In the past few days it has become apparent that Carrick may well continue as a self-catering holiday business, albeit operated by new owners. Quite possibly it will continue under the same name and with the same website. If so, then the booking calendar may be re-opened for bookings beyond the first week in October 2021, and indeed into 2022. Might you be interested in booking Carrick beyond the current cut-off date (3rd October)? If so, then drop us a line to let us know. We can then keep you updated – without any obligation for you to book.
After the slowest and coldest Spring we can recall in nearly twenty years here, birds are at last nesting and raising young. The trees and bushes around Carrick are alive with the chirping and cheeping of many species. Blackbird, Songthrush, Redstart, Wren, Goldfinch, Reed (or possibly Willow) Warblers, Snipe : there’s even a Corncrake noisily craking, somewhere amongst the irises and rushes close by on the adjacent croft.
This is the view from an abandoned Blackbird’s a nest, disturbed by a cat that lives a few hundred metres further along the shore. The nest was incomplete : presumably the bird realised that it was too near the ground!
At long last, the drooping main gate to Carrick Eriskay has been fixed!
The gate – together with all the fences around Carrick’s garden were installed by … well, I’ll just say “not by me”, in early 2009, as construction of the house was nearing completion. Back then, my previous experience of fencing works – as part of civil engineering projects on the mainland – was manifestly of little use to me, faced as I was with the peculiarities of fencing a rocky-boggy Hebridean croft! The guys who did the work for us came recommended by others, and I had no reason – and no other option – than to trust them to get on with the job, not least because I was completely tied up with the main building work AND income-earning work on the mainland.
Not a single one of the gates they installed actually fitted. Two had posts that were too far apart. One had a bent hinge pin and a leaning hinge post. And the main gate to Carrick itself sagged so badly that even with the hinge bolts adjusted as far as they would go, the sliding bolt fell short of the catch that was waiting to receive it ; and the posts were too far apart, anyway. The one rectification they attempted was a hopeless as before. For the gate to the house, a temporary rope, tied to the gate with a loop to throw over the nearby (but not nearby enough!) post, soon became a fixture ; and after years of guests leaning on the (unsupported) gate end whilst in conversation with someone outside – resulted in the gate scraping on the tarmac of the drive. Putting things right would be complicated and difficult, I knew, because if there was one thing the fencers didn’t take short-cuts with, it was concreting in posts : it woud be impossible to remove the offending posts without extensive damage to our very nicely tarmacced drive ; and there were water supply pipes, buried electric cables and drainage very close by to both posts.
In our garden, there’s bushes and plants and trees a-plenty – all planted by us, but nurutured by Mother Nature alone – which provide guests with shelter from the wind, and some degree of privacy. The deep, densely planted borders also provide a habitat for blackbirds, wrens, goldfinches and many other birds, and small mammals ; and of course they simply look nice. The thing is, though, that they are, also, apparently, quite tasty. At least that’s what the stravaging cows and ponies – and even a few sheep rediscovering their genetic origins as goats – must think, because they keep coming back for more. They lean over the fence and browse on the nearest leaves and twigs, stripping the bushes bare and stunting growth. As the easy-to-reach leaves are depleted, they press down with their tough necks – the barbed wire doesn’t seem to trouble them – and thus reach lower and further. I’ve even seen horses put their hooves into the mesh and press down firmly, leaving the wire mesh permanently distorted, the top wire of the fence lower than ever, and posts leaning like they’re drunk. It serves little purpose to shoo them away – they’ll be back as soon as the proverbial back is turned.
So, for one thing, this would be a job for winter time, with no guests a-coming and a-going. Unfortunately, for a second, that’s when the island cows ponies and sheep are permitted to roam freely around the island. Thus, I needed to ensure that there was a closure across the gate at all times that I wouldn’t actually be working on the job. In the end, though, it was those free-ranging animals themselves that led me to the most practical (though not the cheapest!) solution.
So, nothing for it, but to replace the fence as well. Last year, I replaced the fence on the other (east) side of the house – damaged by similar means, topping it with a line of 8000V electric fence wire (well out of the reach from anyone staying at the house!) This year – this Winter and early Spring, I’ve replaced the whole line of fence – including two gates – on the west side of the house.
The problem of keeping the animals out whilst the work is in progress has been solved by replacing fence and gates on a new line – slightly ‘out’ from the original (and, as it happens, closer to the ‘correct’ position – not that it matters much, as we own the land on both sides off the fence), and only demolishing the old fence once the new is fully complete. And though having no guests for the last six months is not something I’d ever claim to be a desirable state of affairs, it has at least allowed me to get on with the job in my own time, without feeling rushed into short-cuts, especially when having to navigate a way amongst all those pipes and cables (annoyingly, the water pipe heading for the Byre in Field 1 keeps appearing in post holes – I have to dig very carefully!
Unlike the work in the roof void, the satisfaction of completing this difficult jobis something that I can readily share with others. Our long-standing guests, especially. I rather hope that they will agree, that a gate that opens and closes in a conventional manner, without the need for ropes, is better done late than never at all.
Three nights Wednesday 5th May to Saturday 8th May are available at a special price. See our Special Offers page.
Thanks to Cxxxxx-##, we have, over the past few months, had unfettered access to Carrick Eriskay, allowing us to not only complete all our usual off-season redecorating, repairs, maintenance and so on, but to also tackle some jobs that have been on the to-do list since the to-do list was first started – which was 12 years ago almost to the day.
Amongst such to-dos there’s always been ‘finishing off … in the roof void’ (loft space, if you prefer). Now the … is a variable with quite a number of instances, or values : ‘insulating pipework’, for example, or ‘labelling cable runs’ is another. But with the Home Report surveyor due to visit soon (as I type this, he’s been and gone), there was one job that had to be prioritized above all others : ‘Complete making good access boarding throughout the roof area – but not obstructing access to cables, pipes, ducting’.
If the time taken to carry out a task is proportionate to the number of words required to describe it, then there’s no doubt that this was indeed the most time-consuming task of all. That is the rule of thumb preferred by Denise, viz : ‘Build House’ – quick and easy, a month or two perhaps. By contrast : ‘Engage screwdriver bit in head of screw, align with axis of screw, simultaneously rotating and consistently applying pressure always in alignment with aforesaid axis, whilst avoiding variation in the angle of the bit relative to the screw, until the head of the screw is flush with the surface off the wood’ – now that’s a job that is likely to take years! QED
To be fair, it’s true that it did take – oh, I don’t know how many mornings, and one very last-minute afternoon, to get the job done – though there were an awful lot of screws, a lot of cursing aforsaid screws, though I did resort to an electric screw-driver. Ultimately, I managed to complete all those tasks that have sat on the to-do list for the past twelve years – though as Denise declines the offer of inspecting and approving the work, and the surveyor did no more than pop his head up through the hatch, the sole beneficiaries of my hidden talent for organising roof voids will be Carrick Eriskay’s new owners.
Jonathan & Denise > Carrick – The Blue House is soon to be offered For Sale. We’re working the preliminaries. The house and garden are part of our croft – officially 11 Bun-a-Mhuillin, Eriskay, but for us it’s been The … Continue reading →
Winter Sunrise, Carrick Eriskay and Beinn SgiathanContinue reading →
We previously promised that, as soon as the coronavirus epidemic had peaked, and restrictions on movement began to be relaxed, we’d post here a variety of very special special offers.
Well, we hope we’re as good as our word ; but we’ll let you be the judge of that.
Here’s our current offers for Carrick for Autumn 2020. It’s a start …Continue reading →