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House Hunting in Scotland: Vintage Mansion Meets Modern Style for $2 Million



This three-bedroom home is nestled in the center of Pencaitland, a village about 12 miles east of Edinburgh, the Scottish capital. Originally the south wing of a 17th-century mansion house on a vast estate, the 3,395-square-foot house now occupies a 1.35-acre lot and was fully renovated by the current owners in 2005, said Jamie Macnab, director of country house sales at Savills, which has the listing.

The renovation included the conversion of a former brew house and ice house on the property into entertainment spaces, and the addition of two glassed-in garden rooms.

The property’s original front gates open onto a tree-lined gravel drive that leads to a parking area. The main entrance opens directly into the combined kitchen, living and dining space, a configuration the owners created by removing some of the building’s original interior walls, Mr. Macnab said.

The space has wide-plank oak flooring with radiant heat. A fireplace with a cast-iron surround is at one end of the room, and a four-burner AGA oven and a small island are at the other, with the dining area in between. Marble-topped cabinetry, with two farm sinks and two dishwashers, runs the length of one wall.

Off the living area is the more formal drawing room, with another fireplace and three sets of arched, Palladian-style glass doors. The doors open onto the property’s circular courtyard, arranged around a fountain created from an enormous cast-iron bowl.

A glass-walled garden room extends from the drawing room in a sweeping curve, providing views of the landscaped grounds. It has a back wall of stone, and black-and-white Italian tile flooring with radiant heat.

A spiral stone staircase leads to two bedrooms on the second floor. The primary bedroom has a gas fireplace, hand-printed wall coverings and a free-standing bathtub facing the windows. The adjoining bath has a dressing room, mirror-fronted wardrobes, Italian tile floors and a marble-topped vanity with three sinks.

The second bedroom also has a gas fireplace and an en suite bath. A third bedroom on the attic floor has exposed wood beams and a bathroom.

Across the courtyard, the long, narrow brew house is connected to a round ice house by a second garden-room extension. All three spaces can be opened to a spacious stone patio. The brew house, currently set up with several seating areas, has vaulted ceilings with exposed beams, and black slate floors with radiant heat. The ice house has exposed stone walls and a glass roof.

The property is on the edge of the expansive grounds of Winton Castle, the heart of the original estate and now a venue for weddings and conferences. Across the street is Pencaitland Parish Church, the oldest portions of which date to the 13th century.

Pencaitland village is in Scotland’s rural East Lothian council area, “one of the most popular country-house locations around Edinburgh,” known for its rolling farmland, picturesque coastal villages, and multiple golf courses, Mr. Macnab said.

The town of Haddington, about 10 minutes away, has a variety of shops and restaurants. Edinburgh Airport is about 30 minutes away.

The housing market in greater Edinburgh was strong before the pandemic shutdown, and since Scotland eased its restrictions in late June, it has come roaring back, agents said.

The city of roughly 500,000 is in the midst of a redevelopment boom, including a 1 billion-pound, 1.7 million-square-foot retail and residential center known as St. James Quarter, and a planned 1.3 billion-pound remaking of the Granton Waterfront into a sustainable community with housing, commercial space and a park.

“The regeneration we’re seeing is like nothing we’ve seen in a generation,” said Ben Fox, Savill’s head of Edinburgh residential sales.

Prices in prime sections of the city have risen 26.5 percent over the past five years, according to data provided by Savills. As of the end of the third quarter this year, prices in the city were still up 3.5 percent over the same period in 2019, despite the halt in activity during the shutdown. Across Scotland, the average price for a home rose 0.4 percent from July 2019 to July 2020, to 155,000 pounds ($200,000), according to the Office of National Statistics, though that was down from 3.2 percent over the year to June 2020.

Mr. Fox attributed the price strength to the surge in post-lockdown demand coupled with low inventory. However, supply has increased significantly since August, as sellers seek to take advantage of the fast-paced market, such that “in some parts of the market there has been a tipping of the balance to touching on an oversupply,” he said.

In July and August, after coronavirus restrictions were eased, Knight Frank saw a nearly 200 percent increase (over its five-year average) in the number of people registering with the agency to view properties, said Edward Douglas-Home, head of Scotland residential for Knight Frank. “The three months after lockdown ended in late June were like nothing I’ve ever experienced — it was just extraordinary,” he said. “My team basically did six months’ work in three months, in terms of revenue.”

As of Oct. 19, Scotland, with a population of 5.4 million, had 49,164 reported cases of Covid-19 and 2,625 deaths, according to Public Health Scotland. The Scottish government recently ordered the closure of pubs and restaurants in central Scotland (including Edinburgh) until Oct. 25, hoping to reverse an upward trend in cases.

Knight Frank’s average sale price for the mid- to high-end of the Edinburgh market is currently about 700,000 pounds ($907,000), Mr. Douglas-Home said. That would buy a two- or three-bedroom flat in the city center, or a three-bedroom house with a small garden about 10 minutes outside the city, he said.

Edinburgh’s leafy inner suburbs, including Inverleith, Trinity, Morningside and Grange, have seen a particular spike in buyer interest in recent months, Mr. Fox said, “driven by remote workers, and the need for more space, bigger gardens and an extra room for an office.”

The market for country houses outside Edinburgh, which has lagged behind the city since the 2009 recession, is benefiting from the same buyer reorientation, according to Mr. Macnab: “Now, country houses are being seen as a good value, and there’s been a bit of a renaissance in that market in the last three months.”

The city itself has seen an influx of buyers from London who are now able to work remotely. Edinburgh is more affordable, as well as “very manageable and walkable,” such that most residents can get around easily and avoid the risk of sharing public transit, Mr. Douglas-Home said.

About 30 to 40 percent of buyers in and around Edinburgh come from outside Scotland, mostly from elsewhere in the United Kingdom, Mr. Douglas-Homes said.

The roughly 10 percent who are international buyers typically come from Europe, the U.S., China and Hong Kong, agents said.

However, the travel restrictions in place because of Covid-19 have lately reduced the number of international buyers, especially those looking at the top of the price range. “The local market works well up to 1.5 million pounds ($1.9 million),” Mr. Macnab said. “Once you’re above that, we more often look for buyers from further afield.”

There are no restrictions on foreigners buying residential property in Scotland. Real estate agents represent sellers. It is rare for a buyer to have their own agent — most act for themselves in going around looking at properties, Mr. Macnab said.

Buyers must hire a lawyer to draw up and submit a purchase offer, negotiate the contract, and handle the transaction.

Sellers pay the agent’s commission of 1 to 2 percent.

  • Scottish tourism:

  • Edinburgh tourism:

  • East Lothian council government:

English, Gaelic, Scots; pound sterling (1 pound = $1.30)

In July, in an effort to stimulate the housing market, the government raised the threshold for the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax from any portion of a sale over 145,000 pounds to over 250,000 pounds ($325,000). The change is in effect through March 2021.

Rates start at 5 percent, and rise to a high of 12 percent for any portion of a sale over 750,000 pounds ($970,000). An additional 4 percent is charged on a second home.

Legal fees are typically 1,500 to 2,000 pounds ($1,950 to $2,590), Mr. Douglas-Home said.

Annual council tax on this home is 4,087 pounds ($5,300).

Jamie Macnab, Savills, 011-44-131-247-3738;

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By: Lisa Prevost
Title: House Hunting in Scotland: Vintage Mansion Meets Modern Style for $2 Million
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Published Date: Wed, 21 Oct 2020 13:30:17 +0000

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What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?




People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Daniel Tanner on via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
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Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

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These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?




The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
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Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?




There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.

Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

To never miss a post, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
All my flight and lounge reviews are indexed here so check them out!

Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
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Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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