Blog moved to here, the story so far.

Berry Brook Blog


The first Slideshow

or try Format 2 or in Quicktime

made using Microsoft Photostory 3


The second Slideshow

made using Canopus PhotoAlbum


The third Slideshow

made using Canopus Imaginate


The fourth Slideshow

made using Flash, click on the arrows to go forward or backwards.


A page of Pictures for those who don’t like movies



Thursday 17th February

I phoned our solicitors and all systems go, our buyers have paid their deposit to us, we have paid ours to Farmer Joe and the date is set for Friday 25th February.


Tuesday 15th February

We got a call yesterday from our solicitors, everything seems to be progressing and we went in to see him today and signed our contracts… it’s getting close.


Monday 14th February

As a treat we went over to the house again today, I had to finish mucking the fruit trees. On the way we popped into Dobbies the garden centre and I bought Jo a red rose bush as a Valentine’s present. We decided to plant that outside the Kitchen window, so we would be able to see it when we are in the kitchen.


Saturday 12th February

Nothing much has still happened….. except…. Our buyer is back off holiday, the electrician’s report has been received, but the tree surgeon’s report hadn’t. Our buyer phoned him and tasked when it would be ready, he said Friday, she said no good, everything was held up because of this, it needed to be done today -Wednesday – He said OK, he’d do it and fax it direct to the solicitor. Thursday, no report, Friday no report, she phones him again and he says it’s gone. She phones the solicitors and as she is on the line the fax with the report starts coming through. So, as long as everything is alright, the mortgage company will release the money and we should be moving soon. We are hoping for Friday 18th or maybe Monday 21st February.

Today we are popping over to the new house as Farmer Joe wants to show me how to fertilise the Fruit trees, or in other words, shovel the horse muck from the heap to under the trees, it sounds awful, but I’m really enjoying it, and looking forward to doing it, even though it is blowing a gale and pouring with rain. I doubt there will be any pictures of this, but you never know.


Saturday 29th January 2005

Well not much happened this week. We are awaiting the return from holiday of our buyers and cannot do anything until then, so all I’ve really done is check up on house insurance, but it can’t be done on-line as the amount it needs to be insured for is more than they will accept, so I have to phone them all up. Quotes so far vary from £974 to £2,500 !!


Thursday 20th January 2005

Well, we had got on well with our work, so we decided we’d go and see Farmer Joe and Maureen. They had said we could go over to learn how to service the Rayburn, so whilst I took that apart with Framer Joe, Jo and Maureen went through cleaning out the multi fuel burner in the lounge and how to set and light it. In no time at all, Jo had a roaring fire going. Whereas, I was having great difficulty getting the boiler part of the Rayburn to light up again, after taking it apart, cleaning it all and putting new wicks in. I tried and tried, but the Oil fired wicks would not light. Farmer Joe tried and tried and he couldn’t get the wicks to light. After about 3/4 of an hour, and in this time Farmer Joe had had a beer and Jo and I had a coffee, we decided to take it all apart again. Which I did and put it all back in again, all seemed well. Farmer Joe then decided to show me how all the controls on the side worked anyway, saying that he’d have to call in a service engineer to look at it. Then while showing me which knobs turned what on, he showed me the fuel cut off switch, which was still turned off. He’d forgotten to mention this, so we had a good laugh, turned it on and waited a few minutes for it to prime, then it lit and we tidied up and then set off back home.

Farmer Joe also mentioned some post had arrived for us earlier in the week, the postman couldn’t fit it in the letterbox, so he’d left it with Farmer Joe, and our very first piece of post in our box was the card the postman had left us. Well, it’s still not really our house, but we hope…….

So, who had sent us this post? Come on, somebody hazard a guess… emails to my normal address, and I’ll give you a clue, it is one of you on the mailing list, someone who has taken a good interest in the house move and should have read the blog…..

See if you can guess from this picture

The tree surgeon came to dig his hole today. We thought he’d do it close to the tree, but it was in fact about 10 yards from the tree, quite close to the front of the house, still he sounded like he knew what he was doing.


Monday 17th January 2005

Today started well, we are both feeling better, not well, but better anyhow. Late morning we had a phone call from our buyers to say that they had received their mortgage offer and all was ok, so we should be completing in the next week. We were both on a high for most of the day, until we had another call from them later in the afternoon to say that the mortgage offer included some conditions, the main ones being that they had to have a tree surgeons report on the Beech Tree next to the garage and the electrics needed testing and until these reports were with them they could not lend.

Why oh why can’t mortgage companies work like any ordinary person, you know, if they need information they ask for it at an early stage of the proceedings, not leaving it until the end of the process. Anyway, the tree surgeon will have a job checking on the Beech Tree, as there is only a Sycamore next to our house !!!

So, we are back feeling down, as it’s going to be at least two weeks until the reports are done and then we have to wait for the mortgage company to get them and approve them. At least our buyer is quick off the mark, as an hour late they had called us and let us know we should be expecting both workers some time this week and could we help them if needed.



Sunday 16th January 2005

Today was the first day for over a week that I felt like getting out of bed and doing something, so we packed the last two Xmas trees we bought from Tesco’s in the sale on Xmas day, and set off for the new house and planted the trees and took some more pictures, which you can view in the second slideshow. The sun was out and the place looked great. Farmer Joe has eventually sold the pool table from the house and it has been collected, so we saw the lounge in all it’s glory for the first time today, it’s big.

I followed this with going to see Alex play football for Norton Canes U17 FC. They are not the best team in the league, but some of them really try hard and ut’s nice to help them enjoy themselves. Today we played Stafford Rangers, at home. We only lost 8-0, which is quite an achievement, as we lost the away tie 17-0.



Friday 14th January 2005

Well this week has flown by, mainly because we have both had this cold bug going around and spent most of the week in bed.

The weeks news in brief.

I’ve not heard back from the second interview I went to on Monday, but he did say it might go into next week.

Jo got offered some work in Jersey, she is so busy she’s not sure whether to take it or not, so has asked them to move it to a quieter time for her and we are waiting to hear back from them. It’s good money with all expenses paid, for 2 days at a time 3 or 4 times a year.

Kept calling our mortgage advisor, solicitors, estate agents for news and to try and speed them up, but to no avail, they have one pace which is dead slow. Everything is sorted on our side, but why nothing has happened we didn’t know until we had a call this morning from Farmer Joe, to say he had got his contract, had signed it and was going to send it back later. It is getting closer. Maureen, one of our buyers, came to see us today for a chat. They have been having as much trouble as us. It is worse for them though, as her Daughter and Son in Law are now in Dubai for two years and all the documents she cannot sign for have to be couriered over to there for them. Yesterday we went over to Berry Brook, as we were both feeling a little better and thought some fresh air would help us. So we took two of the Xmas trees over and planted one in between the drive and the moat, that should stop people parking in the moat at night! The other is at the beginning of the Orchard and driveway, so will make a nice welcome to us and our friends when we drive down to the house. Hopefully they will grow and next christmas will be decorated.



Saturday 8th January 2005

Still feeling rough, so we aren’t visiting Farmer Joe today, it wouldn’t be fair to give it to him.



Friday 7th January 2005

Just as I was about to leave the door for my second interview, I get a call from the recruitment consultant to say the Area Manager is still ill and so could I make Monday instead. It’s take my suit back off and slobs back on and do a bit of work on the web movies for the school, but my cold is getting the better of me, so I spend most of the day sleeping.



Thursday 6th January 2005

Well, still not heard from our agents. Will have to give them a call later, but no time this morning, as I have a job interview at 11.00am in Derby.

This went very well, the Area Manager who was supposed to be interviewing me has got the same cold as us and was off ill, so I saw the Regional Administrator. We got on well, and after an hour, she asked me to come back on Friday to meet the Area Manager and discuss the opportunities available as there are several. Sounds good!!

On the way home I called in on our agents, funny she said she was just about to call us. Our buyers are still waiting for their mortgage offer, and unfortunately the Mother couldn’t give our agents any info as the family are now in Dubai, and took all the paperwork.



Wednesday 5th January 2005

As our mortgage is sorted, we called our Selling agents and asked how our purchasers are getting on. They had just got back to work, having finished on 22nd December. She said she would ring them to find out.



Tuesday 4th January 2005

We should have received our mortgage offer by now. After the post arrived and still no letter from them, I decided to call them to find out why. As usual you get a person who reads the information off a computer screen and doesn’t know much about the individual cases.

After introducing myself, giving all the security data, he read off our details.

We are still waiting for the Specialist Historic Buildings Surveyors report.
We sent that to you in November.
Well we haven’t received it.
You must have you have replied to it several times.
No we don’t have it, when did you send it.
Well we had a reply from you on 3rd December referring to it, we then had to get a schedule of works, a recommended builders quote for the works, which we did and sent on to you.
Yes we have all of those, but not the Report. Wait a minute, all of those refer to the Engineers report.
Yes, that’s right, we couldn’t find a Chartered Surveyor, so we asked you to recommend one and you said use this person, he was the Chartered Engineer.
Ah, well we know need a Specialist Historic Buildings Surveyors report.
But we couldn’t find one and you said use the engineer.
I’m sorry, but the underwriters have said they want the Specialist Historic Buildings Surveyors report before lending.
But we can’t find one.
I’m sorry, but the underwriters have said they want the Specialist Historic Buildings Surveyors report before lending.

At this point I said goodbye, before I said something I’d regret.

I immediately phoned our Financial Advisor, he’s supposed to be sorting it, so it can go back in his court. Pat’s a nice bloke and was amazed at the story I related to him and said he would phone the team leader as soon as he put the phone down on me and let us know as soon as he got an answer.

A couple of hours later, Pat phoned back to say there had been a clerical error and our mortgage offer would be coming out in the next few days. Thank goodness, Jo’s been in a terrible state all day and I’ve not been in too good a mood and neither of us has done much work during the day and feel like we have the cold bug going around coming on.

At 5.30pm the phone rang and it was Pat, calling from his mobile as our mortgage offer was coming in by fax as he spoke. They must have felt guilty and put ours on the top of the pile.


Bits missing here, being filled in as and when!!


The Monday in September, following the offer.

We thought we might have heard something from the agents for the new house early on, and as we were both so excited we couldn’t wait any longer and phoned them to make sure they had got the offer. I was told that they don’t have the internet at the office, and it isn’t checked that regularly anyway. A little miffed, I said I would drop an offer in, as we had been told on Sunday, that Farmer Joe, was going to make a decision today.

I quickly printed it out and set off to Penkridge, not too far. In order to make a good impression I donned my suit and took my briefcase with all the documents in. I had about a twenty minute chat with the agent, who seemed quite impressed with out offer and said he would relay it to Farmer Joe.

Later in the day, the agent called to say that Farmer Joe would like to meet us again, have another chat and discuss with us the extra land we had asked to buy. No time like the present I said, so we went as soon as Jo had got back from work that evening.

We had another great chat, with Farmer Joe, who started to give us some of the history of the building and surrounding area. We went outside and had a walk around the paddock and we discussed our request for buying more land. He said he wasn’t interested in selling the land at the moment and would be more prepared to accept an offer based on no extra land requirements. He was, though, prepared to square off the paddock at no extra charge.

It was during this discussion that we met his new partner Maureen and discovered he has most interested in vetting the new buyers, as he had moved in to one of the barns on the farmyard and wanted to have nice neighbours.

We shook hands and left on cloud nine, we were now hoping we would be in before Christmas.



The sunday in September, following the first viewing.

We formulated an offer. The agents told us he was looking for a quick sale, and would be interested in selling some of the land and gave us an idea of the sort of price to offer for this.

It took nearly all day to write a one page A4 offer, it got changed so much.

Taking in to account our discussion with Farmer Joe and the agents, we in the end decided to offer the asking price, to include a small extra piece of land, which would square up the boundaries and also make an offer on an extra couple of acres. This bit was my decision, as Jo was happy with what was on offer. I was a little afraid of the rest of the land being sold off for building, so wanted to try to ensure there was plenty of land around us to not worry about that. Farmer Joe had told us that the land was green belt and shouldn’t be built on though.

Click here for a sketch of the land.


The offer was then emailed to the selling agents.



The first viewing, a Saturday in September.

Neither of us slept well with the excitement, and we left in good time and arrived at the house early. It has a very long driveway, and the first view is……..Oh Yes..

There is an old man putting up a handrail by some steps, we say hello and introduce ourselves. He then takes us around the house and we have a real good chat as we tour the property. Luckily the weather is too bad so we can do the outside as well. We spend nearly an hour there, talking for most of it, as Farmer Joe, as we now call him, explained some things. Such as, he has kept ownership of some of the moat, as that controls the flow of water from the brook and overspill from the farm. He though people may want to fill in the moat. In horror, we say we couldn’t think why anybody would want to do such a thing, as we love water and the ideal would be to have a small stream running through the grounds. Farmer Joe, says that is also his ideal.

He also said that the land just the other side of the moat on the West side was the purchasers, to include the hardwood trees, but these could be cut down if we wanted to plant things like conifers to give all year round privacy. Astounded we could think why anyone would want to do that, besides the nearest houses that way are a good few hundred metres.

He told us about his wife, she had died 12 years previously, and for 23 years before that had suffered with Alzheimer’s, so only necessary work had been done to the house, no more decorating or general improvements of things like the kitchen, which certainly shows its age. We had started to bond.

We left the house so excited, we couldn’t believe it was selling at the price it was, that it was in such good condition for it’s age and was coming with approximately 1 1/2 acres of land.

Now the details I had printed off the internet said it included 10+ acres, but Farmer Joe said the rest of the land was by negotiation. So after leaving the house we decided to go to the selling agents and see what the score was. On getting there we found the internet pages had not been updated from when the house was put up for auction, so we picked up a correct set and asked what offers etc had been put in, they said that offers were already in, and on pushing told us that nobody had offered more than the asking price.

Happy, we set off home and Jo was to make a detailed plan of our finances to see whether we could actually afford it, as it was slightly over our top end figure.

By Saturday night, it was decided that if I had not got DVDs 2 Treasure Ltd up and producing a regular income, I would have to get a job. We could afford the house, but wouldn’t be able to do anything to it otherwise.


Way back in the past.

It all started way back, just before we got married, when a little cottage on the edge of Cannock Chase came up for sale. To save me re-writing it all, see the wedding journal for more info.

As you know, this move fell through and we went on our honeymoon. On returning to this country, we thought about what we wanted to do, I voted for moving still and Jo had a new car, a nice moonstone blue 206cc, see a picture. Not too worry, one day I’m sure I’ll get my way!.

Following on from this, I sold my shop in Lichfield and set up a new business, DVDs 2 Treasure Ltd, doing video work Jo, having had enough of working for her new boss – long story which will be added sometime – also decided to leave her work and set up her own company, Talk Tuition Ltd, and became a freelance lecturer in Tax and Law and a writer of material for various companies on the same subjects. This worked out very well for her, as she had a big writing contract to start, followed by so many teaching days she was having to turn some down!

To get back on track….. The sale of my shop gave us some capital to again look at moving house. The fact we are both working from home meant we could live anywhere with good commuter links to B’ham/London and Bristol, as that is where Jo does most of her lecturing. After looking through many maps and eons on the internet, we decided we could not afford something close to where we are now – Rugeley – and picked the Forest of Dean to be our new home. This offered excellent train and car links and house prices meaning we could get a reasonably large house and a small amount of land to go with it.

We then spent time going through the internet looking at house details, making phone calls and traveling down several times. All with no joy and after about 4 months of looking we decided we may have to extend our area and looked a little further away. This was when it all started getting interesting.

Jo was working in Birmingham and was going out for a meal with the Girls, leaving me with nothing better to do than continue our search for houses to look at. I still searched the local papers, just in case, and there jumping right out at me, was an advert for Berry Brook House.

The advert was – Spacious detached period house, partially moated but in need of renovation, providing three reception rooms, farmhouse kitchen, utility, three large double bedrooms and bathroom. Lawned gardens, orchard and paddock.

Price £125,000.

Now, I thought I remembered seeing this house previously and it was much more expensive, so a quick call to the agents revealed a printing mistake, but it was still within our price range. I phoned Jo at work, she wasn’t quite as excited as me, but I set off to look at it. I could find the for sale sign but not the house, it was well off the road and hidden from view. I phoned Jo again, she was more excited. I phoned the agents and made an appointment to view it the next morning at 10am. I then set off to pick up Jo from work and on our way home we made a detour so I could show her the for sale sign and the track leading to the house. Neither of us had yet seen the property, but we were both so sure this was the one.


Click on this link for a Multimap aerial view

multimap aerial view

Here are the house details from the agent.

Berry Brook House


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