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Tuesday, 27 December 2011


A few weeks back we hosted another Balvenie Whisky tasting, this time up in the house and attended by the UK, global and French brand ambassadors and local friends of the distillery. We had some tunes courtesy of Charlie McKerron and finished up the night in indulgent style sat in front of the fire supping drams of their new Tun 1401 edition with chasers of 21 year old Portwood.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Wood pellets (& Solar part II).

Its not easy undertaking major works here at this time of year and if our winter of renewable energy starts to sound like a comedy of errors can we please attribute that to our limited budget, time constraints and environmental difficulties rather than slapdash project management, festive distractions and a penchant for 1950s machinery.

Phase 1 of phase 2 was the fuel store for the new wood pellet boiler. We had to lay a 3x3 metre concrete slab for a hopper that will contain 8 tons of wood pellets, then dig a trench to the house for the vacuum transfer. Sounds simple, except that pouring concrete below 4 degrees isn't recommended and it was nigh on minus 5, the concrete truck is too wide for the gates and mixing 5 tons of concrete by hand would have been ridiculous. Oh, and the Land Rover was out of MOT and we don't own a sensible trailer. Cue major head scratching and more delays.

Enter big Jack, ace dry stone waller, armed with with a pick up and a borrowed trailer and enough humour, experience and resourcefulness to pick the concrete up from the plant (in 4 runs), slide it down a tin chute into the shuttering, tamp it down nice and flat (in the dark) and improvise a shelter we could heat so it would go off. Bingo. Phase 1 complete. Phase 2 happens in January when the old oil boiler gets ripped out, no doubt in the middle of some biblical weather situation.

There is a second chapter to the solar saga which may constitute something of a record. We were always cutting it fine by taking on our installation on the Sunday of the deadline but we confidently came down from the roof with just the paperwork left to scan and submit. Then at 9pm the scanner we were using gave up and by the time we had driven to and fro along a very icy B970 to get another one, then sorted and rescanned everything page by page, we finally hit send with 24 minutes to spare.

Phew again.

Sunday, 11 December 2011


Inshriach has a huge flat roof ideally suited to solar power and part of our winter renewables drive was a scheme to reduce our hefty electricity consumption. Then a month ago the government announced it would halve the tariff available and the entire solar buying world went hell bent on catching the higher rate. That rate expires tonight and for the last fortnight there has been only a thin veneer of calm across Inshriach. On Friday we hauled 32 paving slabs up to the roof, yesterday we installed new circuit breakers and the inverters and early this afternoon 32 solar panels and lots of aluminium framing turned up courtesy of our friends at Enviko. By 5 o clock tonight (Sunday) it was pitch dark and being 3 floors up on an icy roof scattered with paving slabs, frames, skylights and the equivalent of 16 flat screen TVs was decidedly hairy but we got it all up there and now, with only 5 hours before the deadline, we just need to send in the paperwork and come back tomorrow to connect it up and point it at the sun.

Down the hill we decided that the farm ought to be solar powered as well so we installed another inverter and meter in the barn. The other 16 panels will be spread across existing farm buildings over the next few days and the 4kw they provide should cover all the power demands of the farmyard, the workshops and the yurters shower and be the foundation for a sustainable barn conversion which we are going to take on when funds allow.


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Winter greens.

This is a few weeks late in publishing but as the weather draws in so the Bothy Project nears completion. It has all its windows and all its lining and a reclaimed ash floor and mezzanine. Iain has lodged its measurements with a furniture maker and we are trying to work out what size of stove will best suit the varied purposes and seasons the building will experience.

Back in civilisation we have decided that from here on in we wont rent out the big house between the start of November (the week before the Backwoods Bonfire) and the end of January. That way we have time to make the improvements we had planned, admittedly in the freezing cold, plus we get to relax and enjoy the house for a while and then we have a New Years party (which is becoming something of an institution).

Regular readers will have noticed a few loose ends in this blog, jobs started and left unfinished and potentially interesting threads that seem to have been left hanging. Besides the weddings, parties, filming and holidays we have been really busy this year and so the game shed and the barn and the gutters will now have to wait until next year. Now, threatened by winter, darkness and Christmas, we have a short and dangerous window of home improvements in which to turn our attentions towards the house.

Inshriach is a big place and a lot of people have passed this way over the last few years so there is a decorative rejig afoot. It has also proved a fearsomely hungry house to run and with such consumption come financial, environmental and, without wanting to go too far into it, political responsibilities. Over the next few weeks, alongside some nice curtains, there are some very drastic decisions taking place as we try to tie up our biggest, most expensive and most exciting loose end.

Inshriach is going green (finally, only this time in the snow).

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Backwoods Bonfire Party.

Last weekend we let it all hang out with our second Backwoods Bonfire party. This time we were lucky enough to hang onto Paul Millards beautiful 42 ft yurt, the scene of 3 weddings at Inshriach this year, and to persuade John Langan (who got married in it here back in May) to put in a final gig before he disappears to India for 6 months.

We warmed up in the yurt with our old friends Ord Ban, again wedding veterans in these here parts, and copious measures of mulled cider.

Then it was up to the Backwoods stage and once again I have to thank the old stagers from times even before the Insider, Dom, Ben, Captain Bob, Piers and Ali who brought a van from Derbyshire full of PA and good chat. Jimmy, Jonah, Greg the Absinthe and everyone else who mucked in, again, it couldn't be done without you. Under the watchful eye of team Backwoods - Ross, Polly, Gordy and co - it went off with a bang. John played a stormer of a set in the woods, then fireworks, then our old favourites Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers kicking brassiness out into the night and Gojar on the decks till the end. It was a line up of old friends and an absolutely excellent party.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Going Green.

I'm going to backpedal through time a bit so as to introduce a series of works we have initiated (to run alongside all the other works we haven't finished). I will return later with tales from our last wedding of the year and of bonfire night.

For both environmental and financial reasons we have been deliberating on how to update Inshriach and how to wean it off its appetite for oil. Wood boilers, whether fired by pellets, wood chips, logs or waste wood are big business these days so we weighed up our options, put our savings in a pot and plumped for a brand new wood pellet system, a 60kw Nordic Bio Energy boiler, fed by a vacuum system which will draw pellets through a pipe under the drive from an 8 ton hopper on the other side. Two new and efficient tanks will give us the capacity to keep up with endless big baths for wedding parties and we can set the ball rolling for installing central heating upstairs at some point in the future.

So as soon as the wedding was done the first of our outstandingly useful bonfire party crew arrived and the shovels came out, we rented a minidigger and got started on the trench for the vacuum and footings for the hopper. Its going to be a narrow window in the weather before it gets too cold and because of bonfire night, cider and minor operational difficulties we have so far achieved precisely one large hole.

The hopper is eventually going to be disguised as another Edwardian ice house / game shed. The chimney needs lining on the house, the cellar stripped out, new heating pipework needs to join onto the old heating pipework, the big oil tank can then go and the new system will have an electric backup. That still leaves oil for the aga but go in there now when its getting cold outside and its deliciously toasty in the kitchen.

Then there is the matter of generating our power sustainably and true to form it's all happening at once. We have been planning solar for a while so, again taking advantage of the end of the rental season, a 4kw photo voltaic array is planned for the big house. To top our renewables inventory for the week my old friend Jimmy Whitmore (now a sustainable energy inventor at KraftMaus) stayed around for a few days after bonfire night to chat over some ideas we have been having for a small Hydro Electric generator to power the workshops, alternative fuels we could be running the Inshriach fleet on and suchlike.

I will report back on the various hurdles, installers, contractors, holes, progress and inventions over the next few months, hopefully with better photos.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Backwoods Bonfire Party.

On the 5th November we are holding a Backwoods Bonfire party. Buses leave from the Old Bridge Inn any time after 5 and cost a tenner, when you get here our old friends the John Langan band will be playing and we have been lucky enough to find ourselves with the same gigantic Red Kite yurt that John got married in earlier this year, in the same spot. Then we head for the woods for a barbeque and mulled cider to hear three time festival champions Woodenbox with a Fistful of fivers, then some fireworks, Gojar on the decks until midnight and all back on the bus in time for last orders. You can read more about it and see if you can share a lift to the pub by looking at the facebook page.

Whats not to like about that?

Saturday, 29 October 2011


Last week the film circus returned to the Highlands with Emma Thompson's new period drama feature, Effie, starring Dakota Fanning. Effie tells the story of the affair between the Victorian Art critic John Ruskin's wife and John Everett Millais and there were plenty of costumes that would have looked quite at home at the Insider. I was tasked with taking Petal the Land Rover out to the west coast, along with a couple of cohorts from Aviemore, where I was detailed to the camera department for the week and given the challenge of not getting stuck, flooded or lost. Here I am executing an inelegant reentry after a river burst its banks and the days set had to be speedily evacuated.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Spoon Carving.

Last weekends spoon carving course was a great success, Wooden Tom did a fine job of making sure everyone kept their fingers and got the basics required to carve a spoon. The 6 folk who came along all left promising to go out and buy themselves axes, knives and gouges. Three of them have booked for the bowl carving course we are running on 15th November (which is already sold out) but more courses can be put together on a pretty ad hoc basis if you have 6 people up for it, and £40 seems very reasonable for a whole day of crafty, carvy and rewarding entertainment.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Resident : 11

Friday was a quickfire run down to Edinburgh and the Royal Scottish Academy for the opening night of the Resident : 11 exhibition. The RSA have supported a number of artists through their Residents for Scotland programme. They have a network of predominantly art institute partners across Scotland and contemporary artists get to spend time in research and production in unusual locations. The RSA have partially funded the Bothy Project as part artwork and part miniaturised embodiment of what they are trying to achieve.

After seeing pictures of ourselves and the build plastered across the hallowed walls of the RSA we are coming back to earth by figuring out rainwater harvesting and filtering and we need get our hands on enough larch to clad the gables.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Huts all round.

Last weekend saw another bothy building delegation descend on Inshriach, now the wall cladding is on, the side windows are in, complete with beautiful oak sills and sides, and most of the insulation and lining has gone in. The architectural detail that has gone into the design is starting to tell in the overall proportions, the views through the building, the floor to eaves windows, the custom made, diminutive and beautiful (if probably not very practical) folded gutters and the silvery cladding. It is a traditional bothy with a modernist twist. We are two weeks off the next build party when we hope to have it clad, windowed and watertight. There is a much more extensive blog and photo gallery of the build here on the bothy project website.

Meanwhile, just along the valley at the Lazy Duck in Nethy Bridge, David and Valerie have just finished their fabulous Woodmans hut, living proof that there is more than one way to skin a cat. Their hut is situated on the old woodmans trail that runs through their forest and is mostly built with timber thinned from its immediate surroundings. The hut has great views of the Cairngorms and a veranda out front perfectly suited to Appalacian relaxation. Inside it has a box bed, a stove, oak flooring and a great little kitchen, outside there's a bush shower, compost loo and fridge (ie a stream). Its very cute and I highly advise getting in to stay there before they realise what a bargain it is or it gets famous and is booked out all the time.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Simon and Lucy's wedding.

Our second last wedding of the year took place a few weeks back so my congratulations go out to Lucy and Simon. We do seem to be picking up the alternative end of the Aviemore wedding market, each one this year (7 to date) has had its own distinctive style due to the personalities and choices of those involved, this one was pretty frantic for the last 48 hours but worked out to be a lot of fun. This was the first time Bygone drives have been brought in for the wedding cars, the first time we have used this particular marquee and lighting company and the first time we have gone for a photo booth in the tipi.
Ord Ban played again, they are proving hard to top for the music, Taste of Moray were super professional helping get the house sorted while everyone was at church and then doing fine things with the food and Helen Abraham once again took amazing photos (these rubbish ones are my own work). You can read Helen's take on the wedding and have a look at a few rather better photos here on her website.
Without turning this into a sales pitch (we dont really do sales pitches) if you want a wedding at Inshriach we charge a facility fee of £1200 on top of the full weekly rental. We don't charge corkage or put a commission on anything, we can introduce you to all the best people for lights, tent, staging, music, food and everything else you need and we are pretty laid back about people camping if they want to (there will usually be a small per head charge for that). And that's that.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Spoon Carving course.

On the 8th October we are running our first spoon carving course with Wooden Tom. Its going to cover the basics of using the axe, knife and crook knife. You can see the full details and how to book here on Tom's website. This one is already fully booked but let me or Tom know if you fancy coming on a course and we can organise another.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The other bothy project.

The building we have always known as the bothy used to be the laundry for the big house. By the 1970s it had became a summer house and workshops and gradually, as materials became available, we have been improving it. We put back a laundry that now covers the yurt and beermoth, insulated, refloored and plastered parts of it, put in a stove, a boiler and some heating. Then we came to the tediously repetitive bit, the outside, and this is my chance to say thank you to Harry. He and Sophie have been at Inshriach since last May. They thoroughly ingrained themselves into life round here, were a source of great entertainment and Harry has taken some properly thankless tasks and made them his own. He got an offer he couldn't refuse from the White Cube Gallery in Hoxton and left this morning (say hello if you see him, you will recognise him from the mask and plus fours).

I dont know how many weeks it has taken for him to wire brush all the paint off the old cast gutters, rustproof, prime, undercoat and topcoat them but its been ages and they look amazing. Big tubs of traditional limewash arrived a week ago and I'm now battling to remove all the modern white paint from the whole building to put on an original Edwardian finish.

I'm not massively looking forward to going solo on the game larder, the generator shed, the dairy, the dogshed, the squash court, the garages, the workshops...

Harry - if it doesn't work out in Shoreditch there's always a grinder here with your name on it.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Getting out there.

I have three sets of thank yous for last week. The first is to our cousin Philip (second from left) and his 11 year old Patrick (right) for coming to stay for the first time in 30 years and giving me an excuse to down tools, pick up the phone and go out to try some of the activities available locally.

First up was G2s new zip park over on Alvie. Since they put in the brilliant zip line at the Insider I have been itching to give this a shot. They have installed 7 zip lines of increasing height, length and speed slicing to and fro over a river gorge up in the forest. You get the confidence up on the first few so by the last ones, which are seriously impressive, you can glide through the view and take it all in. It's 25 quid for a session, suitable for all ages and I will put some pictures up when I get some so you get a better idea.

Round 2 was river tubing with Full On Adventure. I have been white water rafting with Full On John but this is a relatively new one. Its rafting for one, seated in a rubber ring, suited, booted, helmeted up and pointed off down the river. The Feshie was on the powerful side for an all ages group so we took to the Druie instead. Being in a ring you can navigate relatively shallow water, bounce yourself off the rocks (especially if you dont weigh much) and go down narrow rapids and flues. It's obviously a lot colder and wetter and marginally riskier than the zip lines, its £39 for a session amounting to an hour and a half or so on the water and again, comes highly recommended.

Monday, 15 August 2011

The Bothy Project.

It is not every day that someone offers you a bothy, pre fab, insulated, small enough to be a temporary structure, large enough to stay in. A month ago that's exactly what happened and so, hot on the heels of the Beermoth comes The Bothy Project. This is how the project describes itself.

'A cross-disciplinary art project that aims to develop a network of
small-scale art residency spaces in distinct and diverse locations
around Scotland.

A platform for artists to journey and explore the peculiarities of Scotland’s history, mythology, ecology, landscape and people.

An opportunity to inhabit existing buildings and create purpose built structures'.

So last week the bothy moved from its temporary home at Edinburgh Sculpture workshops and arrived here on a truck on Saturday. Today is day 3 of the build, there is a troupe of willing bothy builders now cooking breakfast at the Beermoth and by close of play today the walls will be up, by the end of the week the building will be finished and between artist residencies it will be available to rent.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Beer Moth has landed.

After 6 months of not hurrying the job it finally took a man called Kevin to get the Beer Moth up and running.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with it the Beer Moth is a 1956 Commer Q4, 4 ton 4x4, ex auxiliary fire service hose carrying truck. I bought it in Kent back in February with the intention of adding it to the stable of oddball holiday options put out through Canopy and Stars. I penned a few words then about our slow and woefully fuel consumptive journey home. By the Insider it had gained a taller hood frame, a back wall and a staircase, all recycled, a parquet floor which has travelled with me in rubble sacks for years, a snooker table slate for a hearth (which we put in the wrong place on our first attempt) and the major expense, a beautiful custom canvas by Classic Covers. At the same time, with lots of handy folks, the farmyard gained a Rayburn no 1, the very first model of Rayburn, current when the truck was built, about half a ton and in this case, wanting to be totally rebuilt.

Kevin had seen the yurt online and insisted on staying in the Beermoth even if it was unfinished, effectively throwing down the gauntlet with about a week to spare.

The bed (a brassy Victorian 4' double) got new slats and a mattress, I took apart the bits of the Rayburn that would come apart, Marcus MacBean fabricated a new flue box for it and trundled his forklift down to lift it in, a new flue arrived, solar lighting went in, an enamel 50s sink, little drawers for the cutlery, a hamper, enamelled plates, enamelled jugs and enamelled mugs. By the time Kevin got here it needed a doorhandle, a coffee maker, a tin opener that opened tins and it needed towing into the field by a terrified Sophie in our hopelessly inadequate tractor (a mystery electrical fault rendering it not working).

At the same time the water main to the farm packed up so to thank Kevin for galvanising us all into action we invited him to spend the first day of his holiday digging an enormous trench across the farmyard in the rain - that's him in blue, as seen through a very soggy phone.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Stuart and Rachel.

Big congratulations to Stuart and Rachel who had their wedding reception here last weekend, a lovely home made affair with heavy bunting, lots of hand made direction signs and they pretty much self catered it (with the help of their friends at the Mountain Cafe). They chose the traditional 30x50 marquee from Grants tent hire we used for last years Insider.

Then it was a mad rush to finish the Beer Moth for its first rental...

Sunday, 24 July 2011

The racing / composting sedan chair.

With the Beer Moth slowly closing in and the extra pressure that will put on the bathroom, the time had come to equip the yurt with a compost loo. Next years Insider includes a historical Olympiad so a multi purpose heraldic racing composting long drop sedan chair made perfect sense...

It is going to get curtains front and sides but the yurt is isolated enough that you can leave them open if you fancy a poo with a view.

That is my 200th Inshriach House blog entry.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Unexpected weekends part II.

The Hebridean Celtic Music festival in Stornoway was always in the back of my mind as one to hit but the means to do so didn't reveal themselves until it was almost too late.

Aidan O'Rourke was performing with Kan among the Saturday night headliners and he threw an invitation and a place to stay in my direction, all that remained was how to get there.

I asked Isobel of Bygone Drives if I could borrow her Morris Minor but instead she offered a Mazda MX5. It's a 2004 plate Euphonic, meaning a 1.6 engine but with bigger wheels, leather, heated seats, a decent stereo and a few choice extras. I thought that heading to Ullapool on Friday night would keep my options open. I would pop to the Ceilidh place, catch a tune or two then find somewhere sensible to stay before the morning ferry. I hadn't factored in the Tall Ships. Ullapool was mobbed and soaked and there was not a room in town so it was either back to Inverness or North into the unknown. It turned out God's own country starts a few miles North of Ullapool. The hills come at you in layers and as the rain eased I peeled off along an extraordinary single track road following signs for Achiltibuie.

It's been a while since I had a proper drive in an MX5, I have a Mk1, I cant justify running it but cant bear to part with it. This one is quieter, a bit heavier and more civilised so it feels slow at first but then you find a good road and hang onto the revs and the steering gets into its dance, it's really poised and well damped with so little inertia you can balance its movements in all directions and don't need to do 100 to feel like it's flying. You can also have the roof down in a flash between downpours.

In the pub that evening the locals spoke of the road to Lochinver as being a wild one and I figured that at a push I might just do it and make the ferry. It bucks and weaves across moorland one minute, past lakes, peaks and through woods, rattling between dry stone walls and cliffs, the road all the time barely wider than the car and with odd cambers, changing surfaces, blind crests and invisible tightening bends. The MX5 is such a wriggly responsive little cart of a car it might have been made for here. I got back to Ullapool feeling like my blood had been carbonated, and missed the ferry.

That meant an unexpectedly pleasurable afternoon back at the Tall Ships. The coastguard put on a display, I explored a Danish square rigger and a couple of pubs and 500 folk gathered along Shore street for a Strip the Willow.

Then it was time for Heb Celt. Arriving in Stornoway at 9pm on the last night is hardly fully committed but I slid in, caught Kan folking up a storm, dropped in for a few minutes of KT Tunstall then headed across to the Arts Centre for Saltfishforty with Anna and Mairead, a dash more Kan, caught up with loads of friendly faces from the Insider and went on to a late (all) nighter in the Royal Hotel.

We took the 2.30 ferry back to Ullapool on Sunday afternoon (full of even more lovely people), I picked up the car and was back at Inshriach in time for tea. Next year I'm planning on taking the car over, staying for the whole festival before camping my way down through Lewis, Harrisa and Uist, probably catching the ferry back to Skye and perhaps getting home in time for tea on Thursday. I'm taking the MX5 if someone doesn't get there first.

This rather lovely little video by Tom Pickles, appropriately and coincidentally set to music by Lau (Aidens's other band - see all the Insider festival chat if you don't know them) shows the Lochinver to Ullapool bit.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Richie - this one's for you.

Last time Richard Jefferies was here he looked at the game larder and said,

'Please fix that - it makes me cry a little bit every time I see it.'

So I am.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Unexpected weekends part I.

A few weeks back I noticed a company was starting up in Aviemore by the name of Bygone Drives so I looked up the address and went to introduce myself. Isobel was in the process of putting together a classic car rental fleet, an MGB roadster lurking in the garage, a very pretty Mk2 Mazda Mx5 and a Range Rover sport on the driveway and a tidy silver XJS V12 up for sale to make way for a few more sensible and rentable motors (namely a Daimler 250 V8 and some form of Aston).

A good car chat ensued and a couple of days later I found myself heading for Edinburgh to collect an old English white 1953 split screen Morris Minor convertible, bought unseen. It turned out to be a really nice once, smooth engine, good brakes, nice ride, obviously much loved. Being early it has an Art Deco styled dash (in bronzey gold) and the interior of this one has been fully retrimmed in burgundy leather. Its meagre original seats have been binned in favour of comfy but not incongruous modern ones and it has a new hood, which, even though its designed like a vintage pram, kept most of the rain out as we parped our way into the city.

Its nearly 60 years old so you have to think, then wait, then ease your way through the gears. There's not a lot of grip or go and 55 is flat out. Stopped in it people want to mother it, it makes them smile and wave and come to chat and everyone has a moggie story or some moggie trivia.

Then the weekend started to get odd. By 10.30 I was in Queensferry with a bottle of wine, 2 deckchairs, a chainsaw, 3 rolls of gaffer tape and 2 giant inflatable bananas. Myself and the Moggie had fallen in with the organising committee of - and been drafted in to compete in - the Edinburgh raft race. By midnight we had drunk the wine, chopped down a tree to make paddles and come to the conclusion we were seriously short on buoyancy, time, skills and materials.

Morning came, the sun was out and the moggie promptly broke down, top down, bananas proudly in the air. A clutch rod many million gearchanges old had snapped. Intrepid mariner engineers such as we were we whipped the rod off, failed to improvise another - first out of rope then out of heras fence, then found our mate Donald with a welder who stuck the old one back together and we made it to the canal with minutes to spare, whereupon a kindly stranger, seeing the moggie disgorge our raft ingredients, solved our buoyancy problem with 4 large water cooler bottles. We built a raft in the few remaining minutes, hit the canal, looked totally ridiculous and unstable but made the final.

The drive back to Aviemore was in pouring rain (a lot of it with the roof still down) but the Morris didn't miss a beat. This is really its natural habitat, trundling the B roads round the highlands. It is certainly £120 odd per day worth of fun if you have the right excuse and, dare I say it, it's my kind of wedding car.

Next up - Lewis.

Friday, 15 July 2011

The Dark Knight Rises (and lands).

Inshriach airspace has been unusually busy this last fortnight as Warner Brothers prepared aerial scenes for the forthcoming Batman sequel. An ex US military Hercules has made regular low rumbling flypasts and will apparently be filmed landing on a local B road (permission was refused to use the A9). There is also a charter helicopter, a private jet and a little single prop plane, some or all of which have been dropping black clad stuntmen into the woods a couple of miles away, around Lagganlia gliding club. Last week one of the stuntmen was blown off course and went through the roof of a holiday cottage. Batman had to be rescued by an old fella with a ladder.

If it wasn't a beautiful day and I didn't need to fix the game larder and it wasn't Heb Celt Fest this weekend I would be up there wheedling a job out of them.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Cairngorm Soapbox.

Last weekend was the Cairngorm Soapbox race, the fastest and longest gravity race in the UK. As a bit of variety from our usual business we had 40 of the competitors camping here in the field recently vacated by our main stage. The technology ranged from shed built rattlers to wind tunnel honed carbon fibre streamliners and for all the effort there were a few surprises in the final running order (well, the guy responsible for Aston Martin's 1990s Group C Chassis did win, but apart from that).

I headed for the workshop first thing Saturday morning and the first team to come my way were the works Triumph motorcycles team with this extraordinary looking blue lozenge, its wheels canted so far in at the top it looked like a 1920s illustration of speed. A splodge of welding and fabricating saw that complete the day intact. Another three teams came through with varying degrees of bent and broken from qualifying then it was up the hill to watch them rattle down at 75mph...

Next year I'm in...

Saturday, 2 July 2011

The Insider.

This is some time coming because I have put a lot of writing into the Insider on the festival blog so I'm going to keep it to a few pictures here and will probably come back and edit this and be more effusive. It was an extraordinary weekend and an absolute pleasure to see so many old friends, people who have stayed here, married here or stayed in the yurt amongst the revellers.

An amazing artistic and photographic response is gathering on the Insider Festival Facebook page.

Here's to next year.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

500 Miles North.

With just over a week until the Insider you would think that we would be dedicating all our time and resources to preparing ourselves but projects are like buses round here and for the last fortnight Inshriach has been the base for the filming of 500 Miles North starring Joe Morgan (Vampire Diaries) and Matt Ryan (Criminal Minds) and directed by Luke Massey.

Expect to see a lot of familiar locations if you have visited here, plus shots inside the house and round the estate, not to mention one particular vehicle from the Inshriach Abstract Motoring department making quite a considerable appearance.

Friday, 27 May 2011

3 weddings and a festival

I have been a bit neglectful of this blog of late, the reason being that May has been the month when all matrimony broke loose at Inshriach.

First past the post were Josie and J who married down by the river then christened the newly turfed main stage / main wedding field in style with 4 ten metre diameter tipis, arranged in a diamond formation with fires and fairy lights and a stage. (This photo courtesy of Joe Maclay, click on it for the full effect).

Ruth and John (spectacular overland travellers themselves, having driven a Land Rover from Cambridge to Sydney) chose two of Red Kite Yurts finest, a hand made Kyrgysh 42 footer for dinner and dancing and a 24 footer for food and a bar. We resurrected the Insider awning along the veranda for the ceremony and then danced reels in a circle around the band (ord ban the band).

And then came the Langans. Their occupation of the house was somehow shorter and yet more thorough. They were very fortunate to hang onto the giant yurt. John has been a regular here over the last few years, his band have played both Insiders so they know their way round and gathered among the guests were some very fine musicians. The moments I remember - Bryan Benner singing arias in the squash court, Dave Tunstall and Hazen Metro both piping John up to the ceremony in the woods, a kitchen full of fiddlers, Chandra singing Malian wedding songs, the Banana Sessions making for an amazing, stomping wedding band, a man who spent the entire weekend dressed as a tiger, dreadlocks, dogs, loads of smiles and a crowd of genuine, open and lovely folks. And Richard Muirhead.

That's not to say that the other weddings were less than lovely but this one was close to my heart. I wish all three couples the very best. Inshriach now plays host to a stag party (friends) and 2 weeks filming before we hope to get everyone back again for the Insider.

Friday, 13 May 2011

The websmith

Im going to do something I very rarely do and copy a big thank you across from the Insider Festival website and put it here too.
This really is Rufus White in the process of building our Insider website. No joke. He and Molly and Mathew have pulled a stormer with it. All the animations and squirrels and everything has been hand drawn by him and there can be no doubt it is now Victori-on.

Rufus will wearing another hat at the Insider, that of the mobile silversmith and jeweller. You will find him and his wiry apprentice plying their trade, taking commissions and making beautiful things during the festival. In the meantime if you would like to get in touch with him for anything just Telegram us at the Insider.

The photo we half-inched from a recent series of portraits by Helen Abraham

Monday, 2 May 2011

The Beer Moth.

The new canvas for the 'moth is fast approaching so it was time to get the rest of the modifications out of the way. We raised the roof by a foot and laid an oak parquet floor which was rescued from a Tudor house and laboriously refurbished. The staircase was once a fire escape, scavenged from the tip along with the window. The back wall was part of the doghouse and the hearth is a snooker table slate. The door is from one of the cottages and was pitch pine under its coat of plasticky white paint. The truck now sports a totally over the top 4' Victorian double bed with brass knobs.

Now all that's really left is to replace the mahogany plinth and taxidermied squirrel you see in the photo with a woodburner. All these ingredients seem to have their own story, the Commer is starting to feel as though the the fabric of Inshriach is being woven into it.

In the middle of this refurb we took it for an outing. The truck is going to be the B&B (Bed and Buckfast) stage for the Insider so we thought it would be a good plan to dress in Victorian costumes and hit Aviemore. A couple of the guys from Rura played on it on the high street and were joined by Mark Clement and Charlie McKerron, then we took it round the Old Bridge and washed down some more tunes with ales.

Once the festival is out of the way the truck will be available to rent through Canopy and Stars alongside the Inshriach yurt. It has also picked up another nickname - Mein Kampf-ervan.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Rise of the Dead.

RISE OF THE DEAD (2011) from danlight on Vimeo.

The 2011 Light family Inshriach House motion picture, 'Rise of the Dead' - filmed last week - is now on general release.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Wedding / Festival preparation.

Over the last fortnight it has been all hands on deck as 700 square metres of turf arrived to resurface the main wedding / main stage field. That equates to about 15 tons and on a soggy week just getting it from the road to the field was no mean feat.