Nonsense! I for one have been entirely invested in the venture – but given she is living my ideal life, right down to taking in rescue hens and keeping bees, I’d be lying if I didn’t feel a tiny stab of schadenfreude when Beeny eventually ended up having to plead with the council for planning permission, like a mere mortal.
She got the go-ahead. Of course she did. And while she was waiting, she and Swift set about learning country crafts like cider production, cheese making and sheep shearing. I can’t have been the only parent who wept with bitter envy when she managed to persuade her sons to go on a foraging expedition.
“The main reason we wanted to move to the country was to give the boys a more outdoors life and a less academically focused education because they are more creative,” says Beeny.
“I feel that technology has robbed modern children of their childhood. Parents are connected to work 24/7 and kids are hooked on smartphones.”
To encourage her four to make their own Swallows and Amazons fun, Beeny and her husband, who met when she was 19 and he was 18, have fitted a padlock on his old metal tuck box into which she puts their phones.
“First they are furious and then they are bored,” she says. “Boredom is the greatest gift you can give any child because it fires their imagination.
“Not so long ago my boys spent the whole day outside, finding sticks, whittling them with penknives and then finding a way of dyeing the wood. Of course, then they made them into weapons and attacked each other but it was so nice to see them off their screens.”
This Boxing Day will see the family gathering around a bonfire, with mulled wine and mince pies. Pre-Covid, Beeny’s boys would be hanging out with their four cousins. She is, you see, jammy enough to have her own ready-made tribe; her elder brother, Diccon is married to her husband’s sister. It takes a while to get your head around it, but as Beeny points out “it’s not as crazy as it sounds, because siblings tend to share the same philosophy.”
In this instance they do. Beeny, Swift and her brother started a property development company together when she was just 24. Diccon and his family live close by and have three sons and a daughter.
Alongside their London home, in 2012 Beeny and her husband bought Rise Hall, a derelict 97-room Grade II mansion near Hull. It cost them £435,000.
“It was his dream really. Graham has dreams and I make them happen,” she says. “It was a huge labour of love.”
Ever the canny entrepreneur, Beeny ensured the project was televised in the hugely watchable Sarah Beeny’s Restoration Nightmare. She and her family turned the wreck into a beautiful wedding venue and in 2019 sold it for £1.4 million.
For now the family are living in the run-down Somerset farmhouse. Their new modern-faux-traditional pad will have seven bedrooms and is being built from insulated concrete, clad in local stone, which they claim is very sustainable and will reduce heat loss. A lot of online forums disagree.
Incidentally, in the opening credits of her New Life in the Country, Channel 4 has attempted to inject a note of financial jeopardy by showing Beeny looking pensive and murmuring “there is no plan B”. But given it’s all over the internet that their London house was listed at £3.5 million, not even the tiniest of violins would do their privileged plight justice.