Being on TV - A Help or a Hindrance?

Published on 17/11/2009 in Expat Life

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.

Casa la PedreraI 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.

Casa la PedreraWe 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

On balance then......   a good experience... definitely..... Would I do it all again.....Defintely not!!!

Written by: Jenni Ray

About the author:

Owner of Casa La Pedrera - The building of which was covered by Channel 4´s Grand Designs Abroad Series.  The Home of Outdoor Actvities on the Costa Blanca

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Spanishtogs said:
29 December 2012 @ 09:17

Sorry about delay in reading this article but I was intrigued when I did. Lake Pedrera is one of the 'must visits' whenever we have visitors and we were actually at one of your charity events earlier this year and enjoyed the day. When my granddaughter next comes out, I think quadbiking may come into play. What I don't understand about the general area around the lake is why it has not been developed for the tourism market? I would hate it to turn into Benidorm, but to have some tasteful restaurants and bars where one could lap up those views, would be amazing. In the main, the only way I know to enjoy those views at the moment, is to park the car at the top near the concrete water (?) towers, stand there for a few minutes, and then drive off again - not a very fulfilling experience! Maybe someone out there can give me advice on this. Cheers.

Nick Kruger said:
08 November 2012 @ 14:43

Excellent place for horse riding, Quad Biking and relaxing by the pool - we've been there most of last week and it was great. If you're visiting the area around Torrevieja/Alicante make sure you go there.

Nick Kruger said:
08 November 2012 @ 14:43

Excellent place for horse riding, Quad Biking and relaxing by the pool - we've been there most of last week and it was great. If you're visiting the area around Torrevieja/Alicante make sure you go there.

Sally Houghton and Family said:
07 September 2011 @ 15:14

Just got back from a visit to this wonderful house. The views are amazing and the location is so quiet and peaceful. The pools are fabulous and myself and my family loved the place and the way we were made to feel so comfortable. a fantastic day had by all and we will definately be back.

BOB COLE said:
16 July 2011 @ 19:43


chris osborne said:
18 June 2011 @ 10:37

Went with my family 3 years ago & hired a canoe out what a fantastic time we had so peaceful & what a lovely house & setting it is in.would love to go back again.What lovely friendly people the hosts are aswell.

Iselin said:
25 May 2011 @ 13:28

I thought your house was amazing!! The episode was just shown in Norway and I loved the way the windows framed the view so beautifully!! I never got to see the inside done though.. I study interior and I would have loved to see the how it looked when it was completely done! Is there anywhere I can see pictures from the inside of the house? Or was there ever a folluw up episode?
Anyway, I think the house is amazing :)

Josh said:
02 April 2011 @ 01:56

allthough I like Kevin I think his narrow minded approach to design is a little boring , there are more ways to design than sitting down with guys who wear suit and tie and have never picked up a hammer before, life is creation and u guys have created something remarkable! Kevin prob lives in a square box with perfect clean plaster lines creAted by a pen and a ruler

Ann said:
31 March 2011 @ 13:48

I just saw another repeat of it. Your home is not my dream home, but wow. I love to see people living their dreams and being true to themselves. You and your husband come off really well in the show. Kevin clearly admired your drive, even if the house wasn't his taste. Hope The business is going well. Online forums attract a lot of negative people, it says more about them than you

Julie Wilson said:
04 March 2011 @ 21:34

Have seen the webside and it looks fantastic. Hope to visit you this summer with my husband, teenage daughter and friends

Barbara said:
04 February 2011 @ 22:01

It's now 2011 and your famous again!! Love the house, want the pools and views (and sun). All the best for the future.

mercster said:
29 October 2010 @ 04:44

I just found the TV program online here:

Well done. Beautiful place.

Debbie said:
01 October 2010 @ 22:06

I loved the episode that your amazing project was shown on. I was gutted when they did'nt go back to see the completed project, particularly the pools (I love BIG swimming pools). Having found the website with the pictures on it looks fantastic. Don't let peoples jealous mindsets get to you. You have done something that many of us can only dream about, you have fulfilled your dream and not only built an amazing house but have a thriving business too and from the comments above show great hospitality to your visitors.

Tony Bonner said:
03 September 2010 @ 11:00

we visited the house just 3 weeks ago. Wow! What a wonderful place and such an enjoyable time was had by the kids aged 8 -16. Loads to do for the children and adults or just idle the day away in a gazebo or sunbed by the pool. Would we go back....? Definitely!! Thanks to Jenni,Derek and Roland our hosts.

Olivia Reed said:
09 August 2010 @ 14:44

I had not seen the programme that featured the house, but we visited Casa La Predrera last week, my grandson had a great time quad biking and my granddaughter enjoyed the horse riding and they all had fun jumping off the high diving board and the day ended with a welcome barbecue. I am sure we will go again.

Linda Hinton said:
03 June 2010 @ 17:35

We have actuallty been to this house a few years ago to do the Quad Biking, with our daughters, during our summer holidays and it is absolutely fantastic.

Derek and Jenni were very friendly and we actually went out on the bikes with Jenni, down to the lake that the house overlooks.

We recommended it to friends of ours who didn't hire a car on there trip but they were picked up by Jenni.

Try it if you visit Spain, they also do other activities.


Naamah said:
01 May 2010 @ 18:36

Everytime I know that that the film of the build is going to be shown on the TV I watch it. I love the house. I love the location. I do think the program was a little negative towards you both, however, I think if you have the dream and you carry out the dream, then good for you! Not everyone has the same tastes (if they have some that is)...

paula said:
19 December 2009 @ 00:00

i watch all of the grand designs programs including this one, i was so impressed with your great ideas,kevin is an idiot and your house is beautiful,long may you all enjoy your life in this house ,it is a credit to your hard work and commitment

Jennifer Haire said:
21 November 2009 @ 17:29

Jenni, Your home is beautiful, be proud of your achievement, I wouldn't take any notice of what others say, they are probably jealous. We have a place not far from you, in Hurchillo. The fabulous views you must have from Casa La Predrera. I'm so glad your business is doing well, you go for it girl, Enjoy !!!

Karen said:
18 November 2009 @ 21:05

Nice to hear of a good and positive outcome for a change, it just goes to show you can make it if you try hard over here in Spain. Well done Jenni.

Derek Cooke said:
17 November 2009 @ 19:17

I remember seeing the programe, actually it was on a Monarch flight to Spain.
I thought then and still do what a project, you have to dream and you have lived and built it.
It what you think that matters, take no notice,
Where in Spain are you, I'd love to see the house for myself.


Derek cooke

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