. . . we've chosen our builder. In the end it wasn't difficult. We'd already narrowed the cut down to two firms and arranged meetings either side of lunch at the architects' offices. The first to be grilled was the boss of a medium sized building firm who shall remain nameless. I always try to be open-minded when meeting a new person; there was nothing wrong with him or his company but, for some reason, I didn't take to him. I'm sure his firm would have done a perfectly good job but this is the biggest project we've ever undertaken in our lives and we wanted our builder to 'get' this. He didn't. It was just another job - one of many - to him. Nor was he flexible about our access to the site while building work was underway. I fully understand Healthy and Safety regulations with which all builders must comply but we'd be the ones paying the bill and to imply that we couldn't have any access whatsoever over the weekends when work wasn't being done did nothing to improve our attitude towards him. It was only after he'd left that I was pleased to see that my misgivings were shared, not only by J but by Steve and Jon.
Somewhat downhearted but sustained by some hearty sandwiches we were ready to meet Builder no. 2. What a contrast! I had been sniffy when I was told that one of the builders would be a man who lived in the village and who'd done quite a bit of work in the area. I had thought - silly me - that he's be a bit of an odd-job man, likeable and competent but a little out of his depth. I couldn't have been more wrong. Ian Thompson showed himself to be intelligent, talented, urbane, practical and also totally flexible. And with a keen sense of humour. I can still see the rejected builder's face when J told him that being a rock-climber and mountaineer, no fence would keep him out anyway! In total contrast, Ian doesn't mind in the least how much we wander about the place - as long as we don the statutory hard hats.
So he's our man. The bad news is that he can't start work until the end of November. Then again, we've waited long enough so far. Another four months is hardly going to make that much difference. But it's still frustrating.
Sheep update. Peter is going to erect temporary sheep-proof fencing while the hedge grows large enough to feed a large flock of sheep without incurring terminal damage.