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Sunday, 27 April 2008

Off the mark!

Finally, with a brown trout. There are unconfirmed rumours of a 22lb salmon caught yesterday just downstream from us. Gus says he will buy the warmest, most comfortable waders available to mankind if he catches a salmon at all, let alone a 22 pounder.

Also achieved the dining room, now Dutch Gold (yellow ochre, it works), shown here in transition from what even F&B could only describe as drab peach, then moved onto the sunroom, which is going to get a new red floor and a huge day bed for loafing with company and reading in, did some work on the next bed and started sorting the chaos upstairs in time for this weeks visitors.

Pig apparently is not ready yet. Its looking more and more likely to be alive.

Duty calls.

I keep being told that in order to attract a serious fishing crowd we need to be recording a stronger catch. Rumour has it that around 40 Salmon are caught each year around Loch Insh (just upstream), so our paltry single figure tally shows clear room for improvement.

Its a beautiful afternoon so once I finish sanding yet another bed I will take on the onerous task of trying to up the numbers...

Thursday, 24 April 2008

The coo returns.

There is a long standing arrangement at Inshriach whereby Cameron puts the animals with the cutest young in the field visible from the kitchen. Today this big ginger highland cow, Clare, turned up with a tiny calf in tow.

Yesterday I took a look at the deed map to find our upper boundary on the Spey. I was told there was a marker on the opposite bank so I donned some waders and went exploring. The Feshie has plugged itself with gravel and spread over the years so its path is unclear, a fast, waist deep crossing then 200 yards of undergrowth on the banks brought me out at an excellent pool I had never seen, wide, deep and slower than the lower rods, wadable to the centre, with a dirty great black and white marker at its top, a good 400 yards above where i was expecting it. Hunting grounds afresh...

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Re; The Pig.

Thanks to Jeremy for this reply to my earlier post, it's so good I'm going to reproduce it in full;

Walt! First, cut its legs off. Then, you need lots of salt, for procuitto they add black pepper, coriander seeds, allspice and sometimes chili peppers.

For serrano the same but only pepper, then the next bit of equipment is a wooden vessel or plastic tub, a piece of plywood and a heavy weight, like a cinder block, covering the entire ham with the salt (your're looking at at least 5-10lbs of Kosher salt) and spices.

Then after 3-6 months it needs to be air dried for 3-6 months, hanging in a draught free area, in Italy and Spain they hang them in their attics. In Andalucia they hang them in bars, pre-smoking ban, as the fag smoke also infused the ham...easy!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Getting out more.

The Cairngorm ski area is only 10 miles from Inshriach and I hadn't been up for about 5 years so when our friend Gwennie made a surprise visit we phoned around, borrowed some kit and got ready to hit the slopes (I bottled the tweed because I expected to spend a lot of time on my backside).

Being a Tuesday there was hardly anyone out so we clocked half a day in lovely weather, didn't queue or fall over and now my legs ache.

Monday, 21 April 2008

And on a more serious note...

... Only because I realise that my last few posts, while constructive in their subject matter, show us pratting about covered with paint and dont reflect either the quality of the house or of its setting, or that we intend to take the business of showing our guests a good time very seriously, in case any of the above were in doubt.

Hopefully these redress the balance

Bluegrass, plumbing and fishing.

The new utility room, nee study, was my first ever attempt at plumbing and apart from the cold water inlet coming unstuck and soaking my desk (the plumbing crosses the gun room / now study next door) it's all good. This coming week Im at last closing in on the kitchen and putting up pictures.

The big bed is amazing unless you fall out of it, some of the old beds were pretty medieval but I have restored and lengthened 3 rusty Victorian iron bedsteads bought for peanuts from a derelict house and bought a beautiful Victorian mahogany double from a dealer. We are entering an age of comfort. Not much in the way of heating but comfy beds.

Passed a very relaxed weekend fishing. Spring is here. The snow is supposed to still be excellent so, progress permitting, I will dig out some suitably unsuitable tweed and hit the slopes.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

The bed.

We got caught rummaging through peoples attics, subscribed to some auction catalogues and spoke to the odd dealer but nobody would charitably donate a second spectacular bed. So, if you cant afford it, make it. I took 2 days off from decorating and got going, using, amongst other junk, joists and the floor from a house that had been pulled apart and a hand rail from the OT department in Aviemore.

One half tester bed, looks a bit tudor, not at all small, total cost £19 (couldnt find anything for the slats). Shown here before the considerable effort of getting it upstairs.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Decorate a new life in the country...

Its short, its silly and it is part of an experiment whereby i try to prove that adding folk or bluegrass makes anything exciting. In this case, decorating. Plumbing to follow. Thanks again to Tired for 2 weeks of his time in exchange for nowt but beer.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

The Pig.

Pippa and Gus asked if we want in on a pig. It must be coming from someone with a thick accent because the process of ordering left a few details unclear. These include;

Is it alive?
What sort of pig is it? A small, cute, babe sort of piglet or a mahoosive perma hungry tusked sausage monster?
If it is alive are we expected to ride it / make friends with it / feed it up and have to kill it?

Is it dead?
If its dead is it in pieces?
If it is dead and huge, how on earth do we cook it?

How do you make parma ham?

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Spring time.

The paint samples in the library turned out a totally different colour from the real paint so I have to go back and redo it. It has become a mix of modern furniture and Edwardian joinery and I'm intrigued to see how it turns out.

On the lawn this morning were two roe deer, its unusual to see them calmly grazing mid morning and it goes to show what an unstalking estate we have become. The place is also teaming with relaxed pheasants and my second attempt at fishing (admittedly i didnt try very hard) also went unrewarded. The wildlife is winning.

The first tentative bookings are coming in, we cant confirm anything yet but thats very encouraging... Thanks to everyone spreading the good word!!

Friday, 11 April 2008

Easter saturday

The plan is to restore this rusty Toyota Landcruiser and give it some Inshriach branding and maybe a V8, but, in the meantime, between decorating, Tired and I made another film....


The Gun Room is now the office, sage green, and Im enjoying carving up the study to fit the washing machine, dryer, a sink and the deep freeze. It makes a welcome change from decorating.

I will post post a video of this operation and if i really mess up the plumbing it stands a chance of being quite entertaining.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Cheap tools and mad hounds

An antique cupboard door and some recycled floor boards are now an Edwardian looking bath panel so the existing bathrooms are properly finished and between cursing my cheap jigsaw I can start thinking about the next two. Gus and I recovered a cast iron bath from a house being refitted in Feshiebridge which will look great in bathroom 4, now christened the Housemaids bathroom ('Housemaids Pantry' is written under the shelves in swirly Edwardian writing). The rest we need to find.

Im doing the gunroom / office transition and there are deep claw marks in the plaster, the door frames have been knawed and there is matted dog hair in the splinters. What kind of hound lived here. Hmmmmm.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Professional opinions versus false sense of security

Antony from Scotts Castle holidays came by today and he took a very pragmatic look around the house before offering his advice.

Move the office to the gun room, which wants redecorating. Move the washing machines to the office, which has already been decorated, put in a sink. Replace the dining room with a bedroom with 2 x 4 foot doubles and move the dining room to the hall, find or make a table for 18. Take Uncle Arthur's bedroom and stick a bath in it. Turn the old laundry room in the servants quarters into a bathroom.

He is right on all of the above and we had kind of been ignoring it, flushed with pride at finishing the bedrooms and the existing bathrooms.

So the new Inshriach, a little delayed but soon available to rent, probably with 18 beds, 5 bathrooms, and if anyone fancies helping me out over the next 3 weeks I will love them for ever.

Bring on some real coffee and break out the sugar soap.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

900 photos, 36 hours, a lot of nuts.

I promised back in January to post a video of the birdfeeder outside our kitchen window and its finally here. Thanks to Charlie McKerron for letting me lift the music from the latest Session A9 album, Bottlenecks and Armbreakers, which he recorded here last year.

Painting, fishing, more painting.

Huge thanks to Jon, aka Tired, who volunteered to come up for a fortnight and lend a hand. We have redecorated 10 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, the small drawing room and the downstairs loo and still had time to buy a knackered French Foreign Legion Landcruiser we didnt need and get it stuck on some not very challenging obstacles. Video of this to follow.

Also thanks to St John (a regular) and Jonny (who works for Farlows), both super keen fishermen and lovely guys. They made a marathon after work trip from London, arrived at 5am Friday and were on the river by 10. Their prognosis? Excellent pools for Salmon, Sea Trout and brown and while a bit early in the season, could be great. The same opinion has been put by our neighbours at Rothiemurchus, that we have best fishing on this part of the Spey and it has just been underfished and undermaintained for a decade. Time to learn riverbank maintenance.