A week’s holiday began with an excellent one-day course on re-pointing using lime mortar at the Scottish Lime Centre http://www.scotlime.org/ .  Our tutor, Douglas, started by telling us that traditional Scottish buildings built with stone and lime mortar typically withstand five times as much rainfall as a house in a hurricane zone.  He showed us how to calculate lime mortar mixes, where to buy cheap tools (Lidl and Ebay!) and how to apply it (Ross, above, is using the ‘throwing’ method, in which lime mortar is flicked or thrown into the cracks.)

The photo above shows two types of lime re-pointing.  The lower part of the wall is re-pointed delicately within the edges of the stones  (the darker pointing is still wet).  This effect is usually the one people go for but it’s actually less watertight.   The traditional method is demonstrated on the top half of the wall, where lime is smeared over the edges of the stones so that rainwater runs smoothly over the whole wall.  This is the type of pointing seen in the North East of Scotland, and the type we have decided to use.

Douglas strongly believes that anyone can tackle re-pointing and similar traditional techniques and left us feeling full of confidence in our new-found skills.   But when we got to our steading we realised we had other priorities….

The site is covered in every kind of metal contraption you could possibly think of.  An old hoe, corrugated iron, even the remains of a threshing machine.   We took delivery of a skip for scrap metal which cost us £40 but with metal prices high we’d earn £160 per ton.  It took us all week to fill the darned thing.   As you can see, we hired an angle grinder from a local tool hire shop.  Chainsaws and other heavy duty tools are obviously big business in Moray because business was brisk at Strathbogie Saw Services.  The man behind the counter was obviously suspicious of us southern townies and asked if we had some ‘decent’ two-stroke oil for the angle-grinder.   “Yes,” said Ross, “well….it’s from B&Q.”  The shopkeeper let out a heavy sigh and said, “Right, I’ll get you some.”   He gave us a free bottle, rather than let us fill his machine with anything else.

We met with our architect, a local builder and a local drainage expert and we hope we can get our drainage sorted and the roof made safe by the end of the year.   Our architect had some interesting ideas for the barn which we’re still mulling over.

We also took a day off .  Where else in the UK would you find a beach this quiet on a warm day in June?

At the end of the week the skip was collected and the skip hire company rang to tell me we’d earmed £148 by collecting 1.8 tons of metal.   “That’s brilliant,” I said “because  I’ve won a bet with my boyfriend over how much we’d collect!”   “Well if you can tell me what your boyfriend guessed I’ll amend the order,” said the scrap metal man, “because we cannae have a woman winning a bet about metal.”

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