I opened my local Birmingham paper one day in 2010 and there for sale was a cave “fit for Fred Flintstone”. The auction date was my birthday: it was fate.
The rockhouse is about 750-800 years old and was hand-carved with pickaxes. There are others in the UK but because they’re no longer recognised as dwellings, they’re sadly not preserved.
It took me 18 months to research the rockhouse and eight more to tunnel it into a proper home, excavating about 80 tonnes of rubble by hand. My “cave” now has electricity and wifi, and I’ve drilled a 200ft well to tap into the natural water supply.
It wouldn’t be practical to live here all the time – if I did, where would I go as an escape? But I get immense pleasure from seeing other people enjoy it as a holiday home. It’s a very uplifting place.
My axe is a crucial part of rural life. I use it to split logs for a little fire on the terrace where I cook dinner.
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007 and this old stone kettlebell is my mobile multi-gym. They were first used by the Roman army and I always feel like a Roman soldier when I use it.
Behind it are two bottles of the Rockhouse wine my dad and I make locally, using Italian grapes.
These are the hands of friends who helped me build the rockhouse, a modern take on cave art.