I’m often asked how I ended up in Scotland and the answer is, basically, “By chance”….
I’d always wanted to build my own home but when an opportunity arose, when I was given a redundancy package from my job, I couldn’t initially decide whether to go travelling or build a house. In the face of such indecision, with such a monumental life-changing choice to make, only one thing to be be done; I tossed a coin. Heads – go travelling. Tails – go build a house. Tails it was!
So packing everything up in the back of my Mini (a real Mini, not one of those BMWs with aspirations) and driving up the M1, I arrived in Scotland in December 2000, with no job, nowhere to live, and no idea what next!
I found a job a week or so later and in the new year began the search for a plot of land. In the words of that irritating meerkat – “Simple”!
I wrote to Homebuilding & Renovating magazine who ran a monthly feature called Plotfinder Challenge. To my astonishment they got in touch, and a couple of months later me, my mini and their freelance journalist spent a weekend exploring all the “For Sale” derelict buildings we could find. From the south of the Borders to the edge of the Highlands. Barns, mills, churches, all in varying states of dereliction and decay.
For me, it was the first real opportunity I’d had to explore the stunning beauty of Scotland and to appreciate how different the landscape can be. We went South: a very gothic church near Kelso, a couple of very old stone walls (apparently all that was left of a mill) in a field near Oxton, an isolated cottage in the depths of the Tweed Valley. And then we headed North: a mill on a working farm, not far from Edinburgh, a remote barn in the Cairngorms.
And finally, a farm steading on the border of Angus and Perthshire. The minute I walked in through the 17ft high cart doors I knew I’d found my future home.
I didn’t seem to notice the heaps of cow dung or mountains of pigeon poo…
Or the broken rafters and gaping holes in the roof…
Or the collapsing stonework and rotting wood…….
I simply fell in love.
I know that I am totally capable of impulse buying a pair of shoes on a daily basis, but is it really possible to impulse buy a bundle of barns? I guess so!