Friday, 23 June 2017

After All The hard Work We Are Open!

 The Dower House Islay
 Opened Easter 2017 

Pictures of the Dower House accommodation we offer...
and how we got here!


Nestled in Kildalton forest, the Dower House has had many roles since it was built in the late 1870's from workers cottages, to an hotel. Now once again it has been restored and is ready to welcome those who are looking for beauty and peace in a troubled world.

Dower House North End Sleeps 8

Bedroom 1 overlooks the garden and sea.

Shared luxury bathroom with bedroom 2.
Towels and bed linen are provided, 
but we ask you to bring your own beach towels

Bedroom 2 

Overlooks the sea and beach to the North

Shared luxury bathroom with bath.

Bedroom 3

 Large en-suite shower room.
With views over the garden and sea.

Bedroom 4

With views over the ancient forest and the Fairy Hill

Large en-suite shower room.

Large lounge

 with door onto the terrace.

Views over the garden, sea and forest

Wood burning stove for chilly evenings.

Comfortable seating for eight.


Entrance porch 

with artwork for sale.

Large kitchen diner 

Dining table and breakfast bar.

With wood burning stove.

... bespoke kitchen 
(designed & built by Gary Clarke, painted by Nick Featherstone)

Fridge, electric range cooker and dishwasher

Bespoke Oak staircase leading to kitchen diner.
(David Leadbetter joinery)

Snug under the stairs.

View from the window.

Welcome pack with tea and coffee for visitors.

Evening sun.

The Utility 

With washing machine, tumble drier and small freezer.

Leading to 4th bathroom with shower.

The Dower House Apartment
Sleeps 2 
Fully Disabled Friendly

Large double bed.

 Large wet room with up market shower seat and hand holds.

Door onto flat, paved terrace overlooking the garden and sea.

Oak dining table with comfortable two seater sofa.

Galley kitchen
 with ceramic hotplate, combination oven/microwave 
and grill plus small fridge.


At The Dower House we can arrange kayaking trips.

Wildlife art workshop holidays

We sell artwork.

We can organise boat trips around Islay

"Islay sea adventures"

Group holidays 



 Guided walks.

We welcome teaching groups 

offer Reiki 

...and this is how we finished the project over Easter 2017

Three dogs on the terrace. Isla' was 15 this month, Cassie is three and may have pups at the end of July and Coire is very happy with his life!

Big Red left his antlers under the washing line in April.

At the beginning of April the garden was full of beautiful daffodils thanks the "Big Red"

...but it really was a mess!

So Gary bought a digger, we had a last big push 
and the rest is history...

Nick dug more drains...

and the digger helped too!

We dowsed with two bits of wire rod and found the old drains without having to dig up the whole drive.

Nick found an original inspection cover...

... also a brick with a tiny hand print on it..
child labour brick making perhaps?

Making pathways.

Gary concreting paths, suitable for wheelchairs.

all the way round the house.

I am filled with dread when we have to empty rooms/sheds and move things,  four and half years has taken its toll...
I will not collect things ever again...perhaps. 

...dismantling Jenny's shed.

...and recycling half on the end of Nick's.

Tom restoring furniture from the old hotel and Re-jig.
Tom should have retired three years ago and has kept going to pay for The Dower House to become the house it is now. Perfect for many holidays retired!

The Generator Shed.

The generator shed was unsafe.

Adam and Ed wanted a project, which had to be completely done in two weeks. They also wanted the old generator to tinker with.

I don't think Adam had realised just how hard the concrete would be, but he persevered.

Just a bit more to move!

Gary is dry in the cab, Jenny gets wet, 
where is the justice in that?

and finally Adam was left with a big pile of rubble...

 Moving concrete to make a ramp for Geoff...
Nick has never complained once, he says he has been on holiday since 2013 and still is, but the renovation  would never have been possible without his drive, knowledge and energy. Nick is fulfilling his dream and mine. It would be nice to get out in a boat now!

More drains, which got rid of Adam's rubble..

Paving the terrace.

Jenny and Gary. More pointing (I did a little)
Jenny has been working with Gary since we finished the Dower House roof and is a constant source of energy and cheerfulness...unless you disagree with her, then you have to prove you are right...not easy with a Virgo! I admire Jenny's drive and self-motivation. With her brain and thirst for knowledge she will be a force to be reckoned with in a few years. Thanks Jenny keep saving.

We welcomed the Baptist Church for tea on the beach again after walking from Kildalton cross.
 We heard the first of many cuckoos.

The generator shed rebuilt by Mr Amazing, into a ruin with stone bench and BBQ. 
It gets the last sun in the evening and provides a secret place to sit.

Coire (Corrie) arrived with Jenny one day and lives with Cassie and Isla' in our side of the Dower House, He's very friendly and spends lots of time watching Archie the cat!

Everyone gets stuck in.

We get to use the BBQ before Sandy, Tom and Adam left.
Rosie has joined our team and is now helping me with the accommodation side of things, which is really great, Rosie and Jenny together will keep me on my toes.

Gary's works.

More sand...

A bonfire to get rid of the old wood.
 The rest we take to the tip to recycle as much as possible.

Gordon Currie and his men have delivered all the concrete, sand, stone and gravel
 however busy whenever we have asked. 
Thanks Gordon we owe you!

This is gravel for the drive and topsoil for the landscaping.




Sandy and I rake the soil over the rubble.
When Sandy and I walked into the bank in 2012 and asked to borrow money to buy the Dower House, we were told our husbands were too old...I think we may have proved them wrong. In the end we didn't need the bank as we have amazing friends. Sandy and I have always been determined that nothing will come between us and it has not been easy, but we have made it with trust and determination to make it work. Thanks Sandy you are a true friend.

Tom does as he is told!

Ready for the next load.

Jenny keeps up the pace for us all to follow.

I wont say a word, but someone has the less active job..
nice to be skilled isn't it Gary?

The Boss checks we have done it properly...

Adam rakes and sows grass seed over the drains.

Jenny helps him water it!
Adam and Jenny have been friends since attending Kanga club at the age of three. That was the first step towards where we are today, fate? What a journey!

Sowing seeds.

Tom sows more grass at the top of the garden.
(Note the next 3 weeks were dry and I had to water for two hours a day, but it paid off we now have green grass and wild flowers growing.

A Garden is not a garden without a pond!

We recycled two old water tanks from the attics of the Dower House to make a three pond water feature.

We lined it with old rockwool insulation out of the house/shed, old carpet, sand and then plastic, before the liner went in. I over estimated the liner on purpose...but maybe over did it!

"Mmm it's a bit big..."

Mary-Ann, Jack of all trades and master of a few along the way. I ran back to Mum a couple of times when the going got too tough, but always returned and never regretted a moment. I love it here and often pinch myself, as who would have thought an ordinary person like me would be so lucky!

Cleaning the cement out of the ponds.

Just in case you are wondering we made holes with pipes for creatures to get out and there are even ledges for the frogs and fairies to sit on.

Building the wall over the liner.

For four years we have presented Gary with our ideas, some small, some big, some sensible and some mad and he has always talked them through and produced the best compromise. When I asked for a pond, I thought I might have to have a small one, but look what we got. Gary is not just a very good builder/and joiner, he is a creative artist that can build something amazing that will last,  for a reasonable price, Sandy and Tom's kitchen and my curved wall. Many people I have met can do some of those things, but when Gary turned up at The Dower House in 2013 we were very lucky indeed. "Trust and it will be fine", became our mantra, it was and it is. Thanks Gary with friends like you we will always be fine!
Anyone want a big garden feature?...

Archie off for a day out!

Morning dawn chorus time.

Cassie and I escaped up the Fairy Hill and spied from above.

The Fallow deer spot us and run.

Nick has done so many drains he must see them in his sleep.

He  finally gets to do what he has been waiting five years plant potatoes!

... sometimes it rains.

The sun rises.

..and the house is almost ready for visitors.

The lawn is now green and Big Red has half grown antlers.

Lambs are everywhere in April.

A rare day off and Jenny, Rosie, Ellie and I went to Ardtalla with a picnic in the damp.

We saw noisy geese flying...

...and then a White tailed sea eagle

which hovered over the geese...

and got mobbed by gulls. Amazing

We have had an amazing journey, made very special friends and brought some with us. All the hard work has been worth it and now we are going to enjoy living on Islay, which is where we have always wanted to be and hopefully share it with some of you who need a quiet holiday to recharge your batteries and see a different way of life.

Best wishes

Mary-Ann and all at The Dower House.

1 comment:

  1. Bit late to this (been away) but this is amazing. .. congratulations to you all! Been watching your progress almost from the beginning and it has been incredible. Enjoy!