And with that, the pool was gone.

So, a while back I shared that we’d had a sudden and unexpected installation of an above ground pool. One day we didn’t have one, the next day you could swim in our front garden.

It wasn’t an ideal situation, although the River Birch (or Beech, and possibly not river anything, it’s all rather unclear) does seem to have enjoyed the underground garden-watering-system that was active while we were on holiday. It is looking very green.

Anyhow, we paid a lot of money to plumbers this week. The old, failed water main is still in the ground, but the posh burrowing machine they brought around did manage to get a nice new main under the house. Impressively, you could see a constant flow out of the old main – which had been switched off for days – as water slowly flowed backwards out of the house and into the ground.

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The only slight fly in the ointment was that they didn’t bring a flagger with them – so had no means of doing traffic control – which meant that they couldn’t put pipe in the ground as far towards the front of our yard as they’re meant to. Because the digging machine couldn’t go any further back than in the picture otherwise it’d block the road. Which meant that our plumbers got to dig a massive trench for the last 8′ or so. I felt a bit sorry for them, particularly when one of them asked if we had any water bottles…

… which I’d not bothered to bring many of, because I was expecting the water to be back on. Ah well.

I also had a chat with one of them about the heating system – he warned me off the boiler I was looking to get because there are no local dealers. Parts, apparently, take quite a while for them to get if something does go wrong. There is, however, a combi-boiler brand that’s fairly common around here and is stocked by a bunch of places (along with a range of spares). So I’ll be throwing one of them on the wall I guess.

He also suggested something I’d heard of (which is horrendous, but clever) which would mean we would only need a hot-water-boiler, not a full combi, but because we have the heated towel rails which really need a corrosion inhibitor in the water, the cunning ‘use the hot water recirculation circuit for heating’ idea won’t work.

Feh. It is the difference between $1500 and $2400.

I continue to regret choosing to put a gas heating system in. Although the money for putting in gas really would have been a bit crazy for just a cooker. Although, that’s really the deal-breaker. I still can’t stand cooking on any electric stove I’ve encountered, but electric heating and hot water would have been fine had I have thought about it a lot more than I did. Well, I did think about it a lot, but… I wasn’t flexible enough in my thinking.

Still, since we like cooking on gas, we would like to experiment with producing our own gas using a biodigester, but probably not in this house.

So while they were boring a neat hole under our house, I spent the time chopping plywood into chunks and gluing / screwing it to the floor.

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The pipe-guides are all done in about 1/5th the house. Some of that, though, is the complex sections – the laundry’s done, for example, as is some of the fiddly bit where these pipe guides cross the hydronic pipework for the heated towel rails (and where I had to be super careful about putting screws). Hopefully the majority of the house should go roughly as quickly as the bedroom did (which was pretty fast once I’d worked out the system).

I was hoping to get the pantry done today, but instead decided to wake up at 3am and spend the rest of the night waiting for sleep to return. As I was already fairly tired the idea of going and working with powertools didn’t seem too clever, so instead I’ve done errands and worked on a long, tedious, but important government form that I’m working my way through completing. Yay.

We have, however, got pricing on our range cooker, fridge, and range hood. We’ve also ordered a biiiiiillion proper light fixtures (as opposed to the temporary ones up in the hall), and we’ve installed… three.

Oh, oh! But I do have to share that our glowy around the door LED ridiculousness…. works!

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Yeah, I know, it’s OTT. That’s us.

A couple of the stupid sticky “holds 1lb per inch” bits of tape have, as expected, failed. But I can fix that and I have a plan for when the others fail.

Anyway, it’s pleasingly glowy. Albeit over the top.

And we are starting to tentatively talk about moving in… in a couple of months which is quite exciting. After 2 years of struggle, getting into the house would be bloody awesome.

Well, that’ll be an oops then.

Today continued the interna(tiona)l festival of wiring. Outlet after outlet succumbed to the combo of wire strippers, snipe nose pliers and a screwdriver. They were thrown, cajoled, prodded, pushed and in some cases somewhat forced into their little boxes.

After a while I reached an end point. That point where every outlet box I could reach contained a fitting of some sort. And so began testing. Bathroom fan – check. Many outlets – check.

Some outlets… not so check. Odd.

Multiway switches in the hall… First one… yes. On and off. Second. On and off. Third… Noooothing.

Poot.

So then there was the period of time where I rechecked the package (not obvious, at least to me) before finally searching on t’internet for t’instructions. And it turns out that on a four-way switch, unlike an socket, or a regular light switch, or a dimmer switch, or a timer switch, or ANY OTHER BLOODY OBJECT, the colour code does not indicate ‘hot’ and ‘neutral’. Ooooh no.

That would be too simple.

No, on a four-way switch, the colour – which is incidentally the same colour used for “hot” in other circumstances – indicates which two connectors are connected together. The IN/OUT does not operate across the switch, but down each side. Because it makes perfect sense to use the same sodding colour to mean something different on different switches. Obviously.

That resolved – I gleefully posted a video of it working.

And then I got down to working out why the outlets in the office don’t work. And, err, I think it’s because…

…and this is evvvver so slightly embarrassing…

I may. And this is currently just a theory, mind. But I may have forgotten…to….connect them to the fusebox.

A bit of gazing at photos, and a count of connections in the room suggests that the point where the cable should enter from the fusebox does not, in fact, have sufficient cables coming in to make that possible. Indeed, looking at the photos, I strongly suspect that the cable goes around the room, then up to the attic and then stops.

I will check this on Sunday morning. But that is my current working theory.

I think, for reasons that escape me, I decided to move the office circuit off the bedroom circuit, but never actually made that connection. I clearly decided that the other bedroom would no longer be on the same circuit, because the bedroom works. As does every other outlet in the house.

But not that room.

Sooooo. It’s actually a relatively easy fix (she says optimistically). I just need to join the office to the lounge circuit. Neither is likely to be heavily loaded, so… and handily, they share a space between studs. So that may be a Sunday/Monday/Tuesday activity. Along with buying…housey things, like a fridge and a cooker. And a washing machine. And so on.

Let there be light

I have spent the past two days doing an inordinate amount of wiring. This has been a process made less fun by my dislike of US outlets, and the tightness of some of our boxes. I’ve also come to realise that while it’s hideously inefficient (in terms of number of connectors), I far prefer to use a larger number of block connectors, and no twist connectors, because the twist connectors occupy much more un-controllable volume.

Once you’ve twisted together 6 wires, they’re difficult to bend, especially in the horrid flexy plastic boxes that are the mainstay of US wall wiring.

That, and the fact that either side of the outlet, when you wire it and install it, are bare, unprotected connections to the live and neutral sides. That means if your irritatingly unflexible ground cable wants to sit near the front of the box, then they sit right next to the ground cable. Not quite touching, but close. Close enough to make me feel uncomfortable, then have to take the switch out a bit and spend some entertainingly trying to shove the wires back in the box without breaking it or bending it so far that it won’t sit where it’s meant to.

The single boxes aren’t too bad. It’s the triples that are upsetting.

Anyhow, that being said I have installed many things.

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I finally got around to installing the last two breakers in the fuse box today – partly because I wanted to find out if the light around the front door works (spoiler: it does, but a bright sunny day isn’t the best for taking photos of it).

Also – testing revealed that there is light in other locations now:

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We have two installed and functional lights. We have many, many outlets. I’ve still got 8 to do tomorrow, though. I also need to work out whether our complex lighting multi-way switching is working. I can only test the hall tomorrow, but that’s the most complex one. If that’s right the others are most likely right. Or at least easily fixable.

It is quite exciting, though, to have more than one functional outlet. And having lights…on a switch… than you can just use? Oooh, that’s fun.

We made a big rock.

So, one of the interesting things about lime plaster is that as it dries it gradually turns back into what is essentially limestone. It’s a two step process, the water evaporates and you get a chemical drying at which point it’s fairly hard, but it then starts reabsorbing much of the carbon dioxide that was put out as it was transformed into lime. That reabsorbed carbon dioxide it seems is trapped again, and presumably forms part of the crystalline structure that gradually forms of the next few weeks.

So our house is now, internally at least, covered in limestone.

This has been a hell-of-a-week. Last week at work was fairly busy, and on Saturday while I was at work, and Kathryn wasn’t well, the plasterers set-to on the house. On Sunday I turned up to find they’d finished the second bedroom except for the final-final spray polish and buff.

So the process goes thus:

First coat (which we did before the holiday) in which you embed the mesh and try and get a key to which the next coat will stick. In this coat they mixed some small amount of tile adhesive – to help it stick better to our non-plaster-rated drywall. Basically, they added glue to it.

Second coat – this is applied with a steel trowel, and is fairly thin – when I was doing this I was told to aim for only a couple of mm. Unevenness in this is then smoothed using a polyfloat. Swirling motions take the high spots and carry them to the lower spots making the whole thing more even.

Third coat – once the second coat has hit a point of being dryer (I’m a little unclear on exactly the right level of dryness, I only did this in one small area), using a finishing metal float the existing plaster is smoothed and – depending on who was doing it, sometimes a very thin skim seemed to be added over the whole thing, and sometimes just patching was done.

Finally they’d go over it and spray it down, touch up any bits that weren’t good enough, and using some small rock thing, they’d smooth out any high spots.

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Now, for an optimum strength you should keep the plaster moist and have it dry slowly, so we’re misting the building for the next few days. And then the dehumidifer goes back on and we start work on laying the heating pipe guides and the floor, putting in sockets / outlets and eventually…moving in.

In the background we’ve applied for the planning permit for our garage, so hopefully that’ll get built soon and we can move some of the stored stuff out of the house. And Rebecca into the garage.

In bad news, we have gained an above ground pool.

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And of course, the water main has broken just after the meter which is, we are told, our responsibility, despite lying on city land. Also, handily near a telegraph pole, so that should be… a nightmare.

Huh, a ceiling.

When we left we finally gave in and allowed someone to do work on house when we weren’t there. We left a drywall company with a key and Kathryn’s mom with another key on the basis that they would come in and make our ceiling look ceilingy.

I largely managed to avoid angst, apart from a fairly frantic conversation about why their equipment was tripping the circuits in our house ending with me explaining that all the live circuits are AFCI/GFI protected, and there’s no live circuits that aren’t GFI because they’re all ‘wet area’ circuits.

But it wasn’t entirely clear that when we came back the ceilings would be done.

But they are. And bloody hell if they don’t look like competent ceilings.

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We couldn’t afford to get them to do the skylights, and we’re planning to veneer them in wood anyway (and at over $1k to do them to a level 4 finish, it wasn’t worth it for something we’d cover up), but all the other ceilings are looking remarkably respectable.

Even the shoddiest bit:

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Of course, now that people know we’re back it’s all got super intense. We had a nice peaceful day scheduled yesterday, but instead spent it trying to schedule other people. So when I left today our ceilings were being painted (they were primed with some ultra-thick smoothing paint in these photos). They’re hoping to finish that off tomorrow.

Then Saturday our plasterers come back and start putting the finish coats on the walls.

We need to pick up the pace a bit because – well, one, we’d like to be in the damn house, but also, two, our kitchen cabinets are ready.

We dropped by to see them…but couldn’t because they’re so busy that there’s many kitchen stacked in front of them. But they’ve kindly offered to hold them for a while.

We’re also excited to get in.

I also, today, tried to get some traction on the garage build. But it turns out there’s no longer any way to submit paper plans to the city. I’ve nudged our tuff-shed sales person, but will probably end up just paying to have them scanned, which was the planning-tech’s suggestion.

Already the holiday is wearing off.

I haven’t forgotten, though, the feeling on the island. And that’s something that needs to be investigated. If we can make a living, then… yeah.

In which we don’t get our rental EV, or our sleeper train journey

Oh, the joys of a lack of foreshadowing.

So having sat in the lounge carriage on the sleeper (apparently available to those in prole class, if the 1st class passengers aren’t using it) and had a pleasant desert, some nice drinkies, and watched as the highlands rolled past, we slipped to our tired and battered bedroom, and laid down to rest our weary selves.

Of course, sleeping on a train for some is a delight, but for us – well, it turns out neither of us are great train sleepers. Also, the night-light was on. We didn’t realise it was the nightlight and were both deeply confused by the glowing blue light. Now, had we have not been so tired, we might have been willing to switch the lights back on, and then would have noticed the switch marked nightlight. But we didn’t. More fool us.

Mind, it didn’t matter, because at 3am we were awoken and informed that the train had failed. It was an ex-train. It was sat at Edinburgh… and we traipsed, as directed, to the nearby Jury’s Inn where we were treated to coffee, tea, or fruit juice. No breakfast, mind. Nothing at all to eat.

There we sat for nearly 2 hours, before we were herded back to the station to get on a non-sleeper train to London. I can’t say that any of this made us terribly happy. At least the staff were nice and apologetic.

By the time we reached London – hours after when we were meant to arrive – for our one-and-only planned full-day in London on this trip…we were completely exhausted. Thankfully, the hotel let us check in early and we laid on a comfy bed and dozed for an hour. Then we meandered around the area – stopping at Ottolenghi for an insanely good lunch (gods, he is so good). Then we pottered to Spitalfields market, and then on to the Barbican Centre for an excellent AI exhibit.

Sadly, the book of the exhibit failed to include any of the damn women, that they had a whole section on in the exhibit. Which was somewhat annoying because had I have known that in the exhibit I’d’ve taken down a bunch of names. But we only discovered it afterwards. I realised, while there, that I seem to have somewhat imprinted on the Barbican Centre. Having been there so much as a kid the brutalist concrete feels terribly friendly and safe. And it just warms my heart being there. Odd, really.

Anyhow, the next morning was family day part one – and we headed over to see my sister, who took us to see Jerome K Jerome’s grave at Ewelme, along with the fascinating grave of Alice de la Pole. We also went for a potter around the village and saw the somewhat quirky watercress beds that line the middle of the village. It was all in all very pleasant. Then off to see friends in Bristol – where we had a lovely day, and rounded it off with a glass of port and some ridiculous deserts in a nice restaurant.

And then we pottered down to Cornwall to see my mum, where we discovered there’s an enormous number of local walks we’ve not done. We discovered it a bit late, and there were enormous wind storms while we were there, so it didn’t exactly factor into our plans that much, but we did go and potter up to a neolithic tomb, which was amazing. Next time we go we shall have to actually go on some of these walks, rather than our standard loop that we’ve more or less done for the past 9 years.

Yes, I know, we’re insane.

And now we’re back…and that’s a thing.


Squeak, squeak, clatter, clatter.

And so we find ourselves back on the Caledonian Sleeper, the battered and tired old coaches creeping their way back to London. It’s with rather a lot of sadness that we do this, we both fell somewhat in love with the Scottish small isles and would happily have stayed.

Something about a life with less drive to consume. With less of a need to be connected. All very romantic in the sunshine and no doubt bloody hard in the winter. Tempting none the less.

Having made it across on the ferry which was very long because, with only the exception of the first ferry journey, we’d somehow picked an inordinately long route that stopped in other places. Then down (well, across) on the train to Banavie, we popped out to grab food and ended up looking around the castle there.

We noodled around Banavie yesterday, mainly doing laundry but also checking out the local distillery. Sadly, whether or not it’s good whisky, the people seemed meh, and while the tour was interesting, by the end of it neither of us felt like they truly cared deeply about the drink they’re making. It more felt like ‘this is the way we have been doing it for years, so why change’.

Today we hopped on the bus and headed for Fort William where we (unsurprisingly) spent an inordinate amount of time in a book shop, and also took some time checking out the museum… And the whiskey shop (and yes, I’m more than aware of the inconsistency of thinking about a life that is based on less consumption, then promptly going and consuming. Who ever said it would be easy?).

We picked up some thought provoking reading matter and are headed down on the train to London… Where we were meant to be renting an EV. But… That fell though… So sadly we’ll be in a Prius. The best we could manage on our limited budget and without trekking hours out of our way (to the other side of London) to hire. Ask me why rental companies don’t hire EVs… I have no answer but it’s bloody irritating.

Feh.

Eigg-entually it is time to head back to the real world.

So our island hopping time comes to an end today. I’m currently sat in a shepherds hut on the Isle of Eigg, which is a stunningly beautiful little island, a mixture of glacial and volcanic land formations. The weather has been remarkably kind to us, unlike the midges and the flying ants, which have been less forgiving.

Due to a failure to read the ferry timetable, we didn’t realise that the ferry actually takes about 5 hours calling at Canna and Mallaig on its way from Rum to here. That meant our first day was rather brief, being a run to the shop and then a wander out along what turned out to be the path we were taking the next day.What was quite stunning though was watching the mist descending on the glen and looking at the hills and moorland disappearing into it.Amusingly for almost our entire walk we were joined by a small dog that jogged alongside us, peeing on every large shrub and being terrified and run-off by a very fierce lamb.

The next day dawned clearish and we headed for the opposite coat of the island, where there’s an arts and crafts church, a crofting museum and a little teashop. We followed an increasingly invisible path that led us to…a patch of bracken, then turned back and found the right route. One of the exciting things about this place is there are few enough visitors that many of the paths are barely discernable.Eventually, with the help of the map and a mixture of faith and luck we made it to the path down the steep cliff to the beach where we perched for lunch and watched the tan coloured sand washing over and across the volcanic black sands. It’s amazing to watch and quite mesmerizing.

Eventually we made our way up to the church, which has apparently been restored from ruins, and then to the fascinating little crofting museum. It’s more about the life of the people than the process of crofting and is in what was once a blackhouse (the crofting houses originally had no windows and the small, low, thatched buildings were heated (and probably kept midge free) by a continuously burning peat fire that left the walls and the roof blackened with soot). The house the museum’s in was a blackhouse that in the early 20th century was improved with the use of a loan – adding a bit of height to the walls and a gable roof made from galvanised steel.It turned it from a one room house to one with a kitchen / best room and a couple of bedrooms. The museum really tells the story of the lives of the generations of the family that lived there…

We pootled from there down to our next stop, the cafe… Which disappointingly turned out to be closed for a few days. Understandable as the owner’s daughter is apparently graduating (congratulations! :) ) So instead started wending our way back up the steep climb out of Cleadale and back over to Galmisdale where the shepherd’s hut lurks.Despite extremely soggy, and in my case malodorous and somewhat sore feet(thanks to the shoe rubbing on a bite), the isle worked it’s magic, making us both find of the idea of living there. It seems that many of the islands occupants are understandably very aware of the impact of climate change, the island is dependent on the Gulf Stream for it’s weather patterns and sea level rise would destroy a lot of the existing infrastructure. So it’s not entirely surprising that the island’s population, who teamed up to buy the island from a lackadaisical landlord in the midst of an investigation, have made the island 100% renewable powered. Although waste does still seem to be burned, as there’s no rubbish collection, just metal and glass recycling.

On the ferry, we have trundled to Muck, and are now making our way to Mallaig, Where we’ll be going on a train to our next destination. We managed to cram in a visit to the Massacre Caves in which apparently, the entire population of the island was, at one point in history, murdered in one go, presumably to clear the island.It’s a weirdly beautiful place, the island has a whole bunch of natural cave formations around the coast, and the volcanic rock has eroded in an incredible way, whatever the horror of its history.

So we head back to the mainland for the much more sociable but of our trip. We have a couple of days near Fort William, then a sleeper (ha!) train to catch, before heading to see friends and family. For that we have hired an EV. Specifically a Kona EV. I hope we don’t like it more than Raven (our Niro EV).

Let’s move on, the midges have found us.

This year, our ‘summer hols’ have a fairly remote bent. We’ve both been feeling an increasing urge to be far away from people, and get some remote, quiet time. As we were heading back to what remains of the UK, we arranged an incredibly complicated holiday where we hopped on a plane, and having endured a 9 hour flight, promptly took ourselves for a 3/4 day in London with no sleep. We arranged to leave our luggage behind in a left luggage store, pausing to arrange us popping back later to grab what we needed for Scotland, then went for a massage.

No ordinary massage, this. But a Russian massage complete with being lightly smacked with leafy twigs. In an amazingly hot room. Also the cold tub / shower, hot sauna room alternating thing similar to those Skandi saunas of which we’re both fond. It was both our first experiences of the Russian Banya… And I would go back. It’s intense, and invigorating, and the massage definitely erred towards discomfort that will eventually make you feel better rather than mellow. It was not exactly pleasurable in and of itself, but it felt really good afterwards.

Anyhow, we did that. Grabbed a small lunch, then we pottered to Gays The Word and, it turns out, The Observatory – which it turns out is a real cafe. We gleefully pointed out that Gays The Word, which is one of my favourite book shops, was in the background of a shot in Killing Eve. But the cafe she’s in is, we discovered, a real cafe. The view opposite, that she’s supposedly looking at, obviously isn’t. But it was quite fun to be stood there and Kathryn did get a photo of me grinning like an idiot.

Having killed quite a lot of time (and bought a non-zero number of books) we meandered to the British Library just in time for most of the exhibits to close, then grabbed our rucksacks from our luggage and made our way to Euston for the Caledonian Sleeper, which we’d booked for the run to Fort William. Hoping that sheer exhaustion would win over any challenges we might have sleeping on the train, and looking forward to the shiny new trains when we’d booked it, it had seemed like a reasonable idea. Unfortunately a week or two prior we got an email that informed us that it would not be the shiny new trains. No, due to technical problems it would still be the shonky ancient trains. These trains have been running since before I was born, and they pretty much feel like it.

The trains are rattly and squeaky, the fittings are well worn and in the case of the bathroom nearest us, barely functional. Still, exhaustion beat upon us and we clambered into our bunks… And waited. And waited. And eventually started checking. And realised that a signal failure meant our train was going nowhere.

Eventually, I decided that – fuck it, I was going to sleep. I have no idea what time the train moved off, but a fitful night’s sleep followed, waking for some reason or other as we scaled the country. When we finally pulled in to Fort William, 2 hours late, and after I’d had my tiny breakfast (£3.50 for 1/3 cup of ‘vegan smoothie’, with what appeared to be one walnut chopped up and in a pot as one of the ‘nuts’ it came with. Also instant coffee… Provided as a disposable cup of warm water and a sachet of granules.).. we were both tired and ready for something not transport food related.

It turns out there’s a really good vegan cafe in Fort William (no, we’ve not suddenly gone vegan) where they had some fantastic food options…which we took full advantage of, before a bit of a break with us lying in the park enjoying the sun and then we clambered into the next train, to Mallaig. One night in the very pleasant Sea View guest house and a properly yummy Scottish breakfast, and we were on the final leg – the ferry to Rum.

Which is where we’ve spent the last four days – away from people (apart from a protracted prone call to my British bank, who’s representative seemed unable to grasp the concept of being on an island small enough to not have a bank), and meandering around the wilderness.

We walked across a quadrant of the island from Kinloch (where we’re staying) to Kilmory (which is a beach, a deer monitoring project building, and a long abandoned crofting building). It’s about a ten mile meander – not hard, just long (by our standards). The beach was lovely, we were sharing it with a few people who seemed to have arrived on a small boat, but they were far enough away we didn’t even need to do the socially acceptable wave of greeting.

In the distance we’d watched from the deer hide as the red deer – who are heavily researched – munched on the moorland plants while we munched on our sandwiches.

And we pottered around the abandoned village’s cemetery, looking at the sad loss of 8 children in one go to diptheria.

Most of the gravestones had been rendered illegible by the passage of time. Apparently at one time there was a very early stone cross laying on the ground. I’m not sure if it’s still there… We didn’t know to look for it until we came back and were noseing at one of the books about the island. Unfortunately, we missed it if it is.

Yesterday we had a more gentle day – first up was the protracted battle with the bank (which allowed us to briefly break the ice a bit with one of the locals who seems fairly… uninterested in tourists) and a bit of laundry. Then we headed to see Kinloch Castle. Which isn’t a Castle at all, it’s a 1900s manor house sized shooting lodge built using factory building techniques by a guy who clearly had much more money than sense. It’s a heartrending place. Scottish natural heritage have been kinda lumped with this sort of stately home, complete with its contents, since being sold the island to turn into a nature reserve. It’s very clear they don’t really know what to do with it. At points it’s been a hostel and a hotel. It was sold complete with all it’s Edwardian frippery, and apparently much of the Bulloughs personal stuff (including, allegedly, some S&M gear!) which means it’s a fairly rare beast. Unlike a lot of other preserved houses of the same era which have era appropriate but not original stuff in them, this house is the real deal.

The Orchestrion (a barrel organ built for queen Victoria (but who died before it could be installed)) with one of the largest collection of musical scores for it still lurks, more or less functional, under the stairs. Apparently there are only three in the world, and only 2 still work. This is one of those two. The insane Edwardian shower-baths with multiple jets powered by a 100m pressure head from a water source tapped high up on the hills – they’re still there and working. The interestingly privacy heavy ballroom (raised windows, orchestra behind a curtain, butler in a closed separate room with shutters opened from the ballroom), still has it’s couches. The bedrooms have their beds. The library appears stocked with books.

It’s a time warp. But one which is suffering horribly. The building is damp and they’ve battled with the island weather to stop the rain getting in. The house had a heated conservatory that only lasted 10 years after being built before being destroyed by the harsh weather out here. A century of rain beating on the sandstone has left the blocks soaked and rusting out the steel frame hidden within.

And 50 years of a tensions about spending money on a building, rather than the environment, has definitely not helped. Anyhow, we had a highly entertaining and certainly the most relaxed tour of a house I’ve ever had – at least of the bits of the house that are still accessible (some of it is engaged in a a battle with dryrot).

Then we headed down to the Otter hide, where we singularly failed to see any otters, but had a very nice view of the sea to enjoy, watched some fish leap our of the water, and we saw a Sand Piper and a bunch of hooded crows on the wander back. We also got to meander around another abandoned village, which is always good. And of course, being Friday night, we stopped at Kim’s Kitchen for Friday night Fish and Chips, with the locally caught fish. Yay :)

Today was our final day on Rum, tomorrow we head to Eigg, (5 hours on the ferry due to unfortunate scheduling) and we made good use of it – walking up to Coire Dubh then going a little off piste to Cnapan Breaca then back down to Kinloch. About 350 – 400m up, with great views despite the mizzle… We both got a trifle damp which is unfortunate because we need to pack up and move tomorrow and so we’ve been trying to dry everything by the fire. It is, at least, cool enough for us to be having a fire, despite the battle it’s taken for us to get it lit (wood but no kindling).

It is making me feel like we are doing life wrong. I feel so much better out here. So much more calm.

Of course, making enough to live on is a lot harder out here, too. That’s the challenge.

Busy busy

It’s been a somewhat chaotic and stressful month at chez us. Our new car arrived and we had to go pick it up. Despite all the promises of “It won’t be a problem that you’re away, we can work around that”, when the car we’d ordered arrived they wanted money immediately or threatened to sell it to someone else with no likelihood of another one with that trim/colour option being obtainable.

This is because we wanted a Kia Niro EV which, as we know, is made of unobtainium. Apparently people called from Texas offering to buy it when it appeared on the stock list.

And if we are paying a frankly terrifying amount of money for a car, it damn well better be the colour/option list we want.

Mind you, it was a little unclear exactly what we were getting because the dealer had no clue exactly what the spec would be on the “launch edition”, but at any rate, it arrived and is very shiny.

The down side of that is that, of course, we had to sell our much loved Rav4EV. We’d both become weirdly attached to Ravtastic, with the excellent reliability, comfort and somehow personable and friendly nature of the car. Part of it is no doubt, as Kathryn pointed out, that she (Ravtastic) had been around through a bunch of hyperstressful experiences.

She’d taken us out to our house building project where we failed to get a permit and had to do battle with Thurston county. She’s carried us through 2 years of crazy busy stuff in building the house; ferrying tons of tools and bits. She’s been our car through my burnout and depression when teaching. And let’s be honest, she was our first big purchase in this country.

At any rate, I’ve never been so sad to sell a car. We both thanked her for being so good to us, then sent her on her way to Michigan!

Of course getting through the selling process has been a mare, the person buying her wanted to finance her and – well, although it went fine it has taken us right up to vacation time. Basically everything we said needs to happen before our vacation has. But by a matter of days. Ravtastic left yesterday, our plasters got shifted by a week, meaning that the first coat of plaster only went up on our house this week too.

That was cool, though. Our plasterer teaches plastering and since this was the scratch coat (and so while the thickness needs to be fairly consistent, the final finish on this coat is rough), we got to do some of the application. We can still point to the walls and say it’s us.

Interestingly, to help with bonding to the drywall/plasterboard, they added thinset (tile adhesive) to the scratch coat. That won’t be the case for the top coats, so I’m curious to see how that differs. I’m also hoping that we can get good enough that we can apply some of the topcoat. I have done a little with regular old plaster (over lath and on brick) but not with lime and definitely not quickly.

The amount of water in the house is bloody terrifying though. We checked in and our plasterer confirmed that we could keep our (borrowed) dehumidifier running. But at the end of the first coat it was saying 80% relative humidity and the floors had water soaking in. Since the only direction of exit is up, in this case, the dehumidifier is working overtime.

Then we have the ceilings. We could’t afford to get the ceilings lime plastered, so they are coming around to spray them with gypsum based drywall stuff and then go for a smooth finish. That’s all arranged, but it’s pretty much antithetical to our policies to let people work on the house when we aren’t here. It’s the only way it can happen in a reasonable timeframe though, because all the builders around here are crazily busy. Our job is small enough that they can just ‘fit it in’, but finding someone with a gap that works has been tough.

Of course, because it’s us, our holiday also falls when we have a bunch of bills and payments due, and because we’ve been cramming on the housework (it needed a coat of paint over the entire inside before the plaster could go up), we’ve neglected our adulting meaning this week while we’ve been getting the car sold, and plastering the house, and I’m working a lot, and Kathryn has a lot of work stuff on, is the one where we need to get adulting done. It does mean some things have got left, somewhat, to the lat minute. Neither of us are packed for the holiday. There’s a long list of payments and bills to sort before we go.

I’m just hoping we can forget about then when we leave enough to really enjoy being nicely isolated.