Tuesday, 28 May 2013


Arriving back on Islay after two frantic weeks of activity in Dorset, teaching, painting, pond digging, pond dipping, tidying and re-packing was wonderful. I did try to stay awake while Bob drove all the way, but was seen head drooping for much of the journey. I did see the sunset and sunrise though!

Nick has been alone at The Dower House since we all invaded at Easter and has been working on drains and woodwork, but was unable to do much heavy work due to a bout of arthritis. Since we left the bluebells (hyacynths in Scotland), violets more primroses and wood sorrell have appeared as the trees start to come alive with blossom and leaves. The chiff chaff and cuckoo are here and most of the geese have gone. Swallows dip and dive over the beach and rocks and the great northern diver fishes off shore.

Sheds walls and Fallow deer.

I have finally lost count of how many times I have been up and down from Dorset to Islay this year!
Bob drove me both ways at the beginning of May to join Nick who had been on his lonesome for a few weeks rescuing enormous window frames as they collapsed in the gales, digging drains and many other things to keep warm. It rained quite a lot on Islay, with just a glimpse of spring on the Tuesday, which we spent laying concrete with Gordon Currie. We had a visit from Rachel and Alex and waited in vain for the shed to arrive.
 The shed base using up the plaster
 Bob's wall yet to be finished by another artist!
 Sandy and Tom's kitchen where Bob had a shower of the very smelly kind!.

Fallow Deer in Gorse

                                              Bob built the first accommodation to let!
This cheeky chappie we watched for half an hour catch crabs and fish, he always had a mouth full!

Monday, 6 May 2013

A Little Late...But an Easter Update

With Mum (Mary-Ann) up on Islay again, I thought it was high time I took a break from revision (can it still be a break if you haven't started for the day yet?!) and posted some of my photos from Easter. 

Seeing the house for the first time was just as exciting as anticipated for Adam, Ben and I who were visiting for the first time. The garden was much bigger than I'd thought, with plenty of room for tents and for Adam and Ben to play football-double points if you hit Jenny's tent... Of course. Naturally, we were all less than keen to come home, the three of us to revision and impending exams and everyone else back to work. It was definitely much harder to leave this time than it ever has been before. Tom and I agreed that the fog which prevented us from seeing the Dower House from the ferry on the journey home was actually a blessing.

We have been asked for some more photos of the inside of the house, so I will try to oblige although, for the now, I'm just a little more interested in the outside...

I intended to add just a few of the very best photos... All 83 of these are the best few. Sorry!

Having set off at 2.30pm we arrived at Kennercraig at 2am. The banks and path edges were piled high with shoveled snow and it was absolutely freezing. Mary-Ann, Ben and I all had sleeping bags piled high over us, but Sandy, Tom and Adam froze! This is a view from the 7am ferry-Sunrise.

This is the fairy hill. The Dower House is just in front. I would never admit it to Mum, but yes, the sunlight lighting it up like that is truly amazing. 

We left rainy Dorset and arrived to bright sunshine and a turquoise sea.

After spending the whole first day hacking down rhododendrons, Adam, Ben and I (right to left) enjoyed the satisfaction of burning it all! And yes, it was hot enough for me to be wearing a crop top. 

Ben had to spend every morning inside revising for his GSCEs on strict instruction for his parents. Here he is hard at work.

Leading the tree project for 7 years has taken it's toll on Mary-Ann. She has to plant trees everywhere now!

The generator shed can be found at the bottom of the garden. This Lister (?) generator or pile of rust kept Adam busy most of time!

Adam and Nick trying to get the handle to turn!

The control panel might take a while to fix.

The equivalent day in Dorchester saw snow.

Just a few of the many baths removed from the house.

View from rhododendron hill.

Nick and Adam.

Andrew hard at work!

Archie prefers to drink from the bucket used to flush the toilet than his bowl.

This heron can be seen in exactly this spot every day.

Tom playing football in a tea break.

Andrew and Nick on tea break.

Rough night?

No Archie, you can't have my dressing gown.

View of the dower house from a cross the bay.

Watching the seals.

Hard to believe it was hot enough to get sunburn on Islay with a view like this.

Nick's Mail box.

Adam, Mary-Ann and Sandy

Making friends with the residents

It's very hard to choose between photos of the swans, but here are 3 of my favourites.

Ben damming the river.

Ben and I before our first night out camping. Mum and Dad were staying at Topsy's, so we were left with Archie. We are both wearing about 5 layers and I had 2 hot water bottles and 3 sleeping bags. Nice and cosy!

At about 10pm Archie had his usual sudden desire to hunt, so shot out of the door when it was opened for him. I then had reservations-what if he ran away on my watch?- so caught him and put him on his lead and harness. Naturally this dimmed his enthusiasm somewhat...

Andrew and Ben filing the trailer with the brambles Adam and I (mostly Adam) cut off the beach side.

Ben pulling the trailer full of brambles up the hill to the fire pit.

Nick and Andrew putting up Mary-Ann's tent!

Adam and I trying to decipher North Face's instructions whilst arguing about which way your head is supposed to be-by the door or not? Thoughts?

The hotel kitchen being demolished

The stoves that were hidden behind a plaster wall. Later on in the week Ben discovered another fireplace behind these whilst chipping off plaster, so that's another of the 16 chimneys accounted for.

Nick, Tom and Adam.

On Saturday we had a day off and headed up to Ardnave to see the geese and the cows. On the way we stopped at Topsy's to spread the gravel over her drive. As the saying goes, 'many hands made light work' and we were done within half an hour.

Customary group photo of us all by a sign post. From left to right, Adam, Jenny, Ben, Nick (hiding) Tom, Mary-Ann and Sandy.

That dot on the very top of the sand dune is indeed Ben!

Adam and I couldn't resist and joined Ben for some high speed dune running - see film of this at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzoHLUaQZMI

On Sunday we took a trip down to Ardtalla. This is a seal stalking a swan!

Just around the corner Adam and I found this tranquil little bay.

With the stoves at the tip, Adam and Tom had to don their hard hats and start bashing plaster off and removing plaster board. I don't think the hard hats stayed on very long...

Our kitchen and main living space. Here you can see Nick's shaving mirror, washing line and food cupboards. (with no doors.)

Nick working in the attic. It doesn't look like it, but hes actually balancing on rafters about 10ft off the ground!

Egg sandwiches for 8!

Mary-Ann and Sandy clearing up the dust made by the men...

Nick working upstairs.

Night time on the beach at Port Ellen outside Topsy's. Again, see you tube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-GjGIt-hdU

George and Fiona's house cow.

On top of the Fairy Hill. A bit windy to say the least! From left to right, Adam, Jenny, Mary-Ann, Sandy and Tom.

The toads were all out on the way up the Fairy Hill. See video- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJvPRG2ayjc

Adam on the other side of bridge over the burn.

The peacocks came to visit! Unfortunately, Archie caught sight of them and went to hide upstairs, returning an hour or so later completely covered in dust!

By the time we left the swans had figured out that if they waited at the bottom of the garden, someone will come along and feed them! Our initial nervousness of them had gone as well, and within reason, I think I would trust these swans! By the end they were taking pieces of bread out of our hands!

I've been writing this in between revision for about 5 hours now! In future I will try to take less photos. Apologies.

- Jenny