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  • David Leavitt

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

I grew up watching Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C , the television how that featured Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle. Gomer was famous for his phrase: "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!" That phrase has made a comeback at Knockderry over last coupe of months as we've been preparing for the winter months by doing our best to stabilize the castle for winter.

We're still waiting for our governmental approvals to make the proposed alterations to Knockderry that we suggested back in April. Because Knockderry is an A-listed building, the approval process is a bit long and arduous. Though we believe that we're about through it.

That's not to say that we haven't been busy. We have been. There are plenty of things we can do prior to receiving the appropriate consents, as long as we're making repairs that are necessary for the health and safety of the building or if we're replacing like items with like items. In those instances, we can proceed with those needed repairs. And that's exactly what we've done.

We've brought heat into the castle, replacing the former heat system that hadn't functioned in decades (like for like) that will return the castle to warmth. We've been cracking on with window repairs on the basis that the health and safety of the building demand such restoration. In fact, many of the windows need it badly. We've done roof repairs, re-pointed stone that was cracked and in danger of falling off of the castle. We've replaced outdated water lines, not in the castle, but the main water lines leading to the castle. It seems like every time we turn around, we're met with another surprise. Some surprises feel enchanted and fun--like finding a hidden set of stairs or a fireplace that had been hidden behind a wall. Or letters, notes, and cigarette packages left inside walls. But sometimes, the surprises have been sobering, maybe even a bit gut-wrenching. Like finding areas of the castle infested with wood worms and wood rot, or finding the structurally unsound and dangerous behind walls that we exposed as we searched for just those types of things. Better to find out the good, the bad, the ugly, and the expensive now than later.

As we've watched our Instagram following grow (today it's at 458,000 followers), Chelom and I have been shocked and a little overwhelmed at people's kindness, curiosity, and encouragement as we feel our way around restoring Knockderry. Our instagram page is a family effort, with our niece Anne Marie and her niece Loren posting the content videos each day that we shoot to give a small indication of what is happening at the castle. The videos they post @knockderrycastle are often viewed hundreds of thousands of times and motivate dozens, if not hundreds of comments from our growing list of Knockderry friends. We are enormously grateful for that response and for Anne Marie's and Loren's help. They're amazing.

But we have grown increasingly aware that as fun as instagram is, there is a group of our followers that really want to delve deeper into the issues that we're facing and that the instagram page leaves them wanting for more information. That's what this blog will become: A blog that goes deeper into what actually is happening at Knockderry. We'll use it to keep you updated on the twists and turns of the daily work at Knockderry.

We hope you'll follow along and see every surprise, surprise, surprise in as real time as we're able to provide it. And if you have comments, please feel free to let us know what you think.

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