Saturday, 21 December 2013

Happy Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to family and friends and indeed friends of Balintore Castle all over the world! In these days of electronic communications. blogs and social media the need for any form of Christmas newsletter is diminishing. Everyone, if they care to connect up can find out exactly how I am getting on at any stage. A common question I get is “How is the castle coming along?”. I try not to say “Read the blog!” because this is more a concerned social inquiry such as “How are you?” and I will try to give a quick and interesting snapshot, and not bore people.

In this light, the best role of a Christmas blog entry is to give the past year some kind of perspective, and 2013 felt quite significant for the restoration of the castle. The summer was glorious, the best I have ever experienced and it was possible to make a huge push.  I’m not saying there’s not a long way to go. but the feeling is that the infamous corner that one turns is in sight. For once I timed my gap between contracts to coincide with the summer - hurrah!.

I always say that I am really going to take advantage of a long hot summer and do lots of outdoors things. Normally work and other commitments get in the way, but this year is the first time I can honestly say I lived that dream. Sure, other things did catch up with me, but by-and-large I was able to get physically involved in the restoration for much of the endless summer. When the sun is out, and the sky is blue, there is no nicer place to be than on the roof of the castle with the countryside lying out beneath one.

For the first time ever the weather at the castle was too hot, if only slightly, though my roofer Andy who goes caravanning at Aviemore in the snow, declared he was expiring in the heat! He certainly got a bad case of sunburn on the castle’s roof one day, and covered-up more from then on. In the less clement weather, Andy has been pushing ahead with reconstructing floors. It takes a great deal of skill to work out how to take out the rotten wood, replace with new wood, without everything else collapsing in the process - many others would, and have fled. My thanks go to Andy and everyone else who helped out this year.

And three images to complete the blog!

This amazing sunset from the top of the great tower was taken by a friend of Balintore called Berthy who helped fight the wind farm. The photo was taken at the party to celebrate the anti wind-farm victory a few months back. As Berthy took the photo, I was tempted to say “Sunsets never turn out in photos as good as they are in real life.”. Just as well I kept quiet as I was quite wrong!

Sunset at Balintore Castle from Berthy

Now a fantastic bit of CD artwork from Andreas and Sylvia : two special friends of Balintore from Leipzig. The visited in the summer, but it turns out they have been visiting the castle since 2001, long before I ever saw it. Andreas sent me a special CD afterwards with his photographic record and wonderful  poems. The words on the cover say something very true about the sun at Balintore, which I alluded to  earlier in the blog. The “thief” comment is a little joke as Andreas kindly returned some door handles, etc, he had taken as souvenirs. It is wonderful that these have been re-united with the castle after their return trip to Leipzig!

Balintore Castle CD Art from Andreas

If only the rest of the world could share the good karma of the wonderful people I have met at Balintore!

And, phew, finally a Christmassy snowy image of the the castle! :-) There has not been much snow this year so I thought I wouldn't be able to deliver. However, this was taken yesterday (23rd) before the rain melted it away. Happy Christmas!

A White Christmas at Balintore Castle: Winter 2013