I didn’t want to be in a retirement flat. I wanted to be here, in this lovely landscape
“I hate housework with a passion,” Freda Helme laughs. “And why do you need lots of clutter. I knew what I wanted, I wanted to stay here but didn’t want to be cleaning bedrooms and all that brass anymore! This is just so easy.”
Freda is sitting in the open-plan living/kitchen room of her glass-fronted, brand new log home, which is sited next to the rural bungalow she bought with her late husband in 1976. That is now owned by her son and daughter-in-law, and Freda’s contemporary Bergen annex is located at the end of the garden with gorgeous views across the beautiful Herefordshire countryside.
When her husband died three years ago, Freda decided to downsize and initially went to view some local retirement properties. “I went to see them in my local town but they seemed rather soulless,” she explains. “So, I went online and found Norwegian Log and in June 2020 we made our way to Reading to see the show homes and I immediately knew this was what I wanted. I liked the whole feel, they were so accommodating and not at all pushy.”
With her decision made, Paul Williams from Norwegian Log visited Freda’s garden to advise where her solid log annex would sit on the plot. As it could be sited within the garden’s ‘curtilage’ and it would be for her use, the company were able to organise a Certificate of Lawful Use from the local planning authority. “They did everything, I was very grateful for that,” she says.
The UK was now in deepest lockdown but the Norwegian Log build team was still able to start construction and by late March Freda’s new log home was completed. “The team was staying at a local cottage and so I made them all breakfast every morning, and even managed it without being in the same room as them,” she explains.
By July her annex was kitted out and ready to move into. Cosy and stylishly furnished, it boasts one bedroom, shower room and a kitchen/living area. “What more do you want. I can go next door to see my son whenever I want to, and we share weekly meals out. I think this is a real alternative to traditional retirement living. And you are still with your family but have no stress,” she adds.
“I’m not worried about a slate coming off the roof or ordering in logs for the fire. And it’s so easy to clean as there’s no dust, I only have to go round it with a mop once a week,“ she adds.
Freda plays an active role in the local community, continuing her role as the local church warden, plus she still looks after her beloved garden which she keeps an eye on from her living room. “I wanted to stay here and be in this landscape. I have decluttered, it’s just so liberating. I have control of everything - I have built this and paid for it and I can make the most of life now,” she adds.