gallery, cafe & apartment

Archive for the tag “Old Byre”

Hello summer, goodbye…

Well, summer has been and gone since the last blog – although I never intended there to be such an interval, but so it goes.  So what’s been going on?

The last rose[hips] of summer...

The last rose[hips] of summer – from a Scottish rose…

The ‘main event’ was obviously the independence referendum and as an on the record ‘no’ I’m obviously pleased that you won’t be needing a passport if you come up from south of the border.  It was an interesting campaign that got quite heated at certain times and certain places.  It reminded us why Gordon Brown was once a power in the land [and is still widely respected this side of the border].  And it gave the Prime Minister the opportunity to display true statesmanship in the wake of the result by fostering reconciliation.  And he totally blew it with a petty partisan speech aimed at his own right wing which alienated the ‘no’s’ as well as the ‘yes’es’, reneged on recently made promises, blabbed about ‘the Queen and I’ and ably demonstrated why if it had all been about ‘the effing Tories’ we’d be running the saltire up our flagpole as I write.

And it goes on.  We’re all in this together, but we’ll reduce spending on the poorest in society so that we can give tax cuts to the well off.  Benefits must be frozen as it’s unfair if they rise more than the wages of hard working families.  Given that benefits have been frozen at 1% for two years and ONS figures show average wages only increased by less than 1% once in the past 15 years I’m having trouble with the maths on that, unless we’re talking about the public sector, which the Tories have been vilifying ever since Cameron was elected leader, who have had pay frozen .  So there you are, a hard working tax payer in the public sector with no wage increase for the past few years, David and Gideon’s diktats make you redundant and now you’re a benefits scrounger who isn’t deserving of an increase in income either.  This way to the low wage economy…

And just to add insult to injury we have human rights: well, at least for the moment we have them…  Apparently as we are British we don’t need the European Convention on Human Rights, we can have our own British version.  They just don’t get it – or if they do, they don’t care.  You either believe in universal human rights or you don’t.  And if you don’t then have the guts to say so.  And if you do, then how about principles rather than expediency.  Oh, sorry, this is politics…  Human rights are not a menu where you can choose what you want, when you want it, and who you want it for.  They are all for everyone all the time.  And the whole point of an international convention is that individual signatories cannot change it as and when it suits them.  A “British Bill of Rights” sounds grand [how about a written constitution then …] but any future government with a working majority can rewrite it as they want, and without any forewarning such as inclusion in an election manifesto [much as the recent changes to the NHS.  Now THAT’S mission creep…].

I’m reminded of the words of a Bruce Cockburn song written over 30 years ago* – when I saw him perform it about ten years back he said it was still as relevant as when he wrote it.  Still is…  “It’ll all go back to normal if we put our nation first, But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse”.

And remember.  If, on 7 May next year, you go to bed with David Cameron, you wake up with the Tories – Gove, Gideon, Shapps, IDS, Grayling, every last one of them.  And they’ll probably charge you for it…

*The Trouble with Normal.  I’ve added a link.  If you look at the lyrics it really could have been written yesterday.

Currently listening to: Blues Run the Game – Jackson C Frank.  [Thanks to the wonders of Spotify.  Other music streaming services are available]. A song I first heard as performed by the late great Jackie Leven at The Troubadour in Earl’s Court

All change please…

[belated] Happy New Year, and welcome to the new look blog/website.

We really needed to a proper website up for the first full year of business for the gallery/cafe.  Unfortunately the old WordPress ‘theme’ [PianoBlack] although very nice for the blog didn’t work for a website, as when you added extra pages the navigation was hidden away up the top right, almost invisible.  So we’re trying a completely different theme – Bold Life – as none of the other [free] black themes worked either.

As you can see, we now have a static home page, and specific pages for the blog, as well as linking to the online gallery and accommodation, and a proper contact form.  There is still quite a lot of tweaking to do, and it’s not entirely impossible that the whole theme may change again before the end of the month as we either get used to it, or not…

Currently listening to: The Time Has Come – Christy Moore [who I saw live in Baltimore, Co Cork, in 1986, as you do…]

Season’s Greetings

Season’s greetings to all the followers of the OldByreSkye blog, and anyone who just stumbles across it.

Season's greetings

Season’s greetings.  Bring back the snow and take away the gales!

It’s been a stormy week.  If you follow us on FaceBook you will know that we’ve been off-line since Monday.  There was a brief power-cut in the gales on Saturday night, and then on Sunday night we lost power again, for eight hours when the local sub-station was hit by lightening, and the resultant power-surge fried our [and a lot of other people’s] router. On Wednesday night/Thursday morning we had ferocious gales again and we got up at three in the morning and went downstairs as it was too noisy to sleep.  Although last night was quiet it’s blowing again tonight and the forecast shows no respite.  No snow but lots of brief hailstorms among the rain, which is when we get the lightening.  The image was taken earlier in the month when we did have some snow!

Currently listening to: Winter Songs – The Albion Christmas Band

Now we’re flying…

Our flyers arrived at the end of last week, all 5000 of them and, uniquely for something coming from off the island, actually arrived earlier than estimated.  They’re A5 and, as you can see, double-sided although as the back has the logo on as well [bottom left, hidden on the photograph] they still make sense if you stack them the wrong way round as one of the first outlets we gave to them demonstrated by doing exactly that!  It would have been nice to have had some promotional material when we opened, but was always going to be a bit difficult to include photographs of the actual gallery if it isn’t finished…


Both sides now – who we are, what we are, where we are and when we are [open]. How we are will vary from day to day…

So they are now on display in the Portree tourist office, which costs but is free for the rest of the financial year, probably because we are already signed up with Visit Scotland through the holiday let.  We will now be touring everyone we know who can display leaflets, and doubtless some we don’t know, to be ready for the season.

2014 promises to be a busy year up here.  It’s ‘The year of Homecoming’,  the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup, and of course, the independence referendum.  The Year of Homecoming is a wheeze originally devised in 2009, the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, to boost tourism by encouraging people of Scottish ancestry to visit the old country.  And why not if boosts the economy, but please spare us coach parties of be-kilted tourists! [Although we’ll still take your money!]

Currently listening to: Flow and Change – Judy Dyble.

Let them eat cake[s]

So, a wee while back I promised a few foodie photos of things from the OldByreSkye gallery cafe, and here they are.  All sweet things at the moment – I’m working on how to make a bowl of soup look special in a photograph…


Bakewell tart and price tag in the refrigerated cabinet. Cheap at the price…


Cranachan cheesecake, the house speciality. Looking very yellow from the very free-range eggs, and very pink from the luscious raspberries!

chocolate fudgesml

Bitter chocolate fudge cake, with flake on top as a little light relief. [And no, the cake isn’t available with WiFi…]

coffee cakesml

Finally, a rather glossy looking coffee and walnut cake just oozing with coffee glace icing. And lots of walnuts.

If it’s making you feel hungry, you know where we are, so come on down.  But wait until 14:00 tomorrow, as we only do half day on Saturday.  Turn-over day and all that.  Now, an apple turn-over – there’s an idea…

Currently listening to: When the Circus comes to Town – Bert Jansch.

Went the day well?

So it happened.  After all the waiting we are open.  We went with a quiet opening – we are new to the cafe business, so are feeling our way into it but it was good to see friends and neighbours dropping in not least because we want to be there for the community as well as tourists, and we did get drive-by custom as well.

Here’s how we looked before opening – still room for a few more pictures maybe, but not too cluttered for the cafe atmosphere.


The OldByreSkye on the wall was a freebie from the VitalSigns who made the roadside signs.  Apparently they printed out the wording the wrong size (too large), so when we collected the signs they owned up and gave us the extra lettering for free. They were able to reuse the blue and green underscores, but even so it looks rather smart.  Nice one guys!  [It basically works like giant Letraset: and I’m old enough to have used plenty of that…]


Tomorrow I’ll try to get some foodie shots: but if you’re in the area why not drop in and see for yourself?  Same menu as today.  Wednesday is our day off and then a new menu for Thursday and Friday.

Currently listening to: Pour Down Like Silver – Richard and Linda Thompson.  And yes, we do have PRS and PPL licences for the gallery/cafe [and the hole in our bank balance to prove it…], so you can legitimately listen to anything we play.  Or say “What’s that racket” and put your fingers in your ears…

T minus 12 hours and counting. Do you copy Houston?

A very quick post to confirm that we open the OldByreSkye gallery and cafe tomorrow, 23 September at 11:00.

Here’s what will be available.  There’s slow-cooked pork belly in BBQ sauce in a honey and mustard roll; smoked salmon with dill mayo and home-baked bread; a Scottish cheese board and white bean and sweet potato soup. Plus a selection of sweet things, including our cranachan cheesecake, and a range of coffees and teas. And, of course, lots of photographs to look at [and buy!].

There will be photos of it all tomorrow!

Currently listening to: my brain in overdrive…

Opening soon – honest!

This time it’s for real.  We’re opening on 23 September.  Yes, I know the season will have more-or-less finished, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles [and our cookies are nice and crumbly – very good with a mug of coffee!].

As those of you who follow us on Facebook will know, the Building Inspector visited on Tuesday and signed off the gallery/cafe as meeting requirements and in accordance with the plans.  Subsequently, the issues we had with non-functional water heaters have been resolved – a blown thermal protection fuse in one [apparently common in new units for some reason] and a replacement heater in the other].  So the way ahead is clear, at last!


Round the clock with the gallery…

The composite image above gives a brief summary of the journey from from garage to gallery.  We start, clockwise [10 o’clock – which is also about the time it was taken…], with a typical Skye single-skin block built garage with a corrugated asbestos roof [these don’t have loose fibres and are safe if you don’t cut them, but not desirable, and you couldn’t build them now], in the final stages of being cleared.  Already gone is the lightweight storage over the [non-structural] beams, that have also We move onto the hollowed out structure just after the roof was fitted (but just the sarking and waterproof membrane), and with the doors for the toilet and store cut out of the back wall, and the side window cut away to give the kitchen doorway.  The kitchen extension has been built and the rear is being formed. In the third image the plasterboard has just been put up, so the building work is not far off finished, with the insulation in the floor and walls, the metal roofing on, the doors and velux windows fitted, and electrical cables sticking out of holes in the walls.  Finally, a picture taken this afternoon.You can see the floor covering is down, the lights hanging from the beams, doors in place, walls painted, tables and chairs and the first pictures on the walls.


Oh, look – it’s a gallery, with pictures and everything!

Looking the other way you can see that pictures are starting to appear on the walls [lots more to come!] even though there is still some rubbish to be cleared – and no , not the pictures!

So the 23rd it is then – be there, or be a rhombic dodecahedron, as I always say…  [And lets see the WordPress spellchecker get it’s decidedly limited dictionary around that one!]

Currently listening to: Ommadawn – Mike Oldfield.  Re-living my teens with a job-lot of Mr O’s earlier works.  Not entirely sure about the re-mastering though.  He’s done something very odd to the brass band on part one…

A different date…

OK, so we’re not opening on 1 August, but it ‘s always worth having an aim.

The building is, however, now only awaiting the water heaters.  The electrician came on Monday, so we have heat and light, and hopefully the plumber is coming tomorrow so we will have water as well.  After that we can submit the necessary paperwork to Building Control who are supposed to inspect within 14 days. Then we can open, as long as the plates arrive…

Wheel cover adverrtising

Advertising – the Wheel Deal…

Meanwhile, here’s our latest spot of advertising on the spare wheel of the Jimny.  My next task is to tour the local galleries and cafes and park outside for an hour or two!

Currently listening to: The Trouble with Normal – Bruce Cockburn.  Released 30 years ago (which makes me feel very old!)  The lyrics to the title track are still as relevant as they were back then…

All Quiet on the Western Front

It was quiet on Friday morning.   Very quiet.   Usually there is the crunch of tyres on gravel, or the early morning buzz of power tools; the singing of saws .   But it was quiet….

There was, however, a reason.  The builders have finished, packed up, and gone.  In other words, the gallery/cafe is built.  There’s a day’s work left for the plumber to fit the hot water heaters, and a day for the electrician (when he finally arrives) to fit the lights and panel heaters, but apart from that, it’s more or less down to us to finish the decorating and fitting out.  It’s very odd without the builders around as they’ve been here since March when they built the new bridge, with a few weeks out here and there when the other trades were in.  What with them having done the apartment last year they had almost become part of the family.

the OldByreSkye gallery/cafe.

Beneath a towering sky, gleaming in the sunlight, sits the OldByreSkye gallery/cafe, with a wire sticking out by the front door…

So what’s to paint?  Well, the ceiling needs touching up, the ‘hanging’ walls need a coat of light grey.  The kitchen and toilet need a coat of washable paint. and there are still some doors and door frames and the skirting board.  And the slat panels.  And the gallery rail to put up.


The gallery from the north-west end. Compare and contrast with the image in the previous post. Oh, and the green thing isn’t an art installation either…

I’ve also managed to install wi-fi in the gallery using a pair of powerline adapters.  [These use a building’s electrical wiring as ethernet cables – plug one adapter into the mains and connect it to your router by cable, and another into another electrical socket in the building and, with any luck, you are away].  I wasn’t sure if it would work out to the gallery, but the electrics run as a spur out of the main distribution board in the house, so there don’t seem to be any problems – it was just ‘plug and play’.  Now to configure the wi-fi adapter in the gallery as a ‘guest’ that can’t see the rest of the network, with its own security.

But it’s nearly there.  Just the trades to finish and Building Control to sign off.  Just the final push.  Just like they said on the Western Front…

Currently listening to: Quercus – June Tabor/Iain Ballamy/Huw Warren

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