We have just completed 2 1/2 weeks on a workaway near Crieff in Perthshire, Scotland. It has been a truly amazing experience.
We have been working for a young couple who have returned from London to help run the family estate. Alexandra is originally from the Wales and after 10 years working in New York she returned to London and set up her own PR business. David who comes from Monzie Estate (pronounced Monie) has been working in London as an investment strategist, so giving all this up to come home to Scotland has been a very real ‘Scotland the brave’ move.
David’s family has been on Monzie Estate since 1855 when the castle and property were bought for a wayward son who was living in Paris. Legend has it that he rode his horse in one entrance, saw the castle and kept on riding out the other gate where upon he quickly returned to Paris.
David’s father died about 20 years ago and his mother, who still lives in a part of the castle, has largely been running the estate. David and Alex are now taking over aspects of this work and breathing new life into this large and complex estate. There is a joinery that was started by David’s father where bespoke kitchens and furniture are built, difficult in the current economic climate, a medium sheep and beef farm. There is a hydro electric plant, rental properties and holiday cottages, and of course a very grand castle dating back to the 17th century that needs to be maintained. There are also a number of derelict buildings crying out for restoration. The holiday cottages are Alex’s project and they are amazing, one is in an old farm cottage and the other is a rather grand but small house that was originally for the castle gardener. The farm is the first farm in the Scottish Highlands and the views from here are truly awesome and I do mean that quite literally, they are awe inspiring. People who come to stay in the holiday cottages get a chance to see a truly beautiful part of Scotland. You can read more about Monzie Estate at http://www.monzieestate.com
While we have been staying with David and Alex we have completed a number of tasks, Mike has been re-arranging a sewing room, painting the master bedroom which was quite a mission when the anaglypta paper also has layers of paint on it. I have also been re-arranging the sewing room then sewing cushions and making lampshades for the holiday cottages and of course doing lots of cooking on the aga. Mike has also taken some amazing photos, including some from a helicopter he managed to get onto. We have both thoroughly enjoyed being creative.
The weather has been less than average, more like an Auckland winter really. People have commented that this is the worst summer since 1985, which is actually the last time I was in Scotland so maybe it’s all my fault???? We have had the opportunity to visit towns nearby, to wander around the estate, to have drinks at the local scotch distillery (The Famous Grouse), see Stuart Crystal, we even attended the Crieff Highland Games, a very Scottish experience.
Weather aside we have really enjoyed our time with David and Alex, we have talked the evenings away, laughed at all kinds of things, shared ideas and travel stories and we feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to drop into their lives and share this time. During our time here we have come to see the enormity of the task they have undertaken and we are full of admiration for what they hope to achieve. In fact, we have loved it so much we are returning in November for more!
The next workaways to come are four younger kiwis so we decided to stay longer and show them the ropes before we left. You have heard of six degrees of seperation? Well it turns out it is even smaller, the two girls are called Hannah and Grace (the names of our daughters) and Hannah’s Aunt and Uncle are our friends Pat and Robin who we met up with in Canada, Grace’s aunt is someone we know from church so I am sure if we try hard enough we will make connections with Ryan and Tim. It’s a small world!
Today we are “on the road again” taking a 10 day trip seeing people and sights before we head of to our next workaway near Verona, Italy.