Tuesday 26 February 2008

A break from building regulations!

This is an area about 30 miles north from us. Kylesku. I think we were walking on part of the Reay Forest estate. It's owned by the Duke of Westminster and extends to some 100,000 acres.

It's impossible to capture with the camera the enormity and vastness of the landscape. The little stick in the bottom left hand corner of the picture is Niels. We stayed near here one summer three or four years ago and had some wonderful walking in hot glorious sunshine!

We followed the estate tracks and stalkers trails up into the hills. We didn't see any deer this time. Deer culling begins in July and you are advised to contact the estate before heading in to the hills.
I took this a few weeks back on another walk nearer to home also on a large estate. It's a block of salt put down for the deer. You can see the uniform pattern their tongues make! Every winter when it's cold the deer come down out of the hills and congregate in large numbers by the side of the road. It's amazing to see them, especially the stags who look so majestic. Unfortunately you often don't see them until too late and they can be the cause of many road accidents. We lost a wing mirror on the car clipped by a deer late one night last November. We've been told they come down to the road for the salt spread by the gritters. I wonder if they have high blood pressure!

The tracks go on for miles into very remote and isolated parts. We didn't have time on Sunday to complete the walk. We can add it to the long list of incomplete walks we need to complete! The problem with walking here is that unless you carry a tent and sleeping bag many walks remain elusive and unfinished. The area is so vast and not criss crossed with roads and convenient pick up points. That's what makes it so special.

As we came back down the hillside the sun was going down We climbed these mountains on the other side of the loch when we were last here. I remember when we got to the top we met a really nice couple and ended by walking with them.

I wanted to get a photo of Kylesku bridge. I think it's beautiful and fits the landscape perfectly. It won the Concrete Society Award in 1985! The engineering company that built it is also responsible for building the bridge that joins Denmark with Sweden across the Oresund

Friday 22 February 2008

Building regulations

All the highlighted areas are amendments to the ground floor plan of the house. We can now negotiate around corners, and fit comfortably through doorways using our walking frames and rest easy in the knowledge that at the drop of a stick, we can install a chair lift enabling us to ride up and down the stairs at our leisure. This huge wad of paperwork on the kitchen table has now been put into a large official brown envelope and Niels is driving to the building warrant office in Dingwall some forty something miles from here to deliver it by hand.
I'm not having a go at disability, nor indeed old age, (it's getting a bit close for that!) I'm the first to admit that we need rules and regulations regarding planning and building, and of course, everyone, regardless should have access to buildings and places. But there is a part of me that wants to shout out and protest that this is our plot of land, our house and more importantly our money!
The building rules and regulations changed here in May 2007 and are being followed to the letter!

Thursday 21 February 2008

The concrete arrives

There was a bit of a rush on late yesterday afternoon when the firm delivering the concrete for the foundations brought the delivery forward by half a day. Niels stayed and helped Ian lay the insulation blocks that needed to go down before the concrete. It was late by the time they finished and they worked by the light of the digger!
The various objects sitting on top of the blocks were put there to stop them being blown away in the wind overnight.

The concrete mixer has arrived. It was belting down with rain this morning as it sat at the top of the drive waiting for the off
Almost ready just fixing something

Our road works..

I hope!
Annie next door may have felt a little nervous at this point.

concrete spreading

Hey this doesn't happen on 'Grand Designs!' He arrived with Jock (his owner who lives up the lane) just to have a look round. He's a smashing dog. I can't remember his name. I hope he's not looking for the loo.

Yes I can see you've got cementy feet - you're a very naughty dog!
It's been a bit of a tough week so far. Niels has struggled to finish and resubmit some plans and specifications for the completion of the house. Building regulations are very picky. We've had to widen doors, add doors we hadn't wanted to, show disabled access, alter the stairs so that if needed a chair lift can be fitted, show handrails and even specify where our outdoor drying area will be. I suggested to Niels that he just says we'll stick a rotary clothes line in the garden! It's really difficult at this stage to be so specific concerning detail. Have they just spotted we're an old couple or what? Trying to keep us as independent in our own home for as long as possible? I'm worried that my lovely danish house is going to end up looking like an old peoples home! Who said that's very appropriate..!

Tuesday 12 February 2008

Well just look at this!

You turn your back for a minute and the next thing you know, your house is being built! The work on the foundations has started!
The ingenious method the builders have come up with for filling their kettle. The stream has been diverted, via a plastic pipe, to flow into a wheelie bin. It comes in handy for mixing cement as well, which I suspect is its main purpose!

No 'faffing' about with hard hats here!

And today, even more house has appeared! Will it be big enough? We have five and a half containers of 'stuff' to fit in it

But it is exciting and it will be a brilliant site

The land behind the house (overlooking the loch) has to be landscaped. We need to lop down some more trees otherwise the view will be blocked, and we need to do it before the birds start laying their own foundations. How awful to build a house only to have someone come and knock it down

The weather has been beautiful. There is a real softness in the air. The birds are singing their socks off and the bulbs begining to appear. Can it last! It's now I realise what a long dark month January has been. January would be the month to go on holiday I think

I drove into Ullapool (to post Jo's parcel!) and everything was just so.....blue. I still can't quite believe that I live here! How on earth have we managed to find such an amazingly beautiful place?
Blue Ullapool! The two orange blobs are fishing trawlers (I think). There were certainly a number of refrigerated lorries about on the quayside and driving to and from Ullapool.

Monday 11 February 2008

Happy talk

Father and daughter.
Jo came to visit last week. She's lovely; great company, lively, funny and always kind - except to her mother! It was great to have her here for a few days. She flew back to London at the weekend. And this morning I've packed a parcel (a largish one) of all the things she left behind!

Saturday 9 February 2008

Tapping in to taps

At the risk of wittering on, (something I find very easy to do when I find something I like!) I do love these taps - clicking on the picture should enlarge it. They look as fresh now as they did in the 1960s when Arne Jacobsen designed them for Vola. And if we go to Denmark to get them we'll be saving money as they're cheaper there. Sadly Niels, like many husbands, simply fails to understand my cost cutting
initiatives. But they are scrummy and very sensual (the taps, not husbands) and would look great in the kitchen and bathroom which, after all, we are trying to keep as danish as possible! I need to refine my argument a bit I can see. In the meantime Roca do some fine taps and they feature in the City Plumbing catalogue but, oh...they're just not the same.

Saturday 2 February 2008

And finally....

It snowed! We've had snow on the mountains and on the way into Inverness but until now it hasn't made it to Letters.

At the bottom of the garden

I found the canoe. It will sleep until spring

The summer house waiting for the summer and a bit of a repair.

In the snow even the wood looked, well - less messy!

It's that mad woman, don't move she hasn't spotted us, we look like a couple of off-white snowballs, she'll go in a minute

Not a lot happening on the building front
The house we are staying in. Luckily we left the car at the top of the drive

We drove out of Ullapool, seen here from the north, to see the sights
which, at the risk of stating the obvious, were very white - white as far as the eye could see

The road north. The only road in fact, unless you drive up on the east coast. It is incredibly isolated with nothing around for miles. At this point we decided as we don't have either the car to cope with these conditions, or the provisions if we should get stuck, we had better turn round

and drive home, which we did. Niels even remembered to stop the car and let me back in!

I lit the fire. A little danish wood burning stove that fairly belts out the heat. It's cosy and warm and beats being stuck in the snow. Sadly the forcast for tomorrow is more rain

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