Things are starting to move forward at the Old Manse. The first wave of work was always to make the building wind and watertight this summer and we believe we have been able to co-ordinate professionals to do these works for us starting with a scaffolding company. The logistics of carrying a significant amount of metal on the ferry and erecting said scaffolding in itself presents a challenge and it is not without significant cost.

Next comes a team to who I most grateful. The plan is to start stripping render from the building, a task which we are unsure how long it will take until we begin work. We are of the understanding the concrete render was never suitable for the building, suffocating the airflow that is associated with the Georgian build. Where the render is damaged water ingress has been trapped against the outer wall permeating inwards and causing damp. Hence, removal is essential.

What comes next is wholly down to what we find underneath. If the stone is good enough we would like to leave it exposed and likely will employ a stone mason to point with lime mortar to establish the finish we want. This may or may not be practicable from a cost perspective. Again that comes back to the discovery phase over the next couple of weeks when we expose the gable end and seek advice on ‘what lies beneath’

Also planned for next week is the delivery of the shepherd’s hut kit. On Wednesday I intend to drive to Gigha with my good friend Paul, and take receipt of said package. I’m not one to often compare myself to Brad Pitt, but for anyone who remembers the final scene of the film ‘Seven’ where Brad drives to a location to meet a man with a package that’s what I’m referring to. The transport cannot take all the way to the island so I have organised a clandestine meeting in the car park at Big Jessy’s tearoom to move the load onto a trailer. The trailer I am borrowing from another friend on the Island, Richard, so likely I will first have to make the ferry trip over to bring back the trailer. The package size and the trailer size are a bit mismatched and why I quote the film ‘seven’ – I’m not entirely sure what I’m getting until it arrives having ordered online. I imagine though the story will be much less macabre.

In the meantime I have son to thank for his efforts in clearing ground to the final destination of the hut. He has also been doing pub research with our friend Campbell who has previously built huts on the Isle of Lewis,.

For some reason the uncovered outhouse puts me in mind of the Aztec zone in the Crystal Maze (another reference for those of a certain age). Still more strimming and clearance to do but we are tooled up for the job and looking forward to an exciting building project come July when I can dedicate more of my own time to proceedings.

Oh yes and one final footnote, as a teaser, the bees are coming on the 20th. More on that later.

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