Friday, 18 December 2009
The article from last weeks Sunday Telegraph is now available to view online here complete with snowy wintery picture. It looks like this again today after a decent dump of snow last night.
The brilliant Kirsty came up from Glasgow and rattled off a dozen haircuts at Inshriach in time for the Old Bridge Inn launch party last night. Alasdair Roberts, The French Wives and Washington Irving played followed by a fireside jam between Roberts, Ali Caplin and some whisky chasers. May this be the first of many musical evenings at the Bridge.
We have a few dates for next year. The National Park are supporting a spoon carving workshop here the last weekend of February, no doubt the skills required for coppicing and carving birch and burr to make spoons can be transferred to other objects. The next Yurt course is the 8th March and we are looking again at rolling out some really beautifully appointed yurts in scenic corners of the estate over the course of next year.
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen I would like to introduce the new landlords and landlady of the Old Bridge Inn. Forged in the kitchen furnaces and broiling pots of celebrity yachts, Stevie Matson is the exceptionally talented chef. Still fresh from the Insider and finely honed on the whetstone of Ord Ban is Gordon Reilly and freeing themselves from the smoke and dirt of the city in pursuit of a life of quiet reflection and moderation are Owen Caldwell and Kim Plimley. They are here for the next decade and plan on taking the Old Bridge to new heights, with a fine menu, live music and proper beers. All of them currently reside on or within 200 yards of Inshriach so last night a good dozen neighbours donned the overalls, took up the rollers and by half two this morning the (new) Old Bridge was born.
The launch party is this Friday with live music from Alasdair Roberts, Washington Irving and The French Wives. You can get the lowdown here and become a fan of the Old Bridge on Facebook for news of future events.
Sunday, 6 December 2009
Thanks to the Big Domain and Caroline McGhie we appear in a little piece in today's Sunday Telegraph Life section. Due to an unavoidable cancellation a few weeks back the week over Christmas is still available and at this late stage we are offering it for £3500 rather than the usual £4500. That's the week to Sunday 27th December. Maybe some press will spur a little last minute Christmas holiday making. New Year is already booked.
When I went to pick up the paper this morning there was this stormer of a rainbow outside the back door, I have taken this to be a positive sign.
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Saturday, 28 November 2009
There is another oddity nestling in the landscape at Inshriach. Whipped up from bits of discarded house and other assorted salvage, this stile now crosses the fence by the march pool, joining the japanese bridge to nowhere, the stage in the woods and the medieval spiky stile to the squash court in the list of (I think) artfully formed and quirkily over engineered objects performing tasks that could be accomplished much more simply.
For those of you that know the March pool you can see the rise in water level behind the stile. Compared with Cockermouth we get off lightly but this week our fields are flooded, the livestock moved to high ground and for the third time this year the Spey is powering through a good 5 feet above its normal level. Snow is starting to settle on top of the Cairngorms, there is talk of the hill opening at the start of December and we are buckling down for winter, draining, burying and lagging pipes and stocking up on wood and heating oil.
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
We have a few weeks between bookings so have implemented some improvements. The first and most obvious is ditching the third sink in the kitchen in favour of this beautiful cooker, good for rentals, good for the destination dining club we have planned and I can't wait to see the merry dance of Aga and Kenwood in the hands of Big Al (the chef).
There is also now a shower in Mrs. Black's bathroom. We are gradually ticking off the list of trappings you traded in Sally Shalam's Guardian review.
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Last weekend there was a hen party in the house and Tracey and Ian Pullen from Active Spirit returned to give them a crack at archery. Then I bumped into John Mason from Full On Adventure at the Cairngorms Business Conference who has invited me to go white water rafting and can take groups of pretty much any size canoeing, climbing, snowboarding, skiing or rafting. I would recommend either of them and there is great wisdom in choosing a good guide with the right kit and training if you are heading into what can be extreme conditions in the Cairngorms.
Aviemore is also the ideal place to get your sports a bit wrong. Aimee came up to help out for the photo shoot we had a month ago but came off her bike just after we finished, shattering one of her beautifully prominent cheekbones. I will spare both you and her the gruesome ignominy of photos, suffice to say the Aviemore medical practise and Raigmore hospital were so efficient we decided to deal with the consequences here. One month, 2 operations and a little titanium later and Aimee is back together. In the meantime she made friends with everyone in the valley, ate a lot of soup, received a lot of flowers and by Wednesday was as sad to be leaving as we were to see her go. I suppose in all the drama that can be seen as some sort of silver lining.
Monday, 2 November 2009
Saturday, 24 October 2009
Rothiemurchus is the enormous estate that neighbours Inshriach. Last week I took myself on their Land Rover Safari to get a better idea of the workings of the place. One tour can't take in the whole estate, which stretches high into the Cairngorms, but you get an idea of what goes into such an operation in the 21st century, from farming to forestry, tourism and wildlife management, and through the various buildings such as the Doune, (the recently and beautifully restored Jacobean / Georgian pile where the Grant family now live), or Drumintoul lodge and the fascinating Victorian and wartime outbuildings thereabouts, it's a little window into the social history of the Spey valley. We also went to the red deer farm which supplies the amazing venison they stock at the farm shop, getting up close to a herd like that is a pretty special experience.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
A group coming next month have engaged the services of Tracey and Ian Pullen of Active Spirit to run an archery session. They wanted to have a look at Inshriach ahead of time so brought round some targets and all the required kit so we could have a shot. Even though nobody here was under 30 it was surprisingly addictive. Tracey and Ian are a lovely couple and who gave us a few pointers and had us shooting pretty accurately after an hour or so (though not by the time this photo was taken). It's around £90 for a three hour session and happens right here on the lawn.
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Helen Abraham, a Glasgow based photographer, has been here this weekend to catch the autumnal colours and beef up her portfolio of fashion photography. She brought Rebecca, a beautiful flame haired model, coincided with Aimee on hair and costume, and caught a day, dawn to dusk, of the most astonishingly vibrant colour and light and mist. We used everything from the bracken in the woods to the river to the flat grey of the squash court to the interiors of the house, even some of the cars as backdrops, everywhere you turned was another opportunity. The results can now be seen on Helen's flickr page.
The brand ambassador for Balvenie invited me to the distillery for a personal tour this week. Balvenie is one of the last family owned distilleries, one of the last to have its own malting floor, its own cooperage and its own warehousing (43 enormous sheds stacked high for decades with maturing whisky). A tour there is a few hours of alchemy; brass, copper stills, furnaces and a little science applied to age honed techniques for combining (or just leaving) casks for the ideal balance of flavours or consistency. We finished up in warehouse 24, the oldest part of the distillery, where we drew ourselves samples direct from the cask. There are plans afoot for Balvenie tastings at Inshriach on a couple of occasions next year but in the meantime I would recommend a heading up there for a tour if you like your whisky (it's just over an hour away).
Friday, 16 October 2009
Once a year the international porridge making community descends on Carrbridge to fight it out for the Golden Spurtle. Miss Scotland and a Robbie Burns lookalike make an appearance, a little whisky is tasted and you watch live and on a big screen as the combatants whisk through the rounds of speciality porridge making. We tried an Indian 4 spice porridge, some sort of porridge brulee and some other sorts of porridge. Lots of people turned out, there is a little music, (Rachel Sermanni from Carrbridge put on a lovely performance) and everyone gets right into the irreverent spirit of what has become known round here as 'The Porridge'.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Last week Session A9 took the house for a few days of rehearsals and to work on a some new tunes. Session A9 are a kind of Scottish super group, talented session musicians and multi instrumentalists who can all usually be found playing with other artists. They have also turned their hands to film scores and compositions and they recorded their last album here (Bottlenecks and Armbreakers). It was a bit of a privilege to have them back and they were good enough to let me record this wee video.
Saturday, 10 October 2009
This time last week was the second of our Red Kite Yurt building courses. We just ran a one day workshop this time which covered assembling a yurt and steam bending or burning the components. We also experimented with coppiced green willow for the spokes of the crown. It's that time of year when the sap is starting to drop in the trees and coppicing is good so we might head along the river with a hatchet and landrover with an eye on building a wonky yurt entirely from Inshriach materials.
Friday, 9 October 2009
Last week we parted from an agency we have been with for the last year. As Sally Shalam said in her review in the Guardian, it is unusual to find a house that isn't on with the big rental companies but we have an inkling that it suits us better to be off the books.
Now people have to contact us before they come here, exchange emails, perhaps explore this blog or these pictures and find something they like the look of. They probably have to look at our website, will probably find out that we have an excellent chef, that they can organise archery on the lawn, that the fishing is wild and all the better for that, or that there are sheds of old cars and weekends of workshops down in the farmyard.
This leaves us with listings on Sawdays and The Big Domain, both of whom give us a lovely write up and are better suited both to our character and our clientele. We might miss out on a few bookings but it leaves us more flexible with our prices and actually better able to cater to your needs.
Wish us luck.
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Anyone who has stayed in the bothy here on anything other that a balmy summers night will appreciate our latest endeavour. Being a contrary kind of recycler, having no budget and being almost unnaturally preoccupied with patina, when I decided to lay a new floor it was not simply a case of visiting Keyline. It's insulated with broken breakthroughs from Raven (conveniently made from 50mm floor insulation), then a layer of chipboard went down (we did have to buy that) then pine boards on top. The floorboards were recovered with a JCB from a house that had been knocked down on top of them (a year ago according to this post), which meant they were a total mess but scraped, ground, sanded and varnished they have come up looking like crazy parquet, all random lengths, a bit scarred but authentic in a mad kind of way, and almost free.
Next up, the gutters.
Monday, 5 October 2009
Over the last few weeks Ord Ban have put together some extraordinary alternative dining. Most recent (and something they are planning on making a regular thing of) was their taster evening, six of their favourite dishes from the last 18 months, a musically accompanied tribute to the chefs to have occupied their kitchen and testament to Ross and Polly's resourcefulness and willingness to experiment. If you can book for the next one I would highly recommend it
A couple of weeks back they hosted an evening of Russian cultural philosophy and vodka, or more accurately, the cultural philosophy of vodka. We ate salty or pickled Russian food, gherkins, fish and eggs (or a Scottish slant - salted chanterelles anyone?) and worked our way through a series of toasts, lots of shots, Russian music and dancing. The evening was hosted by Dmitri Morozov, the man behind the Kitezh orphanage, 40 miles outside Moscow. This was an exchange, Polly visited Kitezh in May to teach the children cooking and partly due to the vodka and partly the rhetoric, this was an unexpectedly inspiring evening. Dmitri is an unusual and charismatic individual and I have enormous respect for what they have achieved there. When he promised that by drinking just vodka we would not have hangovers on Monday that was not the whole truth.
Then there was Sue Ryder Sunday. What happened on Sue Ryder Sunday stays on Sue Ryder Sunday.
Thursday, 1 October 2009
This Saturday we are holding another yurt making workshop, there are still 2 places left if anyone fancies coming along, it's £75 for the day including lunch and there will be 8 people in total on the course. We will be condensing what we covered last time, steam bending the various components and burning the crown but because we nearly finished a 16ft yurt over the last workshop weekend we will still be able to see the finished results without needing to cut 110 wall poles, drill a million holes or tie a thousand knots.
The last course happened to coincide with the Carrbridge Chainsaw Carving championship and I have just come across this rather lovely film put together by Fergus Thom of Carrbridge Films.
Sunday, 13 September 2009
The BBC design crew took advantage of the beautiful weather yesterday and hired a 4 seater Cessna from Inverness Airport. Our friend and sometime colleague Jamie Morris teaches at the flying school there and he took us up over the Cairngorms, over Loch Ness and back along the Spey Valley for a low fly by on Inshriach (shown here). An absolutely beautiful and exhilarating day and if you fancy doing the same it comes in at around £200 an hour (you get from Inverness to Aviemore in 15 minutes). Give me a bell and I can arrange it.
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
Last weekend we hosted the first Inshriach / Red Kite yurt building course. Paul would usually run a one day course covering all the techniques required to build a yurt, steam bending the poles and crown in oak, building a door and frame and a bit of a lesson in the culture and traditions associated with these nomadic dwellings. We decided to run for the whole weekend and set ourselves the challenge of building an entire 16 foot yurt, frame, door, poles, spars, rafters and crown.
Paul arrived late Friday, by which time we had cleared the workshop of the stacks of timber I have built up for potential projects. Nitsen and Lucy from Spirits Intent, outstanding yurt builders (and true exponents of nomadic ways, living, as they do, in a pair of beautifully converted 4x4 Mercedes trucks), happened to be pulled up at Loch Morlich on a travel round Scotland so they joined us for Saturday and we took to our task with 6 students guided by 4 professionals. We steamed the poles and the crown, burnt the holes for the rafters with a red hot poker and if Ian and I hadn't got so carried away on the door we would have had it finished. The resulting yurt is a thing of beauty. We provided the food, mostly from the vegetable garden, and Paul brought a complete yurt which we set up on the lawn for folk to stay in. We made another little film which I will edit down when I get the chance.
The weekend was such a pleasure we are planning another and we had best get it in before the weather starts to close. Saturday 3rd October if you are interested, £75 for the day and you are welcome to camp here the night before or after, B&B available for anyone not ready for canvas. There are lots of not particularly brilliant pictures on our flickr page, I will try to add some that show the frame and the door.
Monday, 7 September 2009
Over the last year information has gathered on the internet, from many sources but led and obviously encouraged by us in the name of marketing, which communicates the ethos, the aesthetics and the experience around Inshriach. There are films, photographs, articles and reviews, credits in magazines and album covers and listings with agencies all of which paint a picture, in their small ways, of the experience that can be found here. Really the only thing that you can't do online these days is feel the beds. On the whole our guests do their research, arrive with their expectations and leave delighted and a year into the business we are settling into a cycle. Our latest party (experienced anglers) have booked for two weeks to catch both spring and autumn next year, they are among repeat bookings peppering the year and we are garnering a growing, varied and charming cross section of supporters.
On the flip side we had another group recently from whom we drew criticism from every angle despite our best efforts. My advice is this. If you take worn damask on a hundred year old sofa as a flaw and don't see why we keep the original Edwardian carpets (however worn) or you don't allow that occasionally an old house may ask of you a little patience or ingenuity, or realise that a bit of composting and some economy lightbulbs are probably the very least you should be doing these days, you may not see much magic here. There are plenty of other houses in Scotland you may prefer to choose (perhaps with lots of new furniture and a slightly taller aga).
I really recommend that anyone coming here reads this article in the Guardian, then looks at these pictures (or any others that those link to, feel free to rummage) and satisfies themselves that this is the place for them.
Attached above is a photo of Ed, a member of the group doing the double next year. He sent a selection of photos of their fishing here attached to an email which opened;
Just wanted to say a huge thank you for last week.
We loved the house and all the fantastic meals cooked up by Allen. The fishing was the best river fishing we have done to date and we loved every moment of it. I am missing it already...
I guess you win some, you lose some, and thankfully we win most of the time.
Saturday, 29 August 2009
Once a year the various chapters of the Harley Owners clubs of Scotland descend on Aviemore for a weekend. Kilts, bagpipes, leather, sewn on patches, ponytails and big bikers everywhere. The town came to a standstill for half an hour this morning as the ride out took place, literally hundreds of bikes thundering up to Grantown, the smell of burnt petrol and bass boom of exhausts in the air, then back to Aviemore for rock covers and ale. The house is already booked for this week in 2010.
Going on the experience of people who stay here I have a couple of recommendations. A Belgian family came and went to the wildlife hide on Rothiemurchus where they put out food for the badgers and pinemartins and you can see owls, red deer and roe deer. They also went to the Rothiemurchus fishery and have promised me a photo they took of an Osprey taking a trout already hooked by a fisherman.
Both that party and the one here now (and others before) have employed the services of the chef Allan Heaney (One Pot Borrowed). He trained with Raymond Blanc and has been doing a superb job, not only making all the meals but baking bread with the guests in the afternoon and making the kitchen his own. I highly recommend him, he knows the area, the best local suppliers, and the kitchen is a scene of professional serenity when he is in it. He starts at £150 a day, more if he needs extra staff, but between 15 people that's conspicuously good value, I wouldn't go on holiday without him.
Friday, 21 August 2009
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Post Insider there is a new player in the Aviemore live music scene. Ord Ban brought the The John Langan Band and Woodenbox with a fistful of fivers to town and put on a great knees up in the restaurant with a strong local turn out, good food and ale and an excellent atmosphere. Here's hoping they do it more often, it's got to be good for Aviemore to have that sort of quality play here. During the afternoon Woodenbox came round to Inshriach and, in a bit of a break from our normal business, they recorded their next video by the river and a number of instruments met a sticky end, I have put some photos on our Flickr page.
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Paul Millard from Red Kite Yurts came back last weekend, if ever there was a proficient camper he is it, arriving with a nest of Persian rugs and cushions and a gem of an 8ft yurt enveloped by burgundy canvas and beautiful oak spars. We came up with a few ideas. We are going to start by holding a workshop at Inshriach on 5th September covering the basics of yurt assembling, steam bending an oak crown and the spars, a bit of a history lesson, all probably washed down with an ale or two. The course will be £75 per person and anyone coming from further afield is welcome to pitch a tent. By next year we hope to have the necessary permissions to put three beautifully kitted yurts on Inshriach as an addition to the house rental. That will mean a compost loo, a camp kitchen and jobs for a few crafty individuals toward the end of this year...
Two weeks in a row I take my hat off to Linda Jolly and Carrbridge Arts, this time for The Dragon Strings ensemble at Loch Morlich. Not highbrow by any stretch but good clean fun, with this beautiful backdrop, and they went to the trouble of bringing a Cow Parade cow to stand in the loch.
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
Two really entertaining things have happened in Aviemore recently. The soapbox race came down the ski road from the Cairngorms, only a little event this year, with around 26 teams driving everything from slick ecomonical little spaceframes to sheds, but there was good enthusiasm and sponsorship from an energy drink, GoFast, who gave me this picture because we (as Backwoods event bars and the Cairngorm brewery) were sat at the bottom and only saw the carts drift by the finishing line. Maybe next year, with some on track footage and a bit of entertainment at Glenmore it could be a good little event. It must be quite a rush that road.
I missed the market of Optimism put on by Carrbridge Arts and should have been there. I don't seem to be able to pinch a picture from their flickr page so the only thing I can do is to point you to their website or to Fergus Thom's excellent photos and let you draw your own conclusions. It looks like a lot of fun.
Only a small matter of 525 miles away I would like to congratulate everyone involved in Standon Calling, it's a bit of a journey these days but you moved the game on again. A good few of the people who helped renovating Inshriach House or organising the Insider were involved, about half the people I know were there, probably most of the people who read this, and it was an absolutely excellent weekend if you like that sort of thing.
Thursday, 23 July 2009
There has been an increase in the number of badgers roaming these parts and this has put the wind up our chickens. Two of them have taken to roosting in the postbox outside the kitchen window and are steadfastly refusing to return to the hen house. It's convenient at breakfast time but if anyone gets dirty post from us that is the reason.
How apt that my hundredth post from Inshriach should be like this.
Thursday, 16 July 2009
Saturday, 11 July 2009
6 months ago Captain Bob donated this big grey Landrover, known only as Petal, to the Inshriach cause. Post Insider she has new found aquatic responsibilities. We have taken a mooring on Loch Morlich for the boat and are starting to learn how to sail. Petal is also getting some work in on the BBC Scotland children's show Raven that is filmed locally, often within a few miles of Inshriach. (I'm not supposed to take any photos on set or say anything much away about it here) This new role led to her getting totally stuck in the beautiful surroundings of Loch Laggan yesterday.
Sunday, 5 July 2009
Thank you all so much for an astonishing weekend. I have written a little more about it on the Insider site which we are going to turn into a gallery and in our new tradition of abstract artistry we also would like to make a film, for which we need your help. Any of you with good photos and especially good videos I would love to see them and I have set up a flickr group, Insider at Inshriach, which anyone can post to, or you could add them to the facebook group, we use Friends of Inshriach to tell people what we are up to and it's slowly gathering friends.
May this be just the first of many, Backwoods productions are already plotting where to go from here.
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Saturday, 6 June 2009
Thanks to Sally Shalam for penning this piece in today's Guardian. Its captures the tone of the place and will hopefully appeal to the right sort of reader for the house. Big Al (Allan Heaney) the chef laid on an amazing spread while Sally was here and deserved a few more column inches not afforded by a half page, and the pictures in the paper were a bit wonky but it's much appreciated. The shower is in the pipeline once the Insider is finished.
For the Insider our license states that we can't sell tickets on the gate and we are strictly limited to 400. Both Inshriach and the Insider are in for some unexpected publicity and we would recommend to those of you who read this to get your tickets in quickly. To this end we are laying on a little incentive. Anyone who buys a ticket by this Friday will have their name put into the hat and may find themselves the proud occupier of an 8' yurt for the weekend with all manner of creative entertainment and lavish hospitality thrown in.
I'm probably doubling up what I'm saying to a few of you. See the Insider website for more details.
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
Monday, 1 June 2009
The lovely Einsiedels at Pityoulish have a selection of very reasonably priced cottages not far from here. Good overflow for any of you not feeling like camping at the Insider and if it's like yesterday, when 3 days of sunshine had warmed loch Pityoulish nicely, it's an excellent place to stay. I have been thinking about a list of wild swimming spots near here for the Outdoor Swimming society so if Aviemore fills with neoprene clad swimmers it's probably my fault.
Back at Inshriach we have 4 new foals this week, very sweet and very wobbly. These are 2 of last years.
Friday, 29 May 2009
This year we would like to get enough from the vegetable gardens to feed us and supply the house, and to supply Ord Ban. Some of the lettuces are nearly there, the purple sprouting broccoli and the various spuds, mint, chives and so on are fighting fit. About half the 37 beds have something in them and all around the forget me nots are fading out for the lupins. I have put more pictures on the Inshriach flickr page.
I'm comparing notes with an old friend, Dan Light, whose occasional accounts of urban vegetabling are a treat. Here is a choice one.
The Insider is also coming along nicely. We look very likely to get our license on Monday, have found a man with beautiful yurts to rent out and word seems to be out round town. The website is going up over this weekend and there will be only 400 tickets available so get in quickly.
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
After they made their inspection Sawdays have given us this write up.
We also had Sally Shalam here on behalf of the Guardian for an excellently foodie couple of days a few weeks back so watch for us in there over the next fortnight. Fingers crossed we gave a good impression.
Friday, 15 May 2009
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Lots of us (not quite enough as it happens) were looking forward to the Outsider and to put on an alternative event (given the predictable working title of the Insider) and to get things above board we need to condense a 3 month licensing process and get everything built, in 6 weeks. We can't guarantee this is possible but if it looks hopeful over the next few days a website will go up. We conjured up this DJ booth on Monday.
Its a beautiful day, spring has well and truly arrived, the vegetable gardens are showing signs of a 300 person salad being available in 6 weeks, and this is the view along the loch this morning.
Friday, 8 May 2009
The Outsider has been cancelled. We were due to run all the bars, a huge tent known as the Backwoods bar and stage (with this as our logo), hold an amazing food concession with Ord Ban and have our own line up featuring Bombskare, The John Langan Band, Charlie McKerron and Bo Jingham, Banana Sessions and The Injuns. Seeing as I have already built most of the stage and bar, struck deals with brewers and distilleries, made friends with lots of musicians and invited lots of friends we have decided to hold an alternative festival at Inshriach, catering for a maximum of 300 people.
Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the Insider.
Email email@example.com for more details.
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
One of my early posts was about the Classic Malts reliability rally coming past the house and a year later, when it came past again, old race engines gurgling along the back road, it marked a year of progress, of obstacles overcome, of new friends and unexpected opportunities and of epic, mountainous DIY.
One new friend, now a regular and sometime benefactor (having given us the enormous fridge) came to stay last weekend, deposited some of our huge haul of French garden furniture to scenic spots in the woods and left this gigantic bunch of lilies so the hall smells lovely. He has also booked the house for the weekend of the Outsider Festival.
Next up, Ian and Laura's wedding...
Friday, 24 April 2009
Plans for the Outsider Festival are now well underway. With the guys from Ord Ban and with the help of many friends we are putting together a 3 day line up in our own enormous tent, building and running all the bars for the event and laying on a top quality food concession. We have recycled this, our second stage, out of bits of a demolished house. It will end up on the lawn of the house for little events.
Nice to see both the Outsider and Standon Calling, the only other festival I have a long term involvement with, make this article in today's Guardian.
Round the house is a sea of daffodils in every shape and tone of yellow imaginable. According to some more recent news this is probably a GOOD THING. We have planted row upon row of rocket, lettuces, onions, broccoli and so on in the veg gardens and the beans, leeks and lettuces in the cold frames are coming on strong. Thanks to Polly's mum Valerie for her enormous enthusiasm and to everyone else for the use of their days off.
Thursday, 16 April 2009
We figured the vegetable gardens would be less arduous and more entertaining as a communal effort. This kicked off yesterday with Katie, Rory, Craig and Sikuri getting busy with the potato and herb beds and planting the first carrots. The purple sprouting broccoli is doing well and some of the salads, flowers and beans have sprouted in the sunroom. The idea is to share the proceeds between all involved, to supply guests in the house and Ord Ban. We also picked up another 6 chickens, pale, timid, and raised to date in a shed, they are now figuring out what it means to be a chicken, the joy of the great outdoors tempered by the surprisingly dictatorial and vindictive nature of their incumbents.
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Dr. Andy hosted a whisky tasting last week for Balvenie. I have held myself out as local knowledge in the past but had never been to a proper tasting and this was very informative, all vanilla notes and leather and oak and spice. Andy has agreed to run tastings at the house, including one for the proposed bushcraft and foraging weeks in August, and he wants in on the Outsider festival.
We had a garden furniture haul yesterday, a bit of a barter gained us a suitable steel frame to go over the dry stone spit roasting pit, plus 60 or so pretty metal garden chairs. Its a few too many for daily use so clusters have wandered to scenic spots in the woods but we can herd them back for garden parties on the lawn once the Outsider stage is finished. Anyone who was wondering where to take their brass band or string quartet on holiday now has an answer.
Friday, 3 April 2009
The last weekend of June is the Outsider festival on Rothiemurchus, the next estate along from Inshriach. A little gang of us are pitching to run the bars, have a say in the line up, organise our own tent and run lovely catering with local food. Its not certain yet but we have got ahead by building this bar.
Thanks to Captain Bob for adding to the slow team after deciding I needed his big grey landrover more than he did.
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
I'm going to digress from Inshriach business here then try to drag a point back out of it at the end. 'While you are down south, you wouldn't mind checking out a campervan' is how the Bedf-odyssey started. Friday morning Charlie and I stood on the south coast before an old english white Bedford with orange go faster stripes, 1972 in the year and exceptional in the detail. Money changed hands and the three of us trundled off to a lovely, sunny, pub lunch fuelled weekend in the New Forest.
But there was the second leg to consider and it would take more than go faster stripes. Portsmouth to Aviemore, solo, via Brighton and London, with a whole 47 mph under my right foot. Every SLOW sign in the road was a personal acknowledgement.
It was time to recalibrate. We left London on B roads, avoiding any routes I had used before. We parped through the villages of Hertfordshire and across the flat lands of Lincolnshire (where I think we were overtaken by a lawnmower), then crossed the Humber bridge into Yorkshire, meandered up the coast and under the Tyne into Northumberland, cross country via Coldstream to Edinburgh, across the Forth then through the forests of Perthshire and into the still snowcapped highlands. What an amazing journey. If we hadn't been doing 47 on obscure roads we would never have seen the prosperous Georgian sandstones of Stamford, the silhouette of Whitby Abbey, sunset over the amusement arcades and grand Victorian hotels of Scarborough or the craggy, hunkered houses of the Northumberland moors. We would never have been through Shingay cum Wendy or Sandy's Letch or Luncarty. I would not have seen Henry, Dee and little Louis in Brighton, had a lovely weekend with Charlie or bumped into Gwennie in Yorkshire.
I never thought I would be an advocate for sloth but it has been a magic few days. If anyone needs a tuk tuk or preferably a vintage Rolls Royce brought north I can help. The Bedford has come to live next door to Inshriach. We might tune it up a bit. It belongs to Ross and Polly from Ord Ban and if you ask them nicely they will arrange the tastiest and most leisurely picnic ever.
I'm sure there's a moral in there somewhere.