Sunday, 20 September 2020

 This beautiful weather continues. The little 'uns, Henry and Jessica came over with Joe and Sophie to see Tatty's week old puppies - They weren't really supposed to happen as Jack was supposed to he having the snip but it did and they are GORGEOUS. Joe and Sophie want a little boy and the other four puppies have lovely homes to go to at this stage.

I haven't seen the other grandchildren lately as since going back to school they have had a couple of minor health scares with high temperatures etc - This wouldn't normally be a problem but with Covid Emma is being extra careful. However, I have been told that India has got a lovely new pony and now her older brother Archie has also started to ride and is enjoying her other pony Hunnie, so they can now ride together. It looks as though I will be sorted out for work riders and jockeys in ten years time!

Dad is fast approaching his 90th Birthday (October 1st) and has just got back from a short break in Northumberland. Peter, my brother took him and it was rather brave of him as Dad doesn't like coming out of his comfort zone and his memory isn't what it was. Anyway, they both survived and well done to Peter. It will have helped Dad going somewhere different and although it was a long journey I think he really enjoyed it. 

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Loving this 'Indian summer'  - It really has been beautiful here for the past few days with lots of swimming in the river and making the most of it before winter sets in.  Maria came to see us this morning and joined us on a lovely sunny ride. Sarah had a little incident this morning cubbing - The hunt was just over the road and she phoned to say that she was 'just on her way, but her horse Pinot may arrive before her!" She had parted company and he was on the road. I jumped into my car to pick Sarah up and look for Pinot who was heading for the main road. Thank goodness for HS2 (I never thought I would hear myself say that) as their road works slowed him down and he got caught near the traffic lights just before the main junction. It could have been very nasty but no one hurt so all good.

Friday, 11 September 2020

HS2 still dragging their feet

 Not much to report really - Joe and Sophie came round for a BBQ on Wednesday with Henry and Jessica as Joe had at last finished the combining. We also missed both their Birthday's because of the harvest so it was a double celebration.

 The horses are trundling along nicely. We crossed paths with Alex Hales string this morning on our hack and Garry grew two hands and loves to show off, he already looks quite 'racey' . Whereas Porky Secret was only mildly interested and didn't bother to hold her tummy in.  Bless her. She is a typical Getaway in that they can seem very calm and 'ploddy' one moment but then get them up the gallops and suddenly they change into a racehorse. We hope!

Would you believe we still haven't heard a word from HS2? This is after promising that they would not slow down the ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) and after daily calls from our solicitor to request the pre-action contract. We have less than three months to find somewhere else to live and yet we cannot even start looking for somewhere until this has been resolved. They clearly have no intention of honouring their agreement and are trying to slow things down as much as possible to starve us out.

In the meantime at Blackgrounds the security men at the top of the drive have a little more to do now as the fencing boys are here fencing off the railway site. It is laughable to watch.  There is a group of seven men doing no more than 300 metres of fencing and they have taken two weeks so far. They still haven't finished as they all downed tools at lunchtime today.  Doug, who would have finished the same job with one other person would have finished it in two days. When he asked them why they don't use more efficient tools (like a staple gun) to get the job done more quickly. The answer was "No mate - We don't want to finish too quickly as we're on a day rate"!  All out of tax payers money.... 

Monday, 7 September 2020

It was great to be riding again and all three horses behaved beautifully. Cloud will be coming back in next week and then maybe Sam, depending on how the staff situation is. Good to be back and it really helps keep the mind away from dwelling on the nightmare that is HS2.
We had a lovely new member of part time staff join us called Ella, who wants to learn to race ride. She is friends with Julie and Russell our past owners, who had the lovely Noddy with us. Sadly, we couldn't justify keeping any of the older horses for novice riders but we will teach her us much as we can and hopefully she will pick up a ride from someone else as she is very capable and clearly very brave. She didn't bat an eye when young Archie got very excited when he saw Jamie Goss (who broke him in) in the distance crossing the gallops and started whinnying like mad and wanted to catch him up. It just shows how much cleverer horses are than we give them credit for. As soon as Jamie had disappeared round the corner he settled down again and was as good as gold. 
Sarah was riding Top Garry who seems to be completely sound and looks fabulous and I was riding Secret who has grown and thickened out during the summer and she felt a proper horse.
Ella had heard all about Popaway and was keen to see her foal, Roy Boy, who was also rather keen on her and wouldn't let her out the field!
Roy Boy and Ella

Friday, 4 September 2020

Yesterday we had the HS2 Barn Owl men around to check for owl nesting sites so that they could block them up. We have got a barn owl box in the barn next to the house which we assumed would be fine as that barn isn't going to be knocked down and is about 100 meters from the line. We were horrified to find out that this box is to be blocked 'for the safety of the owls' . It is actually in case the nesting birds slowed down the construction. Apparently there is to be no wildlife for 175 metres both sides of the line. For every 28 metres of line equals a hectare that is to be devoid of wildlife.
We didn't ever actually manage to persuade the owls to nest in that box, I guess because it was too close to the house but every winter for the past twelve years we were privileged to see the owls roost there at night time and have the thrill of seeing their ghostly flights over our heads when we went out to do the horses.
To give a balanced report, the Barn Owl man was fantastic and really cared about trying to mitigate the damage by putting a box elsewhere. Whether the owls will ever find the box remains to be seen.
However, it was shocking to find out how much of a strip of sterile land there will be and the huge amount of habitat that will be gone forever. It really is SO sad and makes me feel sick to the heart about what is happening for the sake of this railway that no one wants

Goodbye to our owls.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

A very quiet bank holiday...

We have never been so quiet over the Bank Holiday. The August bank holiday would always be our busiest and most profitable so it was tough looking at the empty huts and knowing how many guests we had to cancel. If we didn't we were threatened with eviction by HS2...
Two of the huts that were empty during the bank holiday as the intended guests were cancelled due to HS2.
The really annoying part is that we pleaded with HS2 to allow us to keep open until after the bank holiday. They refused to let us and threatened us with eviction if we did not comply. Blackmail at its best. It has now transpired that they had no intention of doing anymore than putting a few flags out to mark the site of the railway line and a couple of surveys that were nowhere near the huts. They also don't work at all over the weekend. So, there was absolutely no reason at all why we could not have kept going until after the bank holiday. It isn't just us this affects - It impacts the cleaner, Caroline, the washing and ironing lady, Laura, the local pub, Andy and Sally and the mobile farm shop, Chris and family, plus the other village shops - HS2 have proved once again that they are totally unreasonable and treat people appallingly. In the meantime our 'security guards' at the top of the drive continue to play on their phones and sit in their cars for 12 hours a day until another two 'security' guards take over. ALL out of the PUBLIC PURSE.
It is great to have three of the pointers back in. At the moment they are just going on the horse walker. They have summered really well and seem pleased to be back.

Saturday, 29 August 2020

HS2 - Using delaying tactics. What a surprise

HS2 compound at the top of our drive -  The two cars have security guards sitting in them all day for 12 hours and then they swap over with another two guards. They have their own Welfare truck each. What are they guarding and how much does this all cost? Protecting the public purse?? What a joke. 

Firstly, sorry to those who want to know about the horses and not about HS2 - The horses are absolutely fine! However, I think it is really important to highlight exactly how HS2 work for the benefit of those poor people who are next in line for Phase 2. It will be hell for them, but if they are armed with knowledge then they will know what to expect and hopefully something can be done.
If you remember in a previous post I said that we were on the way to ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) as everything was in line apart from a Pre-action contract which HS2 was going to draw up (I'm baffled as to why they should do this and not us) Anyway, we were forced into moving our huts because of the threat of eviction, and clear the site on the provision that they did not slow ADR down. This they agreed to, so we kept our part of the bargain. After three weeks of badgering by our solicitor we have just received their 'contract' which is not at all what was agreed and could take years as there is no end date. The ironic part of it is that they are now saying that two valuers (one from each side) could have an 'onsite inspection' so that they can value our businesses. So, they make us pull our business apart and then they decide to value it, when it is no longer there?? What makes it worse is that they totally refused to have an onsite inspection when they were valuing it in the first place. The businesses have now been valued five times. Twice by our independent valuers twice by HS2 valuers (who did not visit the site) and once by a forensic valuer. We have heard from other victims of HS2 where they have done exactly the same with their properties. They have refused to acknowledge the first valuation, possessed the property and then had it valued again after it has fallen into disrepair or been taken over by squatters. It is disgraceful, corrupt behaviour but sadly it was exactly what we were expecting.
Just to make this a balanced report - They have now actually paid a token amount for loss of business (which they said they would pay last September) It isn't much but it is better than nothing and a step in the right direction.
However, if they want us to leave by November 30th then why on earth are they so dogged in slowing things down? Is it just to continue their cruel spiteful behaviour, or to try and starve us out so that we are forced into accepting their original pitiful offer?  I'm not sure but either way it is puzzling as you would think that they would be happy to be rid of us!