The Renovation Diet

For as long as I can remember I have been overweight and in an attempt not to be I have followed many unsuccessful diets. There was the cabbage soup diet – a strictly prescribed eating plan for a week that involved, as you may guess, cabbage soup whenever you were hungry beyond the basic meal plan.

The cabbage soup diet worked at first shedding weight the first time I used it but second time around around saw zero weight loss. Until that is I went to the local hostelry to banish my blues, drank my body weight in lager, and was so ill for 48 hours I did indeed lose weight. Most unhealthy.

I had more joy nearly 10 years ago now when I tried the 5 2 diet. Eating sensibly for 5 fasting 2. But in the end with the regime abandoned the weight went back on. I have now though discovered the renovation diet, on which I have lost a stone in the last 6 weeks. Let me lay out some key points:

1. Move to an Island where there are no takeaways or convenience stores open for a quick fix when hungry or craving food.

2. Buy a house with 4 acres of land that you dedicate to clearing for waking hours of the day.

3. Buy 2 weeks food in advance, plan this to fill 3 meals a day for those two weeks. Place it in a freezer / fridge in a house approx 400 yards from the one you live. Only retrieve the food you intend to use that day to said living abode.

4. Ensure the weather in you chosen island is suitably wet and cold that you are not tempted to retrieve more when cravings hit in the evening. That’s it.

Back to the diary or the exercise regime for the last week or more. Two bigs jobs to tick off as progress.

Firstly, a big shout out to Paul who courtesy of storm Arwen stayed on island for a couple rather than one planned day this last week. Paul contributed to cutting back outdoors but had a huge input into ripping out the second attic room.

Back when we bought the room looked like this

Like the first of the attic rooms we intended to remove the strapping that was there to hold plasterboard. The remove the plaster from the gable wall to reveal the stonework beneath. As I often do, I’ll let pictures tell the story.

Paul removing the last of the strapping
The exposed boards and skylight facing the hill
The exposed stonework of the gable wall
A view down the island to the south

To have three of us concentrate on this task allowed us to complete the rip out in under 48 hours compared to days spread across 3 weeks for the other room. Karen and I the took a trip to the mainland to dispose of approx 30 sacks of rubble – again great exercise no gym required on the renovation diet.

The second task, I again must give thanks, this time to Donald and his chainsaw. With his help the front garden has been reclaimed. First Karen and I removed the dead buddlea and hydrangea before cutting the boundary trees to a height of 6 foot. The latter where the chainsaw came in handy.

The montage of pictures above shows the front garden when we bought. The reality was that over the summer, when concentrating on other areas, the plant life / weeds / bramble took over much more of the lawn by the time we started this task. There are pictures of interim states on previous posts and on Instagram @oldmansegigha but here is the result of which, we are very proud.

In front of the Old Manse the magnificent bay tree
Panning from left to right
The brown earth in front of the tree line indicates how far the garden encroached over the lawn
Some work to repair, but the drive is no longer impeded by overhanging bushes.

Most recently, to complete the inventory of tasks, we collected roofing sheets for the shepherd’s hut from the mainland. Our thanks to Ros for taking delivery at our old address and Dan for help in offloading in our absence. The sheets travelled safely in the back of the hilux yesterday to Gigha through wind, sleet and rain. All of which making me think I need a new waterproof.

Safely tucked away whilst more Christmas provisions bought at Morrisons Helensburgh.

It wasn’t all work though as I had the opportunity to indulge in no less than three of my favourite passions. In pictures below, first my photographic attempts to match present day Old Manse to photo archives of yesteryear. Second, my attempt at goose stew – those who know me, know how much I love to cook and a gift of goose breast prompted this meal. And third, but by no means least, a photo borrowed from @darkskiesgigha, of the recent planet watching hour. My friend Keith really knows his stuff and provided a fantastic tour through stars and time on the night.

One of the oldest before and after?
Clockwise, the gift of goose, prep, 6 hours of slow cooker, the result
Blessed with clear skies for views of Venus, Saturn and Jupiter.

…. to those who wait.

I began writing this blog on March 26th 2019, it was there to document the family’s decision and journey to move out of the family home in a quest for adventure and something new. A property had been identified in February that took our fancy and was within our budgetary reach, although it needed a less quantifiable sum of renovation. Our ambition was always that a future property and associated land could promote a change in lifestyle and allow us to build a business for ourselves.

The path to buying said property, 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.

This in itself presents a huge challenge. We are two years older than when Karen and I first floated the idea of a renovation project but now the deal is done we find ourselves hungry and excited to begin work and I promise the cadence of the blog will grow more frequent to match the efforts of 2021 and beyond. The real work (at least the real physical work) starts now and the challenge is significant.

Our first priority is to build a home for the future, but the property has so much potential that we need to figure out how to exploit this. The location is ideal for us and the views are everything we wanted, more to come on that in future posts. To that end a teaser of the house in the form of a photo:

The stock photo shows the new home in better condition than we find it today, it is in need of much love to restore it to (and hopefully beyond) its former glory. In truth the beauty of this somewhat austere property lies in the views it affords and the tranquility that surrounds it.

For now, the tranquility will be broken by us ripping out and the second purchase of the weekend (this time a business one) will aid in that goal. Very happy with the deal from Perth Commercial Vehicles and the interest showed by Ramsey in the project.

The hard (physical) work starts now and we truly hope this is a case of good things come to those who wait.