Friday, January 25, 2008

Sometimes I Worry...

I don't talk about my family very much here at Southern Martyr. Partly because I don't think anything short of a Tennessee Williams-esque 2,000 page novel bound in the hand cured hide of one of my father's prize heifers (dead from natural causes, of course) could possibly begin to do my family justice. And then my Pregnant Best Friend forwards me brief a news story from Britain and I realize that I am not alone. There are others out there who will grow up cringing and laughing in equal parts to tell their own stories. One day I will meet one of them and we will sit and talk about how our parents were such wonderful, creative, loving, friendly, intelligent, free spirits who were merely misunderstood when discovered to be building that tree house with retractable ladder and pulley system/secret mock castle with cannon/basement mad scientist laboratory/full size tee pee made from old tent material/doors to nowhere.

I worry that a link to this article will eventually disappear leaving no reminder of this news story which made me think immediately of my own family life (not exactly the same, but similar enough in some ways to make me worry - just a little), so I copied and pasted the article verbatim:

Farmer hides castle from building inspectors
By Peter Apps Fri Jan 25, 7:45 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - A farmer built an entire mock castle behind a screen of hay bales and lived there concealed for four years to evade planning regulations, officials said on Friday -- but it may be torn down anyway.

Robert Fidler hopes to take advantage of a provision of planning law that allows buildings without planning permission to be declared legal if no objections have been made after four years.

But Reigate and Banstead Borough Council in Surrey is not impressed.

"It does not count because the property was hidden behind hay bales," said a spokeswoman. "No one knew it was there."

The council wants the building near Redhill some 30 km south of London to be demolished, along with an associated conservatory, marquee structure, wooden bridge, patio, decking and tarmac racecourse.

"It looks like a mock-Tudor house from the front and it's got two turrets at the back," the spokeswoman said. "I understand there is also a cannon."

The couple would have been unlikely to get planning permission as the farm was in "green belt" land where building was restricted, she said. A hearing takes place in February.

Fidler's wife Linda told the Daily Mail newspaper the children grew up looking at straw out of the windows of the house and that they kept their son away from playschool on the day his class were due to do paintings of their houses.

"We couldn't have him drawing a big blue haystack," she said. "People might ask questions."

Planning inspectors had been called to the site by concerned neighbours shortly before Fidler took the hay bales down in summer 2006 but had not seen the house.

"When the inspectors went there, all they saw was hay bales and hay bales on agricultural land are not that unusual," the spokeswoman said.

"I think the neighbours thought there might be something going on but it is difficult to tell, isn't it?"

(Editing by Steve Addison)

I'd been in the middle of writing another post when Pregnant Best Friend emailed me this story and I HAD to post it straightway. This has inspired me to do a little writing. I hope that my father doesn't read this and get any ideas.

Actually, I take that back. I've wanted my very own stone tower in the woods for a very long time...

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