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…

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Hurricane winds (Jan 9)

That was quite a storm we had last night.   Winds up to 100mph.    We are several roof slates down, 2 half trees are blocking the drive, we lost the green house door and sadly one of the apple trees in the orchard…

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More high winds expected over the weekend…

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Within the walls (Nov 17)

I thought I heard something… it was the ceiling coming down in the back hall.

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Luckily no-one was standing underneath.

The plasterer says the easiest/ cheapest thing to do is to stick up a big bit of plasterboard and skim it flat – or we can have it done the old style, where the plaster is forced up between the gaps in the lath strips.  This will create a less pristine, more lumps and bumps kind of look – that will fit better with rest of the house.   So the more complicated / expensive option it is.  Of course.

We’ll wait though until we get going on the kitchen refurb’ in the room next door – and do all the plastering in one go.   In the meantime I’m enjoying looking at it – it’s the muscle and bones of the house revealed.  Every time I walk through the hall it makes me stop and wonder.. how the horse hair plaster was made,  who the men that worked with it were and how this grand house came to be almost 200 years ago.




The last supper…(Nov 1)

Note to my vegetarian friends – you might not want to read this.

A week ago we went up to give ‘the pigs’ their final supper – the last of the fallen apples from the orchard.  They never did make it down here as we couldn’t find the time to repair our fencing – but they’ve had a happy life up at the farm.


They came back from the butchers today as follows x 2.  A box for Mr C and one for us:

6 x 500 g of mince

12 sausages

2 shanks

2 cheeks (including ears)

2 flat belly pork – 1 kilo each

1 loin – steak

1 loin – rolled joint

2 back legs – rolled for hams to cure

2 fore legs rolled

6 thick cut chops

4 trotters

It wasn’t the most pleasant job working out which bit was which (nothing was labelled) and involved a couple of calls to the butcher and a lot of blood.    It certainly put us in touch with the reality of the situation – and a reality check seems in order if we’re going to carry on eating meat.   At least this way nothing will be wasted.

After an hour’s work, it’s all in pristine bags and appropriately marked up in the chest freezer.   It should last us a year.  The first thing I’m planning is my own cured ham.   The trotters seem like more of a challenge.

I have to admit that after today’s exercise I do feel a little queasy about eating it (it’s something to do with the butcher’s shop smell – reality check cont’d) but that may not last. Ed feels the same.  Having said that, Mr C has 2 sheep set aside for the new year and next time Ed’s talking about doing the butchering himself….


Saving for a rainy day (Oct 27)

Oh dear.   I got up in the middle of the night, towel in hand to catch a perennial drip from above our bedroom window and quickly discovered that ‘drip’ was an understatement.  It was raining inside the house…

This is now an intermittent problem above 5 different windows, depending on which way the wind is blowing.   It’s essentially down to the fact that a lot of the exterior walls need repointing.   We’d hoped to get some of this work done during the summer (see The drip drip effect – Feb 16) but I’m afraid lack of funds put paid to that.

Ed and I joke that whenever a quote comes in for a big job on the house, we can safely predict the outcome – we can’t afford it!   The cost of repointing just the east wall, including replacing a lintel, sadly didn’t prove us wrong.    I guess it’s because everything here is on such a large scale.

We did make a happy discovery recently though; it turns out our roofer can do lime pointing and he also owns his own zip tower which he can get up and down in a day, and attend to anything urgent.   This way we can keep the leaks at bay for a reasonable cost, until we can afford to do a more comprehensive job.

I think interior rain falls into the category of ‘urgent’ – so he’s coming tomorrow.