Tuesday, 24 March 2015

From The Dower House Window

"From the Dower House Window"
By Mary-Ann

The sun has risen and it's a "Fluffy cloud day". The sea is smooth, with streaks of grey, yellow and a deep blue, as tiny waves break on the shore, lapping and whooshing along the bay.
Bertie crows and Eider ducks act out their dance and call
Hawoo (Hallo) Hawoo.

The sun is bright lemon yellow, lighting up the sea across to Kintyre and Arran in the distance.

Blackbirds chase, robins sing and an eagle flies overhead. Merganzers duck, dive and scoot through the water, 
pursued by gulls after a free meal.

A heron waits,

The forest is still

Sunday morning, work at nine!

This is the 1930's chiming  clock we bought in Dorchester in January. It has a lovely mellow chime, except that after a couple of weeks keeping perfect time, it has now gone a bit mad, and does it's own thing, chiming 12 at 3 and 6 at 1, all over the place...I know what you're thinking, it must be the Faeries...

If anyone out there knows about chiming clocks, 
please get in touch.

This is just a few Dower House boots. 
My work boots have also gone missing from beneath the clock!

Some of Nick's handy work!

Gary waiting...

My own workshop. Hurrah!

In January we borrowed Gary's new van to go to Dorset.
There were sad and happy family and friend moments, but we caught up with a lot of people.
 We collected Gary's canoe from West Bay seeing my cousin Geof and Uncle Chris for Fish and Chips on a very cold sea front. 
On the way back we travelled up via Nick's family in Cambridge, waited for the snow to stop and then drove to a place called Wackerfield near Darlington to collect some very heavy weight doors, made by Gary's friend Dave Leadbetter. Dave is also going to make doors and a staircase for Sandy and Tom later in the year.

The scenery was stunning all the their and back. What a
 privilege to see the countryside looking so beautiful

Inside the Dower House.

Doors to be painted.

Doors to be hung..

The tumble drier is better than a telly...

Islay came to dig out the last floor over two weeks. Rocks, concrete and rubble, not an easy job.

 We prepared the drains ready for concreting.

Black plastic sheet for damp proof course.

Taping the seams.

Gordon Currie delivers two loads of concrete.

...and watches us work!

Elliot guides the lorry back...

To shoot concrete through the window.

This is a new type of "wheelbarrow race"!

Nick washes his tools in the burn.

This will one day be sandy's kitchen!

Another day dawns.

Cassie takes Zebra for a swim..

The last front window goes in. 

Gary makes sure it's level,, while Jenny holds the window in!

 Nick and I started building a dry stone 
retaining wall round the patio.
Nick finds the level.

We had to laugh at ourselves...once again, when Gary came out and told us we were building it the wrong way round. The stone face needed to be facing the sea, not the house, where it would be back filled. What plonkers, he laughed, can you believe it?

It's nice to glance at the view every once in a while, 
the seals shine as they bask on the out lying rocks.

The front gets a face lift, as Gary refuses to put down any oak floors until the outside of the house is clean...quite right too!
We are using the slate slabs from inside the house to make doorsteps, hearths and patio areas. 
The blue door is made by Dave, glazed by Gary, painted by Nick.

Nick finishes the drains with a manhole cover 
over an inspection chamber.

While on the seaward side Gary and Jenny are starting the drains 

Willie Currie delivers 20 tonnes of small gravel.

Many drains, much old poo and some new vents for fires 
have to go in before we cover them up for ever....
We hope.

It all looks like spaghetti to me, but I do have some understanding of where poo goes now. Not sure why I got the job of washing out the old pipes though, I thought Jenny was the labourer and I was the boss! Or is that Gary?

Everyone looks as we do the toilet paper test to see if it works.
It did!

Then the fun with wheelbarrows begins. 
First cover the pipes and support them with gravel underneath.
 The gravel will pack down very hard, you see I did listen Gary.

We were very happy in the morning...

Once the pipes were covered we then had to back fill using the rubble, concrete and rocks out of the house, thanks Islay. 
This is back breaking work and I think my Dad would have been proud of us last week. Even Gary was quite pleased.

We filled inside our retaining wall to a level platform along
 the whole length of the house.

Finally, as if we needed more exercise, 
Gary has a chance to try his sea boat out for the first 
time since we brought it back from West Bay in Dorset.

The seals hadn't seen us for a while and there were seals
 as far as the eye could see.

 In the sea...

and on the rocks...

Back at work...

Cover the hard core with soil...

Then sand...

Another day over and the wheelbarrows can rest...

Cassie waits patiently for a drink.
Archie is still top cat!

Relaxing in the evening, Jenny is writing the last blog...

Back to work the day of the eclipse.

 The eclipse was a bit of a non-starter on Islay, though the 
sun did peep through just before it went dusk like.

The Northern lights however were fantastic at Kildalton Cross just up the road...but we were so shattered we missed them despite driving up in our dressing gown and slippers! 
We were too tired to stay up until after midnight. 

Another time, we have the rest of our lives!

Bertie thought it was time for bed anyway.

Nick carries on.
Using a rope and pulley he's in his element.

That's your doorstep Tom and Sandy!

Notice if the rope breaks Gary has his feet firmly out of the way!

It would be interesting to work out how many wheelbarrow loads of sand and gravel we each pushed last week, but it took all our energy to push them, no time to think!

How come Gary gets the rake? Well because he has the best eye and knows what he's doing, we just do as we're told, though one of us argues with him constantly and it's not me!

That wheelbarrow is 25 years old on the 24th March, it was our          wedding present from Eric and Jo. Sadly they are not here to                                  appreciate how much work it has done.

            You can start to see the level of sand in this one and the                  terrace appearing as we move rubble and level the area.

A host of golden daffodil buds?

Well a deer broke the fence and ate them last night! I love the deer, but when they eat all the flowers I only love them a bit!

Nick rolls the sand with the home made roller...

Gary and Jenny argue about vents, 
who does know best do you think?

After the sand a weed suppressing matting goes down.

Then gravel on top...
The heap starts to shrink...

We push and roll...and finally we get to our doorstep.

Gary goes off for a stroll!

We started the patio on Monday afternoon and finished it Friday. Every muscle ached and I fell asleep before cooking the dinner on Thursday, but there was a great sense of achievement for us all.

Indoor things.

Gary has build cupboards for the Disabled unit
(we must think of a better name for it soon!)
This room will have one of the best views in the house 
and you can see it from the bed.

Nick has fibre glassed the wet room floor and Gary has almost finished tiling it. I underestimated the amount needed and to get anything to Islay you have an extra courier cost, so a square metre of tiles coming from Kettering costing £9.95 ended up at £68. Luckily for us Topsy's nephew James lives in Kettering and is going to collect them and send them up to us. Sometimes it is expensive living here, but it depends how you measure wealth. Money is necessary, but compared to happiness it's nothing!
Lee is going to put the rest of the pipes and fittings in for us as well as a lot of other jobs we can't do ourselves. 

My curved wall! Don't you just hate straight lines?

Well they're not bad here. Gary has given Jenny lessons in floor tiling and me in wall tiling and we are doing just fine...
not perfect yet, but we're getting there.

Nick and I bought these tiles before we had any floors and we just managed to arrange them into the utility using a grey border. They were end of stock, so we couldn't get any more. That, as Gary is finding out, is a typical bit of Featherstone eccentricity!

Gary tiled the bathroom upstairs, these are anti slip tiles and a clear case of not getting what you expect off the internet. They looked blue/green on the screen, but are very definitely white. I am getting used to them and we have decided to use a dark blue wall tile to contrast.

I have been tiling the bathroom with hand painted ceramic tiles, but am a little concerned that the paint might rub off and I will be left with plain tiles! The bathroom has a sea theme.

The kitchen and utility has a flower/herb/insect theme.

This is the kitchen that Gary built and Nick is going to rub down and paint the cupboard doors when he has a minute, a pale colour.

Martin has been coming periodically to do the second fix.
Lights, sockets, cookers, fridges etc  Next we will get outside lights and a TV after 2 years without one. I have to say we haven't missed it much, apart from Downton Abbey perhaps.

 The old oak fire surround, we brought on e bay from Weymouth last year, Angus collected it and it sat in the Barn at Sue and Steve's until we went to Dorset in January. Again when Nick has time he will renovate it, first he has to tile the fire place.

A sealed chimney.

 This is a plan and if I ever do another project I will make sure they are more visible all the way through, but it's a long time since I did a building project, so I need help.

These scenes are the other reason we are here 
and sometimes you have to stop and take stock.

Cassie's never ending seal watch!

Port Ellen at Sunrise

In February Ruth and Ellie came to stay for a few days and it was lovely to go exploring in winter. You don't have to walk far from the Dower House to find scenes like this.

 Ellie standing by a larch tree that looks like a running man.

This little Roe deer is one of our natives and this one, with its mate were in Topsy s garden eating the shrubs in broad daylight. They are seen on their own or in pairs, very rarely more than two. The Fallow and Red deer are seen in much greater numbers together.

The local mute swan,
 perhaps this year the otters may leave their eggs and young alone.

A Curlew and Redshank in Seal Bay.

Rainbows at Ardtalla, 
Jenny and I took the dogs out on a particularly rainbowy day.

 Evening sun on The Dower House.

Well that's it from me, a different slant on life at the Dower House than Jenny, but we are opposites and perhaps that is good, we can't all live in a world where it's all curves and no straight lines and we have to have some sort of order. The thing I have learned is that whichever way you work, as long as you do a good job and care about the people you work with, it will be fine. A bit of respect for your boss goes a long way! By the way who is the boss?

Thanks to our great team of workers, Nick, Gary, Jenny, Lee, Islay and Martin who mostly make my life easier and the people who deliver all the things we need to restore a Dower House. Gordon and Willie Currie, The Royal Mail, Buildbase, Jewson, Duffies and Mundells, also Katie from Tileshack, who spent so much time sorting our wall tiles out last week. They arrived intact!