The group’s first meal on the site of the future Passivhaus cohousing development in Colchester
It was Sheena’s first visit to our site and she walked around overwhelmed by the space, the trees and the whiteness of the Mill reflected on the water of the pond. With the exception of Anne our member and architect, for the majority of us it was only the second time we had actually visited the site, close to the centre of Colchester, and which we have just purchased to build our low energy cohousing development. This first meal, a family picnic, was the result of years of work, plans and dreams, as well as a deeply-felt celebration.
Phil summed up the group feeling rather well: ‘As Rosie, Sophie and I travelled to Cannock Mill, I was under the influence of a strange cocktail of emotions. Excitement because we had actually bought our site; slightly pathetic gratitude that Sophie had given up her Sunday to check out where her baby boomer parents had decided that the next stage of life’s adventure would be; blind fear that the site we had last seen in detail more than a year ago would turn out to be not that nice after all.
My apprehensions evaporated on arrival. It was bigger, brighter and better than I recalled. The group used to talk about the ‘wow’ factor – and Sophie, my daughter used the ‘W’ word for the first time while admiring the space in the ground floor. The second floor – our future dining area, looked perfect. We stepped outside the ‘back door’ to where our sunny terrace by the Mill Pond will be – more wows. The top floor with the full height of the gabled roof was magnificent – especially when we took away one of the temporary shutters from the front of the building and allowed the light to flood in from all sides.’
Outside, in a part of the common house garden, the picnic was in full swing.
‘I hadn’t seen this patch of land in high summer before. The brook burbled, the willow trees dappled the light and the sun was truly trapped in this delightful spot. A birthday toast to Ian – then another to Cannock Mill – it was air and playing, lovely and watery and fire green as grass (I really must keep my inner Dylan Thomas under control!)’.
The best conclusion came from the son of another group member in the train on the way back to London: ‘Now I understand what you are trying to do, and I actually enjoyed myself very much. Keep a room for me.’