Does it get any better?

Summertime blues

After my last visit with no electricity, I had been constantly chasing to get things sorted whilst I had been away from the island. Eventually, I was assured it had now been re-connected.

Unfortunately, not being there, I could not confirm or deny this. After my previous dealings with SSE, I was sceptical about them getting things sorted. Theoretically, power had finally been restored to the Small Mission Hall. If true, this could be major progress.

Summertime at Seilbost beach
Summertime at Seilbost beach

Summertime in the Outer Hebrides is not too bad weatherwise, but it’s not summer all year long. Locals say that you have to survive at least three winters to get an idea of the place. I needed to find out if the electricity had been sorted. There was still plenty more work to be done on the building. January therefore seemed an ideal time to head back to the Hebrides…

Telltale signs of winter coming at Glencoe Mountain Resort
Telltale signs of winter coming at Glencoe Mountain Resort

On the journey up, there were a few telltale signs that Winter was on the way in Scotland, not sure quite what to expect when I get to the Outer Hebrides.

Van full

This trip up the van was pretty stuffed full of things that I may or not need/want. One of which was an aluminium ladder. Kind of made sleeping in the back a bit of a challenge. So when arriving at Uig on Skye I had to put the ladder under the van so I could make just enough room to sleep in.

It was an early morning ferry I had to catch. I had camped out on the cliffs overlooking the ferry harbour. A quick 5-minute drive in the morning. Perfect I thought. No last-minute panics or rushes.

early ferry to catch at Uig
early ferry to catch at Uig

Typically it was raining in the morning, and in my early morning bleariness, I quickly got out and jumped in the driver’s seat to head down to the ferry. That’s when I heard a crunch and remembered about the ladder… doh!

I had inadvertently driven over and crushed a couple of rungs, but hopefully, with a bit of massaging from a hammer, this could be fixed!

What winter

When the ferry docked at Tarbert, the journey over the Harris mountains and across to Lewis, the weather was glorious. Winter weather didn’t seem to be too bad. Was I overly worried about things? Should have kept that thought to myself.

One thing I’ve already learnt is the weather changes quickly in the Western Isles. First, the strong winds came, then the temperature plummeted and of course, the snow came.

my first snow at the Small Mission Hall
my first snow at the Small Mission Hall

OK, so this is more like winter weather I had hoped might not materialise. Looks pretty, but without any heating in a stone building, this could get pretty cold!

Let there be light

I quickly got into the building. The moment of truth had arrived. Once inside, time to make sure all the consumer board fuses were switched on before flicking a light switch. At last, I had power – a game-changing moment right there!

let there be light
let there be light

Never had I been happier to see the shining light in the darkness! In hope and anticipation, I brought some low-energy LED daylight bulbs with me. Didn’t take long to swap the old bulbs out as there were only four in the whole building.

Tent life

I had brought a small tent up with me for sleeping in. The building doesn’t have any services or heating at the moment. The plan was to set up camp inside the building this time rather than sleeping in the van this time.

tent life – my attempt to keep a bit warmer in a building without heating
tent life – my attempt to keep a bit warmer in a building without heating

My thinking is that it should hopefully keep me a bit warmer inside. Plus it could be the one relatively clean dust/debris-free area in the building. That was the plan at least – clearly, I have multiple issues if this was my idea of a plan!

Snow time

My neighbour said this was the worst winter weather they’d had for a good few years. Great, so timed my visit well then. I guess it’s good to experience the place in all conditions. Still, at least I had light, power and an address. The next thing was to get someone around to fit a couple more temporary power outlets.

a snowy Small Mission Hall
a snowy Small Mission Hall

I intend to use local trades wherever possible for things I cannot do. A great resource of local knowledge, plus it keeps money in the community too. I had been recommended an electrician. Great guy who got what I was trying to do with the building. Turns out he remembered first putting the initial electrics in way back in the day when he was an apprentice!

getting some additional temporary power sockets fitted
getting some additional temporary power sockets fitted

I got him to check everything over and convert a couple of junction boxes into usable double power sockets as well. At the moment, everything is done as a temporary usable measure whilst things get sorted moving forward.

Start small

Bye bye tidy and clear space. It was nice knowing you oh so briefly! Time to take things back to the bare structure of the building to find what lurked behind the pastel-blue surface.

Limited space entrance lobby
Limited space entrance lobby

I intended to use the entrance lobby as a kind of temporary base of operations. Part kitchen/wash/WC/store area whilst working up here. But before I could set anything up, I had to rip everything off the walls, as well as remove its odd little stud work partition.

Lobby partition removed…
The lobby partition removed…

Gets messy

When you start tearing stuff down, it’s surprising just how much mess and rubble gets created. I intended to try and salvage and repurpose as much timber as possible in the process.

What for, I wasn’t quite sure of at this stage, it just seemed the best thing to do. I hate the idea of just adding more stuff to landfill when it could potentially be repurposed or reused in some way.

Getting a bit cramped for space
Getting a bit cramped for space

Plasterboard on the other hand is a real pain to deal with. It’s a one-use-only material that can’t realistically be reused. Plus as I have only just found out, you have to pay to dispose of it!

Currently definitely my least favourite material there is!

plasterboard clear up time
plasterboard clear up time

Convertible camper

It didn’t take long to swap the camping kit out of the camper, time for it to start earning its keep as a builders van. There was a lot of waste plasterboard to start disposing of at the local dump.

This was just some of the waste from the small lobby space. Not sure what I’ll be letting myself in for with the larger main hall!

 

So what do you think?

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