OldByreSkye

gallery, cafe & apartment

Archive for the tag “Ose”

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!

composite2

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.

finalfit

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…

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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…

Time o’ the signs…

Things have been quite busy here although we’re a bit behind on the online stuff as we both succumbed to the bug that is doing the rounds on Skye at the moment.  [No, not the dread highland midge – that comes later!]  So what signs of progress are there to report?

OldByreSkye sign

A sign of things to come…

Sign the first: a smart new brushed aluminium sign at the end of the drive with the logo which, for the moment, serves to help our guests in the holiday let find the property.  It will probably end up on the gallery itself as the roadside sign needs to announce the cafe and gallery much more prominently to catch drive-bys, but it makes a statement for the moment.  I’m now in the process of painting a stenciled sign to go beneath it saying ‘Opening Summer 2013’ before we get people driving down looking far a cafe!

4star

4 star for you…

Sign the second:  the Scottish Tourist Board 4-star logo in the front window of the let.  We  have been sitting on is news for a little while – we had the final inspection and grading a few weeks ago, but have been waiting for the official letter before ‘going public’.  We’re obviously very pleased with the grading – it took a little extra push following the initial advisory visit but the results have been well worth it.  You learn about all sorts of things, like the merits of Egyptian cotton linen [and its demerits, such as cost!], the perceived [rather than actual] benefits of different makes of crockery and saucepans, what makes a carpet ‘excellent’ rather than ‘very good’, and how close to an upstairs window an inspector should stand when suggesting re-skimming a ceiling. [We didn’t – re-skim or defenestrate…]

Currently listening toElectric – Richard Thompson [If you buy this, be sure to get the deluxe version with the added bonus disc – three of the four tracks that are off the same sessions as the main album could easily replace some of the songs chosen for the final album.   And it includes the wondrous Auldie Riggs from Cabaret of Souls  – a classic piece of  dark, broad Thompson music-hall sung by an unrepentant, mass-murdering sailor…

Happy anniversary

Today is the first anniversary of our taking possession of The Old Byre – the official start of our time on Skye.  It was a day not unlike today; cool, dry (thank goodness!), mainly cloudy.

A time for reflections...

A time for reflections… [The Storr, from Loch Fada, shortly after sunrise on Monday]

So how to summarise the first year?  Well, read the rest of the blog – I wasn’t just talking to myself you know! But here’s how things stand now.

We had hoped to have the apartment ready for the back-end of the 2012 summer season, but that didn’t happen until October.  But we’re pleased with the results, and bookings are coming on – May is completely booked-out already.  We had hoped to have the cafe/gallery open just after Easter so we could start at a quiet time and grow into it.  Now we’re probably looking at around June.  If we can achieve that we would not only hit the high season, but also hit the ground running (running (running all over the place).

There are still things in boxes, mainly the nine boxes of books under the stairs – at some point we’ll get around to putting up shelves or units there.  As it’s clear that I won’t have working space (only storage) in the gallery I need to do a proper conversion of the spare bedroom into a working studio, which means the bed will have to go and I’ll build a larger workbench (I’ll have plenty of spare wood out of the garage!)  As the garage has had to be emptied, chiefly into a shipping container in Portree and the recycling centre, I’ll be putting up a new shed in the back garden.  It’s just arrived so I’m sure it will get its own blog post sometime!  There’s new vegetable beds to be dug this spring, and hopefully the polytunnel will go up this summer.  I haven’t yet got out as much as I had hoped, but that’s all part of getting used to living somewhere new, with a complete change of lifestyle, and all the practical setting up to do.  There’s always something to be done somewhere inside or out, so I’m not sure how we will fit in work!

Most importantly, do we regret moving here?  Not for a moment.  People have been very welcoming and we have made good friends.  We know our neighbors better than we did in 17 years together in London (and even longer in Claire’s case).  It is a joy to watch the cats chasing each other across the croft land, hunting, and just enjoying life.  I will never tire of the changing light on the loch or looking across to the Cuillins (when the cloud allows).  Heather beats concrete; rock pools trump puddles on the pavement; and the daily commute is the walk across to the garage.  Think of that next time you descend to your tube train or sit in a traffic jam…

Currently listening to: Affric – Duncan Chisholm.  Divine Scottish fiddle playing – traditional with a contemporary twist.

Can I Face it…

or, Brought to Book

So, we’re now on Facebook.  Yes, I know we’re both on Facebook individually, but OldByreSkye now has its own page.  Or rather, Oldbyreskye has its own page, as the grammar fascists at Facebook won’t allow unusual capitalisation, as if it’s any of their business how anyone chooses to capitalise a name.  Yes, I know it’s their site, but after all, iPod seems to be allowed (perhaps because Zuckerberg is in thrall to Apple) – so maybe we should have called ourselves iByre and painted the house silver with a large kumquat on the side, or some such nonsense [although I should warn you that ‘iByre’ is now my intellectual property!].

OldByreSkye Facebook cover

OldByreSkye Facebook cover [it’s actually a masthead, but that would be too ‘oldtech’ for mister Zuckerberg and the children…]

There’s not much on the Facebook page at the moment – the blog is still where it’s at, and the photographic collection isn’t leaving Zenfolio any time soon – but it will build with time, and you can always ‘like’ us.  As we’re a business, I’m afraid we can’t be your ‘Friends’, but you could always come and see us when we’re open so we can be real friends!

Re-engaging with Facebook has reminded me just how clunky and controlling it is [see above rant about capitalisation]. For instance, as a ‘local business’ it will display our telephone number in a preset field on the main page, but not something more useful like our website address.  This is the world-wide web , but Facebook doesn’t want you to go out into the wide world, away from its own walled garden – hey, you can do everything here [badly].  More to the point, if you go to another site Facebook can’t make money out of you – remember, if something on the web is free, you, the user, are the product, and Facebook urgently needs to work out how to make money out of you to justify its over-inflated, but sinking, market value…

And, of course, Facebook pages remain an informational and aesthetic disaster area with long scrolling pages, icons all over the page, different types of information scattered hither thither, and largely full of inane drivel.  I should feel right at home…

Currently listening toShoot Out the Lights – Richard and Linda Thompson [and waiting for the forthcoming release of  Electric].

Bijou for two – for you*

So, without any further ado, the OldByreSkye apartment is now open and available for booking through Islands and Highlands Cottages.  Short lets available for the autumn and winter.

OldByreSkye annex

Shining in the autumn sun.  All this could be yours (for a week or two, anyway…)

I put some pictures of the kitchen/diner/lounge in the previous post, so here’s one of the bedroom.  That’s a Memoryfoam king-sized bed, plenty of storage, en-suite shower room, clock/radio with iPod dock, hair dryer… oh, and a view of the Cuillins (weather permitting).  I’m feeling tired already!

OldByreSkye apartment bedroom

Tasteful, soft, cosy, comfortable: the only hard thing about this bedroom is the sell!

*It’s not that bijou, as in small, but it is perfectly formed for two!

Currently listening to: Way To Blue– Nick Drake

More ramblings, naturally…

So summer treads wearily towards autumnal slumber as the nights slowly lengthen again.  There’s heather down the moor (I know her well!) – according to the locals it’s flowering better than they can remember.  It is as if nature has taken a dry brush loaded with purple and dragged it over the rough-toothed landscape, leaving a trail of gloriously subtle colour.

The swallows in the woodshed fledged successfully and have been wheeling around the house since.  I had a pleasant surprise the other evening on my nocturnal rambling around the property looking for an absent cat.  I shone the torch in the woodshed and a couple of bleary-eyed swallows stared back at me, so it seems some of them are still coming back in the evening to roost.  As did Piano, the absent cat (eventually).

The list of Byre Birds has been added to.  The summer additions are Blue tit, Bullfinch, Cuckoo, Dunnock, Grey Wagtail, Redpoll, Reed bunting, Sedge warbler, Song Thrush, Whinchat.  The Dunnock was obviously an oversight on the last list, and I did actually see a cuckoo before they went south again – there was one calling from the telegraph pole outside.  There has been a definite change in birds visiting the feeder and generally around the garden with this year’s fledglings.  We finally had some blue tits show up (there are loads around our neighbours up the township road, but they have their own woodland), and you can’t move for robins at the moment, although that will change when their red plumage starts to show.

Yesterday we had a special visitor.  Just after lunch I looked out the window. and there was a female sparrowhawk on the back lawn, plucking a pigeon (the females are much larger than the males, which could never take on a pigeon!).  Needless to say, while I was grabbing my camera it disappeared into the bushes, taking the pigeon with it.  When I went out there was a large pile of feathers and a head on the lawn, and a sudden clattering in the bushes as the sparrowhawk flew off.  The cats investigated the carcass – Piano pawed at it but lost interest when it didn’t move.  But an hour later it was gone, so I assume the hawk came back and moved it while my back was turned.

Bad hair day

I don’t know why, but there seem to be a lot more highland cattle visible at the moment – maybe they’ve just been moved closer to the roads I frequent; maybe it’s a seasonal thing and we just haven’t been here long enough to know.  Anyway, I’ve been wanting to take some photographs of them, so it’s given me some good opportunities…

Currently listening to: Shleep–  Robert Wyatt.

Streaming cats

The perils of Piano and Puzzle: part 4

[Maow – about time too.  Our public needs us!]

It has come to my attention that “The Perils of” series are the most popular posts on this blog.  I haven’t told Piano and Puzzle this.  As cats, they already know that the world is theirs, so the blog must be theirs as well.  We all know that the interweb is made of cats, so it is only natural that they should contribute to this dominance of human affairs.  So here’s some more…

Piano walks on water

Piano walks on water…

Piano and Puzzle have been taking advantage of the effects of the prolonged dry spell.  The burn at the front of the house [it has a name – the Allt a’ Mhulaig] is so low that the boys can walk across, or even along,  it without getting their paws wet.  Hanging around the burn is not, however, without risk.  A few weeks ago we were calling them in for dinner – they had gone up to the agricultural shed next door to play at farm cats – when there was a commotion just out of line of sight.  Suddenly Puzzle emerged at full speed and flew across the branch of the burn that runs at the side of the house, pursued by a very irate mother duck, head down, charging, and literally in a flap.  Puzzle in full flight is a sight to behold.  He does not arc gracefully over obstacles, but rather throws himself into the air, legs akimbo, like superman doing star jumps.  To his credit he didn’t high-tail it into the house but stopped and turned and might well have gone back for another look had we not been there.  Of course, there were ducklings everywhere as they scattered.  I even found one half way up the drive, and their mother was charging round calling for them for some time.  We didn’t see them again for a few days, but I did eventually see here on the burn with a full complement of young.

[Maow – I’ll stick to the tinned stuff in future!]

All safely gathered in

Despite their avian encounter, Piano has had some success in catching birds.   He’s brought us home a greenfinch [bless] and also caught a juvenile blackbird in the back garden.  Three times.  In an hour.  He brought it back alive: I rescued it [in exchange for cat biscuits].  Then he caught it again.  I rescued it again [in exchange for cat biscuits, again].  Just under an hour later he came trotting across from the far side of the property.  With a very much alive juvenile blackbird in his mouth.  It could have been a different bird, but the way it relaxed as soon as I had it in my hands suggested a certain air of familiarity.  He didn’t catch it again [or at least he didn’t bring it home again!] but in any case there comes a point when natural selection has to take its course [or you run out of cat biscuits].  You might be able to buck the market, but you can’t buck Darwin.

Piano has also developed a taste for voles, literally.  The garden seems to have been at least partly restocked with small furry scurrying things after the boys early season hunting successes, and in any case with them ranging further afield there is always quarry out there.  Both of them bring their catches home, but of late, Piano has started eating the voles after he’s finished playing with them.  Not that he’s underfed or anything, but everything goes…

[Maow – crunchy!]

Currently listening to: Trophy Night – The Best Of – Weddings, Parties, Anything.  Melbourne’s finest…

Stirrings in the woodshed

There’s something stirring in the woodshed.  As I mentioned in a previous post, we had some swallows building a nest in the woodshed.  I’ve been watching them fly in and out, but not much seemed to be happening with the nest, so I decided to risk going in to have a closer look.  And three little pairs of eyes looked back at me.  Their eyes are fully open so they must be at least 10 days old (I think), but the feathers are still fairly rudimentary.  Incidentally I can only tell this from the quick burst of pictures I took: I’m leaving them in peace again now.  The fun will start when they leave the nest.  They tend to start hopping and fluttering around the nesting area before they can fly properly and then return to the nest, so there could still be danger from Piano and Puzzle.  For now, their parents perform a valuable service for me: if I see them dive-bombing something it’s a good bet that one of the cats is hiding in the long grass!

swallow chicks

Something stirring in the woodshed

Currently listening to: The Reckoning– Steve Tilston

Zen and the art of online gallery maintenance

I’ve been a bit behind on the blog this month as I’ve been working on a new online project.  I’ve had a casual online photo gallery on Smugmug for a few years, to share a wide range of images with friends and relatives (and any one else who comes across it), but the time has come to up the game.  So I have now launched a new gallery on Zenfolio, which only includes those images that I will be offering for sale.

OldByreSkye gallery

Sleek, slick, minimalist, tasteful – but enough about me…

I suppose you could say it’s the beta version as there is no online ordering of prints yet, but everything else is functional, although there will always be images to add (or remove if they prove not to be commercial, or the gallery is getting too large).  There may not be direct online ordering a I am still playing with the functionality and deciding whether Zenfolio deserve 5% of the income just for providing a forwarding service and a snazzy price list, especially as if I provide the finished goods (rather than one of their ‘partner labs’) I have to collect the money myself anyway.  I’m a tight wotsit so they probably won’t get any more money out of me, seeing as how I’ve already paid them for the hosting and online software and will be doing all the other work as well.  Do visit the gallery and feel free to leave comments in the guestbook.

Our ‘bricks and mortar’ gallery is unlikely to be ready before next Easter (that’s the aim, and I’ll tell you about the local planning bureaucracy some other time) but I’ll be at some craft fairs from August to test the water.  There’s no shortage of competition, although everyone I’ve met so far is very friendly.  My mounting and framing kit needed some upgrading to cope with this, so various bits and bobs should be arriving in the next couple of days.

If you visit the gallery you’ll also see the reversed out version of the new logo – or the reversed out version of it.  The standard version has OldByreSkye in the same blue as the middle underscore, and when resolution allows there is a byline, as below.  The blue and green lines represent the sky, sea, and land.  It’s a bit like the classical elements air, water and earth.  If a volcano suddenly erupts on Skye, I’ll have to add a red line for fire!

OldByreSkye logo

We haven’t yet got the gallery, the cafe or the apartment but hey, we’ve got the logo!

Currently listening toMoving – Bugge Wesseltoft

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