So what really happened after Country House Rescue?
Well, we didn’t exactly do what Ruth Watson suggested!
We also had a daughter called Lily, definitely the best thing possible to come out of the time we spent shooting the programme. She is just about to turn 2 now!
But what about the more commercial, Ruth-orientated side of things? The idea of corporate hospitality went down like a lead balloon during the recession of 98/99. We actually had companies who laughed at us when we called them. And neither of us were desperately interested in the possibility anyway. Maybe it just wasn’t spiritual enough!
The acting classes and workshops were pretty sensible though. However, a large majority of actors live and work many miles away in London, and it seemed a little pointless to drag them all the way up here. Particularly when Ellie’s company in London, The Actors Temple, was, and still is, going from strength to strength. You can check out their latest production, Hamlet, on their website at www.actorstemple.com.
For John, the brewery continued to be the more sensible, long term approach to making the estate profitable, and it didn’t involve the huge upheaval in the house that would have been necessary to accommodate paying guests. Lily is tidy but still a toddler, and she might just have upset the cool, professional corporate image we would have needed to project!
In February 2011, John finally opened the Scotish Borders Brewery, and it has been onwards and upwards ever since. The brewery now employs 5 people and sells to over 150 pubs from Sunderland up to St Andrews. The battle to make it happen was definitely worth it, and the plough-to-pint ethos that John wanted to underpin the whole project does seem to have caught people’s imagination.
We’ve also teamed up with Country House Hideouts (www.countryhousehideout.co.uk) to give people who want to come and stay here a real taste of what the place is about. Far better than gold taps and board-room style seating arrangements!
In addtion to the Temple, Ellie has launched a successful Scottish-based theatre company called Firebrand. They’re about to produce their third play, Oleanna, and you can learn more about them at www.firebrandtheatre.co.uk.
So are we making progress? Yes, we think we are, and the best thing about it is that we’re happy about the way it’s happening. Do we regret doing Country House Rescue? Not for a second. The suggestions just weren’t for us. We wanted to do things that had a little bit more soul, spirit and meaning. And we really hope we’ve done that.
Do stay in touch!
John, Ellie and Lily.