This blog discusses the “Bluefolds Brand” development and the experiences of Bluefolds second owners Steve & Elizabeth Oliver 1999 to 2018 – By EJ Oliver
Bluefolds – The second generation of owners
During the late nineties, Steve and I were aware our time in the RAF was coming to an end so we were discussing our future and what we wanted to do. We discussed several ideas, one of which was running a holiday cottage business in my home country of Scotland so we started to look at possibilities, while I was in America, Steve found a property he was quite keen on. I remember we discussed it on the phone, it was a surreal conversation, I was in the USA with Steve in Germany and we were discussing a property in the far North of Scotland …. A Lighthouse with potential.
I asked Steve about double glazing and the reply was “no it hasn’t got double glazing but I think it has storm shuttering” anyway we let that opportunity pass us by! because ………………
In 1999, Steve was working in NATO at Ramstein Air Base, we were enjoying our third year living in Germany and still wondering what we would do on our return to the UK. In April, while on holiday in Scotland visiting my Mother, I had a short trip to Inverness to visit a friend. She and I looked in the Estate Agents for houses and self-catering cottages to buy in the north of Scotland. I took a selection back for Steve to look at. As soon as he saw Bluefolds, he said “we need to view this property”, I replied “I have booked an appointment for tomorrow”
It was early April and we took Mum with us. We sat on the stone bench outside the courtyard drinking the coffee we had brought with us on a very still calm day, marvelling at the stunning view!
The view and beautiful stonework of these cottages sold it to us. There were visitors in Folds cottage at the time so we never saw the inside before purchasing which as it turned out was a problem for me!
We purchased the cottages on 1st October 1999 and moved to live at Folds in January 2000. As this was just the start of websites, the cottages were being marketed by Blakes part of Stilwells. Steve by then was working at the Ministry of Defence in London coming home as often as possible at weekends. Painting and decorating kept me busy over the winter, as it did for the winters of all the intervening years until we sold in March 2018.
I enjoy painting and it was lovely to have fresh, clean, bright rooms to offer our guests. Over the years much of my time was taken up by marketing the cottages including designing ever more modern websites as technology moved forward during these years. It was joyful when we had our first online booking system to make life easier for our guests.
In the first year of our ownership, Bluefolds was unfenced and the sheep loved to spend the night close to the cottages leaving presents that the guests were not too keen on and occasionally they were actually leaning against the doors when the guests open them in the morning which was an interesting experience.
I spent of lot of time moving sheep poo from around the cottages! First stage was an electric fence which stopped the sheep, but was not liked by the guests with dogs which was understandable. The autumn of 2000 saw Steve and my brother Alastair erecting the fence that is still there today, good job I insisted on hard wearing round posts (minimise the impact of sheep rubbing and it also made them easier to paint, which happened several times over the years).
Over the next couple of years with constant mowing, the grass around the cottages, started to look like a lawn. We planted bulbs all around the cottages and fence line, the daffodils have been successful and are stunning in Springtime. We planted numerous trees over the years, some of which are now beginning to establish themselves and even thrive in the special “Bluefolds” climate. Trees grow very slowly and suffer from constant wind at 1250 feet but do look good in full autumnal colours and are a good source of food for the plethora of birds that enjoy Bluefolds. During that first summer we made friends with many of our visitors including Sue and Chris Kirby, who like us fell in love with the cottages and view, enjoying the atmosphere and setting of Bluefolds so much they are now the current owners.
During the first couple of winters, when I was living there on my own, we had a lot of snow and I was snowed in for about 6 weeks. I was glad to see the end of the snow during those winters although it looks very pretty! In the spring of 2002, Steve retired from the RAF and came to live at Folds cottage. From an early stage in his retirement, he took an interest in Whisky working one day a week at the Whisky Shop in Dufftown. It soon became a major hobby which he was anxious to share with our guests. Although I grew up on a farm in the countryside, I did not like living this remotely, in a house that I actively disliked. The view continued to be a joy and was photographed from every available angle.