Ever wondered what it would be like to leave the rat race and escape to the country? Ever wondered what it’s like to live in a Castle? A big one, with land all around that is yours and cottages and woodland. All yours. And it all needs to be managed and maintained and paid for? A dream or a bit of a nightmare?
I’m delighted to introduce our new occasional columnist at TMK, Emma Macalister Hall. This is the lady who can answer our questions. I met Emma when I photographed a wedding at her place and was delighted when I discovered her blog http://mrsmachall.wordpress.com/. The rest of the TMK ladies were quickly won over upon discovering that Emma tweets as @CastleBitch. I mean, with a name like that she was bound to fit right in around here.
Here are a couple of images of the beautiful Torrisdale Castle, on the Kintyre peninsula in Argyll on the west coast of Scotland (often known to those of us who love and live there as the arse end of nowhere) and then I will hand you over to Emma for an introduction and to share one of her favourite blogs.
“There was once a little girl who dreamed of living in a castle….and it sure as hell wasn’t me but here I am, ensconced in my husband’s 200 year old ancestral pile on the east coast of the bit of western Scotland that looks uncannily like a willy*, living the dream.
Its more Downton Shabby than Downton Abbey and the reality is that we actually don’t swan about in period costume, taking tea on the lawn with every petty need being met by teams of down-trodden servants. I feel ROBBED! The truth is, of course, that it is very, very hard work and constant stress. We have a number of holiday properties to let, an organic tannery, a decrepit walled garden, a burgeoning wood fuel business and one or two weddings in the offing. As well as managing all of the above and more, my over-worked husband also has a full time job as a land agent and can’t say no to joining every local committee on the go.
My input is rather more domestic at the moment. I like to call myself Laundry Assistant but I have huge ambitions to one day become Director of Communications and Marketing**. I skillfully juggle my laundry duties with looking after our two wee girls, 2 and 4 who are loving their new rural life and pretty much went feral within weeks. Being a ‘stay at home mum’*** is still new to me as I gave up my job when we moved and I am not all that surprised to learn that it actually IS the hardest job in the world. I occasionally find myself yearning for the old days when I could talk to to grown ups all day long and go to the toilet by myself.
I started a blog about the experience which has helped my sanity and I really love connecting with my tens of readers. It opened up a whole new world to me and led to the discovery of Truly, Madly Kids, another sanity-saver and “http://www.trulymadlykids.co.uk/pee-like-a-man-the-shewee-trials/”oracle of standing-up-weeing. I was beside myself with excitement when Rosie asked me to contribute and I look forward to joining in the fun and sharing my castle adventures.
*“http://www.torrisdalecastle.com/location.php”>Here, in fact. See what I mean?
And I do love this urban myth”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mull_of_Kintyre_test”
**I may have to sleep my way to the top. Don’t judge me….
***HATE this term but that’s a whole other post…
Here is one of my favourite recent blogs about the change of season at the castle.
“How quickly things change. I’ve gone from shorts and flip flops to wellies and a gillet* in just a few days. There is a definite nip in the air and the trees clinging on to their leaves but only just. The sea is slightly less inviting although I braved a dip at the weekend with a visiting cousin and it was devine. Not for much longer though. Autumn is upon us and I’m secretly delighted. I’ve always been a fan. I love the smells and the colours and the freshness and cosying in and extra layers and even the shortening days. I don’t doubt I’ll be pissed off with the relentless wind and rain and mud and cabin fever but hopefully I’ve banked enough sunny memories to see me through til Christmas.
Other changes are afoot too. Zoe starts nursery on Thursday which for some reason feels like a massive deal, even though she was going to nursery 3 full days a week in the olden days when I was working. Maybe because it’s at the school and she’ll wear a sort of uniform. It all seems very grown up. 60% (3 kids!!!) of her class go to playgroup twice a week with her so hopefully it won’t be too scary and new. It begs the question though, what on EARTH will I do with the other one for 2.5 hours a day? Who will she fight play with? I’d really love a promotion from Laundry Assistant to Marketing and Communications Director** but I don’t think that’s possible even with just one wee chap running about, seeking danger. I can’t help but wonder, how DO people work from home when they have kids? Oh, wait, I’ll ask Niall…ah, apparently it’s hellishly stressful and nigh on impossible. He really needs an office that isn’t in the dining room. This castle is just too damn small***.
*it was my token ‘rural’ purchase. I thought I’d look the part, mincing about the castle grounds in it. I was wrong. The online photo cleverly played down the lurid orange colour. I look like a survivor from The Poseidon Adventure.
**I don’t know what that is but it sounds good
***That is a joke FYI ”
I can’t wait to hear more about life in Kintyre and at the Castle. If you have questions for Emma please leave a comment here. There is lots of information about the beautiful Torrisdale Estate here http://www.torrisdalecastle.com/