I'm starting the week with two days west of London. Despite all the warnings, driving in and out of the West End along the M4 is a breeze, especially when setting off at 6am.
It's a beautiful sunny day and combined with our Olympic success, the feel-good factor in London is still at a high and it puts a spring in my step. Our first stop is a client we helped with a purchase last year. They own a lovely farmhouse that they have rewired, re-plumbed and redecorated, all in about 40 acres.
Their charming little girl takes me by the hand and after winning me over with a flower picked from the garden, begs me to push her on her tree swing and insists I must come and see her pony. I'm very happy to oblige, of course, while a colleague speaks to her mother — it's not all about the talking.
They would definitely recoup their investment if they were to sell today but they are delighted with their home, and as far as they are concerned this is their forever house. On to Somerset to finalise the nuances of a lotted estate sale — an adventure through overgrown woodland (in a skirt) to find an extra bit of land no one knew they owned. I sustain a few nettle stings and scratches in the process, but get some well-needed exercise and the extra land will increase the sale price so it's good news for our client. Back along the M4 and home by 9pm.
Another early start, to be at a stunning farming and residential estate on the Gloucestershire/Wiltshire borders by 9.30am. It's a doddle getting out of town again, I hate being late so I often have to loiter in a lay-by and have a quick look at my emails — I often get some inquiring looks. I spend the day with a colleague from our Cirencester office taking details — there are a mass of farm buildings to measure, cottages to see and a photographer to direct.
I pick the very efficient farm manager's brains on everything from cropping to Single Farm Payment and much more besides. He sends me away with a box of papers to work my way through to glean all the detail I need to understand the estate properly. The very friendly owners give us a delicious lunch and a comprehensive tour of their house, gardens and the estate. We have a lovely day and on the way home I think to myself, this is why I love my job.
Today I am in the office catching up with buyers and clients, and I will be here tomorrow, too. We've got a couple of offers for a farm in Oxfordshire and have decided to go for the best and final offers, so I ring all the interested parties to encourage them to prepare their best bids.
There is still a lot of talk in the office of the Olympics, with thoughts now on today's Paralympics opening ceremony of course — I've certainly seen a lot of people desperately trying to secure tickets in their lunch breaks. So long as this mood continues, we are all for it. I hope that the "ready, steady, go" announcer at Victoria station, encouraging us to support Britain and Jamaica, will be back in full swing.
The day starts with a viewing of a 700-acre farm inside the M25. There are lots of sensible and relevant questions asked, which is always encouraging. I'm back at my desk in Hill Street by lunchtime to do all my Friday updates to clients.
Our newest recruit keeps us entertained for the afternoon. He's been struggling to navigate his way out of Green Park Tube station but has now got the hang of his route to work.
He admits that his friends gave him a Paddington Bear luggage tag to wear around his neck when they heard he was coming to London. Goodness knows how he's going to fare when his car arrives and he's let loose in the home counties.
Sarah Macdonald-Smith is associate with the estate and farm agency group at Strutt & Parker (020 7318 5185).