Go to for the latest posts

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Classic Malts Rally (II).

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

Festivals and Daffodils

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

Self sufficiency.

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

On Sloth, or life begins at 47.

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.