Reprinted from The Sleeping Hedgehog, our in-house newsletter for staff and friends of ours. Dated we think from the period just before the modern Library addition was added which makes it from 1870 or so.
Winter here at the Kinrowan Estate is something we take seriously as it’s not very nice around here once it gets really cold. Like the first Jack who sought refuge here from the law, centuries of musicians, writers, actors, and others have found winters here to be quite preferable to being elsewhere. Even those of us who live elsewhere can be found here for long stretches of time. ‘Why so’, you ask, and the answer is one worth knowing.
First of all, there are the rooms on the top three floors — each with a bed complete with a goose down mattress and a quilt on top, several chests for keeping your possessions in, built-in bookshelves, a comfortable chair with enough illumination from the the gas lighting to read by, and a fireplace should you feel a need for little more warmth if our ancient steam radiators aren’t working well. At any given time, a few dozen folk are living here — some for a few days, some for decades. Many of the Neverending Session players can found in residence as can be noted from the sounds of fiddles and other instruments being played long into the night!
There’s even a number of rooms that have an attached sitting room and ample closet space. That’s where folk like myself and Iain have residence. Other folk like Bela, our Balkan violinist, and Mrs. Ware, Head Cook, are quite content with the single rooms.
Let’s walk over to the Library . . . Yes, the Library. One of the advantages of living and/or working here is that one need not leave the building to find plenty to read, watch, or listen to. You can easily find the complete works of William Shakespeare, first folio from the collection of the theatre company here, to a recording of Nazgul made at their legendary best. The library takes up the entire north tower of the building — which is on the far back corner, so that the windows look out over the woods in back. The archives are in the basement of the tower and on the first floor.
MacGregor , our Librarian, has his office on the fifth floor just off of the Robert Graves Memorial Reading Room, at the very top of the tower. The third floor contains several sound proof rooms and equipment for listening to and watching different formats of recorded media, including impression balls, sidhe glass, wax cylinders and so on up to CDs and DVDs.
The Estate kitchens are a bit of a mongrelization of old and new. The grey slate floors have been here for ages, with paths worn into them from the feet of countless cooks rushing about and reviewers stumbling in at all hours searching for a bite to sustain them. There’s an ultra modern stainless steel and glass door opening into our state of the art walk-in cooler, and a second door next to it opening into the equally state of the art deep freeze.
However, there’s also a short wooden door on the other side of the room which leads down some creaky, musty stairs into a cool, slightly damp root cellar, where we keep kegs of various libations and myriad home-canned goods like the plum-nectarine-ginger marmalade sent to us by a grateful author who appreciated a thorough review. Our cooks have the finest restaurant quality six burner stove and triple oven, but there’s also a spit and a pothook over the fireplace, and many a roast and stew have been prepared over an open flame.
The coffee urn is always full, there’s always ice cream in the freezer, and there’s usually a reviewer or two writing or conversing at one of the long wooden tables that line the west wall. The kitchen is generally lit by candlelight and gas lamp, unless one of the chefs is perusing a centuries-old cookery book from the Archives, in which case they might switch on the hidden track lighting. Old red and gold brocaded curtains cover the windows and swing in the breezes that cause the candles to flicker even when the windows are closed. The room smells faintly of vanilla, cinnamon, and roasting meats.