Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Reading Room

Donovan: a modern Englishman - by Edna Lyall
Life's Handicap - by Rudyard Kipling
Kipps: the Story of a Simple Soul - by H. G. Wells
Far From the Madding Crowd - by Thomas Hardy
Travels with a Donkey in the CĂ©vennes - by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Specialist - by Chic Sale; and lastly,
The Tempest - by William Shakespeare

Sunday, 4 December 2011


Apologies for poor camera work and quality! Life without technology and all that... only had my mobile with me.


Two Months of Wilderness

Have you ever wondered what life would be like without electricity, without hot water, without modern conveniences and technology such as washing machines, central heating, the world wide web?

Two months alone in a Scottish Mansion built in the mid nineteenth century and, if you had ever wondered or questioned, you would have no more doubts and a heap of answers.

It is fantastic!

When I first approached Chesterhill on Friday, August 12th she had a scornful, dejected look about her. As a young girl she often seemed menacing and mischievous and tried her best to frighten and taunt me. The old maliciousness thrown off she bore herself tall, forbidding and haughty. I wended a path to the back door, tripped on old bits of pipe and stacks of wet, rotting firewood and broke in through an unlocked window.

The dismal odour of damp, decay and abandonment greeted me as I kicked open the kitchen door and broke into the house proper. Once beautiful warm and homely rooms stood stark and wretched as I trod her insides and made my way to the West Wing.

The West Wing is the upstairs section of the extension built in the 1920's. The downstairs is commonly referred to as the Downstairs Flat. I decided to set up camp in the West Wing partly because I had never been inside it before and partly because it was the least hideously neglected section of the house. The open fireplace in the Dining/Living Room helped immeasurably!

A quick surface wash of the attic bedroom and I descended in my gardening clothes and headed for the Walled Garden (pictured above). Nettles ranging from four to ten feet ran rampant but extraordinary colours and specimens were still to be found:

for better representation see Miss Whiting's blog

I arrived back in London on Thursday, October 20th and already my two months at Chesterhill feel like a dream. I wasn't able to get as much done as I would have liked or had expected to. I collapsed two weeks in and spent a week passed out in my living room and was too lightheaded and wibbly-wobbly to get back into the swing of things for another two weeks. And then went at a slower rate so that I didn't pass out again. That's my excuse anyway!

The House covers twenty rooms, plus attic space and room like cupboards. The Grounds span three and a half acres. Both of which had, pretty much, been left to Natures unforgiving devices. Some minor human alterations and attentions had occurred since my last visit. One such being a 15' x 15' x 5' indoor squirrel enclosure complete with a tunnel connecting it to a two storey cage which scaled the eastern outside wall... The outside cage remains but the indoor enclosure is history.

Saturday, 3 December 2011


This is my family home and the red dot on the doorstep is me! My maternal grandparents bought Chesterhill in 1970. Two generations of Greene's have grown up here. My mother and her siblings (along with visitations from my Grandmother's sister's children) make up the first generation and the offspring of the first make up the second.

Last time I visited Chesterhill was for my Grandfather's funeral in 2003, but summer of 2011 brought an irresistible longing to see her again. This resulted first in a round trip in June and later a two month retreat from August to October. I left London, Victoria at 11:45pm on Friday June 3rd and arrived at Dundee, Seagate at 10:40am on Saturday June 4th. I walked to the house (4 miles across the Tay from Dundee) found her abandoned, broke in through the back door, took some pictures, walked back to Dundee, boarded the 8:40pm bus to London and arrived back into Victoria at 7am on Sunday June 5th. Walked home, showered and went to work.

June rolled into July, July into August and with the passing months came the stifling heat of an oppressive summer. The cool sweet breezes of Fife blew silent and strong. And I ran to them. I had intended leaving on August 18th but it was too much, too far away. I left on August 11th. By August 19th I had cleaned a room for me, cleared the drive of weeds, "deforested" the gutters, scrubbed the West Wing kitchen, discovered how to make the electricity in the West Wing work and with said discovery managed to turn the hot water on!