Do you know how sometimes things are just meant to be? You do, well, that’s how I feel about our visit to The Rings accessible cottages in Fife, Scotland.
Last December, we were supposed to review hotels in Edinburgh, but I felt we should visit The Rings instead, and I was right.
Earlier in the year, I interviewed Moira, The Rings’ owner, for my “Meet the Vendor” series on Accomable.
Since then, I could not shake the thought that I must meet Moira in person because she sounds like a fascinating lady.
My gut told me to change our Edinburgh plans. I wanted to know what kind of person overcomes so many challenges and what drives them, and of course, I wanted to see what Moira had achieved with The Rings.
So, after a brilliant few days at Homelands, we set off to meet Moira and experience The Rings for ourselves.
But first, before we look at The Rings’ accessible cottages, you need to meet Moira. I’m sure you’ll agree, once you’ve met her, that, like the cottages she’s created, Moira is also unique.
Moira from The Rings in Fife
Moira trained as an RGN nurse. Her husband (David) was an agricultural lecturer at an FE college.
They rented a few fields and bought 190 ewes in lamb to relieve the stress of demanding jobs. Moira, by her admission, had a steep learning curve in being a shepherdess.
Over time, Moira managed to buy a small farm, and when her husband bought six bantam chicks instead of flowers, it all got a bit out of control.
The flock grew to 20,000 hens, and instead of life getting less stressful, another steep learning curve into poultry keeping was called for.
Moira became Chairperson of the Scottish Egg Producers Retail Association (SEPRA) and, during her tenure, fought the Food Standards Agency over salmonella testing in eggs. Ultimately, out of 22500 eggs tested, no Scottish eggs were found to have salmonella. And only nine eggs had salmonella on the shell – none internally, so a food scare was averted.
Moira gave me a crash course in egg production, storage and differences. It was fascinating, and although I don’t want to cause trouble, I’m now not so pedantic about whether my boiled eggs are free-range or not!!!
The next part of the story, I think, is best told by Moira. Here’s an extract from my “Meet the Vendor” article:
After my Mum died, I was ill with post-viral syndrome and gave up the hens.
When Mum stayed with us, she had a severe stroke and needed whole-body hoisting. I would have loved to have taken her on holiday, but how can you go anywhere with all the equipment?
I thought, “we can’t be the only family with this problem”. My cousin also needed a ceiling tracking hoist, and he could no longer go on holiday with his family.
The Rings started in my mind as a two-bedroom cottage. But, my friend Mairi raised the point that her brothers-in-law had Muscular Dystrophy, and both were in wheelchairs simultaneously. She asked whether we could build something with 3 or 4 bedrooms, and she was sure other families would appreciate this.
Over time, my health returned, and my desire to provide something increased.
To summarise the difficult journey we have had:
– We failed to get a grant.
– Got planning permission in principle. – Got a grant on the second application (blood, sweat and tears involved).
– Lost the bank support and had to find another bank.
– Almost lost the grant as it took five planning committees and a failed planning appeal to finally reach the point where we could build.
– The last grant payment was to be in Dec 2013!
– Wrote email after email pleading with everyone up to Alex Salmond, the 1st minister at the time, to keep the grant on the table for us.
– A further 6th planning committee to alter the road, and six years since the building started, we had a building and welcomed guests!
The build only took nine months, which is significant given the size and complexity.
We had a fantastic builder, Dougie, whose sister had spina bifida. We were only 11 days into the build when the devastating news that Dorothy, Dougie’s wife, only had 3-4 weeks to live… she died 3.5 weeks later with Dougie tasked to “Finish Building The Rings”.
In memory of Dorothy, we will have “Dorothy’s Break” this will take the form of gifting or subsidising a break for someone brought to our attention with a particular need for a break.
My hubby’s pension pot, all of my inheritance and a hefty mortgage were needed to build The Rings.
I told you Moira is unique. Many of us (me) would give up but not Moira. In fact, as well as coping with all of this, she somehow found time to write a book, “The Journey to The Rings: You Couldn’t Make it Up” the book is available to purchase on Amazon.
Moira uses the proceeds from her book to buy equipment for The Rings. So far, book sales have paid for a profiling bed, shower chairs and a mobile hoist – buy the book if you can!
The Rings Accessible Cottages
At first glance, The Rings can seem a little confusing. Essentially, you have one super cottage that can be partitioned into smaller self-contained cottages.
There’ll be a setup to suit you and your family with so many configurations.
The Rings Floorplan
I was going to write a full review, but to be honest; I was so impressed with my friend “Simply Emma’s” review I’m happy to direct you there instead. Emma did a great job explaining the cottages, and as Emma uses an electric wheelchair, you can see how The Rings worked for her.
Instead, let me show you pictures from our visit
The Rings are set in beautiful Fife countryside. The thing that struck me was the peace. If you want to get away from it all, The Rings are the place to stay – look how stunning the area is:
You’ll also notice the building itself is in keeping with its surroundings, is designed to be eco-friendly and complements the landscape, not intruding on it.
You’ve heard me say this before, but I’m repeating it – I wouldn’t say I like it when a cottage feels clinical. The Rings are far from clinical, and it’s at the opposite end of the scale from clinical. It’s comfortable, homely and practical, and it’s a pleasure to stay in.
Each room in The Rings is individual and has its quirks.
A communal hall runs the entire length of the cottage. This can be closed off to isolate your rooms within the cottage so effectively you’re in your building section.
There are so many bedrooms in The Rings; here are just a few.
I took pictures of the bathrooms, but I can’t find them for the life of me.
When I do, I’ll update the post to check The Rings website or Emma’s post, which I mentioned earlier.
The Topaz Bedroom – Our Cottage
We stayed in the Topaz bedroom. It has its private front door, and it’s like a self-contained bungalow.
I requested this part of the cottage because I liked the pictures (I know, not very scientific). We had access to all of the cottages, but I’d need to stay for a fortnight to try them all out.
In truth, no matter how many pictures you see, none of them does The Rings justice. It’s one of those places you need to experience for yourself.
We loved it and will be returning without a doubt. I have no hesitation in recommending The Rings.
If you visit (and you should), don’t forget to mention us :-)
Website – The Rings
Access Statement – Accessibility Guide
Facebook – The Rings Fife
Twitter – @TheRingsFife
Where would you like to go next?
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