Happy Face, Sad Face


Here’s just a quick update on where we’re up to with the conservatory project: as you can probably guess from the post title it’s still a bit two steps forward one step back.

Despite the roof being on for nearly three months we are still experiencing water leakage. Is getting less and less, but now that the window joints are sealed and the lead flashing is all in place we are at a bit of a loss as to where it’s coming in. We find ourselves both waiting for and dreading rainy days to see if our repairs have worked and trying not to get too despondent when we hear the first drip of the day.

However, we are carrying on where we can. We put our learning heads on a couple of weeks ago and plumbed in the radiators. We got an actual real plumber to come in and check out work before opening the valves. We now have some heat in the room! Well, at least in one of the radiators: the plumber is coming back to help us sort out the other one.

Robert has also cracked on with insulating and plasterboarding the walls. The finished room is beginning to take shape: as soon as the roof is sorted. When I look out and see the view I know it will all be worthwhile.

Out and About

Out and About

A couple of days ago I posted a photo taken on one of my walks on Facebook. It got such a positive response that I thought I’d share it on here too. 

In this season of hibernation having the dog is a definite blessing for me; without her I doubt I would ever leave the house at all. As it is I have to go out every day whatever the weather – and recently we’ve had wind, rain, sunshine and snow! 

The blessing is that it’s never as bad out as it seems and I get to enjoy some breathtaking scenery.

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary!

Can you believe it has been twelve months since we moved to the Highlands? Wow! Hasn’t that gone quickly!

I remember actually making the decision to jump in and move (at a fabulous spa day with my friend Trudy), and there hasn’t been a moment of regret since. In the big scheme of things twelve months is nothing, but I still get tingles when I think about how lucky I am to be here.

Here’s just a few of the reasons I love living in the Highlands:

  • The skies: such amazing and ever changing patterns of light
  • The land: combinations of colours that make you want to cry with their beauty
  • The weather: from the sublime to the ridiculous, there’s no half measures here
  • The water: I could sit and watch it all day, often rewarded with a sight of seal or otter
  • The people: we have met so many wonderful people this year and have been welcomed into the community unquestionably.
  • The attitude: life is to enjoy – eat, drink & be merry!
  • The visitors: We have been blessed with many in our first year and hope that trend continues
  • The job: it is so nice to go to work, enjoy being there and chat to prople from all over the world as they visit our amazing castle
  • The house: I love our new cosy cottage
  • The hubby: after over twenty years I still love spending time with this man and here we have more time to spend together

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. Here’s to the next twelve months! Cheers!

Feeling nostalgic


It was about this time last year that I missed the first teacher day of my new non-teaching life and that got me thinking about how things have changed over the last 12 months. As friends and ex-colleagues went back to work today I felt privalidged to be up in the hills walking the dog. 

It’s often while out walking the dog that I do my thinking and always appreciate not being tied to such a stressful profession any more. I’ve said before I love teaching, but there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s a lifestyle choice and I have chosen another path. 

And in twelve months in I have no regrets. The big question mark over the whole enterprise was money a and that has not been a problem. We were able to get work (part time, seasonal) that pays enough to keep us afloat, and we spend a whole lot less than we used to. There’s not the constant temptation to consume that you are subjected to in the city. Although I nearly succumbed on a Christmas shopping trip back to Leicester! 

The time I found the hardest was during the school summer holidays and everyone I knew (or so it seemed) was jetting off somewhere exotic while we were experiencing almost continual rain. But normal service son resumed. Now I take the dog out on her daily jaunt and feel grateful to be on this fantastic adventure. 

Time to Read


It’s now just over twelve months since I stopped working full time and one of the things I promised myself I would do was read more. Ask any teacher one of the things they would do if they had more time and I think reading for pleasure would probably be high up on everyone’s list. 

So this year I have read a total of 21 books: some for pleasure and some for my new book group (by which I mean that I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen them, not that I didn’t enjoy them!)

The three that have stayed with me, that I would recommend to others were: 

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler because I didn’t see it coming. 

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell because his vision of the breakdown of civilisation is so frighteningly real and I was completely engrossed by the story telling. 

Elemental by Amanda Curtin because I was transported back in time and place to the herring industry of Scotland.

What did you enjoy reading last year? Let me know and I’ll add it to my wish list.


One day we’ll laugh at this


Experience should have taught us that set backs occur during any building project but before you know it the problem is solved and you can hardly remember it happening. At least that’s what we keep telling ourselves as we encounter one issue after another as we rebuild or conservatory. 

It’s a job that seems to have been going on forever. We started clearing the old one way back in June and kind of expected it to be finished by Christmas. We should know better. 

Most of the structural work has already been documented on here so I’ll not go into all that again, but I’ll bring you up to speed with our roof news. We are using a new kind of tile made from recycled plastic. They are alleged to be particularly good for lower pitches like ours.

After building up the window apertures to install the Veluxes Rob was finally able to get the tiles on. It took a couple of days but looked fantastic. One of the benefits of the plastic tiles is that they are clearly marked for installation including where to line them up and hammer in the nails. It looked fab, but the was just one problem: the was still water getting in! 

To be honest it was a bit depressing. We’d have a couple of good days (mainly because it didn’t rain) but then the drops would come back. We dealt with it by ignoring it and going down south to visit family for a week. When we got back there was still evidence of water and with Christmas fast approaching we were forced to take action.

We covered the whole roof with several layers of plastic sheeting to see us through the festive season, cracked on with getting some insulation and power into the room, then hid it all with fabric pinned to the ceiling and twinkly Christmas lights. 

This would have been great we it not for two unexpected visitors: hurricanes Barbara and Connor! Barbara visited while Robert was down south picking up son number one for his Xmas break. Luckily son two was here and able to help me make repairs after we spent a sleepless night listening to the cover doing it’s best to sound like a helicopter landing outside the bedroom window. We lost a couple of large planks helping to keep the cover in place as well as a concrete block. However with a pair of scissors and a few more heavy objects we reduced the noise. On the other hand water was coming back in, albeit just around the edges. 

It didn’t dampen or day. We had a lovely Christmas day and were able to use the room to sit, open presents, have dinner and generally lounge around in all day. And then Connor came to call! 

It’s been a few years since I’ve of the boys has got into bed with us in the middle of the night, but at 3am Robert, Reuben and I sat in our bed with a cup of tea listening to the clattering and banging outside. By this time Robert had already braved the elements twice to make running repairs despite the high winds and hail. As the large pieces of wood and concrete blocks holding the roof in place made their way to ground level (occasionally going over the house) we sipped or tea and pretended everything was normal. After trying to get a bit of sleep Robert went out one more time to remove any remaining debris from the roof in an attempt to save the rest of the house. We were finally it of the danger zone! 

The wind has since dropped dramatically but it is such a relief to know that we no longer have to beware of flying blocks! Give me a few drops to take care of any day. In fact we’ve discovered that the cover made no difference to the few drops we have as they’re all around the front edge. I’m sure we’ll have it all sorted before you know it then we’ll hassle remember the days we thought we’d never get the conservatory finished.

I hope you all had slightly more restful Christmas. Here’s to what we can achieve in 2017!