Some clients have purchased a farm which has two dwellings, some holiday lets as well as traditional and modern outbuildings.  They were away on the day of completion so I was there to ensure that all was left in good order, to read the meters and to collect the keys and check that they were all there and corresponded with what was on the tags, that took a bit of time!  A few days later I met the clients to hand over and go through the services as well as give my thoughts on the myriad of tasks ahead.  The main house requires a thorough overhaul, one of the holiday lets, a ‘modern’ granary, needs to be moved and the accesses and boundaries between the various entities need to be sorted out and that is just the beginning of the project.  They are very knowledgeable and will be able to manage most aspects without any help but that is how it should be – The Country Concierge is completely flexible in how we operate, each client will want to use us in a different way and in varying degrees.

Some other clients wanted advice on works they were proposing to do to their dining room; they are proposing to install a wall of folding glass doors to transform it into an ‘indoor/outdoor’ room opening onto the courtyard.  As well as practical advice on this matter there were questions about the new colour scheme and even did I know of a good upholsterer, which I did!

These two examples have made me think about adding a new service to the ‘menu’, House Doctoring.  I have seen enough houses in my time to have a good idea not only of what will work but also what will add value and feel that there is a niche between the estate agent and the architect for some knowledgeable, independent advice.  An objective second opinion can be very useful.

A kick start

08/07/2012, 23:42

Although not quite what I was hoping for……

One moment happily grooming the horse, the next flat on my back having received a kick on the knee followed by one on the head. To be fair to him he spooked at something, leapt in the air, with all four legs going in different directions and unluckily I caught two of them; if he had meant it I doubt that I would be in a fit state to write this now. Result, a trip in the Air Ambulance to Dorchester and eleven stitches in the top of my head – a lucky escape. The treatment I received was first class and I was home that afternoon.  The Air Ambulance was with us within five minutes, it is a marvellous service and entirely funded by donation, anyone of us could need it at any time, please support it wherever you are.

This somewhat curtailed work for a few days but I am back on the road again.  I even manage to meet a client of three months, for whom I look after a private rented estate; it is nice to see the face and to understand exactly the parameters of the job. I also managed an afternoon out delivering flyers and passing the word. The response has been very encouraging but the proof of the pudding…..

Well the ‘Masters of the Universe’ have been dominating the headlines somewhat, perhaps Heath was right when he said that ‘the City was the unacceptable face of capitalism’, everyone has to get something right.  Born of the Big Bang and nurtured by the last government’s ‘light touch’, we seem set on our own bonfire.  Whilst I fully agree that those culpable should be punished and hard there are many good and honourable people in the City and we should beware of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

As for Euroland, another summit, more promises, they looked quite promising until you read the small print. Think of how much they must have spent, I think that the Greeks could have made better use of the money!  I think that they need a new name – the Nero’s.  



Well here we go…

27/06/2012, 16:36

Well here we go, all appears to be up and running and I am busy e-mailing links and tearing round the countryside with my flyers spreading the word and trying to ensure that they are prominently displayed.

As in all things it takes somewhat longer than you imagine to get everything set up but everyone said to wait before launching and frustrating as it was, I am sure the advice was right. A lot has happened over those five months beyond the interminable agonizing over layout, text, photographs etc etc…

At home, on the ‘farm’, there has been birth and death; lambing and chicks hatching and we wait to see if the cows are going to produce, they had a different bull last year and we are not convinced. A new pony has arrived for my daughter, almost a dead ringer for the new horse that arrived in January; both are coloured, come from Galway and have duplicate passports with no parental information!

I have been keeping bread on the table by being a gardener/handyman, which although limited is most enjoyable and it is wonderful to be away from the tyranny of office life. In the last week I have, amongst other things, cleared a clogged up stream, redone some outside woodwork and built a cage for a client’s cabbages. But what I really want to get on with now is The Country Concierge and although I have a good idea of what people are going to want I am prepared for surprises and as long as it is legal….

A regular feature of my blog will be a look at the world about us, the two current big issues are Euroland and House of Lords reform.

The first is hardly current, it’s the slowest car crash in history and many wiser people than I have seen it coming, Enoch Powell and Charles Moore to name just two. What I do not understand is how anyone with the semblance of a brain can ever have thought that it could work. Even with full political union it can never become The United States, the ability to set your own sales tax is not going to stop unrest in the streets of the Mediterranean nations as they are squeezed still harder by a German dominated north.

As for the House of Lords, ever since the previous government started tinkering with constitution (without any thought given to the consequences) things have started to unravel and wonderful as it would be to wind the clock back it isn’t going to happen. What next? Given that the devolution genie is out of the bottle and the devolved assemblies will inevitably want more power perhaps we should go the whole hog and look at the House of Lords becoming the parliament of the whole Kingdom, with the House of Commons becoming the English Parliament.

Why we started The Country Concierge?

13/06/2012, 11:50

Over the last fifteen years as an estate agent I have watched many people arrive in the country and whilst many have settled in smoothly for others the move has been more of a challenge than they expected.  Some have arrived full time, others as weekenders, with many still working/earning their living elsewhere, be it in London or even the other side of the world.

The lucky few arrive with a network of friends and contacts who can point them in the right direction… others are not so fortunate.

There are so many things involved in running a house in the country and they all take time, as well as knowledge and it is easy to spend your weekend organising and doing rather than enjoying.

So would you like to come down on a Friday night to find the fire lit, flowers in the hall, a casserole in the oven and wine in the fridge?

That is just the beginning, at The Country Concierge we offer a bespoke and personal service tailored to your requirements that will let you enjoy you home in the country to the full.


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