Lynn and Richard’s home is remote. You fly into Aberdeen, population 212,000. From there you head into the highlands and know you are getting close when you pass the town of Huntly, with around 4,500 people. The closest town to the house is Gartly, a “hamlet” of 144 people. A bend in the road.
Lynn and Richard’s house has a name, as do many houses in the UK. I will call it Dunrovin because this is where Richard wanted to move when he retired and was done with big city life and international travels.
Actually, he wanted to move to a “wee bothy” (a hut). I’m not sure which of these variations he had in mind but Lynn put the kibosh on the idea of a bothy.
Dunrovin had been owned by generations of the Gordon family until all the sons were killed or disbursed in the wars and there were no men of their class for the sisters to marry, so the family died out.
The idea of a stately home was difficult for me to comprehend, as an American. It’s one of those things I think British people grow up knowing about, so it’s obvious to them. There is a wealthy family—not royalty or aristocrats but landed gentry—living in the main house which has a name. Everything surrounding it is referred to with that name and would have been part of the estate. In the case of Dunrovin, there is the gamekeeper’s cottage up the hill, the laundry cottages over the road, and the farm house. All were sold off, along with the silver, as the Gordon family contracted financially.
I will share some photos of the house and land, starting with the great outdoors. My photos have been taken at various times of year over 12 years, so if some look like they’re set in winter, they are.
As you come up the drive, there are fields on either side with grazing sheep.
This is the back garden and beyond from inside Dunrovin. In the middle distance is one of the satellite cottages that used to be part of the estate.
This is a view in the opposite direction, from the back of the garden near the gate that leads down to the river. Meet Parker. He’s a very aloof dog; people call him Lord Parker. But he always appeared and hovered near me whenever I left my room. Parker is not much for people and I am tone deaf to dogs, so we got along great.
This is a similar view, only taken in summer this year so you can see that the sun really does come out in Scotland. When there’s the slightest bit of sun and warmth, people like Lynn and me go out and sit on benches and turn our faces up to the sun and go “Mmmmmm,” while Richard complains that it’s too hot.
This is the back garden from the attic, where I spent a lot of time. No, they didn’t put me up there, although that wouldn’t have been so bad because it’s a nice space with skylight views of the 15 chimneys. No, it was because I requested to be given a project, and Richard assigned me to clear out and paint the attic.
Here is Parker again, your tour guide, showing you the net house full of lettuce and broad beans and peas. The netting keeps the birds (and dogs) away. Across from it is the glass house, where Richard grows hothouse veggies like tomatoes and peppers.
In addition to growing his own produce, Richard shoots deer and other game so in theory they could be almost self-sufficient if they wanted or needed to be.
Exiting out the back gate and leaving behind a disappointed Parker, I would often walk down to the river, passing these trees with old graffiti from soldiers billeted nearby after the war (I think).
Richard had moved a café table down to the river, where I enjoyed a cuppa.
I have asked and been told several times the name of the river, but I can’t remember. I prefer to think of it as just The River. This was where I would spend a month.