Friday, 28 March 2008

Moonlit Giraffodils

I've been in a giraffodil mood for days! I should really say 'moods' in the plural, for giraffodils can induce a whole range of emotions, from merry and light-hearted, to tranquil, through to mysteriously inspiring and numinous.

There's a picture hanging in our diningroom entitled 'Moonlit Giraffodils'. For me it essentially captures that transcendent moment when you are suddenly face-to-face with swathes of pale giraffodils all nodding in the ethereal light.

The moon is currently full, so yesterday evening I ventured out into the woods just beyond the farm. The scene was remarkably similar to our picture! I felt so moved that I was unable to stay long, but returned home and penned this poem. A little clumsy, but it expresses how I felt.


Moonlit Giraffodils


At the edge of the wood the giraffodils wait in swathes,

And the sunlight bids the twilight in, which bathes

Those nodding blooms in rose, and dwindling rays

******Of gold, to usher in the night.


A bird in the branches trills and trills again its song so high

In the bud-laden twigs, whose tips shall rake the sky,

Now clouded. Gently the breeze whispers, rustles turf, trees sigh.

******The moon, unveiled, reveals her secret light.


Now silver trumpets lift on slender necks of gold, and sing

To the moonlight shining forth - their homage bring

In graceful rhythm, fragrant dance of spring,

******Pulsating pattern of scent and sound and sight.


And I, like an interloper, watch from birch bole hide,

Trembling lest so transfixed and rooted, I abide

Forever in this sylvan glade! O quickly turn aside,

******And run for home and snug and slumber tight.


Raph G. Neckmann 28th March 2008 14:41GWT

Monday, 24 March 2008

Leaving Accounting, but still thinking about Money?!

Now I'm leaving accountancy, why do I still have to think about money? Because I'm becoming an entrepreneur? Because we're buying a new house and running a business? Oh dear ...

Fortunately I don't have to think about the finances too much. Maureen is much better at that sort of thing and actually enjoys it! I'm glad. I have so many interesting ideas for the business - thinking about making money is a distraction. I suppose it's a necessary evil, like having to brush one's teeth ...

We talked to a financial advisor from Flexineck Finance the other day - nice chap called Frank. He suggested that while we're building up the Tours business we rent out Neckmoor Cottage to long-term tenants rather than wait for holiday-makers, so we will have a steady source of income. Very sensible.

We own the cottage outright and are putting quite a large deposit down for Necky Knoll House, while keeping some capital for the business. Frank is sorting out a small mortgage for the house, which Maureen says is on good terms. So if the survey, and whatever else, is satisfactory, we should be able to complete around mid-April and move in!

Nexi suggested that if we're short of money we can do virtual tours of Necky Knoll House on the Interneck, showing her 'fab' interior designs transforming the place. Necky Becky said the site should be called 'Nexi-wrecksa-room'.

I put the tea-cosy on my head so I could read the paper in peace without being deafened by their bickering. It will be wonderful to have a house with lots of quiet rooms!

Friday, 21 March 2008

A Giraffe named Oswald: the infinite uses of Teabags

Our middle child, Necky Becky, came home from school this week with a wonderful creation. The children were working on art projects using discarded materials. The purpose was to teach them responsibility for the environment and introduce the concepts of conserving resources, economy and recycling. All this combined with developing their imagination and creativity.

Necky Becky decided to make a hand-puppet. She constructed him from a sock, teabags which had been used and dried out, and the rooty bits from the ends of spring onions. His name is Oswald.

Well done Necky Becky! I think he looks fantastic, and she's used some unconventional materials in an innovative way. She's also fulfilled the brief, except in one thing - that was one of my favourite walking socks, and it was not discarded!

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Offer Accepted - Necks Step Forward!

Wonderful news! The owners of Necky Knoll House have accepted our offer. We heard yesterday afternoon, and decided to celebrate in the evening with a special meal out.

On the way home we took a 'thank you' present to my sister Nektareeni for telling us about the property. We ended up having a second meal, (even bigger than the first one!), at the restaurant she runs with her partner Girth. Over coffee and hot chocolate we all discussed the way ahead for our business-to-be, Giraffe World Tours. Nektareeni and Girth will be helping with the catering, and were full of ideas for exciting recipes and menus. Necky Knoll House is only a little way down the road from their restaurant so this plan should work well. Their culinary masterpieces are irresistible.

Filled to the tops of our necks, we took a stroll through the village and along the road to Necky Knoll House. Standing outside in the clear still night looking up at our future home was a momentous experience. There is so much to look forward to: new home, new business, new adventures! Spring is a good time to begin ...

Monday, 17 March 2008

Necky Knoll House knocks our Spots off!

The whole family's necks were sticking eagerly out of the sunroof as I drove the car along the road from Neckelchester. It was Saturday afternoon, and we were on our way to view the house about which my sister had spoken.

Neckelchester is in the county of Knollshire, which gets its name from the little rounded knolls which pattern the landscape like upside-down green puddings. The sky was overcast and the fresh March wind kept scattering the clouds to reveal shimmering shafts of pale sunlight which made the greens of spring seem luminous.

I will never forget our first glimpse of Necky Knoll House. As we rounded a bend in the road, it suddenly came into view and everyone fell silent. It was beautiful.

Everything seems right about this house: its location, privacy, garden, spaciousness, and its atmosphere. It is also 'vacant with immediate possession', as the owners are working abroad.

We arranged with the agent to view again on Sunday in the evening, to get the feel of the place at night. It felt the same ... perfect!

For once, even Nexi and Necky Becky were in agreement. They wanted the house. We all wanted it so much that we were actually quiet! Quiet on the way home, quiet back at the cottage. We just kept nodding our heads at each other like a clump of giraffodils.

As soon as the kids had gone to bed, Maureen and I simultaneously came up with exactly the same offer price. This morning I rang the agent and put in our offer!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

News from Nektareeni!

My sister Nektareeni just phoned ... She lives with her partner, Girth, in Neckelchester village. This morning they heard about an interesting house that has just come onto the market. It's on the outskirts of the village, and it sounds amazing! We rang the agent immediately and are going to view it this afternoon.
Must rush!

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Narcissus sylvestris giraffodil

I find plant-life fascinating and always look forward eagerly to the spring, when every stroll reveals new treasures!

Yesterday in my lunch-break I wandered around the grounds of Raffsburgh Castle. In the wooded area some of the wild giraffodils were out already - Narcissus sylvestris ssp. giraffodil - hardy little things, nodding their heads in the March wind.

I sat on a nearby bench to eat my sandwiches, (peanut butter and cucumber today - gorgeous!), and found I was nodding my head along with the giraffodils. I suppose passers-by thought I was listening to music, though it was pretty obvious I hadn't got any of those plug things in my ears. (I got hiccups after a while so went back to the office for some water).

Anyway ... a predilection for plants seems to run in the family. My mother used to spend hours doing botanical illustrations. She painted the illustration of Narcissus above. While we were house hunting at the weekend, Littl' Nicky discovered an early garden variety of giraffodil which had the most wonderful fragrance!

I do hope we find a house with great garden potential.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Giraffe House Hunting

The weather over the weekend was perfect for house hunting, warm and sunny, with that lovely spring feeling which makes you arch your neck in anticipation of a great day!

We set out on our expedition with a list of requirements written down by Nexi during a family discussion we had on Friday evening.

Maureen had picked up a collection of brochures from various estate agents, and we selected properties we thought may meet our needs. We decided to start out on the far side of Raffsburgh and work our way back towards the Neckmoors.

There are some fascinating places out there! Nexi fell in love with about eight of them, all of which were most interesting and had a certain idiosyncratic appeal, but were totally impractical.

Necky Becky turned her nose up at everything except a rather dilapidated farm which had boarding kennels attached. She had the idea of a sub-business breeding Neckshunds. Nexi thought that she could redesign the kennels to be used as holiday flatlets. Things started to get heated. In the middle of all this sisterly squabbling, Littl' Nicky piped up and said he'd just noticed Hals rolling in a steaming pile of manure ...

Luckily there was a hose-pipe next to the kennels. After much spraying and squealing, we climbed rather soggily back into the car. I told the girls that we were starting a tours company, not a holiday camp or a canine breeding station.

By now everyone except Maureen was tired and tetchy, so we stopped for tea and jiraffa cakes in a little village, then drove home.

The sunset was so awesomely beautiful that we decided to leave the car in the farmyard near our cottage so we could walk home along the ridge. The majestic sky and the wonder of our surroundings lifted our spirits. From feeling a little despondent because we hadn't found anywhere to buy, we ended the day necks high, knowing that our perfect place was out there waiting for us!

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Personality Profiling for Entrepreneurs

Our first training session at the Busynecks Agency was most fascinating.

One of the exercises we did was a Personality Profile Test. The results showed that I am the visionary inspired entrepreneurial type, and Maureen is the business manager type.

I pointed out that I get most of my inspiration from Maureen.

The course facilitator advised rather earnestly that Maureen should be in charge of the financial side of things and the day-to-day running of the business.

Maureen turned to me with such a wonderfully serene smile, and we exchanged one of our special 'we are in this together' looks and shook hands. (We held hands throughout the rest of the session).

This weekend we're going house-hunting!

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Giraught-stoppers and Start-ups

Relieved as I am to bid farewell to the world of accounting, I will be a little sad to leave our current home, Neckmoor Cottage. We've had such happy times in this little dwelling. All three of our children were born here and there are so many memories.

Looking at it on the positive side, we're not actually selling the cottage - we're keeping it to rent out as part of the business. It will be a moorland holiday haven for clients of Giraffe World Tours.

As a building, it can feel rather chilly. The Neckmoors are notoriously windy, and even with cosy log fires to supplement the central heating, the gales find their way gustingly into the rooms and make one reach for the extra-high-necked woolly sweaters. (I shouldn't really be writing this bit, should I? It may put off any prospective tourist-tenants who happen to read it!)

Our eldest daughter, Nexi, made some very decorative giraught-stoppers for the doors. (She's in her first year at Design College, and don't we know it!) The giraught-stoppers looked splendid, all smooth and silky with gold embroidery and lots of fancy beads, but they would have kept the draughts out a lot more effectively if they'd been made from simple furry fabric which absorbed the cold air!

However, I'm sure Nexi will be a very successful designer and her creative ideas will make her lots of money when she's older.

It is funny how business ideas are born. We'd all been getting our necks in a twist trying to think of the perfect business, when it suddenly happened because of a chance remark.

Maureen loves visiting new places of all kinds; woods, hills, rivers, little villages, bustling towns - she delights in them all. I'd joked, "We could do with a special tours company to meet all your needs!"

There was our business idea! And tomorrow afternoon we're booked in for our first 'Start-ups' session at the Busynecks Development Agency in Raffsburgh ...

Monday, 3 March 2008

The Escape of a Giraffe Accountant!

After seventeen years of working as a reluctant accountant at Storey & Tawle, Raffsburgh, I have today handed in my notice ...

I'm going to be an entrepreneur!

Maureen and I have been talking for quite some time about setting up a family business. It's just been a case of timing and coming up with the right idea.

(I'd actually come up with lots of ideas, but the family all called them 'eccentric schemes' or 'wild & wacky', and generally tied their necks in knots laughing).

This idea, however, is unanimously approved. We've decided to set up a small tours company, and we're calling it Giraffe World Tours.

I can't wait. No more sitting in a stuffy office all day, adding up other peoples' numbers. No more stooping over files and shuffling around musty old corridors. I'll be able to straighten my neck and look at the horizon ... gaze up at the stars! (Maureen'll be by my side to keep my feet on the ground).

There's just my notice to work here, and lots of preparation. We're going to buy a bigger house, with rooms for guests, and find a nice big bus for the Tours.

Doesn't it feel fantastic when you know it's the right time to stick your neck out for something you've always wanted!