• Alison Cowell

Scotch mist

Updated: Jan 28, 2019

We arrived in the UK in June 2018 when Britain was experiencing an extended heatwave. Great for us as we were used to such weather! After a week or so with our sons in the south of England we headed north to Scotland, the home of my ancestors (I was a McDonald before I became a Cowell) and, of course, the home of my parents.

I had the idea of buying a caravan while we toured around looking for somewhere to live. We had thought to turn our hand to property development. After living in a little country cottage in New Zealand, we fancied doing the same thing here. With a conservative budget and a limited location area (we didn’t want to be too far from Mum & Dad) we set off eagerly hoping to find a little gem. There had been many on the market when we were looking for them before we emigrated, but they had suddenly all disappeared when we arrived!

However, one such property was still on the market. A derelict two-bedroom cottage on a farm estate just outside Forfar, some 40 minutes from Mum & Dad’s place in Newport-on-Tay. It wasn’t really doing much for me, but Steve was enthusiastic as he wandered round. I watched as he envisioned ‘knocking this down, moving this here and opening that up to exploit the view’. I knew that the excited look on his face (that I have grown to know through our 40 years of marriage) meant there was little point me protesting. If the cottage didn’t quite inspire me, the view totally captured my heart. Stunning panoramic views across the countryside with breath-taking sunrises and sunsets. Yes, I could be happy here!

So we put in an offer and the painful, almost unbelievable saga began.

The fact it took 4 weeks for the offer to be accepted should have been our first clue. The sellers were brothers who didn’t communicate with each other and who each had their own solicitor. At the same time, we seemed to have chosen the most disinterested, unsympathetic solicitor possible. Each email we received started with ‘Still waiting to hear…..’ or ‘I know you won’t be happy to hear this but ….’ Excuse me, have we not engaged you to act on our behalf? Stop waiting, start doing! So many complications unravelled, including an unknown person on the deed, a query regarding the boundary, rights to the track, and the fact is was still showing as collateral for a loan. Yes, complicated indeed!

Whilst various storms graced us with their presence (why are they given friendly human names when they clearly set out to cause nothing but mayhem), we literally battened down the hatches in the caravan. Trips to the campsite shower room and laundry room were interesting when the rain was pelting, and the winds bullied me there and back. The caravan seemed to be getting smaller by the day as we stepped over the dog to make dinner or fetch a new book to read (I have read dozens since I got here).

A break came when we were told, in September, that we could have permission to move the caravan onto the site of the cottage because ‘after so long, the sale will completed next week’. Thank goodness Steve is a capable chap and we managed to get the caravan in place. Yay! Almost there. We were told we couldn’t start work on the cottage or cause any damage to it until it was legally ours. That was understandable but incredibly frustrating because we had so much to do and now the winter was threatening her arrival. So we began work on the overgrown garden while we waited, almost hourly, for the confirmation email to arrive. But as the days, weeks and months dragged by, our spirits sank as yet more ‘we are still waiting for……’ emails taunted us from in our in-box.


Copyright © 2019 Alison Cowell

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