A Castle in the Sky

In March 2013, after years of talking about it we eventually sell up and move out of the city with our 2 year old, Gracie. We both grew up in the countryside and this is what we want for our daughter. So we swap a 2 bed flat in London for a small country pile on the west coast of Scotland that needs a lot of work. I've done a bit of interior design and my partner, Ed has a good knowledge of the outdoors – but we're on a tight budget and we've both got a lot to learn. It's a life time's project and this is a record of our adventure…

My first mistake…(Apr 25)

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We’ve got a ridiculously small kitchen for such a big house. It’s on the first floor in what we’re told used to be the butler’s pantry and our long-term plan is to put it back where it originally was. It’s an ongoing discussion as the old kitchen (just an empty room) is on the ground floor quite separate from the rest of the house (just like a servants kitchen ought to have been) but it’s not necessarily the obvious place to put a kitchen now.

Our instincts say it will make sense of the ground floor plan as the rooms down there might otherwise be a bit defunct and there are other advantages to having it where it used to be, like a huge bricked up old fireplace that we’ve yet to take a sledgehammer to (one for next year) – and a flagstone floor underneath an old carpet. The flags are in a bit of a mess – dirty and flaking and mostly covered in what looks like carpet glue but no obvious damp patches.

As we don’t really know what to do with them I’ve spent ages trying to find someone to come and give us a bit of advice. Apparently good stone masons are hard to come by and when I did manage to get hold of someone he said the only way to get rid of the glue was sanding – so he came today to do one of the flags with a machine.

But it wasn’t a good idea; what was a mottled dirty old flag now looks like a plain flat slab of grey concrete.

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I feel bad about it and hope we can find a less drastic alternative.

It’s a strange thing taking on this house.   We both feel there’s some history here that we want to look after or reinstate if we can.  It’s not that we need to be conservationists exactly – but just that we need to take care.

So I’m having to reign in my tendencies just to get things done – we’ve taken on a massive project and sometimes finding the right solution is just going to take a while to work out.

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