It’s go, go, go!

The last time I wrote about paintings because I had nothing else to say as we hadn’t been visiting and (yawn) we still hadn’t taken delivery of the teal sofa. Well, now things have taken a massive turn because the sofa has arrived (hurrah and it’s not just teal it’s TEAL!) and we thought we were good to go!

Well, you know what thought did….with all this horrible weather we’ve been having, it turns out water has seeped into the roof and has been running down the chimney breast causing a damp spot to appear. Therefore, we now need a roofer and some scaffolding. Arghh. Apparently, whoever repaired it before, threw porridge at the flashings. Don’t ask, I’ve just heard it being said.

On top of this we also had an electrician visit to give us a quote for all the essential electrical stuff we need doing like upgrading the fuse box and fitting hard wired smoke detectors etc. Not one to miss an opportunity to visit the flat, I went round taking pics and registering an account with Airbnb.

After much discussion about Covid, people wanting to holiday in Scotland and wishing to book something sooner rather than later, we decided to advertise but block off the calendar until April 1st so we could get all the work done. So with much excitement, I pressed the button that made the listing public. Then it was time to sit back and wait. Well, the wait wasn’t long at all because we’ve already had someone wanting to book the flat – for 2 whole months!! It’s still up in the air as they want to visit the flat before they decide but oh my gosh! I wasn’t expecting that. The good news is, if it does happen, it means all the repairs will be paid for, which is something to raise a glass to.

Picture this

OH and I have stopped visiting the flat due to the current lockdown. However, as there needed to be some essential maintenance carried out (an inspector was coming to peer in our attic to check for woodworm, which I feel is pretty essential because I still want to have an attic post covid) we used the opportunity to take down all the bits and bobs intended for the flat that had been accumulating at home. The majority of these things were for the walls.

This resplendent Highland stag is now in the bedroom and is a print on 3 wooden panels.

This ancient parish map of Fife in 1847 is in the living room and, although it doesn’t show the Fife Coastal Path (because it wasn’t a thing back then) it does show you the Fife coastline and where the flat sits on it.

This print, on canvas, of well balanced rocks is one of many cairns on the beach just along from the flat. Families spend ages layering the rocks and getting creative with their structures so now we have a mini Stonehenge on our doorstep. However, this particular rock formation is special because OH and our grandson built it.

The living room is large with high ceilings and huge blank walls so I wanted something equally large but colourful and arty to contrast against the masses of white. I also wanted it to have the main colours of the room, teal and gold, so I commissioned a local artist to paint something in keeping with the flat. This is what he came up with – it’s his interpretation (in acrylics) of the view along the coast towards Largo Law and is fantastic. My photos don’t do it justice as, like any scenery, it changes with the light. Its massive and vibrant and full of colour. The texture and detail in the sea buckthorn is just amazing and I love it (if you don’t that’s fine, art is a subjective thing).

Now all we are waiting for is the teal sofa, which has been delayed yet again. We now have a date of mid Feb arghhh. Saying that by then, hopefully, we can open as an Airbnb without any restrictions being in place (not that I really want anyone staying here, obviously ;p).

Short and sweet

This weekend, in preparation for our first booking, we should have been cleaning the flat like there had been a murder in it but because of the pandemic, we had to cancel. Well, I say cancel but the writer that was due to stay still wants to come at some point so not cancelled but postponed. Hurrah, I will get to clean like a serial killer at some point.

The pandemic has also meant that we haven’t been able to visit either. Not because it’s in another tier or another health board area but because we don’t want to be seen as the incomers that are endangering the village bringing in our ‘foreign’ breath – no-one there will know that we’ve only travelled 10 miles to get there.

However, before we left and before Nicola implemented the lockdown, we did get some visitors. Callum, our grandson, came to see us with his mum and we all went for a walk down to the shore. As we all walked west along the Fife Coastal Path we managed to spot some seals.

Callum is a dab-hand at stone balancing so before heading back to the flat for hot chocolate, him and his grandad sat for ages watching to see when the waves would knock his tower down (spoiler – he had built it so well the waves didn’t stand a chance and, eventually, he kicked it down).

So I’m not sure when we will go back to the flat to stay. OH will visit and check the pipes haven’t frozen and do any odd diy jobs he can find to keep him busy but for now the Fife flat fun has to finish. *sad face* I guess it gives me some time to work out how letting on Airbnb works and write some blurb to accompany the listing.

It’s a dog’s life

OH is the main dog walker. It’s his dog, he’s the alpha male, the dog does nothing I ask it so why should I pick up it’s shit?

Biddy

Anyway, when we’re at the flat, OH has taken to saying things like, “I’m just going to take the dog up and down the street.” He then disappears for 2 hours. This is not a bad thing. In fact, it can be very interesting. This morning he returned from his travels with amazing anecdotes about paedophiles after meeting a retired policeman. I genuinely don’t know how OH manages it. I mean, I’m a friendly enough person, I always smile and say hi to everyone I pass on the coastal path but that’s as far as it goes. No-one stops and opens up about their life to me, never mind giving me juicy morsels about how they managed to apprehend a paedophile not only once but twice!

They say everyone has a book in them and that is certainly true about all the people that OH returns home to tell me about. The other day he regaled me with golfing tales about a young lad that travels the world caddying for sheiks. Another is a music teacher at the local prestigious university. One is an ambulance driver who offered up some really sad information about transporting Covid victims and another retired chap is thinking about taking up creeling lobsters for a living.

It just goes to show that village life isn’t as bland and quiet as it looks on the surface and you can find some really colourful and vibrant characters that are happy to share if you just take the time to ask.

So obviously, I’m now thinking about new book plots. I’m also thinking maybe I should start walking the dog more. Just the walking bit though, I still don’t want to be picking up poo.

HNY Fae The Fife Flat

We spent Hogmanay in the flat, obviously just the two of us. I had packed a power of drink and enough food to do us well into the next year. However, when we arrived, I realised I had left the pastry in the house so bang went the New Year’s Day steak pie I had planned. Not to worry though, as I feel it’s time for a new stew tradition…plus I think I left some Yorkshire puddings in the freezer from our last visit.

At midnight we cracked open the champagne and went out on to the balcony to toast the new year. Next door a solo guitar player was strumming through Auld Lang Syne and a few lonely fireworks were being set off across the water in Edinburgh but the normal lavish pyrotechnic display had been cancelled and replaced with online drones, which did look amazing. If you haven’t already seen them here is a link to part 1 https://youtu.be/nV4jNWZlmEU

Earlier, when we had been out for a walk with the dog, we met some locals who said normally they go to the community pub because they have singers in. Then, at midnight, they follow a piper down to the coastal path where they stand and watch the firework display across the water in Edinburgh accompanied by the bagpipes. Hopefully next year we can be part of the parade.

On New Year’s Day we went for a walk all the way along the coast to where there are some Pictish drawings inside caves. On the way we saw one mad loony dooker who had decided to strip naked and plunge himself into the Forth. Rather him than me because although the sun was out, the puddles were all frozen over.

12,000 steps later and we were back at the flat enjoying a well earned gin and tonic on the balcony watching the sunset.

I really must have a word with that shed owner – it’s roof doesn’t have spoil my photos 😉

Then it was time for the traditional New Year’s day stew.

I want to hold your hand…

Just minutes from the flat there is a shingle beach and any time someone visits, I take them along to show them all the stone towers people have made. For most of the way it’s an easy walk but there are a couple of bits that can be a bit treacherous and walking on the shingle can be tricky.

The first time OH and I walked along, he held my hand to help me make the precarious step from path to beach – a steep down hill from mud to shingle. When my son and his family visited, my 3 year old granddaughter insisted I held her hand as we shoogled our way down the same bit and then yesterday, I held my hand out to allow my mum to join me on the beach at the exact same spot – funny how your role changes depending on who you’re with. It’s also funny how often I now walk when I’m at the flat and it isn’t even weather dependant as I am usually seen in my wellies, bobble hat and massive windproof anorak wobbling along the shingle. Who knew buying a flat would help me be more active!

Incidentally, when I arrived at the flat yesterday there was a Christmas card through the door that really made me smile and not just because someone from the village had hand delivered a card to us newcomers.

(btw they were right first time)

Fishing for Eggs

Village life is so different from what I’m used to. Usually the only time I see any neighbours is when I dash from the house to my car and even then it’s a quick, “Morning”. I’m the type of person that has to embarrassingly put, “To all at No. 7” when writing Christmas cards because I don’t know their names. However, OH is completely different and often moans he can’t even wash his car without everyone and their dog chatting to him. As my car is constantly filthy this has never been an issue for me. However, now, when I’m in the village, it feels like I know everybody and their dogs! And it hasn’t taken long at all. Obviously, that has been nothing to do with me and all down to my friendly OH.  

One night he suggested we do his Pier Walk (that’s a previous blog post in case you’re wondering) and as I pulled on my woolly hat and gloves, he picked up the empty egg cartons from the kitchen. I was baffled but didn’t say a word.

Outside, it’s the kind of weather that makes you put your collar up, pull your hat down over your ears and walk briskly with your head down. You know the cold nights I’m talking about, it’s when you don’t stop but just nod to people when you’re passing (or is that just me?). Anyway, with hunched shoulders, we headed down to the bottom of the wynd but then, instead of turning right as is our norm, OH stops and looks up and down the coastal path until he spots some glowing lights in the distance. Like something out of Poltergeist, instead of turning away from the flashing neon lights, he walks towards them. As the moving lights turn from blue to red to green I eventually realise they are attached to dogs, their illuminated collars making them look like they’ve been to *The Links Market.  As their owners near us, I realise it’s the fishing guy OH knows and it all falls into place why OH can go out fishing but return with fresh eggs as he hands over the cartons with a cheery, “Thanks mate, they were fantastic.”

Turns out fishing guy and his wife, his cousin and her brother all meet up every night at the same time to walk their dogs and OH knew this. After 20 minutes of chatting, whilst my goose bumps got goose bumps, I got to know them all and their dogs, especially Frank the pug who I was told often just walks home on his own when he gets bored or can’t be bothered. I did smile when his owner looked down at his jaded looking dog, his lights starting to dim and announce Frank needed to be put on charge. I feel Frank could be a soul mate.

Frank didn’t want his pic taken so this is a stock stand-in dog courtesy of Aidi Led Collars

*The Links Market in Kirkcaldy, Fife is Europe’s longest street fair and the oldest in Scotland and it happens less than 5 miles away from the flat (usually in April if there isn’t a coinciding pandemic)

Perchance Purchase

For the last couple of months OH and I have been frequenting antique shops and second hand furniture stores buying stuff for the flat but it was a first for us this week when we bought something from Marketplace on Facebook. OH, isn’t a big fan of social media at all (he shakes his head at me reading out tweets or showing him pics on Insta) so it was a bit of a surprise when he showed me a chair he had seen online. I had to admit, I also thought it would look good under the writing desk he had bought mid-week (yes the writer has confirmed she is visiting in the New Year) so having decided we both wanted it, OH handed me his phone and said, “You deal with it.” By the end of the evening I had arranged to view it and by 10.30am the following morning it was in situ under the desk looking lovely. We believe it to be around 100 years old but someone has recently taken it to a beginners upholstery class and covered it in a beautiful red and green tartan fabric.

Well, of course, once you have a desk and chair you realise a dressing table mirror would make a perfect addition so off we went to OH’s (now) favourite antique dealer. He’s already bought the green leather wingback chair and a large barometer for the hall from him. I don’t think I told you about that – it tells you it’s ‘changeable’ even though you can hear thundersnow(!) battling away outside. OH happily taps it every time he passes.

Anyway, today we paid the dealer another visit and just happened to spot the ideal mirror for atop the writing desk-cum-dressing table AND at an affordable price – well, it was after OH worked his haggling magic.

Later on we visited my (now) favourite second-hand furniture store and bought a pine box that OH is now in the process of upcycling. He thinks it will make an ideal laundry bin, whereas I think people will put their suitcase on it. Either way it’ll be of use. As he stained it, I painted an old angle poise light that’s been in the attic for years – well not everything can be dark wood and elegant, you need quirky too.

By the way, I just looked over at OH and he is busy scrolling through FB Marketplace. I think he’s just found a new hobby.

Bespoke Upcycling

Before we even got the keys to the flat I had spotted a hall stand in Vintage Bespoke Designs, which is a lovely place in Auchtermuchty that upcycles furniture in a shabby chic way. Basically, if you see a piece of second hand furniture that you like you can ask for it to be upcycled however you want. It’s a great idea and stops old furniture going to landfill. Plus, doing it this way was more fun than Ikea could ever be and I now own a bespoke piece of furniture! If you drag the arrows below you can see the before and after.

Before and after

The only down side of the whole experience was that when it was delivered OH had made himself scarce so I had to help carry it up to the flat. Good job I’d had my porridge that day.

In other exciting news, we might have our very first booking. A women in a writing group I belong to was looking for an escape to help her finish the book she is working so I offered up the flat. A couple of DMs later (direct messages, Mum) and it looks like she is going to spend a long weekend in it, covid allowing, next year. I suspect she will write a best seller and the flat will get a dedication as a major contributing factor.

Of course, it’s made us realise that as well targeting the walking market we should advertise it as a writer’s retreat. You never know, soon we could have the likes of Neil Gaiman or Jo Nesbø in the flat admiring my bespoke hallstand as they type ‘The End’ on their manuscript.

So now it’s all getting a bit real and someone else is going to get to stay in the flat. Will they love it, like I do? Will they look after it as if it were their own? Yes, I’m imaging it’s going to feel a bit like when you let someone else babysit your new-born for the first time…

Weathering the Storm

I have been holidaying staying in the flat all this week, often on my own. My excuse was that we were getting a washing machine delivered on Wednesday so what was the point in going home? The upside of this was the only thing I had to buy (that we didn’t already have) was a clothes airer (because obviously I had to test the washing machine) so apart from still not having the teal couch we are good to go – if I ever let anyone else stay. Three times this week I’ve been asked when I’m selling my house…

It’s been great chilling in the flat but it feels like ever since I blogged about it being so quiet down here I have been woken every night since. One night it was a security alarm and I had to get up and check my car wasn’t the culprit. The last thing I need, as an incomer, is to wake the entire village at 4am. Funnily enough, the next day I was speaking to another incomer (and Airbnb owner) and they had the exact same thought – they too had checked their car so they could rule themselves out of the forthcoming witch-hunt (their words not mine) but it didn’t surprise me.

The alarm was one night but it has been the weather that has seen my lying awake this week. Like everyone else in Fife and Edinburgh, we experienced thundersnow(!), which I feel should always have an exclamation mark after it as if He-man himself was summoning it. As the name suggests it was very dramatic. Loud bangs echoed up and down the Forth and the bedroom lit up as the lightning cracked. When I crept out of bed to peer through the window the gardens had a smattering of snow, which being so close to the coast is pretty unusual. OH, who was 7 miles more inland, had around 3 inches (make your own jokes).

Unfortunately, the giant rabbit hutch next door took a hit and my neighbour was out first thing with bin liners and a staple gun to cover up the window that had been blown in. Of course, emergency repairs requires emergency clothes and she was out in the snow with lilac crocs, no socks, jammie bottoms and her hood up in what could easily have been her husbands anorak but I tell you, she wasn’t shy using that staple gun – those bin liners are going nowhere.

The giant rabbits’ giant rabbit hutch

Although I was woken again last night I didn’t look outside because what I was picturing were men throwing buckets of water at the flat. It was blowing an absolute hooley and the rain was stotting off the windows. Thank goodness for winter duvets and long lies.