WE'VE lived for 25 years in the former village school in Butterstone, Perthshire.

My father was a pupil here in the 1930s and it was my primary school too. Back then, we spent most of our time outside and at playtime we'd go down to a large oak wood that was attached to the school. It was a mysterious big place.

The thing about rural life was everybody knew each other. That changed when the land usage changed. When I was growing up here, there were lots of tenant farmers who had children and when we were older we would go and lift their potatoes and work on the farms.

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The building was co-owned by the church so it was also a little preaching station on Sundays. After the school closed in the 1960s, it lay empty for years: nobody knew who owned it. We rented the teachers' house - which is about 20 yards away from the school - for a couple of years, and then got the chance to buy it. Eventually the school came up for sale too, and I managed to buy that. When my kids got older, we joined the two buildings together with an extension in between. It was like the house that Jack built.

When we bought the school in the 1980s, I was one of the first people in Scotland to set up my own independent record and publishing company. At that time, most musicians were encouraged to go to London or New York and I was determined to stay in this area. So my wife Jenny and I set up our own company, with a recording studio in the school building.

When my father was alive, he got a kick out of the fact we were working in his old school. I do a high-definition broadcast from here every month, which is watched by people living as far away as Russia, Florida, California, Sweden and Germany.

We live in the former teachers' house: an old, stone building. This big sitting-dining room was created by knocking down the downstairs walls. We've had some amazing discussions around the big table. I've also written songs there.

The room has original tongue-and-groove wood-panelling, which falls down a bit on insulation but has character. Along one wall we have some exposed stone and a Raeburn; there's a piano along another wall ... and stuff hanging everywhere. The style is rural and that's what I feel comfortable with. It's the same look as the Taybank pub in Dunkeld, which I used to own: it also has guitars and things hanging on the walls.

Tickets are on sale for the Perthshire Amber Festival, run by Dougie MacLean. It runs from October 30 to November 8. Call 01350 724 281 or visit www.perthshireamber.com


My father, Duncan, was head gardener on a big estate called Snaigow, near here. It was like Downton Abbey. When he retired I got his spade and his fork and I have them on the wall. The spade is worn as he dug that huge garden by hand. If I ever find things getting a bit tough I can look at that and think: "That's what hard work really is." My father enjoyed his work, he was a very natural, green-fingered gardener. He was 83 when he passed away but even when he was an old man he would come up to our garden and give advice to Jenny.

Teddy bears

Big Ted belonged to my sister Mairi and Scruffy belonged to me. They were a partnership so you had to play with them together. My own children played with them and now they sit on the mantelpiece and get brought down for my two grandchildren when they come. The children talk about them as real characters. They are an extension of the family, and my mother still gives them the odd repair.


This is my mother Dolina's old melodeon. She had it when she was a young girl growing up in Argyllshire. I think my gran bought it from a JD Williams catalogue and gave it to her. It was the first instrument I ever played. Had my mother not taught me these little tunes on the melodeon when I was aged four I probably would never have travelled the journey that I have of being a musician. My mother is 80 and can still knock out a good wee tune. I still use the instrument on the odd recording.


Jenny and I met at a Norwich arts centre concert. I was playing and she was selling my CDs. She does beautiful organic wall designs. This weaving was hanging in her house in Norwich when we met. I thought: "Anybody who can make a beautiful thing like that must be a bit weird and could probably handle hanging out with me."


I bought this 1970s Martin guitar in Germany second-hand when I was 25. It travelled with me for 20 years, across Australia, up into the outback, and to Alaska. I remember sitting on a beach in Brittany writing Caledonia with it. It's retired now; it doesn't do concerts.

Bechstein piano

This belonged to Andrew Carnegie. His granddaughter lived a couple of miles away and she inherited a couple of pianos from Skibo Castle [owned by Carnegie] when they closed that down. She had no room for this Bechstein and advertised it. It is about 100 years old and was shipped over from New York. It's a big focal point of this room. When I'm working with other musicians, this is where we all sit and work things out. We had it in the Taybank in Dunkeld for five years when we ran the pub and people would travel for miles to come and play it.

*Tickets are now on sale for the Perthshire Amber Festival, run by Dougie MacLean. It runs from October 30 to November 8. Call the box office on 01350 724 281 or visit www.perthshireamber.com