Pay day!

Excuse me while I jump up and down and whoop a bit, because when I checked my business account today I saw that £75 had been deposited yesterday, which is 3 x £25 deposits from our first three bookings 🙂  We get the balance month-end before the stay, so at the end of February I’ll get the balance of the 3-day stay booked for March less the annual property registration fee of £105.  We’ve also had another week booked for September.

I had an answerphone message from BT on Monday telling me that the engineer would be visiting again on Wednesday 31st January and please could I be in from 8am until 1pm?  The line was a bit crackly, so I double-checked with BT’s Live Chat who confirmed the engineer was booked.  I’d picked up some new plaster, so was able to get those last few screw heads and plasterboard joins filled in, but confidently expecting that BT wouldn’t let me down twice in a row, I hadn’t taken down much else to get on with, and I couldn’t carry on painting the hall over wet plaster.  So I made a big snagging list (it runs to three pages):

And I discovered that my phone talks to the TV as they’re both Samsungs.  I can throw my phone screen to the TV or put the TV screen on my phone, and if you put the phone screen on the TV and then switch the camera on, you get this:

(Can you tell I was slightly bored by this stage??)

Anyway, no-one showed up again, so I stomped back down the road, and at 1.12pm an email pinged in saying they were continuing to work on my line installation and would contact me with further information on 5th February – at which point I was so icily polite to Live Chat that they opened a complaint without me asking them to!

Today I’ve been re-doing the screw heads in the plasterboard, because the first lot of plaster shrank a bit, and then decided to have a go at sorting out the hole David had to cut in the plasterboard to put in some stud to attach the extractor hood to.  I mean, plastering a wall around a freshly installed extractor over brand new hob and wood worktop, what could possibly go wrong??  I did the sensible thing and got a sheet and some masking tape.

And amazingly managed not to make too much of a mess!  The nice thing about this paint, annoying as it was to apply, is that all its claims about being washable are true.  Once I’d plastered around the cut-out line and filled in the screw heads, I was able to wipe it over with a J-cloth and take most of the excess plaster off.

(Those three little dots are nail holes, I have no idea how they got there.)  I’m not 100% certain I’m going to be able to cover it up properly, but I’ll sand it tomorrow and then see how well it takes another coat of paint.  I need to get rid of David’s pencil marks as well.  If it doesn’t look good then we’ll go back to the original idea of getting some brushed metal cut to size and attach it to the wall.

Hay stops play!

As people who’ve read this blog from the beginning may remember, I didn’t actually buy a house, I bought two croft tenancies which just happen to have a house on them.  This means that I also have 12 acres of fields to look after and since we hit a rare window of settled good weather, all work on the house ground to a halt and I have literally been making hay while the sun shines 🙂

Pete and his crew came and took the scaffolding away and I wrote them a final cheque.  I have spent a smidge under £19,350 for the new roof, , replacement Velux windows, guttering, work on the chimneys and stonework and tanking inside, but we’ve been getting a lot of compliments on the finished article and I think it’s worth every penny.  Yes, we could have patched up the existing roof and it would probably have been fine for a couple more years, but the idea is that we’re setting up this house to last for decades with minimal expenses required, so getting it wind and watertight and damp-proof is important.

156 armadale - outside - 35 156 armadale - outside - 36 156 armadale - outside - 37 156 armadale - outside - 34

I also took myself off to the local mart for a morning and came home with some new tenants for my fields – 12 of these:

lamb4 lamb5 lamb6

They’ve now been introduced to the three pet ewes I took on last October and flock integration seems to be going well .  Here are all 15 of them:

sheep and lambs

But this last week has been all about the hay.  I’ve helped out neighbours on baling day before, but never gone through the whole process of deciding when to cut, turn, etc., so I was fortunate that Ethel’s former partner, John (they were together for 25 years and were engaged but never married), has taken an interest in what’s going on at the house and has been making hay for the best part of his 72 years.  The two fields round the house lay on the ground for a couple of weeks getting rained on, because I called the cut a bit early, but we left it unturned and it’s made okay hay, if a bit lacking in nutrients.  Here’s John baling up the last strip using my bargain £300 baler (Mick and I have learned more about the mechanics of an International B47 square baler in the last month than you can imagine!):

hay making 1

When I saw last week’s heatwave coming in, I called John again and asked him to cut the field on the point:

haymaking 2

Went down each night to check how it was drying, but got distracted by the sunset:


After a nail-biting day of unexpected fog, which totally soaked it, we got sun and a good drying wind and went for it – we probably lost about 20 bales as it flew off the point and John’s tractor had a small fire, but it was a beautiful day for it and we were still smiling at the end, although when I took the selfie with John I didn’t realise that it would take Mick, me and another neighbour another 6 hours to take all the bales off the field and up to the byres.

armadale bay end of baling

We ended up getting 138 bales off the two fields by the house and a massive 305 bales from the field on the point.  I only need about 100 to get me through winter, so I’ve bartered 80 with the neighbour who helped us bring the hay in for her 4 hours of physical labour plus horse and sheep sitting while we’re on holiday next month and will have some left to sell, which will be my first income from the house!  They’re all stacked in the biggest byre (the barn) and I now need to get the back window boarded up before it rains too hard!

Next week things should get moving again.  ERG are coming on Thursday and Friday to put the new windows and front door in, which means we have to take the plasterboard off around the front door that we’d left because the electricity meter used to be on it, and also put some chipboard down over the loose floorboards upstairs, as I don’t want a window installer going through the living room or kitchen ceiling.  Hopefully Mick and I should make a start on getting the insulation fitted as well, and things will start moving forwards again.


Diary of a wannabe house hoarder

My name’s Caroline and I’m a house hoarder.

Well, not yet I’m not, as at the moment I only own the one house, but I’ve had an offer verbally accepted on another which means I’m hopefully at the start of a long-held ambition to make a living out of buying, renovating and renting houses.

Of course, this would be significantly more straightforward if I still lived in Bristol (or Reading or Cambridge or Croydon, where I’ve also lived), but no, I had to wait to get cracking with this until I’d moved to one of the more remote places on the UK mainland – I live on the north coast of Scotland, 26 miles from the nearest town, nearly 100 miles from the nearest town with what you might call a normal high street.  Slap bang on the edge of nowhere.

It’s undeniably a wonderful, beautiful, peaceful place to live, but the housing market is slow-moving and flat, the rental market is virtually non-existent and it’s quite common for a house to take one or two years (or even longer) to sell.

So this experiment of mine could quite possibly go horribly, hideously wrong.  Grab some popcorn, get comfy on the sofa and come and join me as I find out whether my long-held dream is going to turn into a nightmare!