Rowan Farm is being reborn.

Spring growth is setting about smoothing over the mud and mess we made with the build.

The daffodils I planted a few years ago (from bulbs pilfered from my best friend’s wedding) have returned despite our dumper truck’s best efforts to pound them into obliteration.

And there are many other exciting new beginnings here besides the flora.

I have a new man in my life.

Hugo has piercing blue eyes and is an all night party animal.


Mummy’s new man: Hugo, the Sleep Thief

You’d think my fourth baby would have been a doddle.

You’d think by now my womb would be a total pro at this.


But Hugo’s arrival came early, in theatre, via the surgeon’s knife, after slowing movements, being bum down and other complications made me and the doctors a tad jittery about him.

It was decided it was too risky to wait and Hugo was whipped out by an incredible giant of an obstetrician with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.

“I don’t want to see you again,” smiled Mr Ilori the following day, with a note of warning in his voice.

“After what you did to me yesterday, I don’t want to see you again either,” I huffed.

But despite my grumpiness at having to undergo my first C section, I could not be more grateful to this grinning man mountain.

He saved my baby boy’s life.

And I know full well how this story might have panned out differently, having lost my second daughter Emily four years ago this month.

Hugo looks just like her.

They have the same nose. Same mouth. Same fingers.

The newest member of our team has taken both me and Oli back with a jolt to the little one we lost.

And Hugo now feels like he has completed our family.

Doctor’s orders.


Being sliced open rather scuppered my plans to get a jump on planting at Rowan Farm during February.

But this month I am recovered and back in go mode.

We have set up cheat raised beds in the pigs’ old stomping ground.


Our local mates who farm potatoes kindly gave us some of their packing boxes.

They make for an excellent, makeshift vegetable garden.

Rowan Farm’s first seeds are now planted up in a similarly make-do alternative.


These recycled drain pipes are next to the warmth of the house to help the seeds germinate.

Once they get going in the coming weeks, I will plant them up in the potato boxes.

We have also planted wildflower and a bee border to encourage more of our buzzy mates at Rowan.

In a couple of months time, I hope there will be a riot of life and colour emerging around us.


Beth and Andy’s Daffodils: Resilient

Our company is embarking on new beginnings too.

Working with the children’s charity Barnardo’s we’ve launched a new apprenticeship scheme.

The candidates are all young people facing challenges in getting on.

They’re out of school and work, with no skills to fall back on.

We’ve had two apprentices so far.

We thought it would take Oli and the company out of their comfort zone.

But with our latest recruit, it’s done nothing of the sort.

He’s actually rather spoiled all our do-gooder pretentions.

Our new charge turns up early.

He works exceptionally hard.

He’s polite, delightful and shows immense promise.

All this despite the fact he’s only sixteen and is in care.

He’ll challenge everything the Daily Express has to say about kids like him. And then put a cherry on top.

I urge any other company bosses reading this to take a look at what Barnardo’s are doing and get involved if you can.