Saturday, 17 August 2013

Hellos and Goodbyes

Since buying the Dower House and starting work in February, life seems to be full of "Hello" and "Goodbye". Today we waved Mark's and Ruth's families off on the Finlaggan at Port Ellen after the most amazing 2 weeks exploring Islay with family and friends. Last week it was Sandy and Tom and tomorrow Jenny, Adam, Joe and Ben make their way back to Dorset. Monday Angus, Sue and Amelia arrive and next week Mum and Nigel go home.

Adam and Jenny take Ben fishing in the bay.

Nick using his slater's axe

Ben clears bracken

 Rainbow over Seal Bay

Every time I have been to meet family or friends a rainbow appears!

Katie and Dan arrive on the Finlaggan

...and of course Dan ends up working on the roof!

As Katie and Dan left, the rest of the family arrive and the Dower House becomes an activity centre for all ages, the seals are a big draw.

Mark and Mary-Ann take a paddle in the K2...well the Baracuda, after a few years break!

Sandy and Tom enjoy the sun on Machir Bay

While  Ben and Claire create a splash! 

The gang Jenny, Ben, Joe and Adam moving slates for Gary and Willie

Nick and Adam rebuilding another dormer.

Felting end of roof after Nick stripped it to get more 12 inch slates

Slates getting higher, Nick labouring for Gary

...and higher

Finally a big party in the Islay Hotel for Mum/Pauline's 21st birthday!

Jenny F made the cake...with Topsy's mixing bowl and Ruth's oven, we can only make steamed pudding at the Dower House!

 The slate moving gang...more of them later...


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Visitors at the Dower House!

Having arrived on Islay 3 weeks ago, it's pretty poor that I haven't managed to update the blog yet-sorry! It's been a bit frantic. When we arrived, Mary-Ann, Ben and Rick were in mid slate sorting havoc! Within a week, and with help from myself and my sister, Katie, we managed to sort out a system. When the roofer stripped the roof all the slates slid down into piles each merging into one and about a metre high. This, coupled with the fact that everyone was completely new to roofing and didn't really know what they were doing, meant that all 4000 slates (roughly) had to be sorted through about 5 times! It's a big relief to have it sorted now. However, because part of the sorting job is getting rid of slates which are broken or damaged, we are now short of a few thousand slates. Gary, our roofer is doing his best to find us some as we are using traditional island slate, but these are quite hard to find.

The roof so far...

Hauling the lead up onto the scaffolding.

A dragonfly on the bush outside the front door.

Getting planing lessons from Nick for the bunk beds.

Having cut down all the rhododendron plants at Easter, we are now left with big roots, which are entwined around th rocks in the hill at the bottom of the garden. I spent a couple of hours trying to get them out with the pick axe, but eventually left it to Dan, who did a much better job!

Taking Ben fishing.

Trying to balance in the canadian whilst fishing can be a little difficult...

2 weeks ago the whole family descended! At the moment we have Pauline, my Nan and her partner Nigel, Mary-Ann's brother Mark, his wife Lucy and children Ben (who came at Easter) and Emma, as well as Ruth and Alan, Mary-Ann's cousin and husband, with their 3 children, Jenny (another one!) Rosie, Ellie and their friend Claire. My boyfriend, Joe, arrived the midweek at Port Askaig on the late ferry, which meant we were able to get a Chinese takeaway in Bowmore first. Sandy and Tom were also here for the previous 2 weeks, mostly working, but we managed to have a few days out! Between us we've managed to book out most of the holiday cottages between Port Ellen and here!

Sampling some of the Islands sandier beaches! First off, Machir bay.

There's something about Machir that always makes me want to swim, but I never managed to go prepared! As someone who is rarely seen swimming out of a wetsuit, especially in Scotland, this is quite something! This time I managed to get Adam, both Bens (Clarke and Short) Jenny, Claire and Ellie, all swimming in their clothes, as well as myself! None of us had towels, so all ended up drip drying and dressed in strange items of clothing! For example, all I had was a very large cardigan, buttoned from top to bottom!

Tom playing sticks with Isla.

With so many people around, Isla is never short of fuss! On this occasion, from Jenny, Emma and Rosie.

The sand stuck to Jenny's jeans after the swim.

Isla taking advantage of Sandy.

The next day we headed off to Sanaigmore. It was so sunny!

Rosie, Emma, Jenny and Claire having lunch on the rocks.

We managed to persuade Nick to have a rare day off. Naturally he thought picking the lionsmane jellyfish out of the shallows was a good idea...

Lucy, Ruth and Mary-Ann having a look.

After a couple more days work we made it down to Claggan last Sunday for lunch.

Nigel and Pauline, reading the paper instead if enjoying the view!

Ben spent the afternoon building cairns.

Emma enjoying the sunshine!

We've had good enough weather to have quite a few beach fires to cook on. Our beach has run out of wood now though, so I took Ellie for a trip in the canadian to get some from the next bay.

Ben, Joe, Ellie and I paddling back loaded up with logs.

Riding a little low in the water.

Joe chopping up logs on the beach, providing the rest of us with a lot of entertainment!

Ellie fishing off the rocks in our bay.

Mary-Ann and Ruth warming up by the fire.

Adam and Joe spent most of the evening sawing up the larger logs to keep the fire going!

I never tire of this view.

Everoyone else has given their washing to Topsy, our friend in Port Ellen, or to family, but Joe ended up hand washing all of his and then hanging it on the scaffolding to dry!

Adam and Nick taking a dormer window apart, ready to re build it.

All the butterflies were hatching out a pumping up their wings this morning. Jenny and I found one in the kitchen so took it down to the beach to be with the others. Got a few photos on the way too!

At the top of the beach there are patches of thistles and nettles, which are perfect for the bees. We've got all sorts of varieties! This one was particularly photogenic!