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Thursday, 25 September 2008

Even more foraging.

As Rufus and I continued on the bothy Molly embarked on a mushroom self education mission. There are hundreds of strange species around at this time of year, growing on everything from tree stumps to gravel, and our staple, if indulgent, diet of chanterelles was getting monotonous. Each day she retrieved a basket of bizarre fungi and persuaded their insect occupants out of them, then they were either dried or fried or avoided depending on their scariness. This monster was identified as a birch boletus and therefore fell into the fried category and was actually pretty tasty.

All the photos used on the blog, on the website and lots more from about the place are on the Inshriach Flickr page.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

One from the archive.

I'm waiting on photos from Jo's 30th birthday party which devoured the weekend so in the meantime here are some pics from when we were young which have just appeared on my desk.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Trimming, recycling and rebuilding.

A kindly neighbour had a hedge trimmer available so he came round this morning with his brother in law, a Swiss German gent, and some safety signs with suitably Germanic syntax and we sorted the long beech hedge along the road. Such unprompted acts of generosity have been an unexpected and amazing feature of the last year.

This afternoon Rufus and I are back to the bothy, which, as of yesterday, has a new window and a door (reconstructed out of last week's salvage) in what was previously a windowless workshop with only legless chairs, spare slate and a thick stench of creosote.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Inedible foraging.

With the house now finished the bothy is getting an overhaul. In our usual Borrowers style we are spending nothing on it so every time I drive past a building site or a refurb I swing in with some unusual barter. This week a 1950s house was being pulled down and in exchange for 4 slices of cake we lightened their skip to the tune of the floor, the windows, some joists, bits of bathroom and a smashed conservatory. Over this weekend Rufus, Molly and I are cunningly transforming our haul into doors, walls, window frames and a raised bed.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Birthday Party.

An exceptionally lovely and talented bunch of people came from across the country for a big birthday party this weekend. By Thursday the house was full and by Saturday the roasting pit had benches around it, steps in the dry stone walling and a table fashioned from a slate pig salting slab. We drove a stake through a whole lamb and feasted through Saturday night, partied our way through Sunday night and now, Monday afternoon, some signs of normality are returning.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Further foraging.

Bob and Miranda had seen a video on youtube of folk fishing for razor clams. You pour salt into little pits on a beach, the clams pop out, you then grab them by their slippery invertebrate bodies and work them out of their holes. We headed north to Findhorn (about 45 minutes) to see if it would work for us. We arrived just after high tide armed with a spade and salt from lidl and wandered the beach leaving little white mounds as the tide raced out. Not a single clam poked out but that was of little consequence as the most astonishing sunset stretched out across a huge soft sandy beach, then half a dozen inquisitive seals came to see what we were up to and we wound up the evening with haddock and chips in the Kimberley Arms, which, in an oddly broad sounding awards scheme, had been voted one of the 'Hundred best things in Rural Scotland'.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Party time.

Thursday night saw the last of the gutters back onto the house and a mad cross country dash to make Oban in time for the first dance of the Argyllshire Gathering. The great and the good, the suited and booted of Scotland turned out for two nights of reels, champagne and extravagant sporrans. Thanks to everyone at Achnacloich for their hospitality, late breakfasts, tight reeling and for the stay in their splendidly potty baronial house overlooking Loch Etive.

Then it was home for a clean shirt and off to Pitlochry for the McKerrow birthdays and a third straight night on the dancefloor. Despite getting back to Aviemore at 3am Jonny was still on the river and had 2 excellent sea trout to show for his persistence. This is his 4th visit this year, he has postponed his train twice and he now knows the river so well he might have to become a ghillie rather than a guest.

Now the excellent Captain Bob is back, with Miranda in tow, so a week of moderate constructiveness is on the cards. We have an unknown number of revellers descending for a birthday extravaganza this weekend.

Monday, 1 September 2008


After 2 weeks of cleaning, 2 dead angle grinders, a dozen wire brushes, 9 kilos of putty, 18 litres of paint and a selection of natty safety wear
the gutters are finally back on the house. We matched the original grey from a flake, replaced a lot of the soffits, taught my mum how to drive a telehandler, endured rain and wind and the house now looks fantastic and doesnt drip on you outside the back door.

The trade off for our watertight house has been the desecration of the croquet lawn. It was always challenging, lacking the careful attentions of groundsman and roller but now, after a 10 ton JCB has zigzagged its way along the length of the house, I should alter the website to say we have a croquet set.

Huge thanks are owed here to Angus who runs Spey Building and Joinery, quick on the draw, kindly on the bill, we couldn't have done it without him.