A Year in Review (2021)

I’m often warmed to receive cards, or now emails, from friends telling me what they and their families have been up to during the year. I also realise that not everyone will want to scour through many long winded descriptions, on this blog, of what has happened since January 1st so I thought I would try and write a potted history of the last year by reviewing those posts myself and giving you my highlights.

JANUARY: the year began with a wish that the worst of COVID and lockdowns were behind us, which goes to show what you wish for doesn’t always happen. The negotiations to house purchase were in full swing but certainly not over the line.

FEBRUARY: I continued to write about our attempts to walk more and eat more healthily as restrictions around COVID continued to stifle social life. No more news yet on the house purchase and we are close to pulling out not being able to agree terms around access and the drive ownership.

MARCH: I at last wrote “The path to buying said property (sic. The Manse on Gigha), or alternative with equally good views, afforded by location with space to build a business, was fraught and has proved to be significant in time. However, I am delighted to announce at last that we have completed on the purchase of such a property and can begin planning the next stage of our life.”

Also bought this beast to help with the renovation and the trips to and fro Gigha

“Next week will tell us how fit we are and how good our estimates are to what we can do ourselves.” I wrote back in March – the answers were not very & more than we first thought.

This remains one of my favourite photos to this day. I again repeat “The photo attached is there to remind us of the beauty and potential we are saw on one of our first early morning visits to our new home. I will hold this image in my head next week when ripping out carpet and searching for the septic tank. Say a little prayer that it isn’t blocked and the bright start I envisage materializes.

APRIL: Still working and still travelling Cardross to Gigha on a regular basis (something that will continue until the end of June). Lots of help from friends made a good start on clearing more of the garden where we decided to concentrate effort until planning permissions were in place.

….. after

MAY: Mower purchased and field cut before we handed over the Old Manse to STV for filming. Whilst it remained secret at this time the house became the location of the murder in the autumn showing of (the hybrid crime drama / reality solve) Murder Island.

JUNE: The month the scaffolding went up and the removal of the concrete render started to be removed. We had identified that we wanted to get the externals of stonework, roof & gutters and windows completed in 2021 and this was a real landmark for us. The concrete render had, over the years, allowed water ingress that was trapped between it and the original stone causing damp. The task was always going to be huge to repoint and make watertight again.

JULY: Emphasis changed this month from Karen and Dan carrying the burden of work on Gigha, to myself and Dan as my contract ended. Delighted to be spending more time on the island and continuing the good work that had gone before. The month was spent clearing more of the outbuildings and making a start on the shepherds hut foundations.

AUGUST: Still enjoying great weather, further inroads were made in clearing the garden. Significantly, we identified and dug out the well in the walled garden – big thanks to our boy, Dan, who put in a big shift this summer and without his might we would have struggled to complete many jobs. Likewise, there are too many friends to mention, but Pete decided to drive from his midland base to holiday with us this year, a week spent cutting hedges probably wasn’t top of his bucket list but he tells me he enjoyed it! Another milestone too in windows being removed for renovation.

SEPTEMBER: The York family avoid divorce and serious harm to each other when building the shepherds hut. Joking aside it was a great project to demonstrate that teamwork can happen between us completing the majority of the build over three days in the month. Meanwhile window restoration was happening in a workshop far away, but stripping of render had stopped due to the wait to have scaffolding removed.

OCTOBER: First and importantly we became residents of our temporary home on Gigha, moving possessions either to the island, storage or the odd friend holding stuff. The scaffolding was removed to reveal the full glory of the Old Manse stonework. Unfortunately our builders have now committed to other jobs and with forecast weather the job won’t be completed in year but a good result on the aesthetic of the building. You can see the repair to the gutters, render to the chimneys and the monochrome finish that will adorn the exterior. We were also joined by approx 30,000 other in the shape of our bee population.

NOVEMBER: A flurry of activity saw the arrival of our caravan purchase (likely accommodation for 2022), and the start of the Old Manse windows arriving back from the workshop. In the gales of Gigha we took strides to making the shepherd’s hut watertight, struggling to purchase a tin roof as we had intended, roofing felt provided a significant challenge. No match for Karen and I though!

DECEMBER: The weather, after a cold snap in November, has again allowed for outside work and great results have been achieved in clearing the front garden. Difficult to show in pictures how much this has given back to us in space. In the wet weather though work on indoors is prioritised and we have now stripped out the attic rooms. They now provide storage as we move down the build.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Wishing everyone who reads the blog and follows on Insta a very happy and prosperous New Year. May 2022 be all that you wish for, from us all at The Old Manse xx

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