This Edition’s Unique Property Feature:-

How? What?

Hohenwerfen Castle Hotel

Where Eagles Dare Movie: Hohenwerfen Castle – Schloss Adler
How To Rustle Up A Castle Adventure – Read On

Within each edition of Unique Property Bulletin we make best efforts to cover a subject of interest to our readers. However, with such a diverse range of visitors to this website, it can be hit or miss. There are millionaires in London; architects in Devon; telecommuters in Cardiff; book writers in Bristol, television researchers in Manchester; IT specialists in Belfast; buy-to let investors in Suffolk; game designers in Dundee. Plus some very accomplished Bulletin visitors such as Olympic medalists and London’s Royal Opera Albert Hall composers. The Unique Property Bulletin readership is a genuinely interesting cross section of society.

You can see our dilemma. Hopefully, whatever your core interest, we can occasionally set the thought process going. For this edition we cover two elements of what we trust may be or interest and assistance to our readers. As the trusty accompaniment to this website – Unique Property Manual says on the cover: How To Find, Fund & Have Fun With Unique Property. We know the majority of content within the Bulletin seeks at locating an interesting building to call home. However it is important to follow up on what our Manual extols – the funding part. Not just creating/locating the capital to buy that unusual home, but the earning of a living whilst there. Even if you find yourself very well placed on the financial front, you may well go nuts without something to do. An interesting vocation may be light years away from what you do now. But you never know, a little lateral thought may give you a new horizon. So for this edition’s how and what elements Unique Property Bulletin founder Russ McLean recounts a gentle journey that had a deep and positive impact.

Duart Castle - Location Filming When Eight Bells Toll

Film Start Location: Castle Duart
How to rustle up another castle adventure – please keep reading

“It is strange how seemingly simple accidents of fate can change life’s direction. Several years ago I was returning from a trip to the northern archipelago of Orkney. A rare treat. Also, the north coast is a reasonably well kept secret. Orkney in the summer can and often is like the Mediterranean – a hot, sunny and warm climate. I have had sunstroke on there. Twice. Who would have thought it? A lot of it is to do with the proximity to the Arctic Circle. Days can be full of light and at midsummer it doesn’t really get dark at night. I digress.

North Ronaldsay Island Orkney

North Ronaldsay: One of 70 Orcadian Islands That Form The Archipelago

Having stayed a while with kind and hospitable friends on North Ronaldsay island I was not in a rush to dash home…

The lighthouse keeper at the North Ronaldsay Lighthouse, North Ronaldsay, Orkney. Picture Credit: P.Tomkins / VisitScotland /Scottish Viewpoint Tel: +44 (0) 131 622 7174 Fax: +44 (0) 131 622 7175 E-Mail : This photograph cannot be used without prior permission from Scottish Viewpoint.

North Ronaldsay Lighthouse

Photograph Courtesy of P. Tomkins

So I did not take the first ferry, but opted for the midday voyage to the mainland. An ultra trivial decision with an ultimately life-enhancing result. Once back on the mainland, I began the picturesque, though long drive south. After three hours and arriving in late afternoon at Inverness I looked for a hotel to stay in. There must have been a major event, perhaps a conference or something, because there were no rooms to be had. Leaving Inverness I continued driving south. After a few miles I spied a sign to a small guesthouse at Daviot. Could have blinked and missed it. Especially as the road to this place was directly off of the busy A9 and easily passed – click here to view Google 3D. In that split second I decided to try this place for an overnight stay…

Torguish House Holiday Accommodation: Click Here

Torguish House - Alastair MacLean Feature Picture 1

Torguish House

Fortunately there were rooms still available for renting. Indeed much more than that. For this was the former home of a favourite author, Alistair MacLean. Who he? I hear some folk ask. For many he is the consummate author. One who has had many of his books translated to films.

Does this seem familiar…

Guns of Navarone

The Guns of Navarone: Paperback Novel By Alistair MacLean

Even if the novel isn’t on your own bookshelf at home, perhaps you recognise the movie that came from this work…

Guns of Navarone Film

The Guns of Navarone: The Film

Starring Gregory Peck, Sir Anthony Quayle, Sir Stanley Baxter, David Niven, Anthony Quinn

This film was released in April 1961. It had cost $6,000,000 to make and returned over $28,900,000 at the box office. In those days that was a lot of money. All of this came from the mind of a modest man tapping away at an old manual typewriter! In fact he had borrowed the typewriter from a neighbour.

To go from that imagination and create multimillion pound blockbuster movies which entertains millions of people. Surely a talent worth studying?

For now, we return to Alistair MacLean’s former home at Daviot. The current owners of Torguish House are delightful and the stay a memorable one. They hadn’t overdone the Alistair MacLean connection, but had sufficient to acknowledge the relevance of the building to the writer and vice versa. It was a strange experience breakfasting in the kitchen and wondering what it was like back in the day when such a successful author was beginning his life there in that very room and house. On a personal level, I had grown up reading the page-turning blockbuster books by this man. So the interest in how that magic was distilled had been piqued.

To some readers, the name Alistair MacLean might not mean that much. To many the works he created, especially those transformed into Holywood movies will probably ring a bell: Literally.

Others books-to-movies will jog the memory by the music from the film score…

Click On The Picture Above To View The Video Excerpt

Many Will Know This Theme Tune & Film

This clip, posted as recently as 2007, has attracted 1,111,848 views. Not bad for an old film, from an even older book.

But the story of where it came from is worth studying

The interest in how Alistair MacLean had become so successful lasted for much longer than that first stay at Torguish House. If you have ever considered writing a book – and I believe that everyone has at least one book in them just waiting to be written – then there is a gem of a biography on the author Alistair MacLean. Written by Jack Webster:-

Alistair MacLean – Biography: Click Here

You may ask: Why read this? The answer? An old mantra – If you want to study a vocation in a way that may yield results, research someone who has managed to follow that path in an inspired way.

The direction I am going with this, for those reading these words, is if you have ever thought about writing as a career, then Jack Webster’s biography of Alistair MacLean may be a very good worked example to read. There is, of course a lot to becoming an author. By no means is such a vocation plain sailing. Hazards abound, and it takes a lot to do it well. But think on this: Alistair MacLean had an old manual typewriter and some sheets of paper as his tools. Plus one amazing imagination and incredible intellect.

Within a few years, he went from this…

Alistair MacLean, A Typewriter & Paper - Imagination

Minimalist Setting, But Rich In Imagination & Ability

Alistair MacLean with an old manual typewriter, some paper and a bare room.

… to becoming the best-selling author on the planet of his time. From a near-empty room and blank literary canvas came about the sales of 30,000,000 and many films derived from them. Readers and viewers were given much enjoyment from the fruit of these labours.

How might this be relevant to you? If your potential appetite of writing as a sustainable vocation is not whetted and crystalised in Mr MacLean’s thirty million book sales, perhaps a visit to first principles might give comfort to budding authors reading this. Quoting the excellent biography by Jack Webster:-

Alistair MacLean’s early success reads like a dream come true. The quiet-mannered school teacher. Son of the manse, won a £100 short-story competition. His talent was spotted and this led to the publication of MacLean’s first novel: HMS Ulysses in October 1955. By that Christmas it had sold over a quarter of a million copies. A second best seller, The Guns of Navarone, which was made into a major film, enabled MacLean to give up teaching and set him on the road to fame and fortune.

Source: Alistair MacLean – Biography

By Jack Webster

All of this may seem a long time ago, but two points. Firstly, Alistair MacLean only had an old typewriter and never knew what a wordprocessor was, let alone had the use of such a device. You have Kindle, Amazon, and the wonders of the internet. Plus access to amazing wordprocessor technology. Nowadays you only need to press the print button once everything sit well on the page. No typing and retyping manuscripts ad nauseam. Secondly, the literary quality from a good author stands the test of time. The fact that even today, Holywood is considering Alistair MacLean’s writing for the movies, and continued sales of his books (now on Kindle) illustrates the demand for such work is enduring. That is a wonder of the written word: Dickens, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Proust, Twain, Orwell. Many lists exist: source.

As for Mr MacLean, even if you haven’t heard of his books, you have probably seen some of the movies based on his novels – and it is a substantial body of work – just take a look at the list…

Where Eagles Dare

Ice Station Zebra

Bear Island

When Eight Bells Toll

Fear Is the Key

The Guns of Navarone

The Way to Dusty Death

Force 10 from Navarone

Night Watch

River of Death

The Hostage Tower

Golden Rendezvous

Breakheart Pass

Caravan to Vaccares

Puppet on a Chain

The Satan Bug

The Secret Ways

Source: Click Here.

Even today, films created from Alistair MacLean books are eminently watchable…

Please Click On The Picture Above To See The Video Excerpt

As Recently As 2007, Youtube Clip From Ice Station Zebra Has 205,080 Views

Ice Station Zebra Close Up

Back In The Day Ice Station Zebra Was A Star Studded Epic

These films are often a staple of Christmas television film scheduling.

So where does all of this leave us, and how is it relevant to Unique Property Bulletin readers?

Well Alistair MacLean was, without doubt, and incredibly successful author. The proof?  In 1997, ten years after Alistair MacLean passed away, it is reported that the royalties from his work were still accruing £150,000 a year (source: click here). Not a bad legacy – both literary and financial.

I personally believe that writing is a talent that many reading this have laying dormant and untapped within. It is also a way for you to work from a distant setting. Often with the unique property you would like to live in, there is a remoteness from what might be described as a normal job in the city. Writing is one remedy for the issue that can block the chances of living away from the urban environment. Long-distance-working, or telecommuting as the modern vernacular now describes it. Even if you don’t need to work – and many of our readers have been financially fortunate enough to retire very early, some as early as their mid-thirties – writing is a vocation that can keep you sane. Trust me on that one.

Over the years of putting Unique Property Bulletin together, the weird and wonderful locations of buildings we feature have often meant it is difficult for the bulk of our readers to consider a remote or semi-rural life that can attach to a few of what we list, such as Knockaird Water Tower circa £15,000 click here, located in what can fairly be described as a remote place: click here. Now with broadband and the internet there are numerous ways to earn a crust and into the bargain keep yourself busy – no matter how distant from the madding crowd where you might want to live.

I’ve cited Alistair MacLean as one author. It is likely you will have your own favourite person. Or if you have a preferred film or television genre, then writer of the screenplay etc. I’d suggest that the study of authors is an important – and often very interesting and enjoyable component of finding out whether you would like to go on a similar path. Literally pick a biography of an author you like and start a little research exercise.

This evening I just watched a television interview with Diana Gabaldon.

Dr Gabaldon is a scientist and just wanted to try writing novels. I’ve yet to read her Outlander books, or watch the Outlander television series. However, after listening to this wonderful lady describe how she accidentally became an author, I am fairly looking forward to reading and watching what she has written. Not sure how many, or the chart position of Outlander, but as a quick check, the series often tops 800 views every day on Wikipedia Outlander page (click here for a rich source of data).

Even if you just spend a few hours reading about how your favourite author got where they did, that exercise is likely to prove illuminating.

Having journeyed through some of the how of unique property, we now arrive at the second part of this treatise – the what of unique property.

At the introduction to this Bulletin’s feature – aimed at bringing out the author in many of our readers as a possible vocation – we did mention a twist in the tail to this piece.

Throughout his life, Alistair MacLean was known as a son of the manse. Well I just discovered the very manse where this best-selling author was imbued with the formative elements of his wordcraft is now up for sale. The actual building…

Torguish House MAIN

Torguish House: Formerly The Manse At Daviot
Home of Author Alistair MacLean. Now A Small Hotel With 4 Holiday Cottages

So what makes a property unique? It isn’t just the appearance, but the history that is important as well. The small hotel where I stayed just south of Inverness may appear less than unique. It is often a question we ask before property is featured in the Unique Property Bulletin: is it unusual enough to be included? The what of this publication isn’t always the visually eccentric.

Scratching below the surface of this detached three storey building it reveals itself as the original Manse for nearby Daviot Church. When Alistair MacLean was growing up in the Manse with his brothers, they would walk up to the Church from their home. Nowadays the two buildings are separate. Not just in function and ownership, but by the major arterial A9 road that now runs between the two properties.

I would suggest that Torguish House – the old MacLean family Manse – is in many ways unique. Not just as a church manse, but on the basis that such a talented person’s formative years took place in this very building. Perhaps I am bias. All I do know is that whenever the opportunity arises, I stop of at Torguish – usually whilst travelling between the North and the South of the country. There is something utterly intangible, but absolutely beguiling about this place. You need to visit it to see if the place has a similar effect on you.

To top off this Unique Property Bulletin article, it now transpires that as of November/December 2015 Alistair MacLean’s old home – Torguish House – is for sale. The price of £750,000 includes the main building, plus 4 holiday cottages. There is, indeed a fair amount included in the deal. Maybe a candidate for…

Unique Property Syndicates

A separate Unique Property Syndicate – Torguish review follows after this article. 

As to the what of this feature – it isn’t always the eccentric or overly eye catching that can, or should be classed as unique. Sometimes it is the provenance of a building that holds an essential part of that individual structure that may capture your imagination. As for me, I am sold on this place. It would of course be nice to purchase Torguish House and the four holiday cottages. Indeed there is a way. We study a unique property syndicate further on in this Bulletin. But for now, it is enough to be able to visit and stay at the place. If you too choose to take a weekend away from it all and book into Torguish House (click here). Mind and take a good book to read. I can recommend one from a very good selection here.

Concluding this reverie, I hope it has provided some food for thought. It is, like much in the Unique Property Bulletin, a digression of thought – a small journey off of the beaten path. I trust from the words written above that the how and the what of your and our unique adventures has had a fair airing?”