Not really the beginning of the journey at all, because a lot of work went on before we got the keys! However, most of that is pretty boring and involving things like planning permission, delays and lots of auctions, so our Once Upon A Time started on the 14th July 2020.
It was during the biggest pandemic that the world had ever seen and the tourism industry was at a total standstill. What a great time to start a tourism business!
The day started off well. We packed a bunch of kids and dogs into the car and headed to Monkton House, stopping off at the garage down the road to pick up a picnic lunch. To our dismay, the car wouldn’t start because we had picked up the key that had been through the wash and that mostly doesn’t work! Our lovely friend and neighbour, also top notch humanist celebrant, Caroline, to the rescue with the correct key.
So, only about 45 minutes later than originally planned and hoping that it wasn’t an omen, we took possession of our very own 15th century Scottish castle.
The original plan was to do a bit of decorating and furnishing, rebuild the entrance gate to allow better access (a condition of the previously mentioned planning permission) and then open up for bookings within a couple of months. The original plan did not take into account the pandemic, the leaking bathrooms and roof, the need for a full budget-busting level 1 fire alarm system, the mushrooms growing from the cottage bedroom ceiling, and lots more. Of course, there were no tradespeople available, so we had to just start most things ourselves.
We got advice from some lovely friends, and then just got on with it. Luckily we have four children (aged 4 to 14), so had free child labour …. said nobody ever! The kids occasionally posed for a photo opportunity and then went back to being feral or pestering us for food/ TV time/ “I’m boooooored”/ “Can you play with me?”
Andy’s parents came to the rescue and joined in the fun. How we would have managed without them, nobody knows.
First order of business was to take down the plywood walls in the Vaults on the ground floor and to take up the carpet in the dining room. More of that in the next chapter….