Grand Designs – Ed and Rowena

I’m buggering off in a minute to try and win a weekend learning to bake artisan bread by doing a crossword.  This is the sort of out and out craziness that happens when you send a Boo on holiday.  Artisan breadmaking courses one day, conquering the Marches the next.  It’s all go here.

Before I do this thing I shall share with you my thoughts on last week’s episode of Grand Designs.

This series of Grand Designs is inspired. Just inspired.  I don’t know whether it’s because Kevin is getting more fussy about who he has on, or whether people have less money and so are having to be more creative about what they build and how they build it, but there hasn’t been a house so far I would not have lived in.  Usually I covet about one house per series.  This time I am hard pushed to choose between them.

Luckily for me, the house that was the subject of last week’s episode is not finished yet, so I don’t have to make my mind up right now. Although judging from the way it is going I will love it dearly.

It is being built in Herefordshire, which is the temporary headquarters of Boo Towers for the next week. I have been scanning the hillsides as we zoom about, in the hope that we will see it, and we can accidentally on purpose break down and go and have a proper look at things while they help us fix our car.  I have it all planned.

Truly though, there is no rush. If the house gets finished within the next two years it will be a miracle.

Normally this kind of thing sends Kevin scatty.  He has a small tuft of hair at the front of his head.  Usually it makes him look a bit Tin Tin ish.  When he starts getting alarmed on a build, it sort of bridles in a cockatoo type way and you know disaster is on the horizon.

Despite the fact that Kevin first met the builders, Rowena and Ed in 2007, and his last visit to their site was about two weeks ago, his poll did not ruffle once.  Even though they only had one huge window installed, and the walls looked, at best, bohemian, while the roof was a vague outline.

You would have thought Kevin would have been running around, poll waving, arms flapping, generally doing all Rowena and Ed’s worrying for them.  But no.  Rowena and Ed do not do worrying.  Rowena and Ed do a kind of zen like calm in the face of whatever life throws at them, and it seemed to be infectious.

I was envious.  I would love to feel that chilled in the face of adversity.  It wasn’t as if they even thought of what they were doing in terms of adversity, that was the amazing thing.  If it took Ed six months to carve the parabola shape he had created as a window frame, then so be it.  If he lost his job, it didn’t matter. If he found another one, it didn’t matter.

The house was not really planned. It was more organic than that.  Ed made sketches of what he wanted. Then he went about working out how to achieve those things in a way that meant his house would not blow down in the first strong wind.  He wasn’t much of a fan of straight lines, so he didn’t have many. If he wanted an unusual shaped window he just designed one, built a prototype and then played with it until he got it right.  What he will end up with, if things go well, is a kind of adult sized hobbit hole, nestling into the hillside.

You can see pictures of it here.

I loved this.

It is however, highly impractical if you are not Ed, and not gifted with tools and woodworking and engineering.  If it were left to me, the story would have been much sadder, much shorter, and had much more blood in it.  I am just not that gifted, but I do applaud people who are.

While Ed was whittling the house of their dreams, Rowena plodded about on their small holding, being supportive, living in a series of sheds without complaining and raising their four children in a manner I might call saintly, were it not quite derogatory sounding.

As we were watching, Jason looked at me and said: ‘You love all this don’t you?’

‘All what?’

‘All this hippy, dippy shit?’

I confessed that I did.  He sniffed and said:

‘You’d last five minutes before you were begging me for a trip to Starbucks.’

I denied this hotly.  I like to imagine myself as a salt of the earth woman with horny handed man of the soil skills and a deep attraction to a simpler way of life.  I picture myself milking goats, and wandering round with a trug full of freshly pulled carrots.

Looking a bit like Felicity Kendall in The Good Life.

I savoured this image as my eyes flashed daggers at Jason.

Then I woke up to myself, snuggled into my wifi and acknowledged that I couldn’t do what Ed and Rowena are doing in a million, billion years. Or unless it was that or fight Tina Turner in Thunderdome for my survival.

I would always have been Margot in The Good Life. Always.

Still, it doesn’t mean I cannot applaud others for their Felicity Kendallness.

Ed and Rowena, I salute you.

10 responses to “Grand Designs – Ed and Rowena

  1. I pulled fresh parsnip and carrot out of the garden today to have with lunch!

  2. Lizzie
    save me a carrot.x

  3. I could live there – although I would need a proper gardener to make it really work 😉 Not sure BB would like it, a bit too organic and woody for his taste, we’ll find out when the current series makes its way to a screen in our house.

  4. Sharon, I’m sure Ed and Rowena might stay on as caretakers. They had donkeys and pigs and sheep. Someone needs to tend the flocks.

  5. just watched here in australia, I loved Ed and his ability to draw people into his dream.The missus deserves a sainthood, and I just wish some one could keel over and leave$ 50k to finish the bloody thing.
    You are right Kmac is embracing the more purist form of building,instead of following some yuppie wanker building his eyesore in the bucolic landscape
    of wales/dartmoor!
    loved your blog.

  6. loved watching the kids grow up,do you think home schooled?

  7. I say get in your car katyboo1, and search for it curiosty is killing the australian would love to it now. Good on them and that woman is very special, although they said it wasnt there main concern just let her husband follow his dream, poor kids is what I say.

  8. Great writing! I just watched a repeat of that episode, what a beautiful family.

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