Today I plumbed in the washing machine I had picked up yesterday from Dundee. It was a pretty pathetic spectacle as I dragged it foot-by-foot (interspersed by multiple tea breaks) on a section of carpet from my pick-up truck into the kitchen. That's the most inconveniencing thing about living alone, jobs that would be simple with two people can multiplied in difficultly by a factor of ten.
Anyhow, it seems to be whirring away merrily as I type, so this is the first time I have had proper washing facilities at the castle - hurrah! :-)
This morning, I replaced all the blown fuses mentioned in the previous blog entry, and balanced the loading across different sockets so things should not blow again.
It's amazing how one has often to go back in a chain to get anything done. Before I did the electrical work, I mended my long broken multi-meter, the use of which makes electrical jobs much more efficient. Before I was a gentleman of leisure, I did not have time to mend the multi-meter, very frustrating!
I did not have spanners of the right size to do the plumbing, and my adjustable spanners had rusted up, but I had no WD40 to free them up enough. In the end I had to tighten things by hand, and with a too small pair of pliers. Thankfully nothing leaked when I switched the water back on. The plumber had put the water switch in the loft, so there was much climbing up and down of ladders. I always put in local isolation when I plumb.
The story of laundry facilities at the castle is rich in tragedy! For the first two years at the castle I had no water supply, so I used collected rainwater for washing and brought in drinking water from work. When I finally got permission from the surrounding estate to use the water supply passing by the castle, the irony is that it only took 15 minutes to connect up! The further irony is that the most of the residents of the glen use the castle's water infrastructure (constructed in Victorian times), yet the owner of the castle was himself denied this resource. The water quality is fantastic, by the way, it is supplied by three springs further up the mountain.The estate's factor showed me the exact location of each spring, you can tell by the reeds growing in the vicinity.. I can probably just about find the springs again myself.
I had initially bought a second hand washing machine from a colleague at work but the pressure of the rainwater supply was not enough to drive it - I proved this by emptying, lifting, and then refilling the water butt. The solution was to carry the washing machine down into the basement to get the head of water. I did this on my own and getting the machine down stone steps on my own was horrific, I almost lost my balance several times and the machine would have landed on top of me. However, once I had got it down to the basement it just didn't work, the near topple incidents must have broken it. So I had to carry it up the stairs (even worse) and then buy another washing machine and take this down the stairs. This provided partial washing facilities, but it only worked intermittently, and it always took 15 minutes after switching it off for the door to open - so lots of up and down stairs to continually check on it. This machine had somehow broken completely when I got back to the castle a fortnight ago. Anyone want two broken washing machines?
I think the longest I went without washing clothes was 4 months! I tried to make the entirety of my wardrobe last as long as possible without repelling all boarders. I broke the mauritorium, by going in to work on Christmas morning (figuring no-one would be around) and using the washing machine there.
So laundry blues should now be a thing of the past at the castle.
A few piccies to make this blog less wordy!
Here are the five beams I have just bought from a Dundee reclaim yard. They come from a demolished mill in Dundee and I reckon they are probably date from 1850 or so. I have asked the estate sawmill to cut them up into the correct sizes. The cutting will have to be done carefully to avoid the cracks in the beam, very much like cutting a gemstone and avoiding the flaws. Hopefully delivery and cutting should happen in the next week. This will allow Andy and myself to start rebuilding the floor in the "Dinner Service Room". This will be the first reconstruction work done on the principal floor of the castle, which holds the really big rooms, so it will be really exciting.
This is a sample of hardwood flooring from Eassie Community Hall which will be installed in the castle. Can anyone tell me what type of wood it is? The head forester of the estate could not identify it, and inquiries were sent via him and my architect to two different experts. One expert came back with "Balau" (Malaysian) and the other "Iroko" (African). That's experts for you! However, both Balau and Iroko come under the heading of ironwood, so hopefully this says something positive about its ability to withstand wear - indeed one would never know it has been trampled by the inhabitants of Eassie for 85 years. I have a slight tendency to believe the first expert (Balau), as he sent PDF scans of pages from wood textbooks to back up his identification. But perhaps that is the academic in me being swayed. :-)
And finally, here is Eassie Community Hall being dismantled. Eassie is just 10 miles from the castle, so the flooring has essentially gone to Dundee, and now will be coming back. I like to think it is a way of inviting all the inhabitants of Eassie past and present to tea at the castle. :-) And I think the serendipitous re-instatement of Balintore with materials and objects which almost present themselves - rather than being ordered as bespoke - has good karma.