Maggie wants a house with lots of light. I need one with character. And what we do have in common doesn’t help either – we’re both stubborn.'
When Derek, a former TV journalist, and his partner Maggie decide to escape to the country, they don’t opt for the simple life. Instead they set about converting an old Cotswold stables in Stow-on-the-Wold into their dream home. Over the next two years, they wage guerrilla war on the Planning Office, are cursed by everything from collapsing walls to poison gas and dozy apprentices, run out of money, and meet some very strange characters – till in its final stages of construction, the place unaccountably floods.
Along the way, Derek takes a quirky look at what makes villages work, or not, in the twenty-first century. Haunted by the words of a friend who accused him of suffering from Lark Rise to Candleford syndrome, he investigates a dozen different villages.
When it’s over, Maggie and Derek survey The Old Stables with its ten metres of shimmering glass and exposed oak beams, and Maggie says, ‘Next time, why don’t we try something bigger?’