gallery, cafe & apartment

Archive for the tag “planning”

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…]

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

Is that a date?

Tide and time move on. Days drift into weeks and the weeks wash into months… but we [hopefully] have an opening date for the gallery and cafe at OldByreSkye.  If all goes well, we will open on Thursday 1 August.  There is much to be done, but it is all coming together at a frightening pace.  Most importantly, the gallery is now plaster-boarded [to be taped and filled next week], and the flooring and fixtures and fittings are mostly ordered, if not already sitting in various boxes around the house.


Well and truly plastered [well, plaster-boarded anyway…]

The thing that really pleases me at the moment is the quality of the light in the gallery.  There are no windows in the walls as we need the walls for hanging space.  The two exterior doors are 50% glazed, but most of the natural light comes from the Velux windows in the roof and even with the sun out this afternoon it’s a wonderfully soft light that makes the room feel airy and relaxing: all this despite Building Standards being concerned that there would be insufficient natural light.

view from the loo

The view from the loo [or at least until the door is fitted!]  And no, that isn’t an art installation by the front door…

The fly in the ointment may, however, be the aforementioned Building Standards.  Although we may well be finished by 1 August, will we be far enough on to be able to submit a Completion Certificate in time to be inspected?  Watch a space very near here…

Currently listening to: Evergreen – Lau vs Karine Polwart  [‘Lau’ is an Orcadian word meaning “natural light”.  Appropriate really…]

Two steps forwards…

Things continue to progress at the ‘Byre.

Most importantly, we received planning permission for the gallery/cafe conversion this week, and the building warrant should be through next week.  No surprises.  As expected, we have to improve the bellmouth [where the driveway meets the road]: in particular we need an SDB2 [as opposed to an SBD2 which was a second world war American dive bomber, although one of those might be useful in dealing with certain aspects of local government bureaucracy…] .  An SDB2 is a small service bay on the main road, with room for two vehicles to pass on the first eight meters of the driveway: not quite as easy as it sounds as the road and driveway meet on embankment, the drive being about 30 meters long, rising up to meet the main road after crossing the burn.  Otherwise everything is pretty much as planned.

Here’s an artist’s impression of the gallery, made by superimposing the side elevation from the plans over a photograph of the garage, adding a bit of modelling and ‘cloning’ the gravel to form a car park.

Artists impression of the cafe/gallery (assuming I'm an artist!)

Artist’s impression of the cafe/gallery (assuming that I’m an artist!)

Once building work starts we will obviously have to be mindful of the holiday apartment and try to minimise disruption, as we are starting to get bookings.  I would imagine that the most disruptive phase will be the groundworks (foundations, drains, car-park, drive), and as they are the first things to do they will hopefully be out of the way before the main holiday season arrives. [Hopefully most of the work will be out of the way by then!] We intend to move a few fences so the apartment has its own enclosed garden area, and if we can do that sooner rather than later it might also help.

Also, at the end of the week we completed our Elementary Food Hygiene Certificates [equivalent to the Level 2 Food Safety Award south of the border (though not down Mexico way!)] which fulfills our training obligations  for running the cafe side of the business.  We met with environmental health before we put in the planning application, and so far they have been very helpful.

If there are two steps forwards, there must, of course, be one step back – and not just to admire the view.  At the moment the garage is rather full, not least of bits and pieces left behind by the previous owners.  Where is it all going to go??

Currently listening toMy Life In The Bush Of Ghosts – Brian Eno/David Byrne

The best laid plans…

The big news at the ‘Byre this month is that the plans for the photographic gallery and cafe have been completed, and are now with the Highland Council.  What this means in the short-term is successive demands for money.  Money for the planning application.  More money for the planning application as they decide the plans constitute ‘change of use’.  Money for Building Standards (fee based on their valuation of the work, which fortunately matches ours!)  More money for planning as planning applications have to be advertised in the local paper (and given that there are at least three or four a week, they must make a tidy profit!)

The best laid plans of mice and men (and cats)…

Now the waiting game begins.  The official notifications have gone out to our neighbours – anyone within 20 metres of the curtilage – which on Skye means about three people, who have 21 days to mak any comments.  The notification should be in the paper this week, which has a 14 day response period, so comments should be closed before Christmas.  Hopefully we will have building quotes in by the end of the week as well.

It’s not a huge job – basically  weatherproofing and insulating the existing garage, re-roofing, and adding an extension to the rear gable for the WC and store, and another extension to the side for a small kitchen.  Most of the windows will be rooflights, to allow us to keep the walls for display and avoid too much direct light on the display walls.

The wait begins – the plans had best not gang aglay…

Currently listening to:  the Jimny getting its MOT (written in the service reception of Kenny’s Garage, Dunvegan!)

Open to the world (next week…)

Yes, things have been quiet again on the blog front, but we have been busy elsewhere, with finishing the let and being assailed by visitors.  The big news is that the buildng work and decoration for the annex has been finished (except the stair carpet which I will lay this week).  The work has been signed of by Building Control at the Highland Council, so its all legal, and we have signed up with a local booking agent, so it should be on the market next week, hopefully.

Annex kitchen – it’s bright, it’s modern, it’s fully equipped.  It’s purple…*

To quote from the blurb which we have written to help the agency, and our own publicity:

“Adjacent to the owner’s traditional, croft house home, this newly renovated apartment provides contemporary cottage living for up to two adults. It is completely self-contained and enjoys its own private entrance and parking area.

“The spacious open plan lounge and has been well planned and equipped, creating the perfect sociable space in which to lounge and relax. The furnishings and fittings are of a high standard throughout, and are complemented with little touches of island culture. Large lounge windows allow sunlight to stream in on sunny days, and the wood-burner effect electric stove creates a cosy hideaway whatever the season.

“The apartment retains many of its traditional features, but offers guests all the modern comforts of home with Wi-Fi, i-Pod docking stations and a large flat screen HD television. There is also a DVD player and a selection of CDs, DVDs books and games for you to enjoy.

“The kitchen-diner is situated at the far end of the lounge area and is fully equipped with ceramic hob and oven, microwave, fridge freezer, dish washer, washer/drier and loads of cupboard space full of quality crockery and utensils.

“Upstairs is a large bedroom, with a generous king sized bed which emanates cosy comfort. There is plenty of hanging and drawer space, as well as a hair dryer and clock/radio with iPod docking station. The en-suite shower room incorporates a WC, wash hand basin, heated towel rail and spacious shower.”

As soon as it is available at the booking agent, I’ll post the link.

Lounge area – “the perfect sociable space in which to lounge and relax”.  We say so, so it must be true!

So, as I promised to name names, many thanks to Brian and Sean and all at Altree Joinery, who turned up when agreed, completed the job on time, in budget and to an excellent standard.  Yes, we are talking about builders here!.  A special shout-out to Jimmy the painter/decorator who provides a superb finish and a full run-down of island politics! 

*It’s actually Imperial  Mauve 5, which sounds more like a race horse than a paint colour.  Or possibly a social scientist.  In the mid-1980s, Demos wonk David Ashworth, in a fit of post-modernist idealism (or supreme narcissism), changed his name to Perri 6.

Currently listening to: Danca Dos Escravos– Egberto Gismonti

A room of one’s own

I haven’t posted on  the blog for a while.  Don’t worry – I still love you all, but things have been a little busy of late.  I’ve got a number of posts almost complete, so I’ll be all over the web like a rash next week.

The main recent development is that we’ve got the builders in (after our travails with building control) – and very good they seem to be to (I’ll name names when things are finished!)  As I wrote way-back-when, one of the strands of the new business will be a holiday let, formed from the annex at the end of the house that used to be the B&B accommodation.  The upstairs bedroom was repainted and refurnished some time ago (and two relatives have already slept in it!), but the main job is knocking through the downstairs bedroom, breakfast room and en suite to give an open plan lounge/diner/kitchen.  This has meant putting in two stand-down beams and doubling-up some of the joists as well as the associated plumbing/electrical/general refurbishing work.  It’s looking like a really good space – with the walls gone it’s triple aspect so it’s nice and light.

A rom of one's own...

A room of one’s own.  Piano inspects the site works.

The kitchen and flooring will be delivered on Monday.  We already have the fridge/freezer and washer/drier – the compact dishwasher and hob and oven will be built in.  And we’ve also got the TV, hi-fi, sofa, bookcase, floorlamp. supply of books, CDs, videos, cuddly toy, conveyor belt…  We might yet be open for business in September: Christmas/New Year bookings anyone?

Currently listening toGlorious fool –  John Martyn.  Perfect to recycle for the Republican Party’s adoption of Romney/Ryan…

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