Renovation reality

I explained to one of my Instagram friends that I had taken the ‘nuclear option’ of resigning from the desk job, to which he replied of his admiration for my actions. It is a scary step because in my life as a project manager I have always had to balance budget, time and quality; I am too short on time which is how I have come to the decision to resign, but that immediately exposes the budget with no cash coming in. Every action has a consequence and this one certainly has a degree of risk attached, but one I also need for my mental and physical well being.

So now to hopefully catalyse the work we have started – that’s the plan at least. The reality is that to date whenever we have cut back the garden over a weekend we have returned later to find that nature has once again surpassed our efforts. I know from the weekend that in clearing a space for the shepherds hut, something Dan & Karen had already worked hard on the two previous weekends, that it takes a toll on someone who is not accustomed to physical exertion. That will improve though.

In theory this is the view from the hut back to the Old Manse
Much of the weekend consumed by burning trees, bracken and brambles previously felled. Now a clear view to the back wall.

We are taking friends to see the Old Manse who know they have a weekend of work in store. The plan will be to further make good the photographed area above and lay the foundations for the shepherd’s hut. Landscaping fabric and a redeployment of hardcore from the building will mean a significant amount of manual labour!

I should also mention the progress in taking the render from the building and the decision to point, as opposed to re-render, what we have found. As a compromise, if budget doesn’t allow us to leave stonework fully pointed, the back of the house may have to be treated differently. My second reality check came when trying to ascend the scaffolding for closer inspection of render, legs went to jelly on the second ladder up reminding me of my fear of heights. Something in the future I need to cure or find a way round if the building is going to require ad-hoc maintenance above the ground floor.

The view from the drive to see the changing face of the Old Manse
Approximately the spot where vertigo struck, but proof that I got that far taking the picture below.
View from the second floor of scaffolding

The final piece that I write for anyone thinking about a similar renovation, is be prepared to live in a building site for a significant period of time. We have collapsed our living to one floor in the Old Manse and largely to one room accommodating bed, living and kitchen space. We have the benefit now of a working shower and toilet so not without these essentials, and whilst in the throws of summer, the barbecue provides respite from using local eateries or sandwiches. No heating in the foreseeable future, luxury it is not. We still struggle to harvest a good Wi-Fi connection and with no TV aerial, entertainment is limited. In fact it is a pack of playing cards.

Back to basics

All of that said I couldn’t be happier with our lot. We found the garden producing some lovely blooms without any tending from ourselves that the bees will love when they get here. Karen and I took a stroll up to the ‘Witches Chair’, the highest point on the property we own to take in the view, and a couple of beers, on Saturday evening and I couldn’t imagine a more tranquil spot. I am really looking forward to spending more time on the island and hopefully seeing the progress that we both crave so we can share moments like this more often. After more than a year of lockdown to various degrees this is certainly a fillip to my mental well being.

Atop the Witches Chair

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