Monday, 19 July 2021

Courtyard Troughs II

This is a follow-on post from the earlier entry on the courtyard troughs that we planted-up for the 10th July open day.

The open day has come and gone, so I had a chance to re-photograph the troughs today as they are, I reckon, at their flowering peak.

Just as the plants in the troughs have gown so have the weeds in the carefully weeded courtyard, for which I must apologise. Friend of Balintore, Simon, wanted to re-weed the courtyard on the evening of the open day - but we were so against the wall with other more essential tasks - that I forbade it.

Simon told me I looked as though I had the troubles on the world on my shoulders during the open day. :-) No truer words were spoken. My builders had been called off the job unexpectedly 4 days before the open day, so at 1:30 AM on the morning of the open day, I was still filling, sanding and painting the Servants' Hall.

Unexpected last minute withdrawals, meant I was trying to print out copies of the event's handout at 6 AM, just as my printer was beginning to fail; running out of toner and running out of paper. 

At 11 PM before the open day, I was putting chalk arrows and numbers on the floors for a self-guided tour round the building. Friends had come up with the genius idea of using chalk and then bought some chalk supplies the evening before. This did save a lot of effort compared to signs - as it was easy to add in extra marks for clarity rather than print another sign.

As "freedom day" (from most covid restrictions) was rescheduled from before the open day to after the open day, extra work was involved to ensure we followed covid protocols. And although we did have contingency planning for this, the sheer amount of hard work involved took its toll. In the end the 10 volunteers did a brilliant job to achieve covid compliance and the standard reached was exceptionally high.  

Coupled to an un-expected, but gratifying, high turnout which caused parking issues - the stress levels were running high on the day. Volunteers bravely jumped onboard to help marshal the situation. In the afternoon the crowds thinned out somewhat, and things settled down so I was finally able to enjoy chatting to guests. 

One might ask "Why do I put myself through this?". :-) Well, with a A-listed building like Balintore, bought with a compulsory purchase enshrined in law, there is a need to be publicly accountable and to show the ongoing restoration in progress. Also, having an open day forces a number of things: getting phases of the restoration completed (or almost completed) for public presentation, and focusses the mind wonderfully on what the next phases might be - not just in terms of the restoration but in terms of how things may operate. For example, post open day we are currently considering a much higher level of community involvement. 

And of course, without the open day we would not have, friend of Balintore, Karel's wonderfully planted up troughs. :-)

the cool colour trough

the warm colour trough


  1. I don’t know why you keep calling it ”the cool colour trough”, especially because I made an extra effort to use only the colors of the Scottish flag in it! It should be called ”the Scottish trough” 😆

  2. Apart from that: they’ve come on really well and are looking very healthy!

    1. I think the compost must have really helped. :-)

  3. Rather late in the day, just back from holiday. We came on the open day and it was the best thing ever. The last 15 months of lockdown have been trying, when I look back on it and I guess I just got used to the ‘nothingness’ of it all. So, rather demob happy, we romped along, getting in a tangle with our numbers and making a total hash of the very well laid out marks on the floor. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7......13. Umm. The delightful kilted man who was toiling back and forth with his jug of Pimm’s (Pimms’s at 11 o’clock on a Saturday! Heaven.....) was so kind and helped us retrace our footsteps and de-muddle so we didn’t miss anything. My iPhone went click,click, click and all the rooms got ‘done’. Such colours and detail. It was like entering a 3-D picture book. Reminded me a bit of Denis Sever’s house in Spitalfields, but with way more light and as far as I could see, fewer phantoms. Thank you. I don’t suppose you need volunteers over the winter, do you? I usually pack up work at the end of November and am at a bit of a lewse end - like Paddington Bear - in January and February. Don’t mind what I do, my part-time day job is on a small estate in East Perthshire, growing tea in a walled garden, so I’m reasonably weather-hardy.

    1. Your message really cheered me up - you are someone who "gets" what the Balintore project is all about. :-) In fact I visited Denis Severs' house (I was working nearby) as I suspected he had been trying to do something similar while he was alive.

      Denis Severs' house is fantastic, though I was anticipating the trip for so many years, that I unrealistically expected something miraculous. Denis has made more of a "high art" almost psychological statement, whereas mine is more of a historically authentic restoration with concessions to modern living.

      However, in both cases there is an attempt to create an atmosphere of the past through smoke and mirrors.

      The delightful kilted man with the Pimms is my lovely friend Paul. :-)

      We can always use volunteers. We will be starting a mailing list for people who are interested in helping. If you want to tackle the garden at Balintore you are very welcome, we have made no inroads so far. :-)