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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?