I almost bought a castle. A Scottish friend had bought a ruined castle and restored it so tastefully that it won prizes. He’d used the profits from its sale to buy another ruin and do the same, but this time to live in. He encouraged me to do the same. Intrigued by the prospect of owning a castle, I investigated. He pointed to Cardrona, a ruin near the Borders, so I went to look. It was indeed a ruin, with scarce more than 3 broken walls. It was reached up a steep track, well away from main roads. Mediaeval Scots didn’t build castles near villages, but on lonely hills commanding views of marauding invaders. This meant they were far from amenities.
I commissioned an architect who’d won awards for castle restorations, and loved the drawings he came up with. I put in a bid for Cardrona. The Scottish method of sale was to put in a bid blind to what others offer. When the bids are opened, the highest wins, with no bargaining. I lost out to someone who had bid over twice what I cautiously offered, taking into account the subsequent costs. I did not acquire my castle. The winner had vastly over-bid, and the sale fell through when he couldn’t raise the money that restoration would take. By this time, though, I’d had second thoughts about living somewhere almost impossible to get to, and which had no running water, gas, electricity or telephone. I did not enter a second bid.