The lads resumed work at Pabbay Cottage in Spring 2011, erecting the timber frame round the outside walls. Tricky work as the stone walls were not on the plumb to say the least. The floor insulation was laid, underfloor heating pipes on top and then the screed was poured.The first floor joists went in, then chipboard flooring and we had the start of the master upstairs bedroom.
When we arrived mid July for a working holiday, the upstairs became Sean and Amy’s den accessed via ladder only (they were 13 and 14 by then). Amy hated climbing down the ladder at first but soon got used to it. It also helped that we now had electricity and wifi ! My mum came up that first week and we had one lovely day on the beach at Scarista when we were in the sea with a toy inflatable boat.
There was alot going on that fortnight. The lads were erecting partitions on the ground floor, the sparky was doing his first fix and the stonemasons had arrived. I had sent them some photos of the ruin to give them an idea of the scope of the works but apparently when they arrived, saw it for real, they almost turned around and drove off again!
One evening, once we had finished our shift we sat out the front , the sun low in the west. It was a lovely soft evening, wee breeze. We were joking, four of us,having a beer. The joiner produced a bottle of J & B whisky which I’d given him as a thank you. I was protesting that it was his bottle but no, he opened it there and then, threw the cap away and announced “we’ll no’ be needing that again”. Well he was spot on and thirty minutes later the bottle was tossed away too.
As work progressed, I did what I could to help which was basically fitting wall insulation, doing trips to the skip, bagging sand from the beach for mixing mortar and fetching hot rolls from the butty bus. The stonemasons had gone to the beach before but got their van stuck in the sand and had to be towed out by tractor.
On the Saturday night we had a lovely meal in The Anchorage and fortified with drink, took a short cut to the bed and breakfast (Taylorhill) via the weir at the Millpool. Amy was ahead of us and cried out “otters!”.By the time I caught up all I saw were bubbles.
The second week saw the boys sleeping upstairs in Pabbay Cottage and the girls in B & Bs. To be honest it was quite stressful: chasing up suppliers, visiting building control in Stornoway, getting interviewed for a grant from Business Gateway (we got £5000) and picking up parts from plumbers merchants. Every time we went to Tarbert or Stornoway, we had a huge list of things to collect, buy or order. We were shopping for light fittings and bathroom suites whilst Pabbay was a total building site. There were, I admit, moments of mild panic especially over finances.
Later in the year, I drove up with a wood burning stove. Someone had advised me never to go up with an empty car, always take something. Well I cant repeat the lads comments when they saw it but it was along the lines of “now where do you expect us to stick that?”
Throughout this the locals were brilliant, helping taking deliveries when we weren’t there, giving the lads food when they were working late. One neighbour used Pabbay as a hide and would shoot rabbits out the back.
On 11th October, we fitted the glazed double doors on the upstairs bedroom. The opening had been boarded up for a full year so it was brilliant to suddenly have daylight flooding in. We worked til 8pm then headed to the Hotel Hebrides for Spain v Scotland game (that’s why I know the precise date haha).
During the year, the project grew arms and legs. We added a walk out balcony to the plans (originally this was just railings) and added the large shed with sink unit. These proved to be wise decisions but more money!
Two final funny tales: when we got the new balcony installed, Elaine was outside admiring the view. A gust of wind blew the door shut behind her and she was stuck. She managed to call for help and someone let her back in eventually. We now have an outside handle on that door to prevent this happening to one of our guests.
We also got the downstairs toilet fitted in 2011. It was a great relief haha. Anyway, one day Sean disappeared oot the back. When he came back I said where you been, he said for a pee. I’m like “we’ve got a toilet now!” Oh yeah.
In December we took a booking, our first booking. It set it out for us all, an ultimate target. We had to be finished for Saturday 5 May 2012. I like a target, a focus, a goal. 2012 was gona be fun !