I've been incredibly lucky to call this beautiful place home for 30 years.
Even when I haven't lived here, it's always been home. I've had my studio in the old apple room since I came back to Staffordshire in 2011, and when I moved back in last March it was exactly the haven I needed it to be. Although my timing could perhaps have been a little better, as this was only a couple of months after my Dad announced he was retiring. We are, or were, tenant farmers (of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Queen is our landlady) and as neither my sister nor I wanted to farm, giving up farming means giving up our home.
I am so grateful to have been born a farmer's daughter; to have grown up in this wonderful farmhouse in this gorgeous countryside with so much freedom and peace and fun. For beautiful cows and straw castles and precarious treehouses. For armfuls of daffodils and pet hens for Christmas and feeding the calves in our pyjamas. For my dad being an altogether brilliant dairy farmer. For my mum being the sort of mum who would let us ride our bikes round the kitchen table, invite all our friends over to take part in the 'Newborough Hall Farm Olympics' (NHFO, 1996-2002) or turn the entire house into a haunted house/obstacle course with slime and cobwebs in every cupboard.
My grandparents moved here in 1951 from Shropshire/Cheshire, my Dad was actually born in the drawing room, and although part of me now wishes I'd been a farmer instead of an illustrator, I'm really glad my he can finally relax a bit (5.20am til 10 or 11pm, seven days a week, kind of takes its toll).
So we're leaving and it still doesn't feel real. The barns will be converted into houses and the entire house painted in 'skimming stone' and 'polished pebble'. In the meantime, we're all wading through decades of packing. The removal company took one look at my studio and said, "you see, this room will take a whole morning in itself"... I'd better get cracking.
I have loved being a farmer's daughter.