A tune for Cuil Bay


I don’t know whether anyone has written a piece of music for Cuil Bay before – I’d be surprised if they haven’t because it’s such a beautiful place.  But now it definitely has its own tune. And I’ve put it together in a video with a load of photos I’ve taken on my phone over the last year which pan around in a really cheesy way. I hope you’ll forgive me and it doesn’t distract too much from the beautiful melody.

Cuil Tune by Stuart Killbourn


It was written during a get together of the ceilidh band a week or so ago up at Sula. We may only have three bedrooms but we managed to fit almost everyone and their families in somehow, with one family staying in a wooden wigwam nearby in Duror; 13 sleeping over and 17 for dinner. Stuart the mandolin player wrote the tune.


I’m not sure whether I’ve told the story of how our band got together on this blog so that will need to be the next blog.


Timber kit day 3-4: in which things go pear shaped again ….

IMG_9210-0.PNGHeavy rain and strong winds were forecast again for Thursday and, as I sat in my Glasgow office, I looked out at the trees bending in the wind and heard the whistling through the telegraph wires, I thought of the guys up at Cuil Bay. The weather up there was worse – really horrific. Rosco and the team managed to get another layer of panels and roof beams up in a lull in the gales in the middle of the day, but things weren’t looking good.

I was feel a little miserable until I received a couple of photos from my neighbour showing how much they had managed to achieve.  Wow. Look at this – and with that weather too!


On Friday things deteriorated further. The team heroically tried to get on the roof panels and managed four, but it was far too dangerous and they had to stop. The rain was torrential. They sent the crane home at 2pm as the wind picked up even further.

So we needed a crane for Monday. I already knew that the Oban company we had been using had the crane booked out all the following week, and the Fort William company was booked out the whole month building a school so I was at a bit of a loss. Dumbarton?

James from the company erecting the kit suggested I contact a company in Lochgilphead. They didn’t exist on the web, but he gave me ‘Harry the Crane’s’ number (as it came across from his contacts list).

Yes he could do it. (hooray!)

But could he be there at 8am?

‘That’s fine, we’ll just set off at 5am.

And No he couldn’t get directions to the plot by email.

‘I don’t ever go near a computer. Do you know how old I am?’

I checked the weather forecast. High winds all weekend and into Monday. A lull on Tuesday and then a full gale by Wednesday. Tuesday is the day! I confirmed the booking.

In the meantime my house is sitting utterly exposed to the elements and lacking a roof in torrential rain and high winds. Gusts of 99km/h forecast for Monday afternoon. I hope the house is still there when I get to the plot at 8am on Tuesday.





Mouse trouble

In a bit of a contrast from last week when I was at RSPB Mersehead getting unreasonably excited about some camera trap footage of a mouse bouncing out of a badger set with a stick in its mouth and cooing over a cute little wood mouse caught in a mammal trap set in a stick-pile, this week I am at war with mice.

We arrived with joy and anticipation at the bothy for a week of repose and communing with nature. Our usual 40 min walk extended to one and a half hours by me having to stop every 15 minutes to take a rest from my Herculean rucksac, carrying in the provisions for a week. We arrived to find mouse droppings everywhere: tucked into corners on the fish box shelves, scattered on the kitchen surfaces perched on their fishbox units and all around the piles of fish boxes that make for seating.

After a burst of uncharacteristically enthusiastic wiping and disinfecting of surfaces we climbed the ladder-like staircase to the sleeping platform above, where more mouse droppings lay on the wooden floor where I was about to lay my mattress.

In the night there were shufflings and crashings loud enough to keep me awake for a while. It sounded like a family of mafia mice, or those rats out of the animated film Ratatouille were helping themselves to the food I had lugged in at much personal effort. However When I tried to take them by surprise by switching the torch on suddenly I saw nothing of the perpetrators. In the morning my newly wiped surfaces were covered in mouse poo and, in the final insult, a solitary poo sat atop the sponge scourer.

Tonight I have a couple of mouse traps at the ready. They were bought from the local hardwear store after a 2 hour round trip, and I am sorry to say that, this time, they are not your ecologists’ Longworth Traps with friendly escape hatches for shrews. No. I am afraid to say that I am a frightful mass of contradictions and these traps are the ones that go SNAP.



We’re going to planning!

The final dots are going on the ‘i’s and crosses on the ‘t’s and our house is nearly ready to go to planning.

After a monumental amount of work from our devoted architects (55north/John Gilberts) we are at this stage at last.  There appears to be a huge number of documents associated with planning and these will all be up on the public website soon.  When they are on the web I will link to them here.

One of the many documents is a design statement where many of the surrounding houses have a starring role.  Its a bit of blurb all about vernacular, character, building form, prevailing textures and the like.  It’s classic architect-speak.  My favourite phrase ….

‘The interior style of the house is reflected in a confident modern exterior style rather than a pastiche’