September 29, 2012

Full steam ahead

Filed under: General — tattiehouse @ 14:53

Things are coming along at a quick pace now, we’ve pulled up half of the hallway floor and used the rubble as hard core for the kitchen floor. When all of the concrete is up we will compact, level off, install a DPM and insulation then re-concrete. Our steels arrived on Wednesday – hugely exciting because their installation will allow us to remove the old stairs (which will be repositioned to start in the hallway instead of the living rooms, freeing up LOTS of living space) and knock a double doorway between the two front rooms (dining and living). There’ll be a flow between kitchen and dining, then the option to open the dining and living areas up to eachother. It’s going to be an amazing space! We’ve designed new Tattie House so that she will hopefully always be able to earn her keep, be it as B&B, self catering accomodation or as one of the many business ideas we have in mind – or maybe as a mixture of any or all of our ideas. Dreaming about getting to that point is really important to us, because being first time renovators, just thinking of the scale of the job can be so massively daunting. Some of the jobs done so far have been exhausting and logistics have been challenging, we’ve dedicated blood sweat and the occasional tear to the house yet we still have so far to go. At this point in the year with so much still to do before we leave for the winter and life in the caravan becoming harder to enjoy, imagining the possibilities is what helps to bring our spirits up on tougher days.

Encouragement from our families helps us along too, Ian’s parents visited us recently and assessed the works so far – they are as excited as we are about us getting to the finished product and having done something similar themselves know that we have a brilliant shell of a house to work with. Despite the rubbish weather they managed to have a good wander during their visit, firstly for a trip around the North side nature trail followed by a wander up Coire Dubh then off to Dibidil.

In fairness they’ve probably done more walking on Rum than even a lot of the residents have so it was hard to know what walks to suggest as they’ve been to most places already! Being seasoned campers they were very happy to stay in one of Rum’s camping cabins (a new addition to the camping facilities for 2012) with dogs Teddy and Tess and found the wooden cabin very favourable compared to tent camping in the mighty winds we’ve had of late. My parents will be visiting in a couple of week’s time, staying at the castle hostel and I absolutely cannot wait to see them. The timing of their visit reminds me of what little time we have left on Rum this year; a week and a half after they leave and we’ll be hot on their heels heading South. The colder, windier, wetter and darker it gets here, the happier I am about that!

Other goings on recently have included the final thursday Sheerwater expedition of the season where the minke wales and porpoises gave us one last show. The rut is in full swing, with the BBC staying at the castle and recording deer activities for this year’s Autumnwatch. The hills are alive with the sound of stags bellowing away through the night and to add to that, the stars are also breath takingly beautiful at this time of year and on a clear night it doesn’t take long looking skyward before you see shooting stars. Yesterday evening was community engagement evening organised by Community Development Officer Vikki Trelfer, with Dave Thompson MSP, Cllr. Alan Henderson and several others here to explore the ways in which the community could be developed and improved upon in the future. There was a good turn out, the format of being in small groups and moving from subject to subject at 20 minute intervals made it easy to discuss issues openly and in a civilised and orderly fashion. I was particularly excited to have been part of a group which included a director of the IRCT and a former director, whose knowledge about various Rum issues we found insightful. The evening was really well organised and ended on a yummy buffet. What will become of the information gathered here I’m not really sure, but it felt good to take part nonetheless…


September 11, 2012

O! What’s occurring?

Filed under: General — tattiehouse @ 14:54

So what’s been happening lately…Ian’s nephew Conor and Floss the wee collie dog have been over for a short visit, he’s just returned from a year in America so we haven’t seen him for what seems like AGES and it was brilliant to have him here. Ian is thrilled to have one of his favourite walking/kayaking (& adventure in general) companions back in the same country. We have more family visits planned; Ian’s parents are over for a couple of days this week and mine will hopefully be heading up in October. We just can’t wait until that house is ready to take visitors so that our families and friends can come over on a regular basis and stay in comfort and style!

An old Christian marking on a stone at Caves Bay thought to date back between 600 and 700 AD

Big and little Bolo at Dibidil Bothy

Conor and Floss on Kilmory beach

Golden Plover we thought…Sanderling they are! 🙂


Beach at Samhnan Insir

Conor jumping…

and landing

The FV Jack Abry II which grounded on Rum on 31st Jan 2011
We’re now well into September and the wind has scuppered our plans to get the boat out this year – and whilst mainly we’re just glad the task of getting her to the Isle of Rum is done, it would still have been nice to get a few trips out. But with every cloud and all that, the wind has kept the midges at bay for most of what should have been the worst month of the year. They’re currently fighting their last stand between the gusts, and before we know it they just wont appear again until the spring. Hurrah!

Following on from the jaunt up the hill with Rum’s HebNet stuff, Ian went away to the main land (or real world as I like to call it) for just under a week with fellow HebNet founder Simon helping another rural community to achieve a decent broadband connection. Bit different from the old office job!

It’s been all comings and goings lately. As Ian was leaving, I got to welcome back very good friend Abby from her trip away. It’s amazing the difference just one person being away can make on a community of 40 or so people. Rum just isn’t the same without all of its people – we missed her a lot and were SO happy to see her come back! We’ve said a sad goodbye to freelance castle chef Izzy, she fit into the little jigsaw that is the community perfectly and will be missed – although I can’t help feeling it wont be long before she’s back…On a brighter note we’re really looking forward to when we can welcome Paul’s wife Carol as a permanent Rummic – something to look forward to and very soon we hope.

Whilst Ian was away I took delivery of our latest order of materials. With a bit of moral support from our Wondering Wanderer friends at croft 3 and much appreciated help from Estate Manager Richard and roofer Billy Cowan (who helped avert an unloading crisis on the Calmac) the whole thing went very smoothly. None of the possible horrors I had built up in my head actually happened, so thanks Rembrand Timber for being super suppliers – we are now equipped with materials that will allow us to get really busy indoors out of the grotty weather that’s plagued us of late.

Delivery truck at the pier

Delivery truck unloading
So far we’ve moved the delivery from the dropping off point to Tattie House, put a couple of the lintels in place and most excitingly knocked through the first new doorway! One of the old ‘back kitchens’ is now officially a hallway and as soon as the opening between the two back kitchens is knocked through (hopefully today!) we will have joined the two previously seperate halves of the house up. Yes it’s still a long way off complete, but Tattie House is just starting to take the form of the version we have in our heads. It may actually be the most excited either of us has been about any of the work we’ve done so far.

New doorway opening the downstairs bedroom up to the hallway

Ian prepping the wall for the lintels that will allow us to join up the two halves of Tattie House

And coming up…we have LOTS of concreting to get done in the next six weeks including the kitchen and hallway floors. We have old doorways to block up, big old steels to put in place,  stairs to remove and much more.

With the days drawing in rapidly, and the caravan being all damp and wind wobbled we’ve been thinking more about the move home for the winter months and I must say I’m actually really excited at the thought of returning to our simple little cosy home. I’ve been asked a few times about which of the two places I call home and why and I’ve found it quite hard to explain, we’re in a close community of people who work hard to make everyone feel at home and we love being a part of it. But to me the idea of ‘home’ was deeply ingrained in me during my upbringing, my parents have always told us three girls that wherever they are is home and no matter what happens in our lives we’ll always be able to go to them when we want or need to. Since we’ve become couples, the sons in law have been treated more like sons and included in the unconditional welcome. We always know there will never be a time that we’re not welcome whatever the circumstances. Pretty much the same goes of Ian’s parents too. It’s not something you can easily shake off, and I wouldn’t want to. Ian and I will have our homes away from home, but I’m sure for us the true definition will always be where our families are.

Although we will miss our friends and being here, the combination of feeling generally very tired at the moment and the thought of being back with the people we love in Wales makes the idea of home seem massively appealing. I can’t wait to get back into cupcake Sundays with my nieces, supermarket Thursdays with my sister, sleeping in a real bed in a real room, keeping more little piggies in the garden, open fires and amaretto in the snug on cold dark nights…! We could stay in the van for winter, but have both decided that we don’t really want to struggle through battling the cold, damp and dark and risk being plain miserable at the end of it when we have the option to be productive and comfortable at home and come back refreshed in early spring. The costs involved in what we’re doing are big, but we’re both certain that they shouldn’t include our well being.

As for the now, aside from the works going on at Tattie House we’re hoping to get a couple of attempts at catching some mackerel in before they make themselves scarce. We have Blasda on Saturday, so we hope to be successful in catching an offering towards the evening ‘pot luck meal’. Fingers crossed – because it seems it’s always a case of the more I want to catch something the windier or rainier it is come high tide…hmm.

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