Friday, 20 December 2013

2013: creative, invigorating, exhausting. How has it been for you?

It has been a whirlwind year.

A rollercoaster in many respects with a healthy mix of the highs and lows that life brings with the rising sun and the falling rain. It was a year in which The Birds That Never Flew was published.

Here's an interview about the writing process that I did with novelist Jackie McLean.

You know all about the building project at Mullindress, but it was also a tremendously busy year professionally too. Here's a interview I did with AllMedia Scotland entitled That Was the Year That Was:

GOOD year, bad year? As 2013 draws to a close, we ask Margot McCuaig, director of purpleTV: ‘How has it been for you?’.

Briefly, what is it that you do?
I’m one of the company directors at independent production company, purpleTV. We’re relatively new, formed last year, and, along with my colleague, we work on creating the strategy for the company, developing our business plan and programme ideas as well as essentially looking after the day-to-day running of purple, including our staff.

We’re a digital company that also works on creating high-end traditional television output (we love a good story!) so a purpleTV day can range from discussing the marketing strategy of our mobile apps to managing the shoots for our filming across a range of subject areas.

I’m also a working producer/director so, as well as creating programme proposals and pitching to commissioners, I also go out and shoot them and write the scripts for the productions I’m working on.
I’m also the managing director of mneTV and look after all our sport and entertainment output. It’s a busy life!

Choose three words that sum up 2013 (so far), from a professional point of view.
Creative. Invigorating. Exhausting!

In 2012, what was your biggest professional ambition for 2013, and to what extent did you achieve it?

The biggest ambition for 2013 was to see the purpleTV mobile app strategy come to life and that it did, with great results.

Our first product, the Edinburgh Book App (Book City), earned the prestigious mantle as a top 20 app in The Guardian. We were a main sponsor of the Edinburgh Book Festival in 2013 and it was very satisfying to see that our product – which involved a lot of work – was available for download for the world’s literary-loving public! It was a massive project, and the process wasn’t without its issues and challenges but we got there with excellent team work and a lot of energy.

There were other very satisfying moments in 2013 – no less the completion of seven hours of traditional factual entertainment programming for purpleTV which received fantastic feedback.
It was a year in which we achieved what we set out to do in both key areas of the business, and learned so much in the process.

How has 2013 (so far) been for you, personally?
2013 has been a year of many brilliant things. Telling stories on-screen, albeit on a professional basis, is personally very satisfying. Taking a kernel of an idea and shaping it into something that is inspiring and creative is very powerful. When you work in the creative industry, it’s very difficult to separate the professional from the personal and that’s because you invest so much of your inner self in the projects you work on.

It is very satisfying to see your work on-screen manifesting itself in the way you had hoped, particularly in programmes like Gothenburg ’83 and Honeyballers, which so many people immersed themselves in. Taking people on a narrative journey is what enables our creativity to thrive, both personally and professionally. The two are often mutually exclusive but in the work that we do they are more often than not directly related. A perfect marriage in some respects…

On an absolute personal level, 2013 has been magnificent. My debut novel, The Birds That Never Flew, was published last month. The book was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize in 2012 – it was a hotly-contested year with over 500 entries, so to make the list was a terrific achievement. But I still had to find a publisher willing to take my creation to the world.
Thunderpoint did that and have been terrific for both me and TBTNF. It has been an ambition of mine for as long as I remember.

To be able to say I am a now a novelist is a truly brilliant thing. The reviews so far have been incredibly positive and it’s a lovely, lovely thing to know that readers have shared my characters’ tumultuous journey. It’s an absolute honour. The task for 2014 though is to finish the next book, so the pressure is on.

Also on a personal level, I realised another ambition. In less than nine months, from the demolition of an existing dwelling, through to the interior and exterior design, to completion of the project, I have built a house (well, the builders have!) on Rathlin Island in the north of Ireland – a dream of mine since I was a very small child.

My father is from the island and his birthplace has always been integral to family life so to be able to build a home on a remote island, up a hill accessed by a single track road – from my residency in another country – feels like a major achievement and one that I am extremely proud of.

So between the creative successes with purple, my debut novel and the building project, it has been an unbelievably busy year but one with extraordinary outcomes that I will celebrate – if I ever find the time.

Any changes this year in technology, legislation, the economy, etc that have had a relatively significant impact on the business?
The economy obviously has an overall impact on everything we do. Budgets are tighter, clients/customers expect more for less and the markets are changing rapidly, especially in a digital context.

My fellow director and myself were working in an entirely new field in 2013 – neither of us had any experience in the build and design of mobile applications – so it was a challenge to try and get a handle on new technologies and markets, especially as they keep changing. The product we have created is new to market – merging traditional TV with mobile technology – so it was a little bit scary but we just trusted our instinct and went with it.

If there is one thing we have learned, instinct is absolutely key. You can’t legislate for what’s going on around you but you can make sure that you are driven in the right direction if you pay attention to your own ambition. The industry is a precarious one and there are so many variables to contend with but with good support and ideas there are avenues to success – if, of course, you are willing to work hard and accept that the rollercoaster of ups and downs come with the territory.

As to legislation, I guess 2014 is the big one. Who knows what is ahead but, whatever it is. we have to make sure we are prepared to embrace change and seek out and exploit any new opportunities.

What looking forward to, in 2014 – personally and professionally?
Personally, I’m very much looking forward to getting back to work on my next novel. It’s very different from my debut and I’ve been distracted from it by the preparation work that was required to get TBTNF ready for publication. It is my absolute aim to have it complete in 2014.
I’m also looking forward to spending time in Ireland, on my island, in my home; a creative space that has emerged from my imagination. The island is a place of absolute inspiration so I know it will fuel my creativity, both personally and professionally, and hopefully help me contribute towards a successful year.

My son is getting married to a beautiful girl in the summer so I’m also excited about being mother of the groom and reading a poem (that I will be writing for them) at the ceremony.

In terms of my professional life, I’m very much looking forward to working on the ‘fact-ent doc’ that purpleTV will begin in earnest next month – a wonderful story that I can’t say too much about yet – and I’m also very excited about the launch of our second purpleTV app – Sport City, Glasgow, which I hope will be very well received.

We’ve also got a four-part observational documentary, beginning production in the Spring, that I am very excited about.

Fortunately, we can look ahead and say that 2014 is going to be as busy and hectic as 2013 and in the current economy that can only be a really good thing. Throw yourself into living and squeeze whatever you can from every single second, that’s what makes life as invigorating as it is.
You only get one shot at it, take the good with the bad, and make it all count.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

2013, a year of adventure...

The year hasn't quite drawn to a close so it's a bit early to be melancholy and hanker after days that are waving a fond farewell to 2013 somewhere in the distance.

December is just beginning so I really should let it thrive.  I should give the spirit of Christmas time to glisten and wax lyrical in festive cheer, or sweet sorrow, until the embers burn out on Hogmanay and give way to a new flame.  
And yet it's never too early to be reflective and think about those moments that you just know will stay with you, even when the days turn to weeks and the months to another year.
2013 is all but gone. It has been an exhausting and challenging year, with all the 'lows' that life carries with it maintaining a constant presence, like forgotten sweet wrappers in an old overcoat, hiding in little corners, sticking to the edges with a gluey substance that clings to your fingertips no matter how often you try to wash it off.
The 'highs' though have been here in abundance too. It has been a year of summits, ambitions hurdled like munros, memories captured in little petals of exhilaration that press against the horizon in pink clouds of summer blossom.

A lot has happened in 2013.
I've always wanted to write. Indeed, I have always written. Often pieces of nothing, or sometimes a little bit of something that sparkled with a teeny bit of promise; but mostly I have just written and written, a plethora of words, snatched greedily from the sky or the sea, the mountains and rivers or from the lingering memories of the people that make us who we are. After a lot of tlc, and good advice from people who knew when to nudge and cajole and encourage when it was so obviously required, my debut novel was published in November of 2013, this year of adventure.
I'm very proud of this. In the real world I work two 'full time' jobs and writing has to take a step to the side and be ready to push itself to the fore in rare moments that don't involve work or family. I have become adept at snatching windows of opportunity in a frenzied wave of activity. The moments crash like a freezing sea, the impact shocking and all the while exhilarating when the chance arrives unexpectedly from the deep and wraps itself around me like kelp, washing the page with colourful stories that make me weep and laugh and swallow quietly in pleasure, or indeed sorrow because with the depth comes not just the sea urchins but the hollows where monsters often lie...
And so far so good. The reviews by readers have been really positive (thus far!) and I am immensely proud that my characters' tumultuous journey is being shared by others. My creations are being carried, gently, from pillar to post by readers who are caring and giving strength. That is just lovely. The Birds That Never Flew, published by Thunderpoint is available HERE, just in case you were wondering!!
Ian Rankin offered me some advice recently. He said, never allow yourself to lose the excitement of seeing your book in print. Pick it up, leaf through the pages and feel the absolute joy of knowing it is your own creation. It is lovely advice. I never want to lose that 'moment'. And so I will continue. A new book is planned for completion in 2014...
And so on to Mullindress. Otherwise known as betwixt and between, grand designs Margot...
You may remember the journey that, along with my loved ones, I set out on some 9 months ago - investing love and attention in a dwelling that encompassed the beautiful history of a world once lived, a homestead that wouldn't give way but instead rise up and wrap itself around a new beginning, a home built on inspiration, creativity and an overarching passion for maintaining a path for my family to follow, long after the days and months and years that I shelter alongside are bidding farewell in the distance...
The house is now a home. It has pushed its knees straight and stretched towards the vast grey sky. It is  already bursting with inspiration, waiting to share its lovely narrative with the world, hopefully through the words that I grasp with fervour from the windows and doors  that rock ever so gently alongside the sweet smelling sea breeze.
The house has still to be fully furnished, but here's a wee glance at where it is at! It is rather beautiful, don't you think!

This is where the story began, in 2013, that year that threatens to push out its wings and soar towards the stars.
This beautiful old homestead is very much still present! The original stone, some 200 years old, now shapes the future as it has been used to create the surrounding walls that circle and protect Mullindress, holding it against its breast like a babe in arms. How's that for a thing of beauty.
Loads of chapters still to follow as the house becomes a home! The official moving in date is 2nd January 2014. Another year of adventure ahead.
Life isn't easy, it can be astonishingly hard and unpredictable and like many others I'm all too aware of the pain that can bear down upon us with crushing weight. But we get up and we rebuild and live and love and be as strong as we possibly can be because, well because, if we don't do that what on earth is the point of it all.
Happy almost new year all! x

Sunday, 3 November 2013

a shadow upon a shadow

My dad was 80 this week. EIGHTY. That's almost a hundred, a life that has spanned generations, like the wings of an eagle, stretching across a vast sky and pushing into the sunlight. Long before I was born those generations flew into the shadows of my dad's own family, a fledgling with siblings and parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends, and then after that, the nest expanding, the season's merging, soaring into a new path, a new story emerging, five of us, joining together with my father and mother as a family. And then we created our own, contributing to the generations with our own children who then in turn have come together in their own narratives, each flying beyond the moon and the stars carving their unique little worlds that merge and shine like the silver diamonds they were cut from.

We celebrated my dad's big day as a family; children, grandchildren and great grandchildren coming today in a frenzied burst of energy, sheltering under those broad brushstrokes of life, laughing, eating, chatting, pulling in the past and stretching out towards the future.

The future is so uncertain and yet so is the past. Is it as you thought it was, do the walls shift and merge at different angles as we move forward? If you step backwards the path isn't always where it once was, it changes direction as we grow and learn and become wiser. And the future's there, somewhere in the distance. Are we part of it and if we are what form do we take, what heights have we climbed to. Have we climbed?

The only moment with any certainty is the one that sits on your shoulders, turning with you, a shadow upon a shadow, a window to your soul. Grasp it, hold it tight and fly.

Monday, 30 September 2013

what september brings

This afternoon I took a moment to look back on September, a month of changing light and incredible bursts of colour. Every day brought something different to my world, a morning view shared before I made my way into a new challenge with fresh eyes and hope in my heart.

Here's my month as it descended on each new morning, my first thoughts captured and then sent to Twitter before I had a chance to analyse or think or begin to try to change what was there in front of me. Hope your days were memorable and creative, too.

Sun: the breath of wagging tails swirls & rusting leaves dance, stepping out on a path of beauty, the last melody before the gaping sleep.

@MargotMcCuaig 2 Sep

Mon: wind pushes into the sky like ivy climbing a chimney breast. A gull catches the swirl in its throat & glides, the morning call piercing

Tue: clouds roll across a low sky & leaves shiver in its gentle breeze, a bird dances on trembling bark & glides into the shadow of morning.

Wed: the sky is silent & yet little puffs of watery mascara float in the distance, the smoky tears of an angel washing her sadness in morning

Thur: rowan fruit sheaths morning like strong hills on the horizon, flaming stillness seeping into low grey sky & washing it in pink promise

Fri: trees stand still less they break the silence of morning, a late summer bloom watches, waist deep in soil, head bowed in self-doubt.

Sat: a gull cuts a shadow on the chimney breast & the misty sky watches it dance across time, a hidden message in a story long forgotten.

Sun: a dog's bark glides the sky, its rafting twang stealing presence like a child discovering Christmas, its gravity captured in a smile.

Mon: beyond the naked eye misty rain gathers effortlessly in fluffy clouds, its presence pulsing like yesterday's brightly falling stars.

Tues: a cloud tumbles from the sky like an anchor & morning catches it in broad arms that swim in the shallows diverting the onset of rain.

Wed: polished wings brush sky, feathers sweeping openness with artist's grey, the colour of a universe washed clean & left to dry in the sun

Thur: the scent of autumn rain hangs like fabric, entwined clouds part & sway, an audience that whistles like sweet music in a careless sky.

Fri: tall trees brush the clouds in autumnal green, the sun, bright & yellow, pulls back & glows a virginal white, beaming fresh, new sky.

Sat: streetlights glow defiantly against a dawn sky, shadows of wise old trees wink knowingly in the direction of the collision of morning.

Sun: raindrops kiss the window, the merging day pulsing in translucent drops that capture night & breaking dawn in a kaleidoscope of colour

Monday: an angel's tear spills silently, its passage captured by a passing bird that mimics its shadow & tumbles to the earth like a stone.

Tue: a silvery hue threads unexpectedly through swaying branches, the flood of a new day catching the solitude of distant stars by surprise

Wed: the low light of morning glistens on east facing windows, the shadows of tumbling autumn dancing like butterflies on its projection.

Thur: misty rain polishes pavements & the morning preens itself in its reflection, a magpie with liquorice wings gathers its secrets & flees

Fri: leaves sigh & part, tumbling like feathers, too slight to imprint the sodden grass yet bold enough to make bended branches & sky weep.

Sat: silence earths on washed pavements that glisten in patches of promise, their secrets whispering in the throats of passing gulls

Sun: branches bend & leaves tremble & tumble, folds of green & yellow dancing under a blanket of morning rich with silence & hidden light.

Mon: crisp white sky hangs like wet cotton sheets on a still day, the breath of passing birds singing in hearts anchored in yesterday.

Tues: night lingers, its hue pressing hard into the shadows. A spider's web gleans from within the silence, morning embracing the distance.

Wed: soft breeze circles the skyline & falling leaves crumble under nature's sweeping palms, gathering like tombstones on thickening grass.

Thu: sky falls in milky brightness, the frothy top of morning kissing trees, its sap seeping into mystic roots that swallow summer's pulse.

Fri: morning drops from heaven in a solemn cloud, still breath hushed, its smoky grey settling calmly among the silent, uncertain leaves.

Sat: White cotton ripples on blue sky like the ebb tide on morning sea. A blackbird bobs in its vast waters, preening its majestic shadow.

Sun: day mimics summer & sun kisses an unsuspecting sky. Birds stop & stare, wings still & throats silent as they soar into the husky chorus

Mon: pink angels embrace pale blue sky & the world falls silent, the miaow of a cat swallowed by the darkest hour strolling nonchalantly by.



Monday, 26 August 2013

betwixt and between revisited...

It was a whirlwind day but one that fuelled the soul and put a spring in a step so frequently slowed by the demands of a life that I am determined to live to its maximum.

I journeyed to Rathlin on Saturday, my heart sitting in my throat, the rapid thumping too heavy to swallow, too wild to contain so I set it free, everything that I am racing in front of me, knowing the route, chasing my dreams to the top of the hill and finding rest in the soulful space of Mullindress.

I caught up with my dancing heart just as the sun was paying homage to my home in the form of a rainbow, a colourful spray of yesterdays and tomorrows arching across the hillside in a protective curve. A pair of swallows were giving chase, their excited chatter unfurling a tale of the last five weeks, their impatience quickly outlining the changes to the build since my last visit. It was such an aura of noisy quiet, peaceful and yet all the while bursting with energy and life.

What can I say? The house is beautiful, so perfect that when I stood still for just a moment the magic of the soil and the passing air swallowed me whole, dusting me in a flush of welcome. And then I trembled, swaying a little against a sudden fear, the impending doom of chaos and disorder that surely must be en-route, swirling in a nearby cloud of grey just because it can... I trampled those thoughts and moved on, anxious to see the progress.

Wow! It's so amazing to see change, to watch shapes develop and create ownership of the space in which they are contained. The rooms are now recognisably such, proper rooms with plasterboard walls ready for skimming. The plumbing is ready to house radiators and the electrics are just about ready for appliances. It feels so different, but yet the same, another layer of future carefully added to the nest.

The outside walls have been beautifully crafted, the builder making use of every stone from the original homestead. Aside from the breathtaking beauty, the walls are a stunning homage to the past, a home of more than 200 years old lives on.  There are two walls. One at the front (picture below) and a second at the back of the house, nestling the space between the mountain and the back garden, both protecting, the ancestors of Mullindress resting in my future.

We're cracking on now. This week the rooms will be plastered, the cement floor insulated and skimmed and then it's time for the beautiful white oak floors, staircase and doors and the fitting of the kitchen, utility room and bathrooms. Outside, the lawn will be laid, the driveway laid down and the patio (stunning blue limestone flagstones) placed in front of the gorgeous windows that have a heavenly view. The outside walls have been rendered and the guttering fitted.

The house at Mullindress  isn't a mansion or a work of architectural genius, but it is a home that will be loved and love in equal measure.

Here's a few wee pics to show you I'm talking about!

Firstly, my gorgeous wall!

My lovely wall, and the view of the garden and Tommy's tree beyond it (from the bedroom window!)

The house, all rendered and ready for a lick of brilliant white paint!

The kitchen (you may have to use your imagination for this one!

The living room, almost ready for living..

The Mull of Kintyre from my bedroom window. The view looks out to the east where the sun stretches into the sky each and every day. New possibilities!

I hope I haven't bored you, but I guess I have fallen a little bit in love!

Friday, 23 August 2013

noctilucent clouds...

A wee story I had a flush of pleasure writing has been included in a collection called In On The Tide, and published by Appletree Writers.

The collection is inspired by the sea and all profits from the publication are donated to the RNLI. My wee narrative inspired by, well, when you read it you'll see, is called noctilucent clouds.

You can read the story here - noctilucent clouds and you can purchase a copy of the book and do your bit for the RNLI here -  In On The Tide

The Appletree Writers website is a community of writers who want to tell stories. It's a fine place to be.

it's official then, soon there will be paper, ink & a flurry of page turning (should you be so kind..)

The Birds That Never Flew, by Margot McCuaig.

ThunderPoint Publishing has signed Margot McCuaig, Managing Director of mneTV, and will publish her first novel, The Birds That Never Flew, in the autumn of 2013.

The Birds That Never Flew is a tale of loss, exploitation and revenge set in Glasgow. The novel is written with a strong Glasgow influence and tragically conveys the impact of poverty, drugs and abuse, with the surreal vision of a Glaswegian Virgin Mary acting as guardian angel to the lead character.

The Birds That Never Flew was shortlisted for the 2012 Dundee International Book Prize, under its working title of The Dandelion Clock. The Dundee International Book Prize is supported by the University of Dundee and Dundee: One City Many Discoveries campaign, sponsored by Apex Hotels. The 2012 competition was one of the most hotly contested years of the prize, with 500 entries from across the globe.

@MargotMcCuaig has produced and directed numerous programmes for the BBC and other organisations and has previously written newspaper columns and TV/documentary scripts on subjects relating to social history.

Margot is co-owner of digital TV company purpleTV, and has developed a suite of innovative interactive apps called purpleTrails. The first product to launch, the Edinburgh Book Trail, invites users to explore the rich literary heritage of the Scottish Capital city. purpleTrails is a Major Sponsor of the 2013 Edinburgh International Book Festival.

You can find out a wee bit more about the lovely folks at Thunderpoint here -

It's rather exciting! More excitement to come, a trip to Mullindress to catch up with Grand Designs Margot in the and pictures to follow!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

home is where the soul is

It’s almost a year since I met my beautiful grandson Tommy, my first grandchild, the little boy that pushes to the forefront of my mind on a daily basis. The day of his arrival was bittersweet. His skin was perfect, as soft as the first fall of snow of winter. I left my inquisitive touch lingering on his cheeks, a statement of his handsomeness chiselled high on his perfect face, his lips pursed in a kiss, confident arches drawn with the precision of an artist’s brush. His beauty was astounding, his silence overwhelming and yet he lives on in our hearts and our minds, always a part of the family that love him with the intensity of lashing rain that polishes pavements and seeps into the very roots of our existence.

Yesterday was the anniversary of my grandmother’s death and symbolically I paid homage to them both, granny and grandson, my loved ones that straddle the ladder of my life, stretching high into an expansive sky that bends and folds and carries our memories in the bright stars that burn brightly even when we can’t see them. Somewhere out there, beyond the vast wings of the heron that sweeps majestically from the misty clouds, they watch us and guide us and push and prod us and make sure we know they are with us.

I’m on Rathlin, watching my home at Mullindress take shape, its broad shoulders rising from the roots of that lashing rain that is everything that I am and always will be. It’s coming on at pace. The house is watertight, the roof fastened tightly like a rain-mate tucked under the chin of an old lady pushing her way into the morning showers. The windows are fixed, each frame a looking glass, a reflection of the beauty that shapes every nook and cranny of the land and the sea that beams with pride, shouting me, me, me as if poised in front of a camera. Its jaw-dropping beauty is there at every turn, and it is within this nest of wonder that my house sits, arms outstretched, pushing beyond the garden and hugging Tommy’s tree, it’s branches in turn fondly embracing the memories of a grandmother whose warmth lingers in the air with the intensity of the freshly baked bread she greeted the world with each morning.

So, we’re getting there. I won’t bore you with the detail but the kitchen is on its way (from Germany no-less), as is the material for the bathrooms. The white oak floors and doors, wood with a story to tell, will find its way to Mullindress soon, its message no doubt strong and wise and protective. The first fit electrics are this week.

The dream is becoming a reality. I just know that the stars will push closer tonight, a bright light penetrating the darkness.


Saturday, 18 May 2013

beyond betwixt and between, grand designs update

When I have the opportunity I watch Grand Designs, relish the drama in Kevin McLeod's swagger as he unfolds the narrative surrounding yet another mishap in the over-arching story arc of a build project that has hit as many snags as the Turin Shroud.

And yet it was a journey I embarked upon, not so long ago now, heading into the fray with the understanding that deadlines were there for ignoring and plans were written in pencil primarily for the fact that their existence is purely in the imagination.

At the heart of all that was a story that had to be written, a journey of destiny. A decision of magnitude and overwhelming significance.

So far so good though.

The home, conjured up in my head when I was still young enough to have to push myself on to my tip toes to peer over the garden wall at Mount Grand, the Rathlin Island home of my father, is coming to life.

And it's there for everyone to see, both real and imagined. Even visitors to the island who, if they look carefully enough, will be able to see a bubble of magic bounce colourfully upon the hillside at Mullindress as the ferry boat pushes through the tempestuous tide and into the bay.

So, what stage are we at? I was over two weeks ago, a journey combining two things, the beautiful wedding of islanders Fergus and Tania, the very good friends of my children Daniel and Siobhan, and to check progress on the house.

When I had visited previously, the original dwelling was still in place. A subsequent visit, taken by my brother, his wife and son and my parents captured the founds in place, the cornerstone of my very existence vilifying my crazy creative urges. You'll remember those blue sky images from my last post.

At the visit a couple of weeks ago we tumbled around the corner at the top of the lane to discover the timber was on its way skyward, reaching high into the landscape, its strong back collecting the weight of the broad shoulders of the hillside with ease. A cursory glance of contentment winked back at me from the gaping eyes of the open roof as I bid farewell after a hectic two days visit. I waved farewell to this...

Remember this image, me standing in the living room door frame of the old dwelling...

Well, before I left the island a couple of weeks ago, the lounge of Mullindress looked like this... Quite astonishing really to see such a big development since my brother took the previous pictures...

It was an incredible sight, and all the more precious because Daniel, Emma and Siobhan were there to share the moment with us. It's surreal really, seeing what has always been a figment of the imagination come to life in such an extraordinary way. While we were there, after consuming the drawings in a three dimensional context for the first time, we decided to make some changes to the layout of the house.
I gulped and panicked, listening to the first moment of high drama funnelling through the open roof of the homestead. No drama though, after a chat with the architect and a walk through the new ambitions for the upstairs floor of the house it was all sorted within a matter of hours. I have to say, Kevin MacLeod would be tearing his heart out looking for the moments of jeopardy required to keep an hour of television ticking over with enough interest to compel the viewer to watch on.
So, I shouldn't be too cocky, and indeed I'm not, I'm aye expecting an unexpected moment of drama. Don't get me wrong, 'things' keep adding themselves surreptitiously to an already creaking budget but, ah well, I'll worry about them another day. But it's going okay. Overwhelming really.
Well, I thought it was overwhelming. But that moment of magic was still to come, and did just a week or so later when my good friends on the island, Jessica and Stephen, sent me some update snaps they had taken when my uncle took them on a little tour of the burgeoning site.
The windows are in, the blocks are up, the chimney has climbed into the sky, and there is a front door. I REPEAT, THERE IS A FRONT DOOR. This is a house, galloping with some aplomb towards becoming a home. Wow.
I guess you'll be wanting to see what I'm talking about...the pictures star my uncle Loughie and my friend Jessica.


So, now comes the really tough bit. Selecting the content. There's an increasing urgency to sort out the kitchen and bathrooms and then there's wood and tiles and an endless list of other things. But, there's a lot of badness in the world so these are amazing problems to have. Yet, those who know me will understand that shopping is not my thing....

I had a big enough dilemma in deciding to go for the grey window frames. But I've learned a lesson there. My heart was drawn to them immediately I saw them, but I was persuaded by other things to go for something I really didn't want....until someone on Twitter said if you don't stick with your instinct every single time you look at those frames you'll wish you'd chosen the colour your heart desired. Grey, like the landscape and sky, fits beautifully. It was the perfect choice. Why go against a heart that has been driving this project for a lifetime. It knows what fits better than anyone or anything...

So, I'm on the lookout for a couple of instinct shops ahead of the next site visit in a couple of weeks!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

a wee update on grand designs betwixt and between...

The last time I rambled about my plans for a new home in Mullindress, I shared pictures of a life already lived, the old dwelling house on the farm where my father's godfather and his family toiled and yet still thrived, sharing their waking moments within the warm embrace of my own family until they moved on and their land was lovingly encompassed into that of my grandfather's busy farm.

As fearless children, my siblings and I played in the magical garden in front of that strong old house, marvelling with awe at the horseshoe that hung on the old homestead door, its heavy iron signalling that love and luck was cemented firmly within walls so thick they couldn't fail to protect.

Gliding on the makeshift swing on the garden tree that still teases the passing wind, my own children pushed their heels backwards and kicked their souls high into the sky. That gorgeous tree, tall and proud and defensive, is a manifestation of our past and future, and its roots held strong as their playful screams took flight and circled the land and sea, each note a tiny blessing that fell inquisitively on surrounding soil, planting my children's existence in earth that will one day become their home. The tree that is now, and always will be, Tommy's tree.

It is upon these very foundations that we are building another life, to be lived and shared as my family moves forward into new generations of firm footsteps that will build and thrive and merge with the roots already threading and stretching under a soil that smells of sea and a richness that can only be described as a love that centres and secures.

So, to the actual build. Progress is good, pacey and resilient and so far without hesitancy or hinder which is pretty remarkable given the remote location of the homestead. Phase One is now complete. COMPLETE! Hurrah!

The old dwelling has been deconstructed, its stones, packed with memory and the goodwill of those lives already lived, are set aside ready to serve their function as the protective wall that will form a bastion of strength between the foot of the mountain and the new house. The founds have been dug and created, a new road is born from the tracks that have held safe the passing of tractors and trailers and cattle for decades. The stage is set for Phase Two, the building of the timber frame.

This loving home is being created from the inside out, stepping stones built to last both physically and metaphorically.

And so to the pictures, images captured by my brother and his wife on a recent visit to the site.

A few weeks ago this was the road up to the house when the wonderful Art and I visited the site to bid our farewells....

Well, it now looks like this!

And that lovely old dwelling that caressed my shoulders....

Well, it has risen from the ground afresh and it now reaches into the sky like this...

These foundations are the cornerstone of my family's very existence and that's a fabulous place to be. Apart from the constant worry about money....things have been swinging along at an enjoyable pace and long may that continue. I'm a dreamer and even I have to admit that reality can be quite stunning sometimes too!

All going to plan the timber frame will be erected at the end of this month. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

today is always another day

It has been a frustrating month writing wise, my morning tweets are all that I have managed to muster alongside the creative demands of work.

However, this weekend I'm back. I will post a new blog updating my betwixt and between build project on Rathlin on Sunday, and the new week will signal the beginning of a new 35k challenge....

Anyone fancy joining me?

So, I'm back! In the meantime, here's what's been happening early morning outside my bedroom window. A single moment, a solitary place in time can be just wonderful, you just have to be sure to see it as it is.

Monday: day breaks through like a hymn of hope, its vibrant notes sweeping the night to tomorrow, its colour rich only in the imagination.

Tuesday: the looking glass mists with the last breath of winter, the house leans to the east, searching for the hidden buds of spring.

Wednesday: soft blue kisses rooftops, tumbling gently like the virgin's protective cloak, robes encompassing, clouds gathering winter tears.

Thursday: a yellow hue teases a blue canvas, a playful promise. A curious night fox strides nonchalantly by, seizing the day as his own

Friday: a magpie dances on the edge of morning, lips glistening with promise of adventure, a dizzy gait stretching into a flurry of winter.

Saturday: below a moon less sky the many faces of yesterday peer out from under a blanket of winter, their songs stirring the dancing trees.

Sunday: a wagging robin sweeps the edge of life with richness, its bold red pushing apart the closing jaws of a grey sky & hidden earth.

Monday: a soft breeze strides the rooftops, its song mirrored by a passing crow, expansive waxy wings a looking glass beyond a vast blue sky

Tuesday: the chattering tree bends into bright light, arching roots stretching beyond the cold sky, greedily supping the hint of hidden sun.

Wednesday: wide awake, the orange glow of the darkest hour maps the night's footprints, snugly, morning sleeps under a blanket of winter.

Thursday: a white sky swallows earth, expansive edges merging, tumbling into the jaws of indifference. A passing seagull searches for today.

Friday: frothy waves caress the snowy shore with curiosity, under the shadow of morning the lighthouse closes its eyes to a union of soul

Saturday: morning nudges the house & it sways into life, its gentle stirring waking nesting sparrows, foggy eyes peering from sleepy wings

Easter Sunday: an amber sky hugs a flock of seagulls, chatting in retort their morning song lingers long after silent wings flee the scene.

Monday: a marble sky hangs low, its fractured morning mirrored on pavements, their emptiness mapping the shades of grey with indifference.

Tuesday: the moon peers from the night & watches the morning unfold, a silver hue pressed against clear blue, a soft pink giving chase.

Wednesday: the moon waltzes from the fading night & tiptoes east, the morning waves hello, stretching long arms into its welcoming face.