FREEZING COLD CASTLE, HAUNTINGS, CLIENTS, HOUSE MOVE & A BLOWN UP LAPTOP
Good evening all!
As many of my clients and friends know, it has been rather a stressful few months in the Musings household. Rewind to December 2018: Mr Musings and I moved to Scotland the day before Christmas Eve after he bagged his dream job working as a Commercial Airline Pilot. Based in Edinburgh. We got the news when we were in Dublin on business and within a few weeks, we had packed up our southern lives and were headed north. At the time, we were very excited for the new adventure and didn’t have time to pause and consider the amount of stress that could be impending.
As we both like to travel frequently, it was difficult to know how much of our belongings needed to come with us. We thought it best to ditch most of our furniture and to live minimally, just incase we had to move to another city in 6 months. We had 3 days to find a flat in a city neither of us have been to before and if anyone else out there has done this before, you’ll know it takes a couple of wines to soften the blow of anxiety. Unfortunately / fortunately (?), we were not drinking at this time as we were in the midst of a 5 month detox, trying to focus on work and get fit. Let me tell you, even the most refined chamomile tea from Fortnum’s cannot prepare you for turbo house hunting in the snow.
James and I were still in the early stages of our relationship at Christmas time, so we’d agree that the romance and excitement of moving to Scotland in the depths of winter kinda stopped us from submitting to a full mental breakdown as we juggled Christmas shopping with house-hunting, Pilot training, work, stuffing our most prized possessions into a small car and apologising profusely to both of our mums that we were skipping Christmas.
We came across a fully furnished flat within a castle property whilst up in Edinburgh on our 3 day house-hunt. The L-plan castle dates back to the 16th Century and was sold by Alexander Stewart to William Livingstone, 6th Lord Livingston in 1588. After some Jacobite action in 1715, the Hopes acquired the property (it remains in their possession). The property was transformed to form a Victorian-Mansion-Castle fusion and became a hotel in the 70s. After this, the castle was converted into a series of unusual flats. Too-good-to-be-true monthly rent. Charming, right?
Wrong. After rushed goodbyes and a painful 10 hour drive (the car was so packed we could barely see each other being stabbed by various art prints, sharp books and shoes), we moved into Bridge Castle, 2 days before Christmas. We hurried in, filled with hopes of being Lord and Lady Musings as we swung a viking sword around the dungeon drawing room with a vaulted ceiling, scattering William Morris cushions around as we went. Cosy nights with tea and card games were soon replaced by near-hypothermia, asthma attacks and Shining-like experiences triggered by rural life in winter. We were freezing. Storage heaters + castles = fruitless. We started seeing and fearing things - our own breath in the cold, shadows of people who weren’t there, doors opening by themselves, the overwhelming feeling of being watched. Despite the property’s impressive historical background (arrow holes and an ancient family crest in the wall), cracks started to show almost right away.
Moving from a modernised flat in Kensington, complete with a vast array of local shops, dining spots and friends, to a rural castle with no public transport links, pubs or shops for miles around, is a shock to the system. Throw in diabolical WiFi and you will begin to congratulate me for managing to retain my current line of work, rather than raising an eyebrow because I am no longer posting daily. I took up reading on the alternate weeks that I didn’t commute into London for 3 days of meetings. Hours and hours of reading. My knowledge of the Tudors and Stuarts increased significantly as my sanity depleted. Mr Musings, on the other hand, had his own anxieties to contend with as he left me to fly hundreds of people across the UK for the very first time, battling wind and snow, quashing all castle dramas and feelings of displacement to the back of his mind.
ALL BOOKS AND NO PLAY MAKES VICTORIA A DULL GIRL. ALL COLD AND NO PLAY MAKES VICTORIA A DULL GIRL. ALL GHOSTS AND NO PLAY MAKES VICTORIA A DULL GIRL. ALL SNOW AND NO PLAY MAKES VICTORIA A DULL GIRL. ALL HISTORY AND NO PLAY MAKES VICTORIA A DULL GIRL. ALL SWORDS AND NO PLAY MAKES VICTORIA A DULL GIRL. ALL 16TH CENTURY AND NO PLAY MAKES VICTORIA A DULL GIRL.
Have you ever fallen asleep in 3 jumpers, thermal trousers and socks and a woollen hat, only to wake up feeling like you’re in an industrial supermarket freezer? It sucks. The landlord did nothing to soothe our pain and no amount of blow heaters managed to sort the insulation issues, so after 3 months, we found a new flat, sorted out the paper work faster than the Tasmanian Devil and departed within 48 hours of the viewing. The castle landlord demanded another month’s rent, even though I had developed asthma and we had photos of extreme damp alongside blue-faced selfies. Lovely. We found out from neighbours that we were the 3rd couple in 18 months to ‘leave in a hurry’. One previous tenant went mad and speechless from the cold and her husband tried to section her. Fantastic.
Fast forward to now and we are in a new, modern town house. We feel new again and are hugging radiators with love and appreciation rather than for survival. As I sat down to my MacBook Pro to enjoy the freshly installed internet for the very first time, I couldn’t believe how happy I felt to be enjoying what others take for granted every day. And then my laptop died. Forever. RIP. Right on that very day.
Some might say that God is asking me to stay offline for a bit, or maybe I am being strengthened as a person by a thousand mini trials. Possibly, some parts of the UK are a little behind the times and certain letting agents / landlords need a sharp slap and a criminal record. I feel as though I have been running through a forest in Autumn, covered in superglue and trying (and failing) not to stick to a vast forest’s worth of falling leaves. Still. I thought I owed you all an explanation as to why I have not been writing much lately. WiFi issues aside, all of this has contributed to a severe writer’s block and feelings of hopelessness.
Thankfully, due to my two smart phones and my joie de vivre, business has resumed. In between ghost hunting, packing, packing and more packing, whisky tastings (we broke the ban) and a thousand admin tasks, I have managed to launch an Edinburgh monthly networking series for women in the luxury industry. If you’ve been sat on your arse complaining in your modern property with internet all week, this is the point where you should start feeling guilty.
Was it worth it? Will I continue to do the Scotland-to-London thing? Am I mad? Yes, yes and probably. But love prevails and Mr Musings has made every trial and tribulation worthwhile. As premature ageing and the shakes swept in, our love deepened and it’s true what they say - the hard times really do make or break a relationship. Pulling together and not apart has made us infinitely stronger as a couple and supporting each other’s careers throughout the location change has been a blessing (I traded ghost busting skills for cheap flights).
We are off to Spain to recover from the past 4 months, but when we return, I promise to update you all a little more frequently. I know I will feel unstoppable. I just turned 28 and James is about to turn 30 - we have some celebrating to do. Thank you for your patience and feel free to email me if you’re thinking about swapping town for country. I’ve swapped stilettos for snow boots and I know what I’m talking about.