Caroline causes chaos

Well, that didn’t quite go as planned.  Storm Caroline arrived earlier than expected, and after I got pinned against the field gate with two buckets of horse feed until the gusts dropped sufficiently for me to open it, we decided to abandon the idea of trying to get the coffee table into the car on health and safety grounds.  The electricals were loaded up and we went down the road, only to find that the power was off at that end of the village.

This was a problem, because (a) I still needed to hoover and (b) the sky was so grey that there wasn’t enough natural light to take interiors.  So we zoomed back home, rang SSE to report the fault (who, I have to say, have been absolutely excellent at getting it sorted and keeping me informed of progress) and then rang Annie, the Scottish Cottages area representative, to see if she still wanted to come up or whether it would be better for her to turn back.  She said since she was only 20 minutes away she might as well come on up and we could at least get all the paperwork done and do the grading.

So the upshot is that we’re all signed up, Ethel’s House will be going live on their website in about a fortnight (if I can take good enough pictures myself) and will be available for guests from 1st March next year (which gives me a chance to get a few friends to stay in it and tell me what I’ve missed), and I am the proud owner of a 4* (and apparently a high 4*) holiday cottage 🙂

Time to shop

I’m NEARLY there with the landing!  Just one top coat of Milk White to go on the bannisters and I’m declaring it done, although in truth I’ll probably paint that loft hatch white as well over the next few weeks.

Dougie has been back.  Remember we had a problem with the hot water not working and Jeff the heating engineer told me the switch had been unwired in the boiler?  Dougie gently reminded me that he’d fitted a master control switch for the boiler next to the manifold and had we checked that the hot water was on…?  Sure enough, one quick button press from OFF to CONTINUOUS and we were in business, so I shall be ringing Jeff tomorrow to tell him I’m an idiot and asking him to come back on a dry day and service the boiler!  I also need to order some oil, but the padlock on the tank has rusted shut again and Mick is in London until tomorrow evening.  It’s not super-low, so it can wait for a couple of weeks, as they won’t be able to deliver with (a) carpet fitters and furniture vans parked outside next week or (b) the landscaper digging up the parking area to gravel it.

Anyway, Dougie has nearly finished the kitchen lights, which look great, and will be popping back and forth over the next fortnight to finish everything else off.  (They’re all silver, but they reflect the wall colour, so look turquoise in this picture!)

We emptied out my office a bit further at the weekend – I’m thinking I should have maybe gone for silver appliances 🙁  Oh well, when these need replacing I can change.  I absolutely refuse to have integrated ones, I hear nothing but grumbles from people who have them!

Parcels are starting to arrive now – the three Velux blinds are here, the two Roman blinds are in transit, the curtain poles and curtains have all arrived too, but it’s all sitting in the office for the moment.  I took advantage of a Debenhams one-day 50% off on bedding and bought 5 duvets, 10 pillows and a king-size mattress protector (all the singles were gone) for £100, but at checkout they advised delivery for the Highlands was up to 2 weeks, so I hope they get here in time for the photographs, otherwise it’s going to be a sprint over to Tesco.  I’ve also ordered all the lampshades and cushions from a fantastic local business, Just Wright Crafts, I’m particularly fond of this Highland Cow lampshade which will be going in the hall and will hopefully put a smile on people’s faces when they walk in!  I’ve found some plain white wooden candlestick-style lamp bases on eBay, so have ordered one to see what they’re like – hopefully they’ll be fine for the bedside tables and the living room.

Tomorrow is Black Friday and I’ll be shopping primarily for the following:

  • Television
  • Blu-ray player
  • Freesat box
  • Bluetooth speaker for kitchen
  • Microwave
  • Bedspreads
  • Bedding
  • Towels

However, Schofields Insurance has put together this incredibly handy list of 200+ items you need in your self-catering cottage, so I think I need to print it out and start ticking it off.  For things that are easily breakable or stainable, I either need to shop within an hour’s drive (e.g. crockery from Tesco – their new Fox and Ivy premium homeware range actually looks very good) or buy generic (Out of Eden’s plain white Egyptian cotton bed linen) so it can be replaced by another brand if necessary without looking mismatched.

That’s the way to do it

Every year my mother, my cousin and I go away for a week together somewhere in the UK and stay in a holiday let cottage.  This year it’s been a particularly interesting experience for me, because Mum booked a 4* cottage through the agency I’m going to be using – Dove Cottage in Nairn.

I have to say, it’s gorgeous.  A period cottage in Nairn’s Fishertown, a short walk from the beach, and not expensive.  The living room has given me serious fireplace envy:

And the kitchen looks very familiar – I spy another Howdens afficionado!

The bedrooms are set up as two doubles and a twin, with one of the doubles being downstairs off the living room.

The bathrooms are neutral with a big walk-in shower upstairs and a bath downstairs.  (I need to try and track down those loo roll holders!)

And outside there’s a small courtyard space.

A few points that I need to learn from:

  1. Although the cottage takes dogs, and judging by the visitors’ book many guests do bring them, you wouldn’t have known.  It was spotlessly clean.
  2. One small grumble in the visitors’ book about the beds being too soft.  We’ve found them softer than we’re all used to, but absolutely fine.  However, I think I’ll go for mattresses in the medium-firm range.
  3. The Belfast sink in the kitchen is beautiful, but there’s no draining board for things we’re washing up by hand and as that’s a real wood worktop, we don’t want to put wet stuff on it and leave rings.
  4. I need to think about mirror placement in relation to power sockets – I don’t ever use a hairdryer, but Mum does and though she chose the twin room as it’s nearest the bathroom, she’s been using mine to dry her hair in as it’s got a big mirror near a plug.

One bonus of being a tourist so close to my home patch is that we went to the big sheep sale at Lairg on Tuesday and I bumped into David, who was selling there.  I got a little confused, but I think he’ll be back either next week or the week after to get the jobs list finished.  Can’t wait to get back to work down the road and get it finished now!