Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Scotland Part 1

Burnside of Enzie in Northern Scotland

500 miles and 10 hours in Ian and Helens car with Monty dog in the back, a top box full of our gear and a pile of stuff wedged in by the centre rear seat belt to keep Jackie and me apart and we were in Scotland to help Tony and Nicky on their mammoth house refurbishing project in Burnside of Enzie, Speyside.

Tony by what will be his front door. Right is the caravan we were in
We didn’t know Tony and Nicky that well, having only met them a few times, but they made us very welcome at their partly restored isolated farmhouse.  They have owned it for 5 or 6 years now and are gradually restoring it from old farm buildings into two massive houses with fabulous views over open countryside near the sea. It’s a massive project and we are in awe of them, particularly as they both work full time (Tony during term time), but with the additional problem of major back surgery that Tony has recently had making all lifting and bending quite challenging. It’s taking a lot longer than anticipated. The one house is now well on the way, the other one not yet started so, although they have done a huge amount there’s just as much still to be done, so any help we could give was to be very much appreciated.

View from the garden.Left is the garage with caravn by the side.Next is the 'L'shaped first house with solar heating and electric generation panels and further right is the second house yet to be started
This will be their lounge. Big isn't it!
Our bedroom was in the caravan they have outside by their massive garage (about the size of most peoples house!), Ian and Helen were in what will be the utility room in the back of the finished kitchen part of the house, Tony and Nicky were somewhere miles away in another part of the house in a half finished bedroom, so we were all comfortable and completely separate from each other.

In the kitchen.Nicky, Jackie, Ian and Tony
They are very welcoming, generous people, eat late and drink plenty (at least when they have guests), so a huge dinner was served about 10:00pm and plenty of wine, making our start on Tuesday morning challenging. Helen and Jackie collected eggs from the chickens and ducks wandering around outside, fed the 10 cats (three with only 3 legs), two dogs (plus Monty) and then picked fruit and vegetables from the various outside and poly tunnel growing areas (those grapes will be nice when they mature!). Surprisingly the weather was pretty good, not quite ‘T’ shirt weather, but pretty good for northern Scotland, so it was very pleasant being outside. Ian and I were upstairs trying to bash one of the huge bedrooms into shape by wiring lights and sockets, plumbing for radiators, insulating, covering with plywood and building a walk-in wardrobe.

Helen up the scaffold fixing insulation in the lounge
And Jackie operates the circular saw. Nice working clothes!
As time went on Jackie and Helen were drawn into the building project and they were both found to be climbing scaffolding, fixing insulation and plywood, running cables and operating circular saws, nail guns and electrical screwdrivers (Jackie has SDI – screwdriver injury – a numb thumb!). It was literally all hands to the pump, but because the place is so big we never got in each others way, but we had a great laugh and enjoyed it immensely, but were thoroughly knackered at the end of 3.5 days!

Jackie even has Tony as a mate to fetch and carry!
LtoR: Helen, Wilson, Nicky, Tony and Jackie
Being summer in northern Scotland it gets dark very late, so it always came as a surprise when Helen and Jackie would find us to advise dinner is nearly ready and the time is 8:30pm. How did that happen? It’s still a long way from sunset! A feature of the evenings other than copious amounts of food and drink (I even managed to make a rhubarb crumble from home grown produce) was a visit from Wilson from a nearby farm. He wandered round every night after he’d finished farming for a chat. In he walks, even if we’re in the middle of dinner, sits down and we all have a chat. Interesting bloke, I learned a lot about farming and, at least in his case, farming isn’t the low money earner I thought it was. He apparently has a big house, almost new car and a lot of modern machinery, so he’s doing all right.

Ian and my work area, the upstairs bedroom
We made big strides forward for Tony and Nicky, worked hard, had a laugh and left then on Saturday afternoon for our ‘Scotland Part 2’, which was a drive even further north, almost as far as we can go without falling off the end to a place called Portgower near Helmsdale where we plan to spend a week with just Helen, Ian and Monty dog in a rented cottage for a bit of R&R. More on that later…

The start of the framework for the walk in wardrobe. We thought it would be better as a bar and install a couple of hand pump ales that only short people could operate.Manu and Crystal, are you free?

Evening BBQ on the patio outside their lounge

The current state of the second house

And what it currently looks like inside. Last time we were here in August 2011 the lounge of the first house looked like this. 4 years have moved them massively forward

The chickens say 'bye-bye, see you next time'...

1 comment:

  1. Lovely pictures and a great record to compare back to in a couple of years. Monty has updated his blog now too! x