The advert on Gumtree went something like this 'Rent Free Flat / For 12 hours work a week.' I say something like this because I can't remember it exactly, it seems so long ago now, but that was about the gist of it. So anyway I sent off an email to the advert poster thinking that the opportunity was long gone seeing as the advert had already been up for 2 days, but nothing ventured nothing gained. Surprisingly I was informed that it was still available, being a somewhat cynical person though I started to wonder what was wrong with the flat, or indeed the work. At this stage I was thinking that the flat was an apartment building, probably rundown hence why it was available for free and that the advertiser had unreasonable expectations of what was achievable in 12 hours but still I was trying to look on the bright side and think about its location. Perthshire was after all an area that I liked to go for drives, walks, cycle rides, climbing etc whenever I could find the time off work and have in the past contemplated living there if only I could afford to move to an area where no-one knows my name and business reputation. With this in mind the thought of my own place rent free in an area that I liked to spend time in sounded appealing, even if the apartment itself was suspect or the work demanding I was looking at it as an opportunity to test if I enjoyed living in the area as much as I thought I would and if I did I could always look to move somewhere else, that is if I got the flat/job that is.
So emails went back and forth between me and the landlady with her trying to learn more about me and me trying to learn more about the flat and what the work entailed. Finally after a number of emails we sussed each other enough for me to get an invite to have a look at the flat for myself, this was when I found out that the apartment wasn't quite as far north as I had first believed, it was in fact only 27 miles away which was all the better for me for getting to work in the morning. So excitedly I jumped into the van and followed the instructions of how to get there. 40 minutes later I found myself driving in a parkland on a single track road with ancient trees (I mean literally ancient - these trees were/are hundreds of years old, unusual in Scotland in that most trees of this age sadly did not escape the sacrifice of culling for the First World War effort) convinced that I had taken a wrong turning because there couldn't possibly be an apartment at the end of this road, not when all I could see ahead of me was the spring sunshine and ewes giving birth to new lambs under the shade of the trees. I was sure that I was driving up to a farm and was looking for a way that I could turn the van but seeing that there wasn't any way of doing that I drove on for about half a mile when I came across some black iron gates and beyond that an Adam style mansion. The Adam's were a Scottish family dynasty of architects who designed homes for only the wealthiest of Scots a couple of centuries past, so when I saw this building I knew I was in the wrong place but I needed new directions so I rang the door bell more in hope than expectation that the owners might be able to send me off to the right place, imagine my surprise when I found out that this was already there. I think I managed to hold back the blasphemy that was on the tip of my tongue but I'm not exactly sure. Although I think I must of done seeing as they seemed to like what they saw and I have been living there coming up for two weeks now. Not quite in the main house itself but the 'flat' down stairs. Flat? You have to be kidding me! This isn't what I would describe as an apartment, its far too grand. In my book you do not get 'flats' attached to the ground floor of country houses. But then I'm not rich, so who am I to argue.
I wake up every morning still amazed that I am living here for free, especially when I consider that there is a second apartment on the ground floor that is rented out for no less than £350 a week at its cheapest in November and £690 a week in the summer. Granted my 'flat' hasn't been kitted out to the same standard but I can live with that. My only concern is that I might not be here for long, the house is getting sold in 3 months but the landlady seems to think that the new owners might stick to the same arrangement due to the size of the grounds and the upkeep required to maintain them. I'm not so convinced. I'm not that lucky. I'm still not quite sure how I managed to find myself in this position in the first place. I'm just going to enjoy what little time I have here and laugh at the thought of the family that just moved in next door for the week and just paid £500 for the privilege. It's just a shame that the owners are moving away because my new landlady is an incredibly nice person. For someone so rich she isn't the least bit snobbish at all which is not what I expected. And I was only living here 2 days, trying to look keen and eager to show my appreciation for living here by working my 12 hours without being asked when she came over to thank me and said that I didn't need to rush as some weeks there would be 12 hours work a week and others only 2. Of course there is no way I would only work 2 hours a week I feel guilty enough as it is, I feel like I'm robbing her blind but it was a nice gesture anyway.
I took pictures of the house and the grounds to share with you what a lucky bugger I am but I can't seem to find my usb or firewire cables to get the images off the camera but luckily part of of the House is rented out to tourists so I was able to find an image online.
The four windows on the left of the steps on the ground floor is my 'flat'. Now you know why I almost swore when I saw it.