Friday 15 December 2017

Just One Hundred Years Ago

Skye is littered with the ruins of numerous small stone-built dwellings - most were occupied until the mid-to-late 19th century, and many of the descendants of the people who lived in those dwellings will be living amongst us today. We have become so used to our modern heating systems and plumbing, but when an icy wind is blowing or the rain is racing horizontally across the moor, I have tried to imagine what it must have been like to have lived, eaten and slept in such buildings - especially in the depths of mid-winter.

In December 2015, I wrote a short piece in memory of my father - it would then have been his 100th birthday.  The piece has never been published anywhere, so I will copy it here, where it will serve as a reminder of how fortunate we are to be living in the comforts of 2017 – be it in rural England or the Scottish Highlands!

Just One Hundred Years Ago...

... a tiny two-bedroom cottage stood alone alongside a muddy track amid the fields of rural Buckinghamshire. The cottage had no running water, no electricity, an outdoor shed with earth closet, and an open fire for heating and cooking. The cottage was home to a farm labourer, David, his wife Lucy, and their two sons, Fred, age 4, and Dave, age 2.

David, Lucy and Davy, the dog. About 1930
The farm labourer’s wife was heavily pregnant, and in that cottage, on 14th December 1915 – in the bleak mid-winter – the cottage became home to their third son.

It is almost impossible to imagine the conditions at the time, or the hardship experienced by mother and newborn. It is likely a neighbour helped with the birth – professional medical assistance was unlikely.

The newborn baby was later christened Arthur Thomas, but he was always known as Tom. Tom grew up with his brothers to learn the ways of the countryside, and attended the local village elementary school where he was an excellent pupil. At age 12, he was awarded a scholarship to attend Grammar School in nearby Aylesbury.

On leaving school, Tom gained employment with the Met Office, initially working in London. While living in London, in 1936, Tom met an Islington seamstress named Doris, and on 11th December 1938, they were married.

Tom and Doris, 1943
Tom stayed with the Met Office throughout his working life, and during the War, joined the RAF where he continued to work as a Met Officer. For a time he was attached to Bomber Command where he was responsible for providing essential weather forecasts for air raids over Germany.

On 6th June 1945 – the first anniversary of D-Day - my sister Sue was born, and on 18th March 1951, I joined the Dorrell family.

Tom - my much loved and still-missed Dad -  died 11th February 1997, aged 82.

Friday 8 December 2017

Deep, Dark, December

There is magic in all of the seasons on Skye. The magic is easy to spot in spring, when the countryside bursts into life with a thousand wild flowers in every direction. Or in summer, when the sun glistens in ever-changing patterns on the sea, and the evenings are as bright as the daytime. Or in autumn, when the hills and moorland are painted in every imaginable shade of yellow, brown, green and gold.

So, what of winter, when all about is wet, cold and lifeless?

Damp, Dismal, Dreary, Dull, Drizzly, Drab, Dripping.... there are plenty of words beginning with 'D' that can describe a Skye December. A few might add 'Depressing' or 'Dispiriting' - though not me. The raw winter wind is as clean and fresh as the wind can ever be. Frequent flurries of sleet and snow race by, rattling their icy fingertips on the windows as they pass. The lifeless grasses on the moor shiver in silence as daylight fades and the looming moon peers through gaps in the clouds.

But we are cosy inside. Stove glowing. Books to read, Christmas cards to write.

Me in December...???  Dreamy, Drowsy, Dependable, Defended, Durable.

Roskhill today - Sun, Snow and...
... Sunset

Monday 20 November 2017

All Change At Roskhill

We have lived in Roskhill for nearly ten years now. When we came here, there were just three older dwellings and three newer ones in our locality. In the time we have been here, a further two houses have been built and a third is currently under construction. There are also plans to convert a small disused agricultural building nearby into a holiday chalet.

I’ve written about this before - there are many places on Skye where a steady creep of new development is taking place. We have largely just shrugged our shoulders and thought that this is just the way things are these days. But having recently driven the length of the UK to visit friends and family in the south of England, I became aware that there ARE places which don’t change much. For example - no new building has happened for many years close to my sister’s home on the edge of their rural Devon village.

But there’s nothing more we can do about the situation here. We are so very glad that we took the opportunity when it arose, to buy the acre or so of land immediately in front of our home, so our view over our field to the sea, cliffs and distant hills will never change.

Just about all the land in this picture (left of the fence) belongs to the Barn
The Barn is the building right of centre
The Barn view - over our field
On a more personal level – we have also been affected recently by a change of ownership of properties in Roskhill. Two properties have changed hands in the past month, and the new house will be occupied soon - so we have some new people to meet. Incidentally - we are now the second-longest-staying residents in the settlement, which is an interesting indicator of the transient nature of residence on Skye.

Saturday 21 October 2017

Do You Still Fancy Living on Skye?

Some eight years ago, I wrote a post in this blog entitled; ‘Do You Fancy Living on Skye?’ You can read the post here:  To this day, it is the most-read post on this blog, with some 12,500 hits so far - so I have to assume there continue to be many romantics out there who fancy a life ‘away from it all’. Ok…I can understand that...

Photo of the Old Man of Storr by my nephew - Jeremy Tandy
However, like everywhere on our poor, overpopulated planet, Skye is changing, and fast! Don’t get me wrong – the ‘Skye Magic’ is still here for now – you would only have to have driven through the colour, the clouds and the Cuillin today – as I did – to be very fully aware that magic is very much alive and well. It was awesome. (Sorry, no photos today– I was driving…)!!!

But… you would probably also notice the new-build houses popping up all over the place. Tiny, remote settlements are no longer quite as tiny… That little isolated cottage you remember from your 2005 visit is now overlooked by two modern 5-bedroom neighbours… And there’s some wind-turbines twirling at the back of that wild moorland view… Yes – ‘Skye Magic’ is a tad harder to find these days.

Then there’s the tourism boom. I know I am not alone in suggesting that Skye is not a great place to be a tourist during the summer season. In July and August, I think there may actually be more tourists here than midges. I will decline to say which I find more irritating… It has become embarrassing to have to say to our visitors that some of the most popular beauty spots are best avoided, because there is no-where to park, no toilets, no cafés, and indeed - no visitor facilities at all.

Some may say this is a good sign of progress, arguing that the Highlands need to be re-populated, and the residents need jobs and places to live. So the increase in tourism is a good thing. Well – yes, maybe good. But only if sensitively created infrastructure was keeping ahead of the increase in visitor numbers.

And it is not.

So, how does an increase in tourism affect LIVING on Skye? Well – I’ll do this as bullet points…

·         During the summer months, the roads become very much busier.
·         There are camper vans EVERYWHERE.
·         Many of the drivers are from overseas, and driving rental cars… the standard of driving  can be seriously scary.
·         The car parks in Portee are all full.
·         So are the ones in Broadford… and Dunvegan.
·         There are queues at the check-outs in the Co-op.
·         In summer, prices of goods and fuel rise.
·         Local people do not even attempt to go near any of the tourism hot spots (Fairy Pools,  Quiraing, The Storr, Fairy Glen, Coral Beach…) however; some poor souls actually  LIVE near these places…
·         The lack of public toilets means that… ugh…  I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Possibly worse than all the above – or possibly better – depending on your point of view, is that more people are coming to LIVE on Skye. As I have said above – new-build houses are popping up everywhere. Most are large, and are designed to accommodate bed and breakfast visitors. Others are being built to be self-catering accommodation for yet more visitors.

Just one positive that I can think of is that unemployment seems to have reached zero. There were two full pages of job vacancies in the latest edition of the local paper. I don’t think I have ever seen that before.

Of course – the weather here is the same as it ever was, and the roads have more potholes than before.

Do you STILL fancy living on Skye?

Of course you do!

Friday 13 October 2017

A Motoring Holiday In The Scottish Highlands

I wrote the following for the forum of the Jaguar XK Enthusiasts Club – to which I belong. Then I thought - maybe some of the SkyeCalling blog audience would also find the post of interest. A member of the XKEC (not me…)! is organising a Highlands Tour for 2018. I hope to be able to join the tour for at least a day or two when they come here. It will be something of a novelty to see another XK on Skye!  

What is the point in having a car which will do nought to sixty just a few nanoseconds and has a top speed faster than Starship Enterprise, if you spend most of your time in a traffic jam being overtaken by cyclists and looking at the tailgate of a Ford Transit?

Yes – you need to take your Jaguar on holiday… The ever-increasing popularity of taking a touring holiday in the Scottish Highlands has prompted me to think of those of you who might be contemplating a trip ‘over the border’, and to offer a few words of experience from a Jaguar XK owner who actually LIVES here…

In the Scottish Highlands, while the minor roads are often single-track and severely pot-holed, the main roads are two-way, mostly well-surfaced, and, out of the peak tourist season, pretty-much traffic-free. (Peak season is June to September).

When driving in the Highlands, you need to be very aware of animals on the road. Sheep grazing with heads down on the roadside verge are unlikely to be a problem and can largely be ignored, but beware in spring when there are lambs about, or if there are sheep on both sides of the road – they may cross to be with their mates without warning. Cattle in the road are pigs… Urmm… by that I mean that cattle will stand still in the middle of the road and look blankly at you. Hooting your horn will have no effect on them whatsoever. If you are brave enough, you will need to get out of your car and apply a hefty whack to the rump of the nearest bovine. This may get things mooving in more ways than one. I’m sorry – there are very few car-washes in the Highlands… Then there’s the deer. We have lots of them in the Highlands. They sometimes gather close to roads, especially in winter when there is snow on the hills. Deer can move very fast when alarmed. Red deer are big – the size of a pony – so hitting one at 60mph can write off a car– so be VERY aware.

Then there’s the weather… It rains a lot here, so don’t come with balding tyres, fit new wiper blades prior to your trip, and pack a waterproof jacket for when you get out of your car. In winter – you may encounter snow. You will see snow on the hills much of the time from November to March. Snow can fall during the same period at road level as well, though the Council gritting trucks do a pretty good job of keeping the roads open. However, it is a bum-clenching experience to drive your precious wide-tyred Jaguar on 3-inch deep slush…

Having said that, there are also periods of time between October and May when the sun is shining, the roads are dry and deserted, and the scenery is sparkling. I can think of very few more rewarding experiences than that of unleashing your car on such roads. Of course, I am quite sure that no responsible Jaguar driver would ever exceed the national speed limit, which is 60mph here, the same as in England. However, there are many stretches of Highland roads that seriously tempt a little extra pressure on the right pedal. As far as I am aware, there are no fixed speed/safety cameras in the North West Highlands - though be sure - the local police regularly patrol using unmarked cars, and also employ mobile camera vans. It is up to you to drive responsibly and safely.

This is Puss in Glencoe - before she had her 'PS55' registration 

Where are the best routes? Well – once you get north of Perth or Crianlarich (depending on which way you come here) there are not that many roads to choose from. However - the A9 from Perth to Inverness is one to avoid, being busy with trucks and dotted with 50mph limits and average speed cameras. The A82 from Tyndrum through Glencoe is awesome – both the road and the scenery. The A887/A87 from Invermoriston to Skye is one of my personal favourites, second only to the A832/A890 from Garve to Skye. You wouldn’t regret a trip up the A835 from Tore (Inverness) to Ullapool either, and the Isle of Skye itself has some fine roads and even finer views. The scenery gets ever more spectacular the further north and west you go. Spending some time on Google streetview when planning your route will forewarn you of any stretches of single-track road that you may encounter.

When you visit – and by now, you should be convinced that you must – I do urge you to plan ahead. You will want to spend several days in the Highlands. In tourist season, there are so many overseas visitors here, you must book accommodation well in advance of your visit. Out of season, many accommodation providers close for winter, so you STILL need to book well in advance. At any time of year - don’t expect to find any eating places serving food after 9.00 pm. Also - keep your fuel tank topped up – garages are few are far between. Petrol on the Islands is subsidised by the Government to the tune of 5p per litre, but there’s no supermarket fuel here, so expect to pay more per litre than in most English towns. If you are a fan of super-unleaded – you may not find it available at every filling station.

If you are not already on your phone or computer booking your trip to Scotland, and have any questions that I may be able to help you with – please ask-away. I look forward to seeing photos of your trip in the forum…

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Another Short Break

We've been away for another little break. A glance at the photos might tell you where...

Sue and I stayed in what I can only describe as one of the very best B&Bs I have ever experienced. . The guest rooms are spacious and nicely furnished. Breakfast was a feast, including home made bread and preserves, and even honey from the hives in the garden. The owners were just so helpful, providing us with guide books, leaflets and information about everything in which we mentioned an interest.

West Wing Room, Grange Farmhouse B&B
Ready for breakfast
The farmhouse stands just a mile from the centre of Dunfermline, so on day one, Sue and I were happy to leave Puss safely at the house and walk into town. Dunfermline was a surprising place to us. A huge and beautiful park - Pittencreiff - flanks one side of the town. The park has woodland, lawns, formal flower beds, herbaceous areas, a large glasshouse... there's plenty to explore. Also in Dunfermline are substantial remains of an abbey and royal palace. Just open this year is a fine new library, museum and gallery. The town was the birthplace of a child who became one of the world's richest men - Andrew Carnegie. Although living most of his life in America, he never forgot his roots and left a considerable sum of money in trust to the town. It would seem that his money is still being well-spent.

Sue in Pittencreiff Park
Pittencreiff House - home of  General John Forbes
Pittencreiff Park
Double-arch bridge - Pittencreiff Park 
Andrew Carnegie statue, Pittencreiff Park
Looking out of the park into Dunfermline
Dunfermline Abbey Church from the Carnegie Library
Inside Dunfermline Abbey nave
Ruins of the abbey refectory
I'm in what were the Abbey kitchens
Coffee break in Dunfermline Carnegie Library
Abbot House, Dunfermline, from the Carnegie Library

Day two, we walked to the local station and took a train ride over the Forth Bridge into Edinburgh. I was only in my 20s when I last visited our lovely capital city, and then only spent a day there. On this occasion, we made the most of the beautiful autumn weather to walk extensively around the city. I wanted to see for myself the Scottish Parliament Building - and found it to be slightly less dreadful to look at than it often looks on TV.

Title barely necessary - Edinburgh Castle
Back of the Scottish Parliament Building with wooden-barred windows..??
Scottish Parliament Building - front entrance
Scottish Parliament Building - an architectural masterpiece?....errmmm?
Nearby, we spotted a building which clearly housed a not-crowded cafe, so in we went for a lunchtime coffee, only to discover we were in the home of 'Dynamic Earth' . So after our coffee, we bought tickets to discover what Dynamic Earth was all about. I can really only say 'Wow!' We had a great time! We experienced the birth of the planet (including being in an earthquake), falling back in time, flying over the arctic (in a room that I swear actually tipped us on our sides), holograms, no end of interactive screens, a real iceberg, being sniffed by a 3D rhino, and a tropical storm. We laughed, stood with mouths gaping, clung onto each other, and emerged convinced that we had just had the best lunchtime coffee, ever.

By now, it was late afternoon, but we could see people making their way up the side of the nearby hill named Arthur's Seat. So off we went, for a lovely walk which gave us a wonderful birds eye view of the city.

Arthur's Seat from the grounds of the Scottish Parliament Building
Track up Arthur's Seat
View from Arthur's Seat -
Foreground, Dynamic Earth building.
Centre left - Scottish Parliament Building,
Right - Holyrood Palace.

We had planned to eat in Edinburgh before heading back to the B&B, but being Friday night, everywhere looked crowded, so we collapsed into the train, and found a lively and friendly pub in Dunfermline for dinner.

What a great short break!

Friday 22 September 2017

Allotment Update / Dinner For One

Sue has gone on a girlie shopping expedition to Inverness today with one of her friends. This leaves me eating alone this evening. This is no problem, as we keep a few pies and other meaty things in the freezer for such occasions. For vegetables - all I had to do was wander into the allotment and gather what I fancied...

Tonight's veg - curly kale, runner beans, potato and carrot.
Take my word for it - the carrot is about 8 inches long...
All harvested and then cooked less than 30 minutes later 
The allotment has been spectacularly successful this year. OK - the brassicas suffered an almost total loss thanks to root fly, but the carrots are the best I have ever grown - not only big and straight, but full of flavour too. The potato crop is huge, we also have masses of onions, huge swede, some decent broad beans, and I am even picking our own runner beans - for only the second time since working the allotment.

Footnote: Some eagle-eyed reader may have noticed that the slightly larger potato in my photograph looks a bit the worse for wear... Sure enough, when I cut it, I found it to be partially rotten, so that one has been recycled via the compost heap. But we still have plenty of good ones!

Tuesday 5 September 2017

Wedding Aniversary Celebration

Sue and I were married on the 2nd September 2001, so the other day was our 16th anniversary. This may not be a particularly significant number, but we still like to have a little celebration. We are not really in to meals in fancy restaurants, and eating out in a nearby pub didn't seem special enough. So Sue suggested we had an afternoon tea in a decent hotel.

We chose to go to Kinloch Lodge, which is one of the most noteworthy hotels on Skye, though we had not been there before. Being an hour or so to the hotel from Roskhill, getting there gave me the opportunity to give Puss an outing - though sadly the weather was 'Skye-normal', so Puss now needs a wash...

The tea was lovely, with the best-tasting scones I have ever had. The little cakes were pretty special too, and the lounge of the hotel provided a warm and comfortable place to spend a drizzly afternoon. Our friendly waitress even offered to box-up the items we didn't manage to eat at the time, so we could have a tea re-run after we arrived back home!

So, thanks to Sue for the afternoon tea suggestion, and Happy Anniversary to us both!

Puss at Kinloch Lodge
Homeward bound

New Gates For The Barn!

I mentioned this on Facebook a short while ago, but unforgivably, never quite got round to putting a post on here... so I'm now putting that right...

To finally complete the transformation of our lovely home on Skye - Roskhill Barn -  Sue and I decided to commission the making of a new entrance gate. After an internet search for such an item, we found ourselves so impressed by the work of artist/designer/blacksmith James Price, that we chose to put the job with him - even though he works in West Sussex, so there would be a slight problem in getting the gate up to Skye.

Anyway, to cut the long story shorter, once the gate was made (and we eventually ordered two gates plus posts), I ventured south in my little van and was able to load the gates into the back and bring them back myself. This was a cheaper option than having the gates packed onto pallets and brought up by courier - they are large and heavy items!

The next task was to remove the existing gate and its solid wooden posts. With much effort, I managed to get one post out of the ground, but the other defeated me. As luck had it, I was extremely fortunate to come across a labourer from a nearby building job having his lunch in his truck at the end of our road. I interrupted his sandwich to ask if he was interested in looking at a little job for me. I showed him the remaining post - still attached to the old and rusty gate. He immediately disappeared back to his van and returned with a heavy 5-foot long steel pointed-ended bar. After 15 minutes of very vigorous bashing and heaving, the concrete securing the post was broken and the post itself levered out of the ground. I very gratefully handed the guy a £20 note - with which he looked totally delighted - and now all I had to do was work out how to install the new gates...

I spent a couple of weeks thinking, and even tried a 'dry run'. Because of their weight, I could only just about move the gates on my own, but with the help of my sack barrow, I managed the task. I gradually built up the courage to undertake the job, and on one fine morning, I made a start. It actually turned out to be slightly easier than I had expected. Gravity and leverage did a fine job of getting the posts into the ground, and I only had to heave them out once to get the holes to an even depth. I used a quarter of a tonne of ready-mix concrete to set the posts into the ground. I don't think they'll move...

Ready to pour the concrete....!
To say that we are delighted with the finished result would be a considerable understatement. Every line and dimension in the beautifully designed gates is perfect, and their construction is a true work of art. They look absolutely right at our entrance, and elegantly compliment the rural and agricultural 'feel' of the Barn  To everyone else, they might just be gates - but to Sue and I, they are the icing on our Roskhill cake.

Roskhill Barn - and gates

Wednesday 30 August 2017

For Sale - Rowan Cottage

Rowan Cottage
Sue and I have agreed that it is time to reduce our workload. I am 66 now, and would quite like to take semi-retirement from my job of managing our holiday cottages. We once had four holiday lets. We currently have three, but by selling Rowan, we will be down to two – which we think will be manageable by us for the foreseeable future.

Our plan is to use the proceeds from the sale to buy a modern bungalow in Inverness which we will long-let through a management company. The management company will do all the work, and we will get a regular income from the rent – albeit a good deal less than a holiday let might achieve…

A big bonus of selling Rowan will be to reduce the miles we travel to service our properties. The biggest mistake we made when we started our holiday cottage rental business was to buy cottages that were scattered across the island – it is nearly an hour’s drive each way from our home to Rowan, and that’s an awful lot of driving just to mow the lawn!

Rowan Cottage was the first property we bought on Skye, fourteen years ago. It is a lovely little cottage, snuggled down on the shore above a sea loch, with a wonderful view to the nearby island of Scalpay, and also to the mainland. The cottage has been a very popular holiday let. Some of our regular visitors will be very sorry to see it sold – though it well may pass on to an owner who will continue to offer the cottage on the holiday rental market.

The cottage is being marketed through Re/Max Skye, and is available for offers over £185,000. To see the details - click this link .

Sunday 27 August 2017

Allotment update

I've been trying to find the time to harvest some of the abundant vegetable growth on the allotment. The potatoes have done exceptionally well this year. On planting, I filled their trenches with leaf mould and added a few handsful of organic fertiliser - they clearly liked that! The plants grew huge, and now, on digging up the roots, an equally huge crop is the result.... The crop in the barrow are a seldom seen variety - Red Duke of York - they have beetroot colour skins, but beneath the skin, they are pure white. Each of the larger ones provides enough potato for two portions. The crop in the box are the waxy-textured lovely-flavoured Charlotte.

Potatoes - about one third of this year's total crop...!
That's just one bed harvested - the smaller one... The Maris Peer, Maris Piper and King Edwards are still to be dug up... I'll do my best to store them over winter, but even after giving away a few bags to our neighbours, I think we will struggle to use all these!

Here is the jumble of dying growth in the larger bed. On the right are the carrots, which have also done really well. At the back are the beans.

The larger potato bed (and carrots), still to be harvested.
The broad beans have only produced an average crop, and the runner beans have finally grown big enough to flower, but they are about six weeks too late! I doubt they will have any worthwhile pods on them before we get an autumn frost which will finish them off. I'll start the runners in pots indoors next year, and hope to get them going in the ground a good bit earlier. But so much depends on temperatures and sunshine - one year's weather is never the same as the next.

Thursday 10 August 2017

Roskhill's Secret Garden

It's not really secret at all of course...

The garden ground here at Roskhill is divided into two separate areas. One area is in front of, and to the side of, the Barn itself. The other area lies across the old township road, and is accessed by a pedestrian gate. It is this second part that I generally refer to it as 'The Allotment'. However, the actual area of land in this part of the garden is considerably larger than just the vegetable beds, and over the last few years I have gradually reclaimed a fairly sizeable piece of ground from the wild wilderness that was there before. I've also planted several trees along the top of the river gorge. These trees are mostly 'rescues' that had self-seeded in silly places, and none is taller than me... yet.  I have two larches, two scots pines, two spruce, an oak (grown from an acorn and still only about a foot tall, even though it is now five years old) and a mountain ash.

So - this is my 'Secret Garden', as no-one ever goes there - only me and just occasionally Sue. I really like the jumble of natural vegetation that borders the area I have cleared. Wild flowers flourish. The birds and insects love it.

So do I!

The yellow flowers are ragwort. I won't let them shed seed!

In the middle foreground is a cotoneaster that came to me as a 6 inch tall single spike.
It clearly likes its home next to our septic tank - and the bees love its flowers!

Looking into the Secret Garden over the allotment.
Just right of centre is a cherry tree - it does produce cherries which we leave for the birds.
Left of centre is the foliage of Jerusalem Artichoke -
the roots are like knobby potatoes, and great in soup or when mashed with swede.

Wednesday 19 July 2017

Roskhill Barn Gate

These days, the garden of the Barn is not properly fenced, though it may have been at one time. There is a tumbled stone wall along the longest side, and some slightly tired stockproof fencing at the other boundaries. This is not really a problem to us - the occasional wandering sheep may get in, but we like our uninterrupted views.  However, at the entrance to our garden and driveway, there is a very elderly iron gate. When we first came here, it was possible to open and close this gate. Inevitably, time and climate have taken their toll, and not only is it no longer possible to move the gate, but the poor thing is also falling to bits…

Our end-of-life gate
Having recently spent a lot of time (and money) restoring and re-inventing our home here, we thought a fitting finalé to our renovations would be to replace the old gate with something special. We searched online for a metalworking artist, and eventually commissioned James Price from East Chiltington, near Lewes, East Sussex, to design and make a new gate for us.

I have recently returned from a trip south, with our new gate stowed in the back of my van. I have to say, we are delighted with it. To most people – it is just a gate. But look closely, and the simple beauty of the hammered curves and hot-forged rivets and tenon joints are there to admire. There are no welds in this gate, and the hand-forged latch mechanism is a joy to behold!

Waiting in the wings...
Now, of course, the new gate and its metal posts have to be installed… This means firstly removing the old wooden posts. The old gate itself is very rusty, but still has enough strength to hang on pretty stubbornly. The original wooden gate posts may have been in place 50 years or more, but they haven’t rotted at all, and are putting up a very good fight against removal....

I may need to enlist some additional labour to complete the job, but we’ll have our beautiful new gate in place soon. More to follow…!