Saturday, 24 October 2015

3 Years Later!

On 26th October it will be 3 years since we bought The Dower House. 
Doesn't time fly when you're enjoying yourself?

Next year we will be starting a business with an aim to share the Dower house with those who wish to enjoy this land of beauty and mystery, where time can stand still, if you let it!

This is the minibus that Mary-Ann bought from Andy Pickering in
 Lytham St Annes,
Andrew drove up to Islay and Nick keeps trying to steal it. 

The minibus has a lift for wheelchairs, which will enable us to go and collect guests from the ferry or airport to stay in the Dower House. Also it means we can take Topsy and Roderick out for a drive and a picnic when the weather is good.

"The Room With No Name"
but possibly

"Eilean Bhride"

 Jane was one of many people to stay in the new rooms this summer and apart from having a lovely time she helped me to prepare to offer Reiki healing at The Dower House, which I will be starting next month.

This is our versatile room designed for anyone, but especially wheelchair users. It is suitable for any single person or couple. I carefully researched and designed the rooms with help from my cousin Geoff, who I am hoping will soon come and try it out for us, Gary was always there to say what would work and also to give me many other ideas, which he then built into the rooms. 
 Martin designed the electrics to be simple, but with thought for lack of mobility in mind. 

Between us Jenny and I painted the walls and Nick the woodwork. The Oak floor looks great, but we have to very careful not to walk gravel in from outside. A scratched floor is not good at any stage.

The wet room has very small anti slip floor tiles, which neither Jenny or myself would have been able to lay, as they had to have a very specific slope to make sure all the water goes to the drain. 
We let the Boss do that and a good job he did too!
Nick had the job of fibreglassing the floor, which as we have seen before is a horrible job, with all the care put in it should last many, many years without leaking...we hope.

While I was busy tiling the main kitchen and other bathrooms, Jenny did all the tiles in these rooms.We had to let Lee take 3 tiles off to re-arrange the pipes, because the towel rail size changed, (our fault) and Lee does not like messy bends in pipes. That can only be a good thing, so in the picture the towel rail is not really attached at that angle!

  This is the kitchen, which is now self contained with a compact cupboard arrangement to house a combination  oven with a small hob and a little fridge.

...and this is our first time entertaining at a proper table, with candles, flowers and serviettes. Susan came to dinner. We toasted Andrew who was celebrating his birthday in a pub in Preston.I can't show you the bedroom yet as the borrowed bed has had to go back and the new one has not arrived yet...ordered on the 11th August, living on an island has posed a real problem getting an Ottoman bed, I wish I had got it delivered to Dorset and we could have brought it back quicker!

The finished fireplace, I think Nick is pleased.
Gary has to finish the joinery, then the Oak floor can go down

...and our main kitchen. One day Nick will have time to paint the cupboard doors, but I'm happy just having a proper kitchen again it's perfect!

To Dorset, Nottingham, Manchester and home again.

The van has to work for it's keep and we drove down to stay with Mum/Pauline in Marnhull, where friends Sue and Steve are keeping our "STUFF" in one of their barns. We spent many hours sorting it out, throwing much away and loading some of it into the van before we left.

This balloon landed close to the house and I'm still not sure if it was the one Mum and Nigel went up in...was it?

A Wedding...

Most people expect to see a bride and groom at a wedding, but when one of the friends you are with happens to be just as enthusiastic about wildlife and the environment as me and you are at Kingston Maurward College, where I trained, you will probably see something like this. The amazing sight of a grass snake swimming straight towards the wedding party, across the lake and then trying to climb a willow tree to watch! I have to say Phil spotted it first.

The bride and groom did arrive and a lovely day it was too. Congratulations Tanya and Paul. (With one of my best friends Lynn, Paul's Mum )

"MY" minibus/van loaded to the gunnels on our way to Nottingham with Nick at the wheel, Mum and Nigel working the Satnav (borrowed from my brother Mark, thank-you...Nick and I are still talking!) and me hiding in the back, 
as I hate not being at the wheel!
I have to mention that I did have a very near miss in Manchester later, when I didn't see a car in my mirror. Jenny said it was because Nick and I were cross as he wanted to drive and I wouldn't let him.
That could be very's mine! I maintain someone obscured my vision 
with their leg!

Not a funeral, but a Thanksgiving service for Nick and Helen's Mum Joan, 
who died in August aged 95

Oscar and Imogen came too.

What's happening at The Dower House?

Waiting for Gary...

Sandy and Tom's side is moving on...

Wet room and utility, Martin is doing the first fix 

Lee has ordered the materials to start.

Waiting for Gary who is on a roof somewhere...

Waterproofing windows, Nick has also been sealing and painting windows whenever the weather allows. This year it has been very difficult to paint outside for long.


This skirting board is waiting to go on the curved wall in our kitchen.

Nick wraps up the 2 wood burners, to be exchanged.  He uses clingfilm and ropes them on to a pallet not realising that they were to be picked up in a van, not a lorry with tail gate lift! The men didn't  know we didn't have a forklift either!Somehow Nick and the 2 men collecting managed to unload 2 new ones and haul them into the back of the van without mishap, Nick is an expert at working out the best way to lift any, awkward item big or small, he's had years of experience at Dorset tubes. It came in handy that day.

Luckily the others arrived separately, but if you have ever tried to move a woodburner you will know just how heavy they are.

One of my jobs has been spraying all the old woodwork, which involves wearing some very flattering pictures! Covering everything up to avoid getting a face full of very nasty stuff! If you have tried wearing a mask and goggles at the same time and then breathing, you will know that in a matter of seconds the goggles steam up and you can't see what you're doing. Anyway I am glad to say the majority of the spraying is complete now and most of the old rafters, beams and sarking have had at least 1 coat, most of them 2.

I paint a dot on each rafter to record it has being sprayed.
Wildlife expert Phil never told us he was an expert in paint and anything to do with preserving wood, otherwise we would have asked his advice many moons ago. He gave us a tour of his factory in Yeovil  it was fascinating and I am waiting to hear about the amazing C.... paint Phil If you want information try their website

Nick is using an excellent sealer for the masonry that Phil provided, to stop water seeping in through the stonework on the dormers. It is very complex trying to stop water getting through, clever stuff water, where would we be without it?

Just before we leave the house, I will explain why sometimes to ask an expert saves so much time. Everyone in the team we have has their own strengths as we know, if you want to know about roofs, joinery or construction you ask Gary, electrics, Martin, paint and wood finishing Nick etc etc (That's Me and Jenny). So when we had a leak in a pipe joint from the bathroom going in through the wall, it seemed sensible to ask Lee, even though we had done it ourselves.Lee looked at it and pondered, Nick got him a ladder, he pushed it a bit, then kicked it hard, the leak stopped.Lee came back down the ladder and said. "Shortage of clips!" Now why hadn't we thought of that?

A topsail schooner went sailing by.

Just another sunrise

Walk to Proaig on a beautiful Sunday in September

Ardtalla beach with their fabulous looking cows...When I start painting again this winter it will be cows!

Claggain beach

I love to go a wandering...

The Heather was amazing, that is Jura in the background.

I stayed on a beach while Nick and Jenny walked on to the  bothy, it was so peaceful!

...and on the way back near Ardilistry we saw this red deer watching us.

Butterflies and bees finally appear in September and October.

Just born...
This calf at Ardbeg has inspired me to think about painting again and I am working towards it in my mind and also in the pictures I take.

The Old Rowan tree by the burn

Look at the sand in Cassie's beard...and what is that she's eating? Probably her morning snack of a live crab from the rocks. No wonder she smells fishy!


More cows on the Oa this time.

A lot of the Highland cows are crossed with other breeds for beef, but this little calf looks very much like a pure bred Highland. Probably not so cuddly if you tried to catch it!

Got an itch?

Feral goats on the Oa

Cassie surprised this old greybeard and nearly got her comeuppance 

Andrew and Nick having a picnic, Cassie you may note, is tied on!

As we saw from last month's Stormcat boat trip, The Oa is rich in geology, spectacular scenery and wildlife.

Andrew is recording the waves and the sound of the sea.
 One day he may make us a DVD.

On one of the most beautiful days of the year we went for a rare paddle out to Eilean Bhride  next to Churn island and the lighthouse, 
where we explored and had a picnic,  enjoying the beauty and tranquility of this wonderful place we live in.

A herd of red deer were in the next bay.

Cormorants and a seal bask in the late summer sun.

Looking in and across the water to Ardtalla and Beinn Bheigeir 

Lichen, grasses and thrift dispersing their seeds for next spring.

An  Eggar or tussack moth caterpillar ?


...a week or two old.

Deer under the Fairy Hill.

Seal Bay

This mother otter ran up the beach under Cassie's nose while Nick and I were having lunch. Both Nick and Jenny have seen the mother and cub in Cnoc bay next door.

View from a Dower House window...

Clouds with silver linings

Jenny lost all her best dresses 3 years ago and they were found in Sue and Steve's barn with a few other things we had forgotten.

 These Fallow deer are the group from the bonfire last month and just
 sauntered through the garden in broad daylight. 
Sometimes you could be in a Disney film here.

Just before sun rise...

A Red deer stag ambles across the beach on his way to rest after a hard nights rutting!

...and  then the sun rose again.

That is all for now, as we prepare for winter, it will be a lot easier with doors that shut, a few warm floors and heat from the wood burners that actually stays in the house. We hope over the next few months the house will keep moving, finishing our side with shelves, floors etc and getting Sandy and Tom's side ready to put furniture in for the summer. Fingers crossed.

I think probably the blog gives a slightly romantic view of our lives up here and most of the time it's wonderful, but there are times when life has been extremely tough, though we have never lost sight of our goal and soon it will be perfect, how could it not be? Thanks everyone we are 3 years in and on the home straight.





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