It was a great metaphor for the highs and lows of building your own home.

Having been at the top of a ladder on site joyously surveying my newly installed first floor, I then found myself – nanoseconds later – sprawled in a heap on the concrete floor below.

I really could not have been more stupid. And it’s an excellent lesson in why all the Health And Safety Regulations I bemoan are, in fact, rather a good thing.

I arrived on site having purchased my first reclaimed sink at a junk shop:


I was full of excitement that Oli had been, that day, single-handedly putting in the first joists for our bedroom floor. Here are the horizontal joists (essentially the planks on which you lay a floor) and the fateful ladder in question:


Oli’s efforts meant I would be able to stand in the upstairs of our new home for the first time.

I was on a mission.

I hadn’t done a proper risk assessment.

I had a car full of small children watching.

After setting off up a ladder I hadn’t fully checked was stable and then feeling said ladder slip as I reached the top, my first thought before I plummeted downwards was, “It’s OK, Oli will catch me.”

And this ladder epiphany was rather an insight into my charmed existence as the Townie Farmer.

Because the truth is I am guilty of only sidling in for the glory shift.

I prance around enjoying myself in the tractor, while Oli is the one putting in the hard slog. Every day. He is on site no later than 7am (and often much earlier) and he works constantly until the light fades… When he gets back to his computer. He’s even working in his sleep and often wakes up thinking about what needs doing.

When I look back over my posts on this blog, Oli really only gets a mention for his comedy collapse into wet concrete.

But he is the beating heart of this project. He has thought twenty steps ahead on everything. He has neatly filed every document in smart ring binders. He is the one knocking the nails into place and drilling in the screws. He is negotiating with every supplier. He is pursuing with gusto every extravagant or bonkers idea I throw his way. He is felling and planking every tree. He is checking the safety of every ladder.

Oli is the hardest working man I know. And he isn’t just doing this because he is passionate about building a forever home for his family. He works this hard for every client we’ve ever had. Even the ones that don’t bring him cups of tea when it’s snowing.


Oli, Chloe and Me (heavily pregnant with Rory)

Unfortunately Oli didn’t catch me when I fell off the ladder. But he did blame himself vociferously for not doing so. And for not checking the ladder himself. And for not foreseeing my stupidity of clambering up an unsteady piece of kit.

I am so fortunate that he is there to catch me every other time I make a schoolgirl error. And there to put in the grunt work in our joint quest to build our family our own version of the Good Life.

Fortunately I don’t think I’ve broken anything. But as I hobble away on my swollen left foot I am humbled.

I have a deeper respect for what my husband does.

And a deeper respect for the hidden dangers of a building site.