I really thought I was going to be a better blogger in 2021, but here we are at the end of September and this is the first post I’ve made all year. So what have I been up to?

Well, 2020 ended with us all going back into lockdown, Christmas and New Year bookings cancelled and, initially, no word from the Scottish government that self-catering would be supported, even though we were required by law to close, so I panicked a bit and took out a bounceback loan that would cover the mortgages and bills for a few months. As it was, government support did come through for us, and we were able to have a quiet few months getting the houses in order and wondering when we would be able to open.

It turned out to be the last week of April, at which point things went utterly crackers. This is the 2021 booking calendar for Ethel’s – green is a booked night, dark green is an arrival day, orange is departure and arrival on the same day, blue/grey is where I’ve blocked a day off.

As you can see, barely time to breathe in all that lot and the one for Tor Aluinn looks exactly the same – I have been more grateful than I can possibly express in words to have Emily looking after that house for me, because she does such an incredible job that I don’t have to worry about it.

We’ve also been very lucky in that not too much has gone wrong. A few wifi issues at Tor Aluinn, but I’ve now written a simple troubleshooting guide to the network and put it in the information pack and Emily hasn’t had a call about it since. The only major issues have all been boiler-related – one leaking heating manifold which turned out to be because the expansion vessel in the boiler had filled with water, one cracked oil tank that had to be replaced (did you know you can temporarily plug a small crack in an oil tank by rubbing a bar of soap over it? Neither did I!) and one broken circulation pump.

So what’s coming up next? Ethel’s needs her bathroom replacing and I think I have finally got a plumber lined up to do it in that blocked-off period in November (we would normally be on holiday ourselves then, but we’re not risking it this year). Project 3, which I wrote about here, is now a go – I’ve got the money, we’ve formed a limited company, engaged an architect and we’re just waiting for the bank account to be opened so everything can be transferred into it. I’m really looking forward to getting going on this one, it’s such a beautiful little house, and Pete and I are very much on the same page when it comes to what we want to do with it. I’ve also got the drawings back for our own extension at home and they’re currently with my builder to get an estimate of costs – fingers crossed we can afford to get it done!

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