Thursday, 21 April 2016

When the going gets tough look outside the box!

As usual this entry is in no particular order, 
I leave order to Nick and Jenny!

Who's looking at You?

Progress on the Dower House

Remember the bricks that came all the way from Hartlepool?

Gary is building beautiful fireplaces, while Jenny mixes the mortar...

...and Nick lights the fire, this is the first proper heat in Sandy and Tom's side since we bought the house, so there is a lot of warming up to be done. 
The wood burning stoves have to have little fires for a few days to heat them gradually.



Another |Buildbase delivery!

Lee finished the upstairs copper pipes, Nick connected the waste pipes...  

Gary and Jenny boarded the last bits and 
now Gary is plastering a few walls at a time among other things.

Jenny tapes the joints before plastering.

New hot water tank installed by Lee in March.

Ready for the wash basin...

Shower trays are cemented to the floor.

For 2 weeks we helped Topsy by insulating her little cottage,
 Nick did most of it, but the rest of us helped where needed.

Digging a trench  ready for pipes to connect the oil tank to the 
boiler on the outside of the utility wall, which Lee will install. 

Nick had to drill another hole for the toilet waste pipe, but what he found was another gaping hole. Easier drilling, but then he had to rebuild the wall on the inside of the hole.

Brother-in-law Ian had a serious accident falling from a roof ladder in March, His 3 cracked vertebrae and head injury are slowly getting better, but it is a stark reminder to all of us who use ladders. Unless it is completely safe...don't. Nick has always taken extra precautions, as he can be accident prone, but has learned to avoid accidents...or save himself when he trips. Ask any of us who work with him...we don't watch!

The pile of pallets we have accumulated proved an excellent safe platform!


The extensive patio we built last year needed pointing before parts of it collapsed and of course none of us have had time when the sun shines, so in February Gary gave me a lesson in throwing mortar into the cracks to make sure it goes right in and off I went. I am allowed to put smaller stones into any gaps, so when Sandy came at Easter we went stone and shell collecting and made our wall into an artwork, which suits me fine.  I need a reason to keep at a job and if I'm inspired I will...if not I get very bored and don't do a good job. I am not "a finisher", ask Jenny, who is a perfect finisher.
Adam worked one way and I worked the other.

Sandy adds some shells.

Tom and Adam attacked the Rhododendrons on what we call "Rhododendron Hill" we just keep chopping them down every year and they are definitely shrinking. I am also pulling up cord grass, bracken and Japanese knot weed, which cover a lot of  "Rhododendron Hill", as well as invading other parts of the garden. Underneath these are ancient woodland plants, Wood sorrel, Hyacinths/Bluebells, violets, primroses. It is a truly natural garden.

Tom ordered 100 native hedge trees for me to plant round the property, 
right in my comfort zone.

Every tree planted has to be protected from the deer by fencing it...
and pegging it down to stop the little ones getting under it!

Nick up the ladder again, this time fixing the extractor fan vent 
and cover for the upstairs kitchen.

Another hole in the wall...patched, ready to tile.

Extractor fitted , now waiting for Martin, when we have enough on the list to call him out.

Congratulations to Martin and Natalie, they have a lovely little girl, Belle who arrived 7 weeks early and was born on Islay  exactly  a year after the last baby was born on Islay. Most babies are born in Glasgow, but Belle decided otherwise!

Another hole for the toilet waste connections!

In January 2015 Nick and I borrowed Gary's van to go to Dorset and we picked up our 
heavy outside doors from Dave Leadbetter in "Wackerfield" (I love that name). 

So this March, a week after coming back from Dorset, we set off again for 
the Pennines in the minibus to collect Sandy and Tom's doors.
We stayed in the Kings Arms in Kirkby Stephen, a beautiful old market town 
and could recommend the Kings Arms for its excellent hospitality.
We can also vouch for the doors and Dave is going to build an oak staircase 
for them as well. Another trip if we can fit it in the van.

Logging with Bob!

Our great friend Bob came up for a log/tree cutting week in March at Topsy's and Nick,  Bob and I cut a lot of Topsy's Sycamore to let the light in and create a sustainable source of firewood...that's the idea and we made a start this year. Anyone who can use a chainsaw and wants an expenses paid holiday on Islay next winter/spring let us know. There are a lot of logs to make!

Men just love a bonfire and Bob and Nick know exactly how to make a controlled fire,
not that anything else would burn it was all too wet.

Bob left after 10 days with us, the last vehicle to get on the ferry having had to wait on standby as there are often too many vehicles for the ferries to cope with in the winter, when only 1 is running.


Sunset Kintra

Another favourite beach on the Oa, we call it the Waterfall beach, 
where wild goats abound and otters are often seen.

The flowers that survive grow in very unusual places

Not many daffodils actually manage to flower from Ardtalla to Ardbeg...

...due to these, but it's hard to be cross don't you think?

Fallow buck in the forest.

Spring on Islay started 2 weeks ago with the first lambs.

Adam and Jenny Kintra sunset.

Newborn calf keeping warm on a pile of silage at Kintra Farm.

Mute swans visit The Dower House


  View from the Fairy Hill.

Rainbow over the Fairy Hill.

Cow and calf at Kilnaughton

Tom, Sandy and Adam at Singing sands.

Whooper swans at Ardnave.

Cows like seaweed.

While Nick, Tom, Sandy and I walked at Ardnave,
 Jenny and Adam were walking the coast to Rhuvaal lighthouse
 and the end of the rainbow actually.

Mad March hare!

Seals playing off the beach...

All is calm in Seal Bay.

  The burn creates a natural sandcastle.

This 3 year old otter is one of a pair that are still together and are often seen from the house. This one caught 4 fish and ate them on the rocks. It was a wonderful end to what had been a very stressful day. Perhaps a reminder of why we are here!

A male Eider duck

The 20th April was a perfect day in every sense, 
when you realise that the world can be a wonderful place if you
 just look in the right direction and do something about it.

We went for a paddle!

and finally...

           We want to finish the house this year, that is the plan and we are determined to do it!
So this is the first marketing item and soon we will be able to offer accommodation as well, so watch this space and we hope many of you will be able to come and share our 
spot in paradise for a week or 2 and we can show you the real experience.

Thanks to everyone who is helping us succeed.


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