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…


Leave a comment

Dung swap (Oct 17)

Half our apples are currently being turned into cider (see Apples apples everywhere… – Aug 31). The rest were too high for picking so we collect them by the bucket-load once they’ve fallen.

In the meantime Ed’s been coveting a large heap of horse dung in a neighbouring field.  Strange things happen when you have a garden…

I tracked down the owner and she’s very happy to do an exchange.  Apples go in – free fertiliser comes out. Done.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

The last cut (Oct 16)

IMG_1786Autumn is setting in and these last dry days have given us one final chance to get all the grass mowed and the lawns in order for winter.

Gracie and I collect 3 buckets of apples from the orchard and then mow the walled garden on the small wheel tractor.   Yes I can now drive a tractor (Ed fixed up the mower attachment and it works brilliantly).  I can also drive a tractor with Gracie sitting on my knee, singing and eating apples and grapes (there’s a tiny vine in the old green house that’s managed to produce a few small sweet clusters without any assistance).   Ed takes care of the paddock and drives.

Then the lawns.  Gracie and I rake leaves while Ed gets back to the never-ending scarifying (see Making Hay – Jun 9).   Various attempts at scarifying have produced so much thatch that it’s an overwhelming amount of work and our many compost pens are overflowing so we’ve downsized our plan with Ed’s recent efforts focussing on the main lawn outside the house.

He’s taken to calling it the croquet lawn which is an admirable aspiration – flat, hard, no moss and well drained.   The ‘croquet lawn’ has now been scarified 3 times and what’s left behind is patchy grass but thankfully no moss.  After a spread of sand (to help with drainage) and some new seed the make-over of the croquet lawn is complete – but it looks a bit naked.    Ed says if the grass doesn’t grow then he’ll have to cover it all in top soil and reseed again.IMG_1811

And as moss is catching –  come the spring, we’ll need to re-start the whole cycle and get to work on the rest of the grass.   Having a good looking lawn it seems requires some serious effort….

 


Leave a comment

It’s bad news…(Oct 1)

The man from the council has just been round and despite all the conversations we’ve had  – the plans, the to-scale maps, the photographs, the drawings, the photoshops and the endless specs ( “do you really want the 8 page spec for a 2 and a half inch bit of pipe that isn’t even going through the wall?”)  he now thinks it’s unlikely he’s going to give us planning permission for the new wood pellet boiler.

The problem is the flue – a big metal tube that will act like a chimney and run up the outside of the old boiler house.

Our intention has always been to try and use the existing brick chimney – but as it’s not been possible to know whether this will work till we try it, we were advised by the council to apply for permission to put the flue on the outside of the building just in case.    This is what set us back so many months given all the extra paperwork.

I tried to persuade someone from the council to come to the house in April (the office is just 10 minutes away) so we could at least get a view on which way this was likely to go – but they were having none of it.   Instead we’ve wasted loads of money and loads of time just to be told something that they could have decided in 5 minutes 7 months ago.    What can you do….

So the pressure is on.   The only way we will ever get this boiler in – and the only way we will ever have a warm house is to get a flue liner (another big metal tube) down the current chimney come what may.   Only then will the council grant us permission.   If the builders can’t get it in I don’t know what we’re going to do.  Several men and a load of scaff’ are arriving on Monday…