Sunday 28 December 2014

Winter sunshine

The Christmas holidays have brought a temporary halt to work at the Barn, so there is no news to report from there. With Sue away in Kent visiting her Mum, I am getting to do all the dog walking. Ice on the local roads has made walking on them something of a challenge, so this lunchtime, I pulled on my boots and headed up the hill behind Summer Cottage.  The soggy moorland wasn't as frozen as I had expected, so we didn't go far, but we made it to the summit of the nearest low hill, which is topped by a trig point, and affords some great all-round views...

There's just a dusting of snow on MacLeod's Tables
The distant scattering of buildings just right of centre is Roskhill -
the Barn is left of the trees
Looking over Roag and Loch Bracadale towards the Cuillin

Saturday 13 December 2014

Barn Latest - Some Progress in Spite of Adversity!

Our sturdy chaps have continued to work this week, in spite of gales, snow and power cuts. The garage walls grow ever higher, and there is plumbing and electric cable in there now. The worst of the weather drove the chaps inside, where they have removed much of the ground floor wall where the stairs will go, after fitting a lintel so the wall above won't collapse!

The garage - coming along
A lintel supports the upper wall.
There's just some blockwork to be knocked though now.
The extension will be a timber-frame, made off-site.
This is inside of the wall pictured above.
The stairs will start here.

Sunday 30 November 2014

Barn Latest - Blockwork Begins

Not a great deal to show this week. The poured concrete had to be left to harden, then the chaps were on site a while to start laying some base courses of blocks...
This is the garage. The flooded bit on the left will become a path between the garage and a retaining wall below the lawn. Some land drains are planned!
I'm still not quite able to visualise how the staircase will fit! It will be coming through the wall where the pick-axe handle is leaning, and turn as it climbs to enter upstairs where it reaches the old upper front door.

This is 'round the back'. The back end of garage will extend beyond the wall of the Barn. My wooden shed will be going in thuis gap, up against the fence, leaving a space to walk through between it and the Barn.

Saturday 29 November 2014

Summer Cottage Available for Booking!

I have just launched the website for our new our new holiday cottage - Summer Cottage in Roag. It is at . Online booking is available, with first bookings starting from Easter 2015. At the moment, the photographs on the site are all taken from the Estate Agent's details, but they will have to do until we are able to get some better ones of our own.

Here is the Summer Cottage as seen in Google Streetview:

We have bought the cottage with much of the furniture in place, so the work to get it ready for letting is relatively minimal. To be sure we are ready though, and to get the know how the cottage 'works', we will be staying in the cottage for a while in the New Year. It is less than 2 miles from Roskhill Barn, so it will be easier for us to keep an eye on the building work than from Loch View, which is where we are staying at present.

Of course, once we move out of Loch View, I shall do a bit of refreshing of the decorating, then this cottage will again be available for early Spring breaks. The website for here is

More news on the Roskhill Barn re-build soon!

Friday 21 November 2014

Barn Latest - Outside Staircase Gone

Our builders at Roskhill have made the most of the brilliant weather we have had this week, and have achieved great things with the Barn make-over.

The machine man made short work of demolishing the outside staircase which gave access to the upstairs apartment. The photo below shows the footings - already concreted - where the small extension will be built to accommodate the new internal staircase.

Further work has taken place at the end of the building. What seems like a huge space has been created which will be filled by the garage, retaining wall and path, and beyond it (where one of our cheerful builders is working) is the sunken space which will house our concealed central heating oil tank.

Shame the excavator has chewed up the lawn, but establishing new grass will be one of many little jobs for next spring!


Tuesday 18 November 2014

Barn Latest - Machine Man On Site

Locally, the people employed by building firms to bring an excavator and dumper truck to a building site are known as 'machine men'. Our man has been at the Barn today, and is making good headway, and a bit of a mess.. but the garden will recover in time...

This doesn't show a lot, except my shed has been lifted (by 'the machine') from the end of the barn (where the garage will go) to a temporary parking place on the front drive. The stuff on the lawn is the old bathroom, several doors and bits of wall.

This is viewing from the front drive. The garage will be going where the dumper truck is standing, with a retaining wall and 'sunken' path between the garage and the lawn.

This is round the back of the Barn. My shed will end up close to the fence, where the red marks are on the ground. The garage will extend beyond the end of the existing barn wall - the trenches are for the footings.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Barn Works Update - Demolition!

We popped into Roskhill today to find that internal demolition has well and truly begun. The destruction of parts of the garden begin this week. I'm told it has to get worse before it will all get better...

Anyway, this is the new kitchen... well, it is if you use your imagination... The 'old' kitchen light is the gold coloured spotlight. Now that the former bathroom wall (and bathroom suite) have been removed, the additional space for the new kitchen has been created. The former bathroom door will be filled-in of course!

Saturday 15 November 2014

A Rosy Glow

While Sue and I are staying at Loch View, we are less than a mile distant from Skye's only whisky distillery - Talisker. Below are a few pictures taken yesterday, under a very pink sunset sky...

Much of the product from the distillery goes off to be blended, but there is also a strong market for the single malt, especially when aged by 12 years or more. Although I am happy to sample a wee dram occasionally, I am not any kind of whisky connoisseur .

I still can't help looking at the bonded warehouses as I pass and think about the £££££millions of spirit that is stored there!

Carbost village - all the buildings in the foreground (behind the trees) are the distillery

Talisker Distillery, Carbost

Talisker sunset

Thursday 13 November 2014

Brief Barn Update

Work started on the re-make of Roskhill Barn today - the ground floor bathroom and wall between it and the kitchen are being stripped out. The 'machine driver' will be at work outside next week, scraping back soil and digging trenches. I think a lot of destruction will happen very quickly. Photos soon!

Tuesday 11 November 2014

We've Bought a House - Update

It was a while ago now that I reported our excitement at having found a buyer for Aird View, and then making an offer on a lovely traditional Skye croft house in Roag.

Well. the legal wheels have creaked slowly onwards, and we are still on course to completing the deal - we should be doing the key-swapping on 1st December, and we will then at last become the owners of 7 Roag - here is a picture from the Estate Agent, and I'll take some better pictures very soon!

Before we get the keys, we have rather a lot of furniture to sort out. Most of what we had upstairs at the Barn is no longer needed, and we intend to replace much of Aird View's furniture too. With this in mind, I am holding an 'open house' furniture sale tomorrow - I've been advertising it on an Isle of Skye Sell/Swap/Buy Facebook page. We are hoping that we can clear out much of the surplus bits before we find ourselves having to move it all to Roag!

Meanwhile at the Barn, our builder is yet to start work... We hope this is not a precedent of what is to come... he was supposed to start last week. Hmmm. 

More house news soon.

Sunday 9 November 2014

A November Walk to Coire Lagan

The weather was stunning this morning, and I didn't have anything urgent to do, so going for a walk seemed like a good idea. Now we are living at Loch View, we are very close to the popular start points for walks in the Cuillin, so I headed down to Glen Brittle and followed a trail up to Coire Lagan - somewhere I have never been before.

This would be a popular walk in summer, but today I had the place almost to myself. Mostly, the path is rocky, and reasonably easy walking. Only the final approach to the small loch in the Coire is a little more challenging - but definitely worth the effort.

Here's a few of my pictures from the day... Click on a picture to view them full size as a gallery.

On the way up - this burn seems to be un-named
The moor is in its winter colour now. In summer, the grass is vivid green
Nearly in the coire - the going gets a bit tough here
View from the top
The lochan in Coire Lagan - today, a perfect mirror
Spectacular reflections
I came back via a different path, past Eas Mòr - Skye's highest waterfall with an 80ft drop

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Living at Loch View

Sue and I are settling into life at Loch View now, staying here while Roskhill Barn gets its major make-over. We seem to have fitted-in everything we need, and all is going well so far! I've no photos of the works at the Barn yet, as there's nothing to see, but there should be more on that next week.

Meanwhile, here's a couple of pictures from Loch View, taken this morning. We have had so many rain-soaked, soggy-doggy walkies just recently, it was a real treat to set off for our morning trot today with this sunrise to look at...

And here's the view from the bottom of the drive an hour or so later...

Tuesday 21 October 2014

The End of an Era

We have an Australian family staying upstairs just now. They arrived yesterday, and will leave on Thursday morning, and as they go, so will end our little 'Bed and Breakfast With A Difference' business here at the Barn.

I have been looking forward to this day for quite a while now, but Sue has very much enjoyed welcoming and chatting with our dozens of visitors over the last seven years. She has never complained about the work either, though it has all been a bit high-pressure at times. As for me - I have never really come to terms with having strangers in our garden, their cars on our drive, and all the quiet creeping-about we have had to do, while trying not to disturb our visitors. No longer having to obtain and organise the breakfasts, and not having to do endless turn-rounds with the associated laundry and ironing will also be features of the job that I certainly won't miss.

We are now entering a period of change, while the Barn is re-converted from two apartments into one house. The builders move in at the beginning of November, and will be pretty-much rebuilding the entire interior of the place. We have already begun the task of packing-up all our belongings and getting them out of the way of the builders, but Sue is now down in Kent visiting her Mum, friends and family, so I have much of the job to do alone.

Here is my 'study' right now - it's not quite as bad as it looks, as the cupboards are all empty. There's just a lot of stuff to shove in boxes and get moved out! This room will be split into two, and the window in the picture will become the window of a ground floor ensuite bathroom. The other part of the room (which also has a window) will be our 'utility' room, housing the washing machine and a large new cupboard for all the cottage linen.

This is the current ground floor kitchen, which will all be going, as will the wall behind the cooker, then a new kitchen will occupy the larger space which is created. It will still be open-plan to our living/dining room, which will not change much, apart from becoming a bit bigger.
Here is the current ground floor bathroom, which will all be going, and the space will become part of the new, larger kitchen.
The new stairs to the first floor will start from just inside our front door  where the coats are hanging just now.
The new stairs will arrive on the first floor when the present front door stands (the door is currently at the top of an outside staircase, all of which will be removed). The landing will have two large windows, and twin glazed doors (replacing the existing door seen here) opening into an upstairs sitting room.
The biggest change upstairs will be the removal of the existing kitchen and the door and wall from it into the current bedroom beyond. This will all become the master bedroom, with a large mirror-fronted wardrobe filling the space seen here on the right.
The existing built-in cupboards will also be removed - this will make the room much bigger, giving us some proper space at last!
My aim is to keep this blog updated with reports of the progress as it happens, so watch this space!

Thursday 2 October 2014

Skye getting quieter, but we're speeding up!

Autumn has certainly arrived here. As I took Cupar for his morning walkies earlier today, grey clouds, torn apart by the wind,  raced across the sky, some of them still mean enough to let a scattering of raindrops fall to the ground. The bracken is golden, while the moorland green is gradually turning to its winter brown. Leaves from our nearby trees scurry about the garden until they find a place to rest in an untidy heap. The roads are much quieter now. There are very few camper vans or hire cars still creeping about and pausing in the lay-bys for visitors to grab yet another photo of yet another stunning view.

We have a few autumn bookings in the cottages and here at the Barn, right up until we close at the end of October. But we have made a start on the big task of packing up everything we own and finding places to store it all while we move to Loch View for the winter, while our builders undertake the job of creating our new house inside the old walls of the Barn.

Our sale of Aird View and purchase of 7 Roag is still underway. We hope to have more news on that little venture very shortly.

I'll be back with some photos soon.

Friday 19 September 2014

A Visit to Devon, and the Indy-Ref

I set off back to Skye tomorrow after 10 nights away. I take a couple of days over the journey, which I do in my van, staying overnight in B&Bs. In Devon, I have mostly been staying at the home of my long-time friend Val, who owns a lovely flat in a Victorian villa overlooking Torbay. I also spent a couple of days at my sister's home on the edge of Dartmoor, where her family gathered for a brilliant afternoon barbecue to celebrate my nephew Chris's birthday.

While I've been away, Sue has has her work cut out keeping the cottages and our B&B business running, as well as coping with walking Cupar four times a day and doing her own part-time care-work job. I think she'll be pleased to have me home again to do my share of the chores and the dog walks!

Here in Torquay, the weather has been good, and I have managed to spend some time walking and have enjoyed exploring some of the woodland and countryside that lies surprisingly close to the town centre.

Path above Hollicombe
Scadson Woods
Road to Cockington

Of course, my time away from home has coincided with the Independence Referendum. I had applied for a postal vote, so no problem there. Last night, I was awake much of the night listening to the radio as the counts were announced. I am greatly relieved at the 'no' result, though slightly saddened that the event took place in the way that it did. The people of Scotland are a proud population, and I think Scotland deserves its differences from England to be more fully appreciated. But I voted 'no' because I was far from convinced that the path to Independence had been adequately planned for, and I was very concerned at the damage that could be caused to the whole of the UK by financial uncertainty.

I sincerely hope that some real good will come out of the Referendum result, and that agreement can quickly be reached on constitutional changes that will benefit not only the Scots, but all of the people of the United Kingdom.

Friday 5 September 2014

We've Bought A House (we hope)!

After the sudden sale of Aird View, Sue and I got down to searching the Skye estate agent's websites to find a replacement. The plan was to buy a property we thought would let well, but closer to home than to 30-odd miles that we were driving to Aird View every week to do the turnrounds.

And here's what we are hoping will soon be ours...
7 Roag
The house from the road
We are only able to make a conditional offer at this stage because we will need the cash from the sale of Aird View to pay for 7 Roag, and we understand our purchaser is currently arranging their finance. So we now face the anxious nail-biting wait of a month or two while the wheels of house-purchase grind slowly on. In the meantime, if someone else comes along with a bucket of cash and wants to buy 7 Roag, we lose out. How come in this super-fast digital age you can do almost anything with a click of a mouse, but to buy a house takes a couple of months...? Hmmm... 

7 Roag is a traditional Skye croft house, and stands at the upper end of the Roag township with a great view over Pool Roag and surrounding hills. It is only one and a half miles from the Barn - we can see it from our front windows! It is immaculate inside and out, with some lovely 'old' features, including a beautiful range cooker and some v-groove wood paneling to some of the walls, but it also comes with all the modern conveniences which will make it comfy and cosy for our holiday visitors. 

More news soon, and hopefully all good news!

Thursday 4 September 2014

We've Sold Aird View!

After nearly a year on the market, a lady came to visit Aird View last weekend, and has since made us an offer which is conditional on her obtaining a mortgage, but we have verbally accepted. We are quite pleased that Aird View looks set to again become a family home rather than a holiday let.

Aird View
Wow! This occurrence left us briefly in a state of shock, and now we are in a state of near-panic as we try to cope with not only the planning of the re-build of the Barn, which is due to start on 1st November, but now with the sale of Aird View, which is due to complete in Mid-December!

Part of our panic is due to the fact that our plan was always to replace Aird View with another letting property nearer to our home, to make the managing of turn-rounds and gardening, etc. easier for us. There are a number of properties for sale on Skye right now, which is good news for us, but there seem to be surprisingly few which look 'just right' on paper. We have already viewed one very old but nicely modernised cottage which turned out to be a disappointment for various reasons. Today we are due to look at an attractive croft house, and on Saturday we have a viewing booked at a modern bungalow.

I guess we'll find something to suit us soon, and then there'll just be the nightmare of storing all the furniture from here somewhere for when the building starts, and also of moving the contents from Aird View to somewhere when the sale completes... I hope we will have a new place lined up for then, otherwise we may need a large tarpaulin on the lawn...

Tuesday 26 August 2014

All Change At The Barn

I mentioned a while ago that we were planning to re-convert the Barn (where we live) from the current two apartments into one house. This is due to happen during the coming winter. So far - the plans have been drawn up professionally, and the necessary planning permission and building warrant has been obtained. Our builder is on target to begin work in November.

The outside of the building won't change too dramatically, but just for the record - here is a picture of how it looks today...

Roskhill Barn, August 2014

Monday 4 August 2014

Dunvegan Remembers

Commemorating the beginning of World War One, a hundred years ago today - a parade through the village and service at the war memorial was organised by Dunvegan Community Council. The parade was led by the Pipes and Drums of the Isle of Skye Pipe Band, and included service personnel from HM Royal Naval Base, Clyde, the Army, Royal Regiment of Scotland, and the Royal Air Force, Lossiemouth. Also parading were Army Cadets from Portree Attachment, the Royal British Legion, North Skye Branch and members of HM Coastguard.

The Pipes and Drums of the Isle of Skye Pipe Band leads the parade past the Bracadale and Duirinish Parish Church, at which a salute was taken by the Lord Lieutenant for Skye, Mrs J. Bowen, Chair of Dunvegan Community Council, Maressa Munro, and relatives of those men named on the village war memorial.
The parade is followed by a large crowd made up of local people and visitors to Skye. Dunvegan War Memorial stands on a rocky outcrop above the main road through the village. The path to the memorial has been resurfaced earlier this year, and flood lights have been installed. The lights will be switched on for the first time at 11.00pm this evening - 4th August 2014 - 100 years to the day since the start of World War One.
The parade stands to attention at the war memorial, viewed from the Dunvegan Hotel.
In salute, a Typhoon aircraft from 6 Squadron, 1 Group, RAF Lossiemouth roars over the village war memorial then turns abruptly skywards and almost immediately disappears into the clouds.
Following the service at the village war memorial, the parade re-formed to march through the village to the village hall.
Following the parade through the village, the large crowd of onlookers begins to disperse. The crowd was made up of people of all ages, and included visitors to Skye as well as many local residents.
Dunvegan war memorial - The newly installed floodlights were switched on at 11.00pm tonight, marking the precise moment of the beginning of World War One, a hundred years ago.