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For most of the past year, I’ve been restoring a holiday cottage in the West Country that belongs to my mother. It’s pretty much finished now and, although I say so myself, it’s looking better than at any time I can recall since she bought it in the late 1970s.

The refurbishment began shortly after my mother moved into residential care. Our family’s plan was to return the cottage to a lettable condition and so create an additional source of income for our mother to help pay the bills for the care home.

It’s taken a year for two reasons.…

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