This post was originally intended as an upbeat antidote to some of the previous ones…there’s only so much a reader wants to hear about someone’s stolen bicycle or dead tortoise!… positivity breeds positivity and all that (although I have a feeling that two positives repel or cause huge explosions or something? I didn’t pay much attention in Physics lessons). I wanted to tell you all about my exciting decision to take a stand at next year’s BCTF in Harrogate and share the journey from here to there … but then I met my neighbour in the supermarket.
Known locally as “Cyanide Sue”* I was nervous when she called me over for a friendly chat by the soap powder, in 14 years she had only ever ignored or sworn at me. But she genuinely seemed friendly and we parted with me offering any help they may need on the farm. However, at the till she dropped the bombshell ” I hear you’re moving” …
Now some of you have been reading Witchmountain for years and maybe some just discovered it but even if we only met here in this virtual space I think you will have seen that my love for this place has been self evident and deeply passionate. This house on the edge of the moor and more importantly the garden I’ve made and the view beyond; over the field to the big oak and across to Arden Moor, has been my life support for 14 years. The idea that I would leave voluntarily is so unlikely that I laughed it off and assumed it was just a nasty parting shot from someone who had never made me feel welcome at Snilesworth.
Three ignored calls later and the land agent confirmed my fears. I am to be evicted with two months notice and my home given to the son of my suddenly “friendly ” neighbour. My world has fallen apart. I took a jar of homemade jam to the Lodge and spoke to the landowner, Toby Horton , begging the Trustees of the Estate not to make me homeless… like a character in a novel by Catherine Cookson, not much has changed around here in 300 years!
The fog and drizzle seemed appropriate and the situation almost comical… penniless artist pleads with landed gentry offering jam and appealing to a mutual love of this place, this land in all its seasons and hardships. “Unfortunate circumstance”, “beyond our control”, ” the agenda for managing upland estates and the North York Moors National Park… we only want farmers and gamekeepers, not outsiders”…. Perhaps I should hold my tongue for fear of making it worse but from where I sit, looking out through misted windows, it couldn’t be worse. What century do we live in?
Anyway, all that was two days ago and there has still been no official contact from the estate or its agents… not even a courtesy call to check I hadn’t died of shock. They are well within their legal rights to evict a tenant with only two months notice, and no reason needs to be given apparently ( Under a Section 21 notice) , but morally it seems so wrong when I have always paid my rent and cherished this little piece of heaven; even promoting it and introducing them to Joe Cornish who has taken groups of photographers to the Lodge for weekend workshops.
Meanwhile, before the bombshell, I had been preoccupied with the idea of Home and was drawing imagined places, cottages surrounded by huge flowers or standing alone on a hill. The tower is a symbol from an image my dad made in the year I was born called “The Masterpiece in the Tower” I always found it haunting and strangely prophetic. This morning a protoype mug design arrived in the post and now seems a good point to stop and grind some beans to fill it with coffee…maybe with a dram of Highland Park to take the edge off the day!
So, thank you for reading and much love to you from Witchmountain, while I can still send it, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.
If anyone is interested in writing on my behalf I think letters or e-mails could be directed to The Trustees of Snilesworth Estate, c/o John Hoddinott,15/17 High Street, Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire, YO51 9AW
*Please note I did not coin this nick name, nor do I condone mean and unfriendly behaviour or name calling. I hope this post reflects a true and balanced account of the situation despite my emotional involvement.
*Since writing this my daughter has started a petition. If you would like to sign it we would be eternally grateful. Thank you.