Turn Your Home Into A Castle – Literally

Castles were bulwarks of the medieval era, dominating the landscape wherever they were erected. In the middle ages, they were primarily designed to be battlements and to defend vast tracts of land, but they still doubled up as homes.



With the invention of the cannon, castles ceased being defensive installations, but they didn’t end there. In the eighteenth century, people looked back on the castles of the medieval period with a kind of romantic fondness. They loved the chivalry, the tales of Arthur and the majesty that battlements evoked. As a result, they began building their own mock castles – homes that included elements of castles like rounded towers but were still luxury living accommodation nonetheless.


Golden Fort


One example of a castle that was built for living was Golden Hill Fort. This fort was built on the Isle of Wight back in the 19th century to defend against a French invasion. The fort itself was never actually used in battle. More than a hundred years later, after the Second World War, Golden Hill was converted into a series of beautiful apartments. These apartments became holiday homes where people could enjoy all that the Isle had to offer.


When Golden Hill was first bought by Kevin Clarke and Sean Cousins, it was a shell of a building. They worked tirelessly with local planning officials to return the building to its original state. That meant extending the building and getting a roofer to extend the roof, and making sure all 22 chimneys were of uniform height. According to Kevin, the roof was made waterproof for the first time in over a hundred years.




Now that the roof and the foundations are secure, Golden Hill Fort has been transformed with all manner of luxury conveniences. Guests enter the compound through a trick tunnel with electric gates at either end. When they’ve been through both gates, they enter the refurbished central courtyard, originally designed as a parade ground to muster the troops.

Wikimedia Commons


There’s also other mod-cons like CCTV, allowing all entrances to the castle to be monitored remotely. On the roof, guests can enjoy communal gardens and stunning views of the island and the sea all around.




Having your own castle is by no means cheap. The average unit, which is just 1,386 to 3,250 square feet will set you back more than $600,000 to $1,500,000. When you consider the types of properties you could get for a similar cost, that’s a lot. But it’s not often that you get to live in a gated community from the middle ages, complete with battlements that’ll keep the riffraff and the French at bay.


According to David Brock from the heritage foundation, converting industrial forts into modern homes is relatively easy. Thanks to their modern designs, they share a similar design language with modern homes. But converting castles with stone towers is a lot more difficult. If you want to do this type of thing, you’re better off doing it yourself.

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Leapin’ Lizards, It’s Leap Day!

So, its February 29th, that special day that comes every 4 years. A year with a February 29th is, as we all know, a “leap” year.

So, where did this come from? Well, there is a lot of history behind it, but, basically, in earlier times, they found that calendars, growing and planting seasons, and so on, were getting further and further off until it was realized that our planet’s year is not exactly 365 days. It really is closer to 365 ¼ days.

So, to insure that Christmas doesn’t eventually drift into what would now be July, an extra day was added to February every 4 years to catch up, or “leap” back to the correct time. Hence, the leap year, and leap day, February 29th.

Now, to be sure, the Earth doesn’t complete an orbit exactly in 365 ¼ days, and, the planet’s orbital speed and daily rotation changes imperceptibly over time, so, every so often the correct time is adjusted by a few seconds here and there. This so our days and years continue to match the seasons and our calendars.

So, Happy Leap Day, everyone!

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State of the Art is Always Moving

Here in the Portland area, antiques are a big business, and you can find lots of antique shops and you can also find antiques at flea markets as well. I like looking at antiques to see the things people used, as well as the precursors to many things we have and use today.

One of the things I’m struck by as I get older is, when I’m in an antique shop, I see more and more things that were once “state of the art”.

Last week, I was in an antique shop and saw this orange phone, pictured below, with a clear plastic dial. It was from about the early 1970’s. And I remember when these phones came out, as an upgrade from the phones which had a dial the same color as the phone and looked more antiquated when compared to the “clear plastic” dial phones. They, the clear plastic dial phones, were state of the art of that time and I remember thinking they were forward-looking.

Phone at Portland antique shop. Circa 1971

Phone at Portland antique shop. Circa 1971

Ah, but how time has really marched on. Push button phones came soon after, followed by hand-held phones with a central base. Then the first useable cell phones, like the large black Motorola phones of the early and mid-1990’s, arrived. Then smaller cell phones came out, each new version able to do more and be less bulky, followed by the blackberry and smart phones after that we now have.

(Yes, I know smart phones have gotten larger, but, they have stayed thin and light, and no doubt, one day, maybe sooner than anyone thinks, a smart phone that can have changeable size will be invented!)

And now, the smart watch has come out, though it may be too small to make a big splash just yet, however, with improvements, and technology that we haven’t thought of yet, it still can make a splash later on, even if it doesn’t now.

And the thing is, one day, even these, along with smart flat screen TV’s, tablets, kindles, dual purpose laptops, and the top of the line home theater systems now available,  will all find their way into antique shops, replaced with something we possibly can’t even imagine yet!

Today’s “state of the art” is tomorrow’s antique.

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