Pabbay 2012: The Final Countdown

In late 2011 we had taken our first ever booking for Pabbay Cottage on Harris. The 5th of May 2012 was the deadline and it was going to be a manic few months getting it all ready.

The joiners were fitting the doors and fixing skirtings, the Chinese floor tiles had to be laid throughout the ground floor (60m2) and the sparky was fitting lights and sockets. We did most of the decoration ourselves.

One day in April was very rewarding: me and the sparky were working off the scaffold in the ‘big room’. The scaffold was essential for the work: it was like the elephant in the room. John Alex was fitting the big ‘disco lights’ whilst I was painting the ceiling 4.5m above the floor. We had the football on the radio so it must have been a Saturday afternoon. Once we were both finished the lads dismantled the scaffold, stacking it up outside. Finally, it was removed. We walked back in the front door and wow… the big room was, well it was huge and very impressive now that the lights were up and decoration complete. I was very happy that day.

There was a story behind the scaffold that I think I can now reveal. A contractor had recently done a runner with someones money, literally got a ferry and adios suckers! He was in such a rush he left his scaffolding on a building in Stornoway. Well, our lads weren’t going to miss this opportunity. They donned hi-viz jackets (theres a first) and dismantled the scaffold. The locals were just happy to see the scaffold gone so nobody was asking questions. So somebodys loss was our gain.

The stonemasons returned and working tirelessly and meticulously. They had to infill an old doorway, finish the stonework around the main entrance and also around the eaves. In the evenings they liked a dram and told stories. They also did the front steps without prompting and they are a work of art, manys the time I’ve sat on thae steps eating breakfast and looking across the glen. Tapadh leat, Murdo and Freddy.

At Easter time we gave it the final push with the kitchen being fitted, curtains hung, beds/sofa/tables and chairs delivered. Elaine and a friend went up and worked non-stop for a week. They were knackered by the end and even walked out of the Anchorage one evening with a takeaway pizza without paying (Sally saw the funny side).

One night Elaine was sleeping when there was a chap at the bedroom door. It was wee Freddy the stonemason, back fae the pub. “See that wine on the kitchen table, is it ok if I finish it?” Elaine agreed that was acceptable and off he went only to return a minute later. “Can you come through and sit with me?” He was a happy drunk and just wanted company. Great guy.

The final week was just mayhem, a total blur and on the final Friday night we were pointing the slate floor then sealing it well past midnight. The wrapping was taken off the sofas and they were carried in at 2am. A dram before bed, shattered. We were up and away before 10am next day, leaving a welcome pack and card for our first ever guest (complete with apology as woodburner flue was not installed: please don’t light a fire!).

And that was it. 5th of May 2012 was achieved thanks to some great people, locals and tradesmen alike. Tapadh leat a h-uile duine !

Afterthought :- It would be fitting if we re-open as a holiday house on Wednesday 5 May 2021. Watch this space.

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