Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Gate Lodges: Tim's Plans

Having recently purchased the gate lodges of Balintore Castle, thoughts naturally go to how these structures could be brought back into use. So when my friend Tim asked me if he could measure up the buildings and draw up plans as a project for his course on historic building design, I was delighted. Tim is the presiding genius behind "The Big House Instagrammed" which is a Facebook page featuring country houses around the UK, with an emphasis on the ruined and the Welsh.

Tim's project brief was to design a modern element as part of a suggested reuse of a historic structure, and in the three plans below he has succeeded spectacularly. He even got an A for the project! The proposal includes a small glass extension to the east lodge. Due to the size of the lodges Tim did not want to make the extension too big. Ironically, neither of us is a huge fan of the current vogue for adding glass extensions to historic buildings. 

Tim has used both lodges, splitting them up into "day living" and "night living".  Both lodges have a toilet ;-) to avoid any midnight trips across the drive to the other lodge. Little did Tim know that this echos the historic use of the buildings, with a bedroom in the west lodge and east lodge containing the remainder of the domestic accommodation. I recently found this out in a phone conversation with David Storrier who I mention in a previous blog entry.

Click on the images for an enlarged view, and click on the image captions to access the original PDF files.

Balintore gate lodges - proposed external plans 

Balintore gate lodges - proposed floor plan
Tim's plans really work well as a ground level solution. He has obviously thought about the layout very carefully, and the kitchen is a triumph of resourcefulness with units against the existing wall and glass elsewhere. This would definitely appeal to the tourist market, if the gate lodges became holiday lets. Plenty of food for thought in these plans. The gate lodges are surprisingly tall, and there is additional scope for a mezzanine level or an upper floor to relieve the accommodation pressure which forces split-lodge living.

Thank you Tim!

Carpet Reprieve

Sourcing fixtures and fittings for the restoration of Balintore Castle has been an unexpected journey, and that journey, in turn, has been one of unexpected discoveries.

One of the most unlikely and joyous was a friend recently rescuing a vintage Persian carpet from the top of a garden bonfire before it was lit. After realising that the rug was too large for his own living room, he generously donated it to, and then transported it to the castle.

My thanks go to the "carpet-bagging" crew. Somehow, I was away the evening the carpet arrived and needed to be carried to an upper floor room. I have developed the skill of being elsewhere when heavy lifting is required, to such an extent that even I believe it to be just coincidence. :-)

The carpet was rather damp from being outside, but the window was opened to assist the drying process. The carpet looks great and its patina of age is perfect for its new location. Can anyone assist me in dating and identifying the type of the carpet?

rescued Persian carpet

rescued Persian carpet: edge detailing

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Angus Art Fund Visit

Before the blog entry proper, let me leave you pondering a joke which starts "What do you call a Scottish cloakroom attendant?"

Anyhow, today Balintore Castle hosted a visit of some 22 members of the Angus Art Fund. This tour had been organised some time in advance, and I took a few days holiday in order to be around to give the guided tour. My friend Andrew helped out and took one half of the group around. We agreed separate routes through the building, so the two parties wouldn't collide.

It was a wonderfully engaged group and this made the experience a great delight for Andrew and myself. One of the ladies recalled visiting Lady Langman at Balintore Castle when she was a child of 11, and this first hand testimony made my day. A "sit up straight" afternoon tea was held in the dining room for the visiting children, and Lady Langman demonstrated a swimming doll to the kids in a bath! This doll, however improbable this sounds, did the breast stoke. This spectacle of mechanical marvel must have taken place in the top floor bathroom, as this is the only place where there is evidence of a bath. Victorians did not feel the need to have a bath that often, and one-per-castle was more than adequate.

Andrew and I were very kindly invited to the buffet lunch that the group had brought with them. The weather had just faired-up enough, after rain in the morning, to hold the buffet outside on the castle terrace. Any lifestyle option which involves a free lunch, must be instantly accepted of course. The wine, pastries, quiche, salmon and figs were most agreeable - our thanks go to Mike and Viv for catering.

And now the time is right to come back to the riddle "What do you call a Scottish cloakroom attendant?" The answer is "Angus Mc Coat-Up". :-)

I was able to introduce the group to the two newest residents of Balintore Castle. At the back of the photo below is "Taylor" a fine and large fellow of a ten-pointer.  He is called Taylor because he was mounted in the main hall at Taylor's Auction Rooms in Montrose for around 6 months, but never came up for sale. However, I finally spotted him for sale on their online catalogue when I was in England, and put on a low commission bid, without any expectation of winning him.

Another low bid at the same sale also "bagged" the rather useful deer in the foreground who functions as a coat stand. I guess you know where I am going now? This deer's name could not be anything else but "Angus". :-)

The Angus Art Fund brought me an amazing bottle of whisky (a Fettercairn Fasque Malt) as a thank-you present. This will be gratefully shared with Andrew and some Dutch guests who will be arriving in a couple of days. Angus is modelling the whisky and accompanying card, in best game-show tradition. One guest suggested that Angus had somewhat of a "fey" look about him, and that he would only be holding ladies' coats. Trust me to have bought taxidermy with attitude. :-)

please join me in welcoming Taylor and Angus to Balintore Castle