Sunday 14th November 2020 3pm
Yesterday’s offering of Scottish properties under £150k from Right Move included this detached bungalow in the small historic NE town of Tain.
Looking past the current old folks home decor it has pretty much everything. There’s loads of storage, a large open plan “lounge dining room” with a real fire, and two decent size bedrooms (it’s listed as three bedrooms, but one is accessed from the sitting room so that would be my studio methinks, it even has a wash basin to clean my brushes 😊🎨). The kitchen is a reasonable size, especially as there’s another tiny utility ‘room’ for a washing machine with space to hang washing to dry. There’s also access into the large garage without having to go out in the weather. The front garden sets the bungalow back and slightly raised up from the road (not quite as quiet as I’d like, but not an ‘A’ road), and the rest of the garden wraps round, with lawns and some seating area.
I was liking it before I realised that it’s about five minutes’ walk from the sea! It’s on the market for offers over £130,000, half of what I could reasonably hope to get for my tiny one-bed quarterback. Here, or down on the south coast where I grew up, a bungalow like this would be £550,000, even £600,000.
Wrong time. But oh it gives me so much hope.
(As an aside, and too big for me, ha ha, the huge gracious and utterly gorgeous characterful 4-bedroomed house next door was for sale too, back in February, for ‘only’ £460,000. Around here it would be between £1.5 to £2million!)
A quieter way of life, small communities, and vastly better value for money are drawing my thoughts towards Scotland. If I could take a huge pair of scissors and cut out my home and garden and deposit them, well pretty much anywhere else, I would, but alas of course that’s just a dream. I’m accepting that life here has changed completely and Scotland, I think, is a chance to put some money by for the future, and find some peace.
Meanwhile the virus still rages, increasing in prevalence here by the day, and I still stay home. Eight months and counting.
With the exception of the last couple of very wet and windy days, I’m continuing my habit (since the end of July) of sitting outside at around 6am to watch the dawn arriving, with a flask of tea and wrapped in increasing numbers of snuggly warm layers. It really has been my saviour, along with my garden generally. A little robin usually comes to say hello at some point now, and there’s always something – bees, tiny intrepid acrobatic slugs, small snails that look like mint humbugs, a whole community of really really minute snails who roam aimlessly over the front of the bike shed, and the sky, which of course is always changing, and often quite beautiful.
I usually sit out there for about an hour, and have realised that stepping out before 6.30am is advisable, because by 7.30 the rest of the street is beginning to emerge and the atmosphere has completely changed. But at 6, or ideally even before, it’s a quite beautiful, peaceful world.
If it’s raining persistently and heavily I sit in the open doorway of The Big Shed, but it lacks the wide expanse of sky so is definitely second best. I’d like to construct some form of shelter over the “Pimms Patio” out of strong but clear polythene (so I can still see the sky). It would need to be quick to put up but able to stand the wind; employing the side of the car roof bars and the bike shed as attachment points with poles and guys on the house side is one possibility, but I’ve still to settle on the design.
If it’s been drizzly but not windy, I have sat under my clip on sunshade brolly, which is fairly rainproof too. The problem with that though is that it’s not big enough, so my knees and the back of the chair get wet!
As well as dawn watching, I want to be able to sit outside often through the winter, so I’m in the process of attaching a weatherproof back to a snuggly fleece throw. I was trying to justify buying some heavy waterproof canvas until I found an unused winter cover for a large round outdoor table. Having unpicked it I have enough – by chance, almost exactly – to protect the back of the whole throw and I can wrap that round me, and with my wide brim rain hat will be fairly well protected (and lovely and snug) if it’s a bit drizzly or damp. As well as rain though it will protect the throw from the chance that the many birds flying over may deposit little gifts on me! I feel I’m on borrowed time for that happening.
Before the weather became too wet, I painted three new expanding trellis panels to add along and above the low hedge at the front – the best option I could think of/afford (paid for with money from my lovely friends on Patreon) to try to screen me from the ‘builders yard’ opposite. They are far from ideal, but do help. Sadly they may prove too fragile for the persistent strong SW winds we’re getting, and I neither am able to, nor want to, permanently concrete the posts into the ground, so on days like today I’m a nervous wreck expecting them to collapse with every gust of wind. I hadn’t finished painting the posts before the weather changed, so the panels were (supposedly temporarily) attached with cable ties; as the wind strengthened I added more and more cable ties, and having used almost a whole packet, they are probably now going to stay as they are until the spring, with over long and unpainted posts.
It will come as no surprise if, even impermanent as the ‘fencing’ is, ‘someone’ again reports me to the council, but it would be nice to think that in the current climate they – the council I mean, not the ‘someone’ – have more important things to focus on.
As the ghastliness from across the road continues, I fully intend to strengthen the barricades and sit this out in my own private world if at all possible. Intrusions both audible and visual are sadly inevitable, but I’m still going to have windows open through the winter, and sit outside when it’s dry. I’ve been screening any gaps that would leave me visible, either to passers by or unpleasant neighbours, and plugging myself into pleasant podcasts and audio books with earphones to complete the ‘shielding’, or my version of it.
What a sad isolated time we find ourselves in. I am increasingly at the mercy of the unpleasant family opposite, and they being out and about have the ear of many who choose to accept what they’re told, turning a blind eye to the bullies’ antics, which get increasingly dangerous to other people. Heaven knows over 70 million Americans have proved in recent days that the crowd will always follow the bullies, imagining that’s where the power is and that they’ll be kept safe that way; it’s a dangerous illusion to be under, and in the long run it may sadly be their undoing. But I accept it’s a fact of life and for now, in my tiny part of the world, I feel very much on my own.
I hope my friends, you’re able to keep going and are carrying on with some good things and ignoring, as far as possible, all the crap that’s around. Thanks so much for being there.