Loch Fyne, Argyll, Scotland
News from Minard
This page is intended to keep our friends and visitors
up to date about events here. It is not meant to be a regularly updated
blog but we will add to it when we think we have something interesting
Gale Damage - our biggest Silver
Fir has fallen!
We had a bad gale on the night of Tuesday 8th January,
and a scene of devastation greeted us on the Wednesday morning.
Not only have we lost our tallest Silver Fir (Abies
alba) but also a large limb from another one and several
other trees, including a copper beech felled by the big tree.
The Silver Fir was about 130 feet (40m) tall and had a girth of
about 17 feet (5m). When it fell it blocked the front drive and
it was a couple of hours before we could visit the outside world
again. The usual entrance over the cattle grid was closed for
several days by the large limb from the other tree which fortunately
missed The Lodge, because it fell along the line of the road.
Clearing up all this timber will keep us busy for a long time
yet. Most will become firewood but we hope to slab some of the
larger parts to make usable building material.
Fortunately there was no damage to the house itself,
and we were only without electricty for a few minutes. This contrasts
with the local televison and radio transmissions which were off
for days afterwards due to a power failure and the lack of a standby
No More Bed & Breakfast!
We very much regret to tell all our friends that we
are no longer offering bed & breakfast in Minard Castle.
If you would like suggestions for staying in this
area, please phone us on 44 (0) 1546 886272 and we will try to
The reason we have stopped is that the recently introduced
fire safety regulations are much more onerous than those with
which we have complied for years. The alterations required of
us were estimated at about £30,000! Such a cost was clearly
not justified for a small business like ours. Also, the many
intrusive fittings, illuminated signs and fire doors would have
seriously detracted from the historic character of the house
- and of course we do not want our home to resemble an office!
We would like to extend our thanks and good wishes
to the many thousands of guests we have had the pleasure of welcoming
to our home during the past fourteen years.
Scotland's Gardens Scheme 2009
The garden and grounds were again open for charity
under Scotland's Gardens Scheme on the afternoon of Sunday 10th
May 2009. After a couple of weeks of rain it was a great relief
that the weather was nice and sunny. Some visitors even took
a longer walk to see the rhododendrons, many of which were flowering.
Many thanks to all who helped.
Barney and Benny
And some sad news...
Our elderly donkey Rebecca, the mother of Benny, died
at the end of last year.
Poor Benny, who had always been with his mother, was
of course distraught. We could not do much to help except put
him in the field with a couple of horses. We then began a frantic
search for another donkey. After an unsuccessful lead which wasted
several weeks, we managed to locate one near Glasgow, a four
Barney arrived late one evening and we left him stabled
overnight. Next morning he and Benny were calling to each other
across the grounds. Later we introduced them. There was not too
much fuss and we were able to put them both into the field. They
now seem quite happy together.
They don't really like horses very much so a fence
now divides the field and they have their own part into which
the horses cannot get. They, however, can push under the fence
wire whenever they want! They can also go down onto the beach
and eat seaweed! The stones and traces of salt are probably good
for their hooves too.
18th May 2008
Scotland's Gardens Scheme 2008
Our garden was open on 11th May
Our our garden and grounds were again open under Scotland's
Gardens Scheme on the afternoon of Sunday 11th May 2008.
The weather was fine and sunny and we raised a useful
sum for charity, though not as much as last year. Perhaps there
were too many competing events in the area that day.
Thanks again to all who helped both in the preceding
weeks and on the day.
22nd January 2008
24th December 2007
all our Friends
Rebecca and Benny in their winter
This has been another busy year for us and we are very
glad that the season is over and we can now catch up on sleep!
In fact we did take a break in September when we went
to California for two weeks of nice weather and no work.
In the spring we acquired two donkeys, Benny, on the
right in the picture, and his mother Rebecca. They have spent
most of the year in the large field in front of the house but
are now indoors in the interest of keeping their hooves dry and
healthy in the wet weather.
It can probably be counted a success as we took about
£350 in total including the money for the teas. The proceeds
go to charity, 40% to the Scottish Society for the Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals and the rest to the charities supported
by Scotland's Gardens Scheme.
We were very lucky with the weather as the forecast
had not been good, but in fact it was sunny and there was enough
breeze to keep the midges away. We had many favourable comments,
and at least some of the visitors walked all around the Woodland
Garden. Many had not been here before, and two couples had stories
to tell about parents or grandparents who had worked here many
The garden and grounds were looking quite good, as
we had all made a big effort in the months leading up to the event.
Anne painted garden gates and did some weeding, and the real gardeners
had put in many extra hours. Matt Heasman, our rhododendron expert,
had given even more care and attention to the rare plants in the
Woodland Garden he has created beyond the pond. Many thanks to
Harry Kent, Jenny, Mark and everyone else who helped on the day.
The cat population continues to thrive. In January two of Gracie's
kittens were re-homed, together, and are doing well. The two
we kept, Leo and Spot, are now much larger than their mother.
All three cats supplement their perfectly adequate diet with
mice and other small rodents from the garden - as well as, regrettably,
the occasional bird.
Wishing you a Good New Year!
All the best for 2008 from Reinold
and Anne Gayre
Leo and Spot
Photo Beverly Schroeder
These two and mother Gracie are spending most of their
time outdoors, sleeping in between mouse duty. They are thriving,
obviously. We try to keep them in at night but occasionally they
manage to evade us. The "kittens" are now fully grown
and very agile. Tree climbing is a speciality, mainly to show
off to an audience!
16th May 2007
Scotland's Gardens Scheme 2007
Our garden was open on 13th May
For the first time, we opened our garden and grounds
under Scotland's Gardens Scheme on the afternoon of Sunday 13th
The garden will be open again on the afternoon of Sunday
11th May 2008.
4th March 2007
We have been continuing, all too slowly, with the
restoration of the windows and other features of the building.
By now, most of the windows in the front of the house have been
re-built to the original pattern, using recycled timber as it
is better quality and more stable than new wood from a builders'
merchant. We have been able to make the window sills out of oak
from our own trees. We did not fell any but used trees which
had fallen in gales.
Three of the windows are in the "conservatory",
the room over the front door. It was a building site throughout
2006 but we hope to have it finished for this year. The work
also involved making new shutters, panelling and small turned
wooden features. When complete, most of the many houseplants
will be returned to the room, and it should be a pleasant place
to sit on warm days.
Another project has been the conversion of the tower
at the end of the east wing into some accommodation. We have
formed a small house on three floors with a kitchen-livingroom,
two bedrooms and two bathrooms, one of them en suite. This has
involved building a completely new staircase, as well as the
inevitable window reconstruction. This conversion has been a
painfully slow undertaking. It took us thirteen months just to
obtain planning permission! The work is at last nearing completion
and we have just recently taken delivery of the stone with which
we have already formed one of two new small windows at the back.
For further information please contact
Many of you will already know that our dear old retriever
Rory died in September 2006, after a very short illness, at the
good age of thirteen and three quarter years.
Not long before that, we were adopted by a cat who
moved out of the trees and into Rory's quarters in a matter of
days. She is bright, a busy mouser, and has the unusual characteristic
of accompanying us for walks! In the early days she came with
us and Rory, and has continued since. Anne has named her Gracie,
short for Amazing Grace.
Following earlier rumours of a roaming black tom cat
in the vicinity, in October four kittens were born! We have since
found a home for two of them, together, and have kept two - Leo,
a ginger male, and Spot, a tortoiseshell like her mother.
The four kittens
Now, Anne has acquired two donkeys, Rebecca and her
son Benny, which she insists on calling "burros" -
the American for donkeys! She missed the donkeys she had years
ago in California, and seized the chance of re-homing these two
who were surplus to requirements on a local hillside. We are
still trying to persuade Benny not to chase Gracie, who of course
accompanies us into their field. We have recycled an old garden
shed as a shelter for them in wet weather, though they seem mainly
to prefer to stand in the rain!
Rebecca and Benny
Argyll PA32 8YB
Telephone/fax: 44 (0)1546 886272
© Reinold Gayre 2001-2017