Lights switched on and off, and the temperature would suddenly change.

In 1999, I was in my mid-40s and had just escaped from my stressful and joyless career as a management consultant. I needed a project. I loved small period buildings and decided to throw my energy into restoring one; I started combing through auction catalogues in search of a place.

Having failed to win a number of London houses that didn’t much inspire me anyway, I cast the net wider. My father would often give me advice over the phone. He persuaded me to focus on Derbyshire, a county my family has a strong connection to, and helped me identify what my ideal house would be like: stone-built, a south-facing garden, with at least two bedrooms and a workshop.

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