Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Episode 41 - A Stranger in Town

Liam closed down the spreadsheet and stood up from his computer desk smiling to himself. Since Sophie and Alistair had bought their bottom field, Liam and Cassy were beginning to see that their dreams might just come true.

They had put in so much buying the finca up in the hills and had realised that getting the renovations done to the farmhouse would be a struggle financially, but nothing had prepared them for the time it would take. Getting the tradesmen organised and the materials bought and paid for before their deadline of the autumn had become a nightmare.

Liam knew that he was lucky to be able to continue doing the job he loved in Spain but even the best coders in the world didn’t make the kind of money they needed for all the building work that needed doing to the finca.

Back home in the UK all the home renovation programmes on the TV made it look so easy. The only thing that seemed to go wrong for them was that the builders had to wait for the rain to stop. What the programmes didn’t tell you was just how long it could take to even get the plans approved., never mind scheduling in builders who always seemed to be ‘just finishing another job mate’. Days had stretched to weeks and weeks to months before the Strattons even had running water in the kitchen.

And all the time there was the worry that their savings would run out long before the builders had finished. What a difference being solvent made, thought Liam. No more worries about getting the money together to pay for a new roof before booking the roofer.

Sure they had worried at first about going into business with the Sophie and Alistair, it was after all a big step, but financially it made so much more sense than them struggling to cope on their own for the next few years. They had spent hours in meetings together planning how they wanted things to develop and who would be responsible for which part of the business.

Alistair was going to be a very much sleeping partner, his job was based in Brussels at the moment but eventually he hoped to be able to transfer to Madrid. Even the he wouldn’t be onsite for the day to day problems whereas Liam knew that working from home meant that he could organise his day sufficiently to enable him to be on hand for any problems that might crop up with the business.

Sophie had come up with some brilliant ideas for renovating the big barn into holiday apartments and Cassy had agreed that she would be happy to run them as long as she could employ some locals to help with the maintenance and cleaning. Converting the stables for the pony trekking business had been all Sophie’s idea and over the past month or so she had spent hours researching and planning the project.

At last, thought Liam, it looks like it might just happen. The builders had already put a digger in the bottom field to start levelling the ground ready for the foundation to be laid for Sophie and Alistair’s new home. Cassy had insisted that the plans for their house should incorporate keeping as many of the trees from the old woodland as possible. She loved the fact that the finca was remote and enjoyed the isolation but even she realised that if they were to live their dream that would have to share their space, their little bit of heaven.

‘What are doing staring out of the window?’ Cassy asked, walking into Liam’s small office carrying baby Abi on her hip. ‘I thought you were busy getting the figures for the barn conversion out to Sophie?’

‘It’s all done and winging it’s way to her as we speak’ Liam turned from the window and put his arm around his beautiful wife. ‘We are doing the right thing aren’t we’ he asked

‘I can’t see how we could have stayed here otherwise. The farmhouse was turning into a money pit and with the best will in the world, renting out three bedrooms for bed and breakfast wouldn’t have brought in the income to pay off the loans. No. I think that we did the only sensible thing going into partnership with the Montgomery’s.’

‘Do you worry that it won’t be just our dream any more?’ He asked taking Abi from Cassy’s arms.

‘I suppose I did at first but if we’re all sensible about it I don’t see why it shouldn’t work out fine.’

‘I’m sure you’re right, I’m just being a worry-boots. I wonder if Mr Rolls had these worries when we went into partnership with Mr Royce?’ pondered Liam

‘Probably, but then they didn’t have their wives there to sort them out’ laughed Cassy walking out to the kitchen ‘Liam, there’s somebody coming up path from the lane, can you see who it is please.’

‘Sure, come on Abi let’s go and investigate’ and carrying the baby on his shoulders Liam made his way out to the front of the farmhouse. ‘Hi there’ he called to the stranger ‘can I help you?’

Standing outside the door looking dusty and tired was a young man dressed in crumpled shorts and a grubby t-shirt. ‘I’m sorry to bother you but I noticed all the building work you’re having done and wondered if you needed any labourers?’

‘I know that the builders on the bottom field have a full crew but we could do with someone for a couple of days up here at the barns. It’d only be lugging building material up the drive and some general tidying up.’

‘Anything would be great, thank you.’

‘Where are you staying, it’s a bit of a hike up here from the village everyday.’

‘I’ve got an old campervan parked up on the other side of the hill.’

‘Doing the Gap year are you?’ Liam laughed

‘Yeah, something like that.’

‘Well if you’re going to be working here for a while why don’t you bring the van round to that field next to the barn? There’s running water and we’ve even managed to get the toilets plumbed in to one of the apartments so you can use that if you want.’

‘That’d be great. Oh my name’s Ollie by the way.’

‘Hi Ollie, I’m Liam, this little squirt is Abi and my wife Cassy is in the kitchen getting some lunch ready. Have you eaten? Do you fancy something to eat?’ Asked Liam

‘As long as your wife doesn’t mind?’ asked Ollie hopefully

‘I won’t mind what?’ asked Cassy coming out of the house drying her hands on a tea towel.

‘Young Ollie here joining us for lunch.’ Said Liam

‘Of course I don't mind, the more the merrier. I hope you’re hungry, I’ve made enough soup to feed an army.’

‘Great’ laughed Ollie following them in to the farmhouse ‘I could eat a horse’