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Life now

Learning Surprising Skills

Posted by Frank on

Over the years we’ve become the owners of multiple businesses alongside our real passion for violins.

At first our problem was how to attain skills to do a great job at whatever we wanted to undertake. But in the end it happened by accident that I met a man with a love to rival our own for his business.

Guy inspired me from the day we met because he built and nurtured his fencing business much the same way that we grew our music business. His Horsham fencing company started as an idea when he was just 10 years old, helping his Dad on the family farm. He loved to hammer the posts into the soil and over the years he decided he wanted to build fences for a living.

It doesn’t sound like a labour of love because any kind of work in the great outdoors can be laborious and hard. But Guy relished the elements and with his father’s help he set up his own company.

I loved his story and his passion, and how that 10-year-old knew just what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. So much so that I asked Guy to take me along one day to learn some of his skills.i

Much to my surprise I loved working outdoors, though I freely admit I like to choose when I work and prefer the warm inside during the winter months. So we became informal business partners as I set up my own company and subcontracted to him. We still get along like brothers and it’s been a great friendship. When I need to burn up some energy or destress, I help Guy with the work. It might be a closeboard fence for a small town garden or deer fencing measured in kilometres around a farm. I don’t mind and we make a great team.

When I’ve had enough hard labour, I return to my precious violins. It’s a wonderful contrast working with delicate instruments one day, ensuring a perfect finish and using a light touch. Then next being out in the fields with a club hammer and landrover, getting dirty, hardening my hands and getting blisters. But somehow it works and I love it all.

In some ways though it’s not so different. Both skills demand a degree of accuracy and precision. It’s readily apparent when it comes to violin making, but not everyone would appreciate that a fence needs to be accurate too. After all, it’s no good fencing a pretty garden and ending up with a wonky fence, or one that has panels of different sizes. And it’s almost an art to make a fence look pristine.

So maybe they have more in common than you’d first think.

Violins and fences – who knew?



Life now

Our Passion and the Bills

Posted by Frank on

So you can see I’m a sentimental soul and perhaps that’s what my wife fell in love with, although I sometimes maintain that she loves the music and my violins as much as I.

We opened our wonderful shop and I have to say it has been more of a labour of love than a way to make our fortunes. But we worked hard enough to start another business alongside that would bring in more money and keep the wolves from the door. Our carpet cleaning business is a huge departure from our passion, of course, but we take pride in doing a good job and you can see our website at

violinsIt was strange at first to make such a giant leap but we were aware that we could never bring in enough money every month to start a family and have a decent life. So we wracked our brains and wrote a list of all the things we could do and ways that we could make extra income.

It wasn’t a big list yet we were both healthy and strong so we looked for something that would be simple but not too taxing physically. In fact, against the expectations of our family it has turned out well and we are able to tailor our carpet and upholstery cleaning around our shop and private lives. We don’t have to work full-time but find that putting in around 30 hours a week between us brings in enough money to keep us going.

The beauty of money is not intrinsic but in the freedom it gives to follow one’s dreams. So tcleaning carpets has allowed us to build our violin shop and the workshop we run alongside. Our violin business is really our hobby and it pays for itself with some profit, but without our other business we would struggle to live.

Despite running two businesses, you couldn’t consider us wealthy, yet we have enough income to support our growing family and that’s what is important to us. Our children have learned to play the violin, of course, and they both show some promise in the field. The violin is one of those instruments that needs to be mastered early in life when one’s fingers and mind are flexible enough to cope with the demands of this wonderful mistress.

Although I love to play, my skills are not good enough to pass on to our talented youngsters so we employ an expert to get the best from their young brains. And of course they’ll have access to the best instruments so we hope they will achieve their potential.

Meanwhile we may have to work harder as carpet cleaners in order to provide the extra funds needed to keep our children professionally tutored to a high standard. It’s a sacrifice we will not begrudge.