Possibly an usual heading for a blog about holiday cottages on the Isle of Mull? But the beds in Middle and West Cottages have a story which goes back hundreds of years.
Back in October 1987 there was a hurricane in the south of England. Farmer was living and working on a farm in Surrey at the time, and tragically about 50% of the magnificent oak woods on the farm were flattened in this terrible storm. These were mature oak woods with fragrant carpets of bluebells underfoot in the spring. They were beautiful – valuable habitats supporting masses of wildlife – dating back hundreds of years. Over the next year or so, the devastation in the woods was slowly cleared up, replanting began, and the salvageable timber was stored carefully.
In 1988 Farmer got married – to me! I did a woodland management course locally aimed at helping land managers manage their woodland. One of my jobs was to sell the fallen timber. Talk about dropping me in at the deep end! Timber merchants were notorious for promising the earth and disappearing without paying. Thankfully I did manage to sell most of it – and get paid!
From tree-trunk to bed
Farmer wanted to commemorate the oak trees the farm had lost – to have something made from some of the oak. We met a carpenter called Rob and bartered a load of oak trunks in exchange for an oak bed. It was a beautiful bed, but when we moved to Mull, there was no way it would fit in the house! It sat in the steading gathering dust for a couple of years whilst we tried to work out how to utilise the talented craftsmanship.
Eventually we decided to cut it down into sections and do different things with it. A local carpenter called Andrew and an artist who at the time worked with metal called Andy turned bits of the old bed into 2 beautiful double beds. One for Middle Cottage and one for West! That was in 1997. Studio guests will find windowsills made of bits of the original bed too.
Upcycled at last
Here we are 20 years later… Middle and West are crying out for kingsize beds, however I don’t want to lose the lovely oak headboards. But Andy no longer works with metal, and Andrew has retired. We want to give our guests improved comfort in having kingsize beds rather than double beds. But we want to use the hurricane oak. Finally we found a man who could help, and on Wednesday we collected the upcycled beds. They had been carefully widened to a kingsize width, and fitted again to the beautiful oak headboards. The photograph at the top shows you the finished kingsize bed in the West bedroom. The alcove in the living room now has a daybed instead (below).