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Saturday, 28 June 2008

India Alba at Alvie House.

Alvie House have been hosting some remarkable concerts recently and last night was the turn of India Alba. India Alba combines two Indian classical musicians, Sharat Srivastava and Gyan Singh, and two Scottish folk musicians, Ross Ainslie and Nigel Richard. Sharat's sliding fiddle, Gyan thundering through the drums, Nigel on the Cittern and Ross on pipes and whistle. Last night they were joined by the local talent, Bo Jingham, Charlie McKerron and Adam Copeland, on the pipe and two fiddles respectively. The result was electric. The crowd (90 odd) loved it, the musicians loved it and the after party in the North Wing was a real privilege.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

The Earthship Project.

We had a preliminary meeting with the Cairngorms National Park on our alternative camping scheme. The plan has evolved in the month that Jimmy has been here to comprise a large central earthship building, buried into a hillside with a thick earth roof planted over with heather and with wood fired hot water, no electricity, space for 30 to eat hostel style and the accommodation built on the same principles but spread thinly through 13 acres of birch woods.

The initial response was very favourable, we still have to run a feasibility past highways, SNH and a few other bodies, plus its going to be a weird thing to draw for a planning application, the first draft looks like a hamburger. Watch this space.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

The Solstice.

Dan, James and Eliza made an unscheduled return after a wet week on the wild north coast around Durness. Ironically Dan was lost to a slightly squash related accident in the early hours of Friday and he decided to take the sleeper back, leaving the rest of us to mark the shortest night by fishing our way through it. It got slightly dark around midnight and by half two was getting light again with mist rising in a ghostly ribbon all along the river.

On the subject of ghosts the previous occupants of the house are proving a benign team. The house is so Edwardian that Petra compared it to a Nancy Mitford novel and mum wants to develop Inshriach Cluedo; 'Captain Bob, in the bathroom, with a newspaper' and so on. While Eliza revelled in the luxury of Mrs Black's four poster James has been the first occupant of the poor room, and the consensus is that it should stay poor, or get poorer. We are going to put in some secret doors. The only slight worry was the apparition photographed here but I'm sure that this unfortunate will rest peacefully when I get round to a new light fitting.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Home Work.

This last week we have had 'Health and Safety' Dan to visit with Eliza and James, and we had the Buss family back. My new favourite book is 'Home Work, Handbuilt Shelter', by Lloyd Kahn, which Hannah brought for me after I set them up with a night in a bothy and we talked about putting an eco hobbit scheme in the woods behind the house. The book is packed with determined and imaginative scavengers, a model we are going to have to follow, and on our rounds Jimmy and I took to Aviemore, retrieved a Crittal window, a wrought iron gate and a bike from the tip and most of Victoria Wine on the way home (the physical building, being refitted, and Jim doesnt drink anyway).

We have also been having a clear out round the farm, Jimmy has adapted the monkey bike, a bread crate and a golf trolley for moving small items at great speed.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

The Cruiser.

The renaissance continues...

We have cut out the floor, removed the doors, finally managed to roll the car onto its side and hired a grit blaster that cuts through everything. Also found out that shipping the necessary parts from Texas will cost as much as flying there myself and collecting them. Any ideas?

Thursday, 12 June 2008

The Cavalry III.

As Hannah, Lucinda and Ollie left so Mirra and Jess arrived. To the lilting French strains of Georges Brassens the scullery and pantry became a soft lemony yellow, highlighted rather than blighted by the orange shutters. Now just the kitchen remains....

Monday, 9 June 2008

All work and no play...

As the saying goes...

So we have been swimming in the Feshie.

Taught Bob and Hannah how to fly fish, staying out till midnight at dalnavert with a fire and fish and chips for when we didn't catch anything.

Hacked out into the monadliath mountains in Jim's Landrover for a barbeque on the Alvie moor, up past the tree line, over the ridge visible from the Spey valley and over open moorland to the Dulnain bothy where there is a beautiful waterfall, a good 6 miles from the nearest person.

Now it's Monday morning, Jim and Bob have made a better start than me and have Jerry Lee Lewis belting out so I had better get on with it.

The Cavalry II.

Bob and Jimmy are unstoppable. The last coats of paint are going on over the orange and between coats the land rover has had a new clutch, we have started stripping the landcruiser and the monkey bike has had a sort out.

Lucinda and Ollie thought they were having a romantic break in the isles but donned the scruff and the workshop got painted, workbenches in, tools arranged and the bothy cleared. Hannah mucked in with the paint, skipped an Architecture lecture at university and reworked my drawings for the barn, making sense of my nonsense. Mum has been making cushions for the veranda and is now changing sheets with Mrs Ramsay for the next influx...

Monday, 2 June 2008

The Cavalry.

Just when I hit a stumbling block someone turns up, takes a working holiday and makes things right. Ben helped me tackle the ongoing forestry demand, sorted the credit card payments for the website, went swimming in the Feshie and tackled the orange issues and the day he left the phone rang and the excellent Jimmy Whitmore and Captain Bob Wheelden have decided that now is the time for their visit, heading up from Devon and Derbyshire respectively.

I'm absolutely bowled over by the sheer helpfulness, I thought we would feel isolated but the house is never empty. In a few weeks we will be running the oddest B&B in the highlands.

Tackling orange.

There must have been a special deal back in 1972 because the poor room and the servants bathroom were both orange. The scullery, pantry and kitchen ceiling are orange too, the scullery like an orange grenade has gone off, the walls, shelves, brackets, shutters even the taps and pipes having had the treatment. Its glossy and horrible, peeling in parts and stuck fast in others and it stays visible after 3 coats. Benedict has been with us since Knockengorroch and it took the motivation of someone who missed the poor room to drive the deorangification.

Flushed with his skills at grinding down anything orange Ben then put on his best negotiating voice, borrowed my phone, called Orange and sweet talked my phone bill in half.