Thursday, 26 February 2015

The next step along my path of New Beginnings

Well it's almost a month since I decided to take my own advice and be kind to myself. The relief I felt at taking the decision to defer from my Open University course for the time being has stayed with me. I did the right thing. It wasn't until I removed that stress factor from my life that I realised how badly I had been affected by it. For a while there, everything I needed to do seemed impossible to achieve. I lost all confidence in my ability to do anything well and was deaf to the assurances of my friends and family that I was indeed a capable adult. What did they know? They weren't the ones who were expected to do it,

Sound familiar?

Rainbow over Cogges
5 weeks on and I'm in a much better place. I'm once more the happy person who smiles and says hello to people I pass in the street. I sing around the house and as I go about my job of feeding the cats at Cogges. I've also stopped snapping at my poor elderly cat who follows me around the house demanding food all the time, despite the fact that there's actually food in her bowl. Now I just play the game of picking up her bowl, waggling a fork around pretending to put food in it, before she'll eat. Bless her.

The funny thing is, I'm just as busy as ever.

In my blog,  I mentioned that I'd been asked to write a new guidebook for Cogges Manor Farm and to become a Downton Abbey Tour Guide when Cogges opens for the season in March. If I hadn't been taking a break from my studies, I would have had to say no.

Yew Tree Farm
For the past 4 weeks I have been dividing my time between doing research for both. The first week was spent watching DVDs of Downton Abbey, series 4 and 5, and making notes on the scenes filmed at Cogges. I used these notes to plan a tour of Cogges, including any anecdotes and interesting bits of of information about the filming that I know from having been around at the time. I've also been seen walking around the site talking to myself, practising. My first tour is happening at the end of the month when I'll be showing around a group of Japanese Tour Operators. They're visiting the site to see if they think it's worth including on there Downton Abbey Tours. No pressure then. I'll also be using the notes I made on Downton to write a section on the filming at Cogges for the new guidebook.

Old guide book
Doing the research for the guidebook has been a bit more difficult. The new guidebook is going to be a mixture of the old and new. My job has been to edit out the bits that are no longer relevant and write about the new. The old guidebook told the history of the site up until the beginning of the 20th century. I was asked to fill in the gap between then and the present. Unfortunately, there wasn't really much about that time, recorded anywhere. I found bits and pieces from different sources; an old photograph; a reference to a Woman's Land Army volunteer who stayed on as housekeeper. But nothing really concrete enough to write about.

Then I had a breakthrough. I managed to contact a member of the Mawle family, the last family to work it as a dairy farm. Despite her protestations that she didn't know much, what she was able to tell me, put together with the scraps of information I already had, gave me enough material to write about. It was almost like finding the missing pieces of a jigsaw.

I've recently submitted a first draft. I've never done anything like this before and I know that there'll probably be a lot of editing and re-drafting before it'll be ready to send to the printers. But I'm feeling very excited and pleased to have achieved as much as I have.

Now to find my next project. 

Photo's Isabel's own apart from:-

Don't be too hard on yourself jpeg, courtesy of:-

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