My C.V. looks like a bit of a disaster to some I suppose. In my time - bear with me - to earn a living i've processed housing benefit claims, worked in a cafe, delivered papers, spied on tax evaders, picked advocados, prepared meals for a kibbutz, produced oil drums, lead paying groups through the wilds of Asia, laboured on a building site in Greece, sold carpets to tourists in Marmaris, been a waiter, worked for adventure tour operators and, latterly, i've been cleaning windows. Not bad going, and believe it or not there was a logical path to all this.
I guess the story starts from when I was working as Product Manager for one of the UK's leading adventure tour operators. A girl in the office had an allotment and I suggested to my wife, Louise, perhaps we should get one. This was in the days before it was fashionable, and I just fancied growing veggies. Louise humoured me and we started digging and planting. It was a revelation! The stuff that came out of the earth, it was unbelievable! I remember going down to water one evening after work and troughing away on peas. I couldn't stop, they were delicious. When we moved (we were in Alton, Hants) to Petersfield we had to give it up, but we got another on one of the Petersfield sites.
It seemed a logical step to me to get a couple of chickens so we bought some from a local supplier and joined the right-on sounding East Hampshire Self Sufficiency Group. It was brilliant - some great people who were really as you'd imagine such Good Lifers would be - loads of knitwear, slightly eccentric, friendly and full of advice. Mmmh, seeds were being sown.
I was becoming increasingly disillusioned with my day job - by now i'd moved to another company and it was well-paid, but stressful. Was it worth the money I began to ask myself. Louise too was having a few issues. The company she loved working for went into administration and she was working as a PA, not really enjoying it. Perhaps it was time for a complete change in lifestyle. It was 2003 (I think) and we were starting to think of a moved to a place with some land.
We figured that we wanted to grow our own veggies and meat. To this end we needed some experience, so we toyed with the idea of getting some sheep, but where to keep them? The Self-Sufficiency Group came up trumps - we met Judith and Chris Wright who had 5 acres and needed some more sheep to go with theirs, to keep the grass down. After a meeting with them at their smallholding they said we could put some sheep on their land and so, we did!
This was the start of our apprenticeship into smallholding. To come - we lamb for the first time, fly-strike, we sell up (or do we!) a move to Wales in the snow...