On Forargyll Now: Why have the Tories got it in for Onshore Wind?

Having heard about an article in the Oban Times, and reading the outraged comments on facebook and elsewhere, I felt moved to write something a little more detailed about the place of onshore wind farms in humanity’s efforts to combat global warming. The piece then morphed of course, but the result is certainly provoking debate.

You can find it here.

 

Schroomage: Plugs of Oyster, Lions Mane and Shiitake installed …

… ready for harvest next year, we think.

Actually, this is a test run, and one which may not bear any [funghi] fruit as we are using a substrate (the lime or linden) felled by an errant gust of wind in August 2013. Its been on my mind to try this for a while because, frankly, the log is no use to anyone given that someone, at sometime, a long time ago had banged a bunch of hand cut 6-8″ nails into the tree. These nails were so embedded in the log that we only knew they were there when the stripped off the tungsten tips of our mill blade on the Lucas Mill.

We thought there’d be only one or two, but it turned out there were a whole heap of them around a foot under the surface. A real shame because the wood would’ve been fantastic for a variety of uses.

So we are left with a big log, one which we thought to innoculate with a bunch of mushroom types to see which would take. Luckily on the surface we have a 4″x4″ half milled length which is perfect for innoculation (see here for the types and thicknesses of wood appropriate – lime being conspicuously absent). However, while this, and the final log from the monkey puzzle, will be further tested on, I found in my research that Alder (which grows like topsy here – ‘topsy’ being a technical term you understand) is a particularly flexible wood for the growing of mushrooms, so one of my projects for the next few months (to provide me with distraction from the all-consuming deskwork that is planning for the restoration of the castle) is to set up some shroom stands in the grounds and innoculate them with further types, including Evoki, Pearl Oyster, Lion’s Mane, Chicken, Shiitake. As you may have gathered, I love mushrooms, and given the enjoyment we have had from the Chanterelle we sometimes find in the woods behind us, I felt this might be a worthwhile endeavour!

Congratulations to the ScottishLaird Team: #DunansCastle is a Groupon Local Star in Poland!

This is really testament to the hard work and good humour of our ScottishLaird team, big congratulations to Jean Donaldson (Powanmedia) and Colin Steedman who work tirelessly to make our promotions to Europe and beyond the success they are!

Watch out for new Scottish Laird promotions for Groupon UK and Ireland before the month is out!

In the meantime, we’ll let the email we just received speak for itself(!):

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Going Mobile! ForArgyll.com’s new design is Go!

For a while the design of the Forargyll.com website has been creaking. Obviously there’s the website’s popularity and its regular traffic above 3,000 unique visitors, but there’s also the increasing relevance of mobile devices as opposed to desktop. It is still the case that we get most traffic from PCs, but the proportion is declining and this or next year we expect mobile devices to take over.

So, we went looking for something that would give us two things: device flexibity and article readability, with also the capacity to include our red and green thumbs in the comments (among many other things). It also needed to be a light design, not using up too much bandwidth, as well as a more visually appealing layout.

Now, as a designer I’ve always enjoyed the pinterest model, particularly because it allows the reader to experience the serendipity of the newspaper reading experience – you never know what you are going to see next. Eschewing fixed sections and relying on presenting the freshest stories first, alongside putting the search facility front and centre, we think this should create a level of welcome variety for the reader which we hope will engage everyone further.

There are some other nice touches: the order of the articles changes on the homepage depending on their length – you actually see them move around sometimes. The comments section is a great improvement and all the new media icons are baked in, speeding up the website considerably. The ads are served as part of the design, and this means we no longer have to integrate cumbersome thirdparty applications, which is delightfuland we’ve done something fairly whizzy with the header image – it’ll take a minute or so of close observation to notice. You might ask why, and the answer will be, well, why not, because in a sense, that’s what it’s there for.

Path at Stronafian Forest: First stage in the Community Woodland

This is yesterday in Stronafian Forest at the southern end. Our Project Officer Eamon King and his volunteers from Dunoon Help and Glendaruel have been working for a while now on our ongoing access project. The path takes walkers from the main forestry road onto a uneven, and very varied bluff which extends some 400 yards south and provides a lovely view of Loch Riddon, Bute and Tighnabruaich.

The team are now working on the access above the Clachan which will create paths in and around the lovely deciduous woodlands which contain some very interesting neolithic remains – all in time for the upcoming CWA conference.

New Dunans Rising Tartan website: The Gift of Tartan for #DunansCastle

We’re always looking for ways to promote the restoration of Dunans Castle and the sale of products made from our tartan, Dunans Rising, is an ideal way of doing so.

In the registration of our tartan we say:

[….] for the use of those who have aided the restoration of Dunans Castle, including those who have contributed time, expertise or knowledge to the project (whether as part of a contract or voluntarily).

from the Tartan Register of Scotland

In other words, our lairds and ladies can wear the tartan by virtue of the fact that the titles they own have helped restore the castle. For those who buy the tartan, it becomes theirs by right because in the purchase they aid the castle’s restoration.

To promote this latter idea we have set up a new website, dunansrising.clothing in which we offer our full tartan range – garments, accessories and soft toys – we hope you enjoy it!ourtartan-registration ourtartanbears

Just as a small note on the technical side of things. The new website uses a wordpress install, a .clothing domain and shopify [delivering the ecommerce side].

Journey to the Heart of #DunansCastle: the Drawing Room

Last week I ventured into the library and took some atmospheric pictures of that segment of the castle. This week, or rather over the weekend I ventured into the Drawing Room compartment of the castle to survey the job in hand. As I said last time I am preparing to start the clearance work, and this is the area where we’ll start. This first shot is from the double-width aperture in the south elevation of the castle.

0IMG_3937This compartment is as full, if not more so, than the library – it also contains one of Andy McLintock’s sculptures!

As you step inside however and look up you are confronted with some safety challenges:

0IMG_3941Right above your head is this small, vestigial platform, hanging from which is a sash weight – an actual sword of damocles while the entrance is cleared. This will be one of the first tasks: to remove platform and weight before doing anything further …

The wall to the left in the above picture, is shown below at is imposing, vertiginous best below:

0IMG_3939And just to reassure everyone, that this photo, taken from below aforementioned sword of Damocles, was accompanied by as much safety gear as possible!

To give the viewer a sense of the size of the compartment I took another vertical panorama:

0IMG_3942While this is the most accessible of the compartments, there is an awful lot of materiel to clear, not least the wood. Once a path is cleared to the turret we’ll do another series.

For now though here’s a final panorama showing the full extent of the infill.

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This day in 1999 …

… we were married at the Glen House in Peebles. Thank you darling, it’s been 16 extraordinary and very wonderful years ….

Journey to the Heart of #DunansCastle: The Old Library

We’ve recently heard crashes and rumbles from the old building, and so today I set myself the task of finding out what was going on. The obvious culprit was the chimney stack at the back of the castle. But the small apertures now appearing, while a problem for the chimney stack itself, would not a cacophony make.

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As you’ll know we are presently working on the plans for the building, and much of the internal structure will be removed, so our only real concern is if the exterior is compromised. Externally it looks fine, but a fuller inspection was indicated.

So I went inside. To find the old library filled to head height with rubble, joists, plaster and shelving. I should add here, that I have an ulterior motive to this scouting about: at some point in the next week or so, I’ll be taking our minidigger into the structure to begin the mammoth task of clearing the castle out – the sort of job all men love, combining a good tidy up, including bonfire, with a good dose of danger!

IMG_3933As you can see from the photo above, the shelving is still in situ, but the blackened joists from the floors above have now all fallen in.

IMG_3934When you look up you begin to see how dangerous this structure is.

At the very top, in the chimney, is the double hole showing the side-by-side flues. Below that two door apertures, with spindly floor joists between – these would have been the joists which held up the floor to the chapel.

Below the first storey door, you then find the tops of the library shelves, which swiftly descend into all the materials which have fallen into this compartment of the castle both during the fire and after. Slate, plaster, lath, and stone is all visible and expected. The bracken and saplings are also present throughout the ruin.

What I didn’t expect (and therefore didn’t get a photo of) were the trio of bumblebees buzzing about the wall to the right of this picture – see the photo below which gives an idea of the scale of the internal structure, and an idea of the structures sheer immovability.

The apertures into the flues are very visible at the top of this picture. The flues are vulnerable in this way because of the weathering action of rain combined with the sulphur and other volatiles from years of coal and wood burning.

I’ll post photos from another ‘room’ shortly.

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*With apologies to Joseph Conrad.

 

Dunans Rising Notebooks: Now in our online store!

Gorgeous Green and Purple notebooks with a silver Dunans Rising logo have just been added to our online store. Find them here!

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