Windows are finished!

last window!

Last night, my six week long project of repainting the windows at Glengorm, came to an end, speedily assisted by the midges.

Tom and I have had another project on the go at the same time and I am now looking forward to have some rest and relaxation for a while.

It has been a pretty epic undertaking, but I am happy to be reminded of my efforts every time I go out of the house.

A grand total of 96 windows have been shown love. 13 were new windows which only requires some mastic and mastic painting. The other 83 needed scraped, sanded, puttied, mastic’d, undercoated, glossed, and finally cleaned. The windows came in all sizes, from one pane to 12 panes and stretched up to 5 floors.

In this period, I have got through, 10 sheets of sandpaper, 4 old bath sheets, 2 tubs mastic, 3 tubs putty, 2 tubes silicone, 4 bottles of Mr Muscle window cleaner, 10 litres undercoat, 12 litres gloss, 4 litres white spirit and a good dollop of elbow grease. I have had the same 3 trusty brushes which I have nursed and chopped and changed, as the oil based paint does not like the cold.

My skill set has improved massively, and I have enjoyed this process. I find painting very therapeutic and I haver a bit of a m methodical approach, having the same routine for each one.

I have been wearing old painting clothes for pretty much all this time and have had paint stuck to my body somewhere all the time. My hands had been battered by the elements and all the various window treatments and my phone no longer recognises my thumbprint.

My fear of heights has subsided ever so slightly but I still feel a wee bit sick in the up and down!

Our very nice neighbour loaned us a cherry picker to get started. It was a bit of a beast and took a bit of time to get used to. It weighed 6.5 tonnes and was too heavy to take round to the sea side of the Castle. Mull hire came to the rescue with their cherry picker, much smaller, weighing in at 1.5 tonnes and is on tracks so we managed to drive it round. As a larger lady, this machine didn’t feel as sturdy and had to be manoeuvred carefully to avoid jerky movements. As the weather got colder, I found myself stuck a few times, the choke is on the main part of the machine and can’t be operated from the basket. I have to thanks Tom, Asha and Jodie for being on standby and coming to my rescue on the cold days. Although Tom didn’t actually help me with the windows, he was sterling in collecting and moving cherry pickers, refuelling, collecting paint and keeping me going. A few windows couldn’t be reached by the picker, and the old ladders had to come out.

I am aware that I am a pretty determined person, but my determination was severely tested as I reached the end of the project. There have been 3 windows that I could not physically get to, was I disappointed that the cherry picker didn’t go that high? No I don’t think I was . There are 3 windows in our flat that I have not done, 1 is falling apart and the other 2 are precariously above a glass roof but we will make a plan…

For now, we get to enjoy the sight of these windows all to ourselves. I do hope we will get open again soon for others to enjoy x

Lockdown Updates

Asha with her pet lamb Iona and her son Brian!

Its been all go here at Glengorm.

We have now reached the end of lambing, and we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the last 2 calves.

Lambing has been quick this year. It started early, the end of March and it was pretty much finished after the first turn, 3 weeks later. We refer to it as a turn as when we want the sheep to get pregnant, we put the tup out in the fields with them. He stays out for 3 weeks and then we send out a chaser who will hopefully finish the job and ensure all are pregnant. The success of the first tup out will dictate how quick lambing will be.

During lambing, we lost our share of lambs. We lost a lot with dead ewes which is pretty unusual. Two years ago, we had about 20 pet lambs, this year we didn’t have any. One of the reasons for this is that we are able to twin orphan lambs on to new mothers ,when the mother herself has lost her lamb. The lamb may be born dead, or die young and if this happens we keep the ewe in a pen with her dead lamb. When an orphan lamb comes in to the shed, the dead lamb is skinned and the skin put on the orphan lamb for 24 hours and the mother will happily take on the orphan lamb. Its always better to twin a lamb on than have a pet as pets don’t fare as well in the long run.

Lamb with second skin on
Happily accepted by ts new mum.

As a result of two years ago, we have a few sheep who are very friendly. One is Iona at the top who is half Zwartble and is black, but she has a lovely white lamb. She is very friendly and will eat from your hand. Peaches, another pet lamb, and half Zwartble, had two lambs, one white and black. She is a pet lamb but not as friendly as Iona. Toms favourite is a sheep he calls Pet, she will follow him around the field.

Calving has a much higher success rates, we have not had many casualties. Although calving is not quite over, the bull has gone out to the heifers. Heifers are 3 years old when they go to the bull, and they have a bit longer as they are new to the experience.

Meanwhile, back at the castle, window painting goes on. I am now on window no. 54, and I have 30 plus still to go. I have 2 that I am not going to manage to get to, which niggles me. I was however delighted to wake up to mist and rain this morning so I could have the day off….

I am now on the sea side of the Castle painting. This is different as it does not get the sun until late afternoon and painting in the shade can be pretty cool. We look forward to having guests back to enjoy the very smart looking Castle, but in the meantime we will enjoy the sunsets all to ourselves.

Painting my way through Lockdown!

Lockdown has presented us here with the opportunity to do all sorts of tasks that may be weather dependant or that we may not normally have the time or occasion to do.

At the start of lockdown, I realised this and I have been busy painting away to my hearts content. First up was our back staircase, its painted white walls and red floor paint stairs take a beating all the time. Access is pretty much needed them all the time when the business is operational. They also link our accommodation to the main castle and are rarely out of use.

They span 3 floors from the basement and inner workings of the Castle, up to the staff accommodation in the penthouse at the top!

It is generally me who maintains those stairs, and it has been about 5 years since they have had any love. So, first week in, me and my volunteer helper Marianna, decided we would establish a routine and get on with them.

They took us the first week to do. We had to scrape down and sand all the walls and stairs. There are areas where the water gets in, and so during winter the walk suffer damage. We then treated, undercoated and then topcoat. The results are always so satisfying.

On the second week, we decided to tackle the spiral stairs at the top of the tower. They allow access to the roof at the top of the tower and the door was blown off during a storm, so this affected the state of the stairs hugely. These stairs are very narrow, but the walls and stairs needed redoing and it has been again about 5 years since they had been done. Decorating this house is a bit of a never ending job.

This staircase spans the equivalent of 3 floors and took us the week, but again the results are very satisfying.

For the third week, we tackled some staff accommodation areas and my back doors. I don’t generally enjoy painting but by now I am getting into the zone.

Well that’s all the easy bits done. My next project which I have started flying solo with is the windows. I am not sure how many windows we have in the Castle, but I think its in the region of 50-60, I will be able to tell you when I am done. The windows have been neglected over the years, and our west coast weather doesn’t help either. So with the start of our good weather I decided the opportunity was here. I stocked up with putty and paint and some tutorials on youtube. I have advanced now to mastic, and have been armed with the tools needed by my dad. I think just now, I am nearing the 30 window mark!! I am feeling a bit weather beaten and my hands are ruined but I smile when I look at the Castle windows now. They are white!! I should have done this years ago.

Tom has acquired me a cherry picker, and although I suffer from a bit of vertigo, when I have manoeuvred it , I actually feel quite safe, much safer than perched on a ladder.

I have to confess that although a lot of the windows aren’t in too bad shape, there are now 2 which I have pretty much had to putty together. I am delighted to be putting together our new list for next years replacements.

Fortunately for this project, it seems I am going to have plenty time to get them all done. I am now looking at the Rhone pipes and downpipes and thinking they are next…………….

Soil Management

From early spring here at Glengorm, a good chunk of time gets spent trying to improve the quantity and quality of our grass. Over winter, the ground gets soaked with rain, and the soil gets compacted and this prevents the grass from growing as well. As the ground gets wetter, it gets waterlogged and when animals then walk on it it becomes all rucked, poached and uneven. In order to promote new growth, a series of processes has to happen to bring these areas back to life.

Continue reading “Soil Management”