The time has come the walrus said to talk of many things.......and one that I do not talk about often enough.. is my home, my outdoor activity business, Casa La Pedrera, now known (however relunctantly) as the Grand Design House.
When the show aired approx 6 years ago, I had no idea that they would be showing it in 2009, as recently as a week ago. Its quite a strange feeling to flick through the channels and find your own voice coming back at you.
Although now ambivalent towards the show, when it first aired, I was completely distraught. The negative reaction and hurtful comments from Channel 4´s forum completely caught me unawares. I certainly do not put the Grand Designs TV program in the ´Reality TV´ category but comments passed on that forum, certainly made it seem so.
To be frank, I don´t really know why we went on the show! We certainly had no business to promote at the time, no interior design or architects practice to showcase....... well I blame my husband! While I was in the hospital having a baby, unbeknown to me, he had contacted the show, and on coming out of hospital had a microphone shoved in my face (whilst breastfeeding I might add) and before I knew it they had started filming the program.
I will admit that having the camera crew around was a distraction from the daily grind, as I was living on my own in a mobile home in Spain with 3 children whilst Derek was still in the UK, selling our business. In retrospect I was not ready to build a house of this magnitude, initially on my own, in a foreign country without being able to speak the language, let alone having a TV program filming my every move!!
I suppose if we really think things through, we probably would not do most things in the first place. Although it was ´company´I do feel we were rushed into making decisions for deadlines for ¨Kevin´s Visits. Throughout the years build he came out about 5 times in total. All the other material was shot by the director and assistant director.
I was incredibly embaressed about the program and for 2 years told no-one. A hinderance... definintely!! I sighed a huge sigh of relief that I was in Spain when it was first aired- Well I might as well have saved my breath!! The Grand Designs Magazine Editor had labelled our house ëverything that a Grand Design was Not!! and was the only house that was never featured in the magazine.
Little did I know that the program would be shown 6 years down the line, not only in the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand Russia and of course South Africa too!! Its one way of connecting with old friends.... even works better than Facebook!
Staring reality in the face, with no more money as everything we had was in the house and mountains of debt piling up on every side I decided to take the negative ,my home ,with all its problems and turn it into a positive,my home, with its amazing location and breathtaking views.
We started slowly amongst friends with quadbiking trails and it soon grew and added horseriding, walking, and naturally being on a lake added water sports as well. Now we are in our 3rd year with many ups and downs has resulted in a very successful, family fun business. I have won awards and have been invited to speak at many clubs and societies notwithstanding having hosted many functions, the latest being a wedding at my home.
Despite the credit crisis, the future is positive. We also run a large number of charity events, A challenge Walk and a Dog Show in the Pipeline and not forgetting our Easter and Christmas Fun Days which supports local charities as well. But we still have so much more still to do and finish!!
The TV Program now - A definte Help!! People are naturally curious and having seen it on TV like to see it in the flesh. We do believe we offer a fantastic venue and loads of fun activities for people of all ages. We also now have a little tea garden in our grounds so people can come out for a walk and a look around the gardens. You can look on Channel 4´s website for more details of our build and comments that people have left and for more details about where we are and what we do on our website at www.thingstodoinspain.info.
On balance then...... a good experience... definitely..... Would I do it all again.....Defintely not!!!