Tuesday, 5 November 2013

From "The Good Life" to a Better One

I apologise for my blog absence this past month, but I'm finally able to update you on what has been a difficult time (don't worry, it has a happy ending).

The estate decided to close the pheasant shoot. Mike was made redundant. We lost both our jobs and our home in that one decision. It was very unexpected.

Being made redundant when you work for a company is hard enough; being made redundant from a family that you've served heart and soul for almost 25 years is more difficult to process. Mike has made his home in Dorset and it will be a terrible wrench for him to leave.

But - here comes the happy part - the phone started ringing almost immediately after news of Mike's redundancy was out. It's not the done thing to "poach" staff from other families but now Mike was on the market, he had inquiries from shoot owners looking to redesign or reinstate their shoots (Mike's speciality). An experienced 'keeper who has been trained by the royal gamekeeper, and presented to HM the Queen for his services to shooting is not going to be unemployed for long. (If it sounds like I'm boasting on Mike's behalf, I'm just trying to focus on his strengths and remind him of his worth. He calls it "blowing sunshine up his arse". Same difference.)

One call came late on a Sunday evening. The owners have known Mike for many years and shot here as guests, including a particularly cold and wet day last winter when they brought their young son. The poor lad was succumbing to the cold, and Mike simply took off his own jacket and put it over the boy, and carried on with the day. The owners reminded Mike of that small kindness. Mike had forgotten, and I never noticed (it not being unusual for Mike to see to his guests' needs at the expense of his own.) They asked Mike to come for lunch and have a look at their shoot, about two hours' north of here, on the England / Wales border.

We have accepted their job offer and, when shooting season is finished here on 2nd February, we will be doing the same thing you read about on M&T, but in a new place, for a new family. A family that takes notice when their employee gives them the clothes off his own back. That bodes well for Mike and me.

We will keep our acreage here, but rent it out for now, and rent new fields closer to home for the sheep (now numbering 50 head) and Kitty. The dogs have new heated stone kennels, and we have a lovely lodge house with outbuildings and a well-tended garden. And a nice family to work for - did I mention that bit?

We won't know the real reason why the shoot's closing here until sometime in the future. Often a shoot closes because the family wish to focus on other sporting activities, like fox hunting. Sometimes it's a prelude to selling the entire estate.

Now our news is out, I can resume our normal blog scheduling, including updates on the end of the filming here, our shoot season so far, and of course it will come as no surprise that there's a lamb recuperating in the living room as I write this. It also means that, once we're moved and settled, I can start writing that book, filling in all the details I've left out of the blog. At least you - and we - know now that it has a happy ending.

24 comments:

  1. Gosh, Jenn, what a rollercoaster ride of a post! Not being a gamekeeper, I initially read your 2nd paragraph to mean that the estate had shut down the movie shoot and that someone else got Mike's job in the movie. Then reading further I had to re-interpret that 'graph and it was then that I was appalled, worried, hesitant, hopeful and then, finally, relieved that it (will) all come out right.

    I'm happy for your new opportunity and hope that the new 'digs' suit you both. I know moving is a pain, especially in bad weather, but, hopefully, this move will suit Mike to a "T" and that you can find time for your book. Best wishes, dear.

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  2. Good point, Kris. I've amended the post putting "pheasant" in front of shoot to avoid further confusion. And thanks for the cheery words of support!

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  3. I was only terrified for you and worried for about 4 sentences, I can imagine what it was like on your end. I'm glad it turned out the way it did and I can only imagine the stories you'll have to tell when you're moving and settling sheep/dogs/horse & people. Every move I've made has always turned out to be a good one, I hope yours ends up the same way.

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  4. Best wishes to you as you get ready for a move. The new job sounds wonderful - congratulations!
    So glad you will keep blogging. I love your blog and would miss it dreadfully. And your book will be on my 'must read' list for sure!

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  5. Janice Bendixen5 November 2013 07:03

    Oh Jenn. I've been worried about you but am thrilled that this season of change is, ultimately, a positive one. I'm sorry for the discomfort such drastic change generates but delighted that you will be in a better (!!!$$^&**%##%^^) place. You are not to be treated in this manner and I believe your clients, friends and colleagues agree. Now, there, I've said it. Good on you and Mike for suffering this latest challenge w dignity. My thoughts are w you, the dogs, herd and Mike. Stay in touch.

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  6. I only found your blog a couple months ago and made the dreadful mistake of inhaling your entire archive. That has led to painful M & T withdrawal these last weeks, and now this, the drama! I hope that despite the aggravation and betrayal of the estate closing the shoot it is clear that your book intends to be written. All the right elements (American abroad! Aristocracy! Love and country life!) and in the hands of a kind and entertaining writer. Thank you so much for your stories.

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    1. Sweetgum - I'm so glad you found us, and moreover that you've enjoyed the posts.

      The estate absolutely does NOT know I plan on writing a book - the first and deadliest sin of the servant is indiscretion regarding the family. I'm not the most seasoned or gifted writer, but the day-to-day happenings all around me surprise and fascinate me, so it's easy to just share the good material.

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  7. Congrats to a new and better job!
    Always love hearing your adventures.
    barb

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  8. I knew when I 'fessed up about our current situation, I would be inundated with good wishes and sensible advice, and you don't disappoint!! Thanks all, from the bottom of our hearts (and that includes all the M & T critters.)

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  9. Congratulations on the new situation. There is little more discouraging than being underappreciated by an employer, especially if you are the feisty sort who believes that work well done should be acknowledged. But I am sorry Mike will have to leave his home.

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  10. So glad you mentioned it had a happy ending - even so, it must have been very difficult all around. Look forward to new home stories!

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  11. So glad to hear this massive change is turning out well for you both. Hope you carry on blowing Mike's trumpet for him - it sounds like he needs reminding sometimes (don't well all, sometimes?).
    Really really glad to hear that you have what sounds like a good situation lined up. Now all the best for the end of this job, and the move.

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  12. Oh and so glad to hear you will carry on blogging! blogging from the English/Welsh border, here we come :-) Do you think you will be learning Welsh too, or is it not really that part of the world?

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  13. wow. I love this. I mean - you know what I mean.

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  14. Good luck to you both in your move, I'm so happy to hear that we (in the blog-o-sphere) will be continuing to hear from you:)

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  15. Oh, sweets, what a tale. My heart goes out to you both (all, really, beasts included) with both sorrow and happy anticipation. Wishing you the best of everything in the new adventure!

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  16. Oh, Jen, I've been so selfish! All I've been concerned with was a lack of posts. "Can't she take one stinkin' minute out of her busy farm day to amuse me??"
    Holy crikey-what you've been going through! In the end, we have to take care of ourselves, and by golly, if these people don't appreciate you and Mike, then it's high time someone else did! I'm not surprised that he started getting calls so soon. So, February will be here before we know it, and onward to bigger and better things. I always dread change, but dammit if it doesn't always work out for the better. Cheers!

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  17. I'm sorry you've had such a difficult month, but here's to the future (and a family that doesn't feel entitled to help themselves to your eggs when they fancy it...)

    Good luck with the move- I can't imagine having to move 50 head of sheep and a horse as well as a home)!

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  18. Write on! We will all be cheering for you and yours. How's the lamb in the living room? (Hmmm, that sounds like a line for a poem.)

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  19. Just calling by to wish you good luck with your future plans and new home. I enjoy reading your writings of countryside life. So sorry that you were treated so miserably. I too, have been in that situation, years ago, when I was a Nanny, I saw my job in the paper!!! It is the most gut-wrenching feeling to know you can be so easily dumped!! But greater things came my way, and am positive you will find the same, one door closes.......etc!! Good luck for the future. Kindest regards

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  20. Gwen,
    Best wishes for your upcoming move! I hope the new location is a great fit. Your life is interesting enough, this just adds to that. So glad you've got this immediate opportunity and there wasn't months of stress. And it's about time you wrote a book! I love your writing, it's one of the many, many things I've always admired about you. I think it'll bring a whole new angle to your life once it's out. My question is...who will play you in the movie version? Miss you, dearie!

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  21. Congratulations. Change is a difficult process, but it sometimes can result in fantastic things.

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  22. Bloody hell. See life off grid means I miss so much. Limited Internet on my phone doesn't allow for blog reading. Come for a walk and a coffee soon. Or I can come to you. Xx

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  23. Jen, sorry I haven't commented and been AWOL from M&T for so long. Busy at Bag End, head up my own bla bla bla, etc.

    Guess right now you are up to the tops of your wellies in packing up and moving. Relocating with just one dog is hard enough, I can only imagine how busy you have been finding new fields for the flock & Kitty, and organising transport to move the whole crew up north.

    You have loads of friends who are wishing you both well for the future and we'll all be looking forward to the next instalment of M&T.

    hugs from Bilbo and Daisy, x

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