Hm. Today did not exactly fall under the classification of a ‘good day’.
I was up & about at around 3am, having been woken by a thread of inspiration for the Christmas article I’m writing for ‘Smallholder’ magazine; & needed to get it down on paper before waking in the morning to have inevitably forgotten it. Having gone back to bed for a ‘quick snooze’ a couple of hours later, I was shocked to discover I hadn’t woken again until almost 9am – still, I must’ve needed the sleep; & I’ve had a run of restless nights, what with Tony’s head cold keeping him tossing & turning, & my latent worries about the business & how we are going to finance the rest of the project: as ever, cost is a major concern.
Tony completed the chores – albeit he wasn’t out of bed until 1030am as he’s still really suffering with his dreadful cold (although he’s not an early riser, anyway) & I cooked us a swift but satisfying egg on toast for ‘brunch’ – those lovely, earthy yellow yolks oozing over the golden bread is just heaven on a plate. I ploughed on with my article, finally finishing it at around 2pm & then started selecting suitable photos to accompany it – & then discovered that one of my disks – which holds about 800 photos dating from the time we moved here – was missing. I searched everywhere but could not find it; & it has some super pictures which I feel would add so much to the story – so I wasn’t exactly impressed.
We set off for Carmarthen to restock our animal feedstuff at around 4pm, pausing at the postbox on the way. Imagine our utter dismay, to discover that our Planning Application has been returned – again. This time, the typically brief letter stated that we hadn’t ticked one of either the ‘A’ box or the ‘B’ box, on Part 2 of the form; & they wanted OS sitemaps at either 1:200 or 1:500, in addition to the 1:125 we’d provided on the understanding it was the requisite size. This is so frustrating. Why on earth wasn’t the whole application checked last time, to pick up all the points which needed to be rectified, rather than going through the application every time a single mistake is discovered, & repeatedly returning it? HOW MANY MORE TIMES IS THIS GOING TO HAPPEN?! When you consider we submitted our original application for planning way back in July, & it still hasn’t even gone forward for consideration yet, this is getting ridiculous. I suggested we drive directly to the Planning Office in Carmarthen & speak to the officer concerned with our application. When we arrived, the receptionist called the Planning Officer – Mr W – who then insisted on going through the salient points of the application with Tony over the telephone, rather than having a face-to-face meeting, despite the fact we’d travelled there to see him. I wasn’t at all happy with this, as we understandably wanted the application checked over there & then to ensure there would be no further problems – after all, we didn’t want to go to the expense (of yet another £30) ordering another set of OS maps, & going through the nauseous motions of ticking whichever box wasn’t ticked, only to discover that something else was missing when the application was returned to us again, another week or so later as seems be the case (incidentally it appears that even when documents are delivered by hand to the Planning Office, it takes on average a week for them to get a few feet from the reception desk & across to the officer concerned. Council efficiency?!). Reluctantly, Mr W agreed to meet us; & after giving the application a cursory glance, stated it ‘appeared to be OK’. Tony even asked him to confirm that the access statement (the reason for the previous return) was exactly what he required; his infuriating response implied that it wasn’t really neccessary for an agricultural building anyway, as access statements didn’t specifically apply! Aaaargh!! They really do seem to be playing a game of planners’ ‘cat-&-mouse’ with us, & it feels most unfair. As it was clear Mr W had not read the covering letter we’d put with the last set of returned paperwork, I reiterated our concerns regarding the urgency of why we need the building – ergo, why we hope due process will be conducted as swiftly as possible – as our entire livelihood is under threat, after all. It was abundantly clear that he really didn’t give two hoots for us & our problems. We left the office feeling angry & frustrated. Oh yes, & that box we had to tick? Tony had deliberately omitted to fill in Box A or B, because neither appeared to apply to our situation, as both state that the application does not relate to an agricultural holding which of course, our appliction does: it’s a ruddy livestock building! However it was insisted he ticked Box A for some reason; I feel we need to quantify it with a note on the paperwork to say notwithstanding the advice received, we DO have a CPH (which delineates the land as agricultural – which it IS.). Am I missing something here? Stop the world – I want to get off, my head hurts.
Suitably delayed by our diversion, we then had to rush around Carmarthen – to the pet shop, to get Nanuk her meat & a new slip lead (yet another attempt to help her heelwork); to the Farmers’ Shop, to buy feed for the animals; & to the supermarket, for loo rolls for us (Tony is suffering after his chilli bonanza, after all…!). We rushed home to find a lone message left on the answerphone – more frustration. The Animal Health Office in Carmarthen had been in touch to enquire as to what livestock groups we have etc etc – I’m sure it’s leading to an on-farm inspection to check our paperwork is up-to-date: an inspection, incidentally, which we’ve already had & successfully passed, earlier this year; & were told another would not be required for a further ten years – albeit we were then registered under a different CPH. Indeed, I’m convinced the root of the problem will prove to be all the messing around there’s been with our CPH (or County/Parish/Holding Number for the uninitiated, which basically delineates our landmass as a farm; & has caused us no end of trouble. It was mistakenly changed when we moved in – the property’s CPH should stay the same regardless of change of ownership, & ours didn’t, which led to some serious paperwork headaches as we were either asked for multiples of the same information or not sent important paperwork at all – so we appealed & it’s recently been changed back to the CPH it should be – & now, guess what? The problems have started all over again…!).
Tony hurried through the milking whilst I unpacked the shopping & cooked a stew for supper, after which I went outside to feed the kids as he was in a mood because I hadn’t been able to come out & help him, being busy elsewhere. I sat with Assie & her crocked leg for a little while – for my comfort I think, as much as hers – but the other goats were tired & became grumpy that the barn lights were still on; so I left them to it, feeling thoroughly unwanted & altogether fed up. And the gloomy grey skies have rained for most of the day, to boot: a day I’d rather file, & forget.