Swanbridge Farm for sale

BRAKESPEARE can think of nothing less appealing than trying to make his fortune out of a Fenland farm. You may not, as they say, see many farmers on a bike these days but sure as heck you see very few in Range Rovers or Jaguars either. But if the inclinat

Last month a neighbour moved away. Before the move, the family ditched some of their furniture. Not for them the process of taking it to Whittlesey tip (sorry: 'recycling centre') No. In the middle of the night, they dragged their lounge suite into the field at the back of their house and put a match to it.

Next morning, I risked a joke. "I hope that sofa wasn't the one with the £10 notes in it."

For a moment, the neighbour went deathly white before she relaxed and smiled nervously. I must have been nearer the truth than I had imagined.

Years ago, every Fenland farmer was supposed to have a pile of cash stashed away under the double bed. Nowadays it tends to be used car dealers, plumbers and a certain type of odd-job man who rely on do-it-yourself banking.

Like a guy I know who lives near Tydd. Jimmy's well past retirement age but still takes on every little job he can grab - for cash.

He claims he's never trusted a bank or building society in his life and I'm pretty sure he's had very few dealings with the Inland Revenue. I once saw a couple of invoices he'd written. They'd have won major literary prizes for creativity.

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He keeps working because he knows his savings aren't earning any interest wherever he's hidden them in his bungalow. And he's very much aware that some of the pile isn't worth anywhere near as much as it was when he earned it 30 years ago.

It amazes me how few of us take the trouble to sort out our money affairs. Take just one example. Half the parents of children born since September 2002 have wasted the £250 voucher the Government gives them to set up a Child Trust Fund. Their children will see this turn into just £1,140 by their 18th birthday. If only the parents had invested it properly, it could be worth £32,000 by the same date.

It's amazing how daft some folk are. The Halifax Bank has just issued the news that, between us, we caused £296million worth of fire damage to our homes and gardens last year - by barbecues alone. It's obviously not just burning burgers that cause that distinctive smell every summer Sunday.