Man builds a real castle near Casino 'for my queen'
IT WOULD not shock people in Europe or Scotland, but you can't miss this castle on a vast stretch of land in Yorklea, past Casino.
Chris and Sharon Mackie agree they are "living the life" in their sandstone castle, which after six years of construction is finally complete.
The stone mason said he was riding in the area with a friend years ago when he saw the block of land and knew immediately he wanted to build on it.
"I saw the land and thought, 'Wow that's it' and I thought I'd make a mark and knew I had better get going on it as I wasn't getting any younger.
"You had to work, get the money, spend it, back to work - and that's why it took so many years."
"He always wanted to build a castle," Sharon said, which attracted the comment "for my queen" from Chris.
"The plan started off as a round building with a spiral staircase inside it," she said.
"When we lived at Coraki he used to sit down and do drawings of what our house would look like but we came to realise that a round house would not be very practical."
An architect who specialises in environmentally-friendly, carbon-neutral buildings helped the couple put their ideas together.
After year's of being amongst what was essentially a construction site the couple said they think they have finally settled into their own solar-powered fortified tower without feeling like other things need to be done.
Sharon said she wakes up every morning and thinks, 'Wow, it's so beautiful'.
The home boasts a level of detail that's hard to comprehend, from hand-carved gargoyles and subtle symbols carved in blocks of stone, to medieval ornaments on the walls - such as a mace - to the intricately hand-painted floors right throughout, which took Sharon 12 months.
"We were collecting stuff for years -bits and pieces and nice things that people throw away," she said.
While they agree it's an incredible home worth the time and effort the couple said building their fortress was not all fun and games - battling the elements was one of them.
Huge doors with glass windows were free-standing braced on the slab for some time while Chris and the crew built the stone walls around them as fast as they could to stabilise them.
"There were storms and wind and we had them wrapped in plastic which all blew off but it all worked in the end.
"We know a lot of people in the trades, we did a lot of work swaps and we also did a lot of the work ourselves."
Once the fortress section was finished huge amounts of rain saw major leakages.
"There was water pouring down the walls and there were puddles on the floor. Every time there was a storm there would be water all through the building, we thought we didn't know what we were doing but we sort of plodded along and it worked out."
The sandstone is from Casino, timbers came from the paddock, the bricks from various locations, with rendered block, granite, and marble from other parts of the region and second hand goods and materials from skip bins.
"Being in the right place at the right time was the catch-cry," Chris said.
"I would be on a job somewhere and people would be throwing stuff out which would end up in my possession - most of the windows are second hand.
"I picked up stuff that's other people's rubbish and you value-add it and turn it into gold."
And that's how their home came together - well that and "lots of luck".