Self catering studio at High Oatfield

We have been very busy over the last 12 months building a garden studio and the end is in sight!

With the arrival of our grandson we initially decided to build a studio to enable the family to come and stay during what has become our busier and busier season. As the building has progressed we have fallen more and more in love with it  (I want to move in but Mike is frowning on that idea) so we have decided to offer it as self catering in 2019 when our young family are not here.

It has been a labour of love, starting from absolute scratch we have created a wonderful space for a couples retreat.

Having built the majority of our own house 16 years ago we had a fair idea of what was involved. Mike sat and designed the building one evening, we wanted a natural timber  Larch cladding and a traditional tin roof with big French windows to make the most of the stunning view of the hill and passing wildlife. The idea was to have a small kitchen area to one end, comfy leather armchairs in front of the 3m windows and a king sized bed all in the same open plan space with the en-suite shower room and entrance porch to the rear of the building.

Working from Mike’s sketches we started by installing the waste system, water, electric cable and all services in the same trench then built block pillars to stand the floor base on. A lorry load of timber shortly arrived and actual construction soon started. We sourced some wonderful windows and doors from and the day they arrived was like Christmas (I am easily pleased it seems)

It has been a real family affair with our nephew coming over from Ireland to help build the framing and our daughters lovely French boyfriend helping me with building the trusses then erecting them and finally insulating the frame and roof. Charles was like a monkey, he works on French tall ships so leaping about on the trusses was child’s play to him whereas I needed 3 points of contact at all times. Mike did the internal partitions and put the windows in, then did the roof once the trusses were up. Our son came home to help lay the floors and a mezzanine for our grandson as he gets older and it suddenly started to look like a proper studio.

Mike and I worked long hours getting the Larch cladding on and with each day the look of the studio changed. 3 lots of timber treatment later, to ensure the larch colours down nicely, and the external bit was finished.

Once we had first fixed the electrics and plumbing the next job was completing the 200mm insulation (it is so warm) then plaster boarding and timber lining the ceiling. The kitchen went in next followed by en-suite shower room.

As I write this down it seems to have all happened in the blink of an eye but it has been a bit all consuming, not that we are complaining I would do it all again (not sure Mike feels the same though).

We are shortly into the finishings -furnishing and curtains and flooring. What am I going to do with myself once it is finished? ……..  Mike is going to play with his bees for a while.




Short eared owl, Skylark and Hare

We had the very good luck of a sighting of a short eared owl in the field in front of the house the other day, it was early evening and we had gone for a wander on a hunt for hares. A bird flew past us at some distance but it had the unmistakable body shape of an owl. Fortunately I was able to follow it by eye and it landed on a fence post out in the moss. My friend was able to pull it in with her camera and it was easy to identify the short eared owl by its flat face and distinctive facial feathers.

Short-eared Owl

After watching the short eared owl for a while and as it showed no signs of taking to flight again we carried on with our wander in the search for Hares. This gave us the second wonderful photo opportunity of a Skylark with Lismore lighthouse in the background, we had watched the Skylarks undulating flight up into the sky singing its heart out and then it glided back down to once again land on a fence post. Using me as a steadying tripod my friend snapped off several photos with the resulting photograph here.

2master skylark

We were to have no luck with Hares that day but the following evening about 6pm I was  suddenly aware of movement just outside our fence and there was a hare sitting and grooming itself not 30 metres from the front room window. The Hares haven’t been quite as prevalent in the past few years perhaps that coincides with the arrival of a pair of Sea Eagles across the field towards Duart castle. What hare in it’s right mind would want to be in it’s white winter coat in a green field with not a hint of snow anywhere with resident Sea Eagles in the area? This particular hare just had the remnants of its winters coat down its back legs so wasn’t quite as obvious.



Watching Sea Eagles

IMG_1935IMG_0740Watching Sea Eagles from the house  has given us some spectacular displays this year.

From watching Sea eagles mating to currently undergoing a bit of a turf war, it has been a very interesting year so far.

It seems that a new pair and their juvenile are attempting to move into the area of our resident pair.  Over the last week or so  this has resulted in some wonderful viewings for us. At one stage we had 5 Sea Eagles all in the air. As is quite often the case our guests at the time had left to visit Iona leaving just Mike and myself here to enjoy the show.

There was a degree of Talon locking and lots of calling from all the Sea Eagles until the intruders flew off towards Duart Castle leaving our pair triumphantly sitting on ‘their’ ridge  vocalising very loudly to each other.

We walked across the field towards Duart as the Eagles appeared to go down into the neighbouring field with a real purpose. We watched two of the three new  Sea eagles sitting rather uncomfortably on the fence posts but couldn’t see the third until it flew up with what looked like the remains of a hare in it’s talons. It was closely followed by it’s mate and the juvenile.

The juvenile Sea Eagle has no white tail as yet, is quite dark in its plumage and is considerably larger than its parents. Although as able a flyer as the adults it was quite ungainly when it tried to land in the top of a tree and had to make two or three attempts before it finally managed to perch safely.

We have had some very special moments whilst watching Sea Eagles this year, also some of the harder side of nature too. We watched in disbelief during lambing time as one of the Sea Eagles flew in and took a new born lamb whilst the farmer was in the field checking his stock. The arrival of RSPB scarecrows (6 in all) helped a wee bit but the Sea Eagles rapidly became used to them, much quicker than we did. Flourescent orange automated scarecrows standing up every half hour or so did tend to catch the eye for a while.

We never tire of watching  Sea Eagles and truly appreciate how  very lucky we are to be able to watch these magnificent birds literally from the comfort of our front room. This Sea Eagle, one of a pair that has decided to nest nearby, dropped in to the mound 30 metres from the front room window.



Red Deer on Mull

The Red Deer on Mull seem to be missing the worst of the wintery weather that is affecting most of England,  however here at High Oatfield Bed & Breakfast it is very chilly outside and there is snow on the hill tops but it is yet to get down to our level.

Red Deer near High Oatfield

The Red Deer Stags are also staying at the lower levels to avoid the snow and who can blame them? They have lost a bit of condition after the rutting season so a mild winter will suit them much better than a very cold snowy one. Continue reading