Friday 23 May 2008


We went to Inverewe Garden at the weekend. It's a little over an hours journey from us nr Polewe on the west coast. If you are up this way it's well worth a visit. It benefits from the gulf stream and is situated in a beautiful position overlooking the sea.
A pretty good vegetable plot too
and all sorts of plants and trees
none of which I know the names of
But I recognise these Hoster plants. I had a Hoster in a pot out side the back door once. Now I just have a pot. I give you two guesses as to who ate it! Although I haven't seen lamb chop this week - maybe she's just full up or maybe she's gone to have her baby. Perhaps she's found some one with a better loaf.
Sorry it's not a golden eagle - next time!

Niels' journey to the building warrant office proved fruitful. He said later they were very kind to him and helpful (they probably want him off their backs!) and by the end of next week we could have our building warrant. They need to know that the wood burning stove isn't going to exceed a certain temperature where it's fixed to the floor. Also the type of underlay used under the roof tiles. Once we have the warrant they come out to inspect the house to see we're obeying the rules.
We are moving this weekend and for a while we won't have an Internet connection. Fortunately Niels has his mobile with Internet access. The caravan will become his office which will be good as there is now a promise of some work coming in. On a positive note I saw a ladder leaning up against the telegraph pole outside our house. I'll assume that means we are getting a line put in. Good old BT. Whatever happens I'll be back as soon as I can. So keep watching this space!

Thursday 22 May 2008

The inner frame

The more discerning will notice there is a change! The inner frame goes in.
The joiners got carried away here and added wooden frame where there shouldn't be. The three posts in the middle will come out.
The installation (wires etc) go in between the batons. The plan is not to go through the membrane.
Our job is to take the insulation from upstairs
and stuff it into the cavities down stairs.
Like so! It shouldn't take us too long and will give as something to do..!! The house has an enormous amount of insulation in it. The only form of heat we shall have is a wood burning stove and underfloor heating in the bathrooms. Let's hope the principle of this zero energy house works when put into practice against the chilly north?
Niels' appointment on Monday was cancelled with the building warrant officer. He has a new appointment this morning - fingers crossed it goes well. He's on his way there now, complete with drawings, plans and paper work. We really do need this building warrant!
The only advantage to being a wasp that I can see, is that you can find your plot, (under our eaves) by pass all the rules and regulations and start building more or less straight a way! I hope they haven't chewed the house up before we get a chance to live in it!
We're moving out of our present cottage this coming weekend. I can't recommend it highly enough, if you're looking for a holiday place to stay. We've probably had a longer 'holiday' in it than most! It's comfortable, cosy and very well equipped. The people who own it have kindly let us stay in another house they have - just very short term, while we get the house to the next stage, ie. running water and a bathroom at least down stairs. We shall be quite happy to camp in the house but at least need to have it organised so we won't be in the way of workmen. This will be our fourth move and you would think I would be organised at it by now - not a chance. I'm off to pack up what seems like a huge amount of 'stuff' we don't really seem to need. The best thing though, is that it can be stored somewhere that is ours. We shall divide our belongings between the shed, the caravan, and the floor at Brookwood! Just think, one day I shall have a cupboard under the stairs!

Sunday 18 May 2008

A 'Boil in the Bag' house

The joiners arrive for work and discuss the plan of action
They weren't so enthusiastic at having to stick the house up with polythene sheeting, but it's necessary for the heat exchange system.
Robin spent his last day sticking up the window surrounds. He commented that we would soon have a 'boil in the bag house!' Putting polythene bags over your head is not to be recommended so I hope this heat exchange system kicks in before we suffocate, other wise we shall be living with the windows open!
He made a very neat and tidy job of it, though he said it took three or four windows before he perfected a system!

Levitating stairs waiting for the next layer of floor to catch up
We had a scare in the week in the form of a letter from the building regulations department saying we must cease building immediately as we hadn't yet complied with all the required regulations. There is an enormous amount of paper work to complete and to be fair to the inspector who later turned up on site we haven't yet dealt with all the points raised. In fact the inspector was ok and turned out to be human! This door way at the bottom of the stairs through to the study though has to go. We had hoped by putting in another door round the corner we could keep it, however in the event of fitting a stair lift, it would be in the way. But he has allowed us to carry on working and the points he wants us to clarify on paper are not too bad. Niels has an appointment with him tomorrow in Dingwall. Niels spent yesterday working on the installation plans for switches, sockets, light fittings, cooker points etc. It's actually hugely difficult when you've never done anything like it before, and we don't have an architect we can pass it on to. He's pretty good at working in paint shop and the plans look very professional. Ollie, our youngest son the electrician, has added points and advice, but at the end of the day it's getting it down on paper that counts!
After the polythene, the insulation goes down followed by chipboard. The area to the right where there is no chipboard will be a shower/wet room so will have concrete flooring and tiles
Suddenly the house has a different feel to it. The rooms becomes lower and the windows change height

Another big event happened in the week. Puraflo arrived to install the waste system

This is a sump - apparently! The building inspector was happy with the waste system and also in agreement with the treated waste water being discharged into our burn which despite the very dry weather hasn't dried up. The weather continues to be glorious and our neighbours are talking of the need for some rain! The man who lives further up the hill, at the back of us, said his well is drying up. He isn't connected to the mains, and mostly has wonderful spring water, except if the weather stays too dry

Friday 16 May 2008

Posh nosh

Yesterday was my birthday, and for a special treat we went out for a meal. The restaurant was perfectly positioned with glorious ever changing views of the sunset over Ullapool and Lochbroom. The service was first class and the food arrived hot and very fresh.
We liked it so much we stayed. This was taken at around 10pm yesterday evening, it still wasn't dark
and there is, after all, something very cosy and comforting about eating fish and chips straight out of the wrapping, sitting in the car listening to the radio! The smell of vinegar, the cup of tea in a polystyrene cup steaming up the windows. It was perfect. Even at my age I still know how to have a good time!

Tuesday 13 May 2008

A Day Off

We had the day off on Sunday, and in the afternoon went with Robin to see the Falls of Kirkaig
situated in the Inverpolly Nature Reserve which at a guess is some 20 miles to the north of here. We came here first one very warm July day in 2005, with the intention of climbing Suilven, a wonderful almost comic like shaped mountain, similar to an old fashioned police man's helmet that rises up out of the middle of no where in a vast and empty landscape. We must be the only people who set out to climb Suilven who missed the turning up to the summit! Instead we trekked on for ages past the mountain in very hot sticky weather with all the horse flies in the highlands for company before giving up and retracing our steps back to the car!
On Sunday our mission was less intense and we took an altogether more leisurely pace. Primroses grow in amazing abundance here, and where you see primroses you often see
this little chap as well. A tiny delicate blue flower that wouldn't stay still for the photograph.
This is a better example. Are they violets? I really don't know, except they are very tiny
This little beetle wouldn't stay still either, despite being told he could feature in my blog, he couldn't get away quick enough and by the time I'd found the macro setting on the camera he had all but disappeared into the undergrowth.
The Falls of Kirkaig.
It was possible to climb down to the waters edge which we did, though it was very rocky and at times difficult to get a foot hold. There is a rope tied to a metal bar at the edge of the pool presumably to pull your self out of the water if you should fall in - fortunately we behaved ourselves and didn't!

Gorse grows everywhere, just like in parts of Surrey, although I don't remember it smelling so sweet there. The scent it gives off reminds me of coconut ice, a sweet I used to like when I was a child.

All this nature and walking and stuff, it's time to head to the pub! We went to the Kylescu Hotel and had a meal. I've played around with this photo of Robin. Very strong light coming in through the window left him as a dark outline that you couldn't see. I'm a huge fan of photo shop. For me it's the best software on the planet. Its possibilities endless. Here I've taken out the colour while leaving the drinks as they are.
On the way home the sun was setting. Like many people I have a camera with a variety of different functions and settings. Mostly, in spite of all the choice, I turn the dial to 'P' and simply click. I've had this camera for 4 years and must have taken thousands of photos (and deleted thousands too!) I still need to learn how to use it properly though! Taking pictures into strong light produces very strong contrast. Sometimes this works sometimes it doesn't. I'm sure there is a setting somewhere on the camera to adjust for this. These photos of the sun setting though needed no adjustments or tweaking.
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