I don’t want to speak too soon but this may be turning into a ‘getting things done’ trip as well as a holiday. The plan for the walk was to take me from Arrochar, place of birthday celebrations, and where (too many years ago) we had our wedding reception, over mountains and through glens to take us to Cuil Bay, the place where we are building our house. A pilgrimage of sorts I suppose. When I had conceived the idea I had supposed that the house would be built and we’d be having a house warming party at the end of the walk.
However the plot is still a boggy field and the week before the birthday festivities started I had to make the big decision to take on the project management of building our house (subject of another blog). This means that I need to find someone to do the ground works; foundations, drainage, sewerage, services for the house. And I need to find them to do it in the next couple of months while the weather is half decent and the ground conditions are suitable.
The neighbouring plot to ours is already being prepared. The diggers are in and the foundations are being laid. So just before I started the walk I spoke to the builder doing those works. Could he possibly fit in doing just the ground works of our house rather than the whole caboodle, while he is working on the neighbouring plot? There seemed like a distinct possibility and so I planned to meet him at the end of the walk on the site to talk about it.
A busy builder, however, is a hard person to contact and it wasn’t until I was waiting for my soil risotto at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel that I managed to firm up a meeting.
And in the middle of the night at the Glencoe Ski area I found another contractor in rather strange circumstances; I will tell you the story ….
After out long traverse of the Black Mount we stayed in the hobbit houses at Glencoe Resort, tiny lodges rather like cylindrical wooden tents sleeping a maximum of four. We ended up with two lodges between the two of us as I had been given the keys to an extra lodge when I asked whether they had any spare bulbs to fix a couple f the lights in our lodge. (In face the lights were in full working order, I just hadn’t found the right switch).
So Jo and I, in our own personal hobbit holes were fast asleep by 930pm exhausted by our huge walk.
At 1130 I was awoken by a rattling of the door. I had visions of some n’er-do-wells coming back from the pub with the intention of rolling the cylindrical hobbit house down the mountain. I jumped out of bed and looked out, there were car lights and a bit of noise. Too nervous to venture out to see what was going on I stood by the door and soon a man with a torch came past and shone it into the lodge. When he saw me he nearly jumped out of his skin and exceedingly apologetically said ‘so so sorry, we were told that there would be a lodge for us and a key in the door but we can’t find it’
‘Well it’s not here’ I said grumpily and went back to bed.
But I couldn’t sleep. Here I was with a lodge to myself and the thought of some people abandoned to the mercy of the midgies was just unbearable.
I stumbled through the fog of midgies to where they were sitting miserably in their truck. They were a father and son team up to start work on a new downhill mountain bike track the next morning and they were I the phone to the owner of the site. I left them with the offer and returned to bed.
At midnight there was a quiet knock on the door of the hobbit house. Soon I was reinstalled with my walking companion and they were settling down in hobbit hole number 9.
In the morning Willem, the younger of the two, and the one who had woken us in the night, came to thank us for giving them our lodge. ‘Is there anything we can do for you’ he asked.
I thought for a few moments … ‘Well…I do need someone to build me some foundations’ I said, looking hopefully at their earth-shifting equipment and the cement trailer behind their truck.
Later that day, while half way up the Ballachulish Horseshoe I got a text from Andrew, the older man. Their work at the bike track had fallen through for to the ground conditions. Despite a week of dry weather the quantity of snow still on the hill was causing meltwater to saturate the ground and their machines couldn’t work. Could they talk to me about what my requirements were for the groundworks of the house ?
So, while recuperating from our (nearly) 100km walk in the Holly Tree Inn at Kentallen after a steep decent straight down from the top of the Ballachullish Horseshoe, I was chatting with Andrew and Willem about the plans. They had popped out to see the plot and I have sent then the spec.
We’ll see where this, and the chat with the local builder get us – hopefully a bit closer to having a house!