It will six month tomorrow since we arrived here at this house for our next chapter in our lives. I’ve been quieter on this blog although from my perspective it’s been one of the greatest periods of change in my adult life. Our move to Rum was the culmination of a year of dreaming and planning, followed by a year of travelling and working out what we wanted. In contrast this move felt more of a leap into the unknown akin with new parenting or leaving home for the first time.
It was not planned, we did not know the area, had no real idea of what our day to day lives would look like and we didn’t have to create a business plan, submit an application form or sit an interview to qualify for it. We knew what we wanted in terms of a house, in general terms of location and this felt like the best fit we’d come across yet so we went for it.
I know that does not necessarily make for such interesting reading because we are returning to the known and familiar for most of our readers. Back to the mainstream and the conventional in many ways, departing from the extraordinary, the remarkable and the TV show-worthy.
But for us this is new. Lots of it is not necessarily what I am happy to share with a wider audience – parenting through the fledgling years, the spreading of wings and working out next steps. These are now no longer my stories to tell. In the same way as we did not always tell every single aspect of our WWOOF hosts or the minute details of life on Rum life here and the type of work and small community we have joined means it is not appropriate to comment on every aspect of life here in such a public forum.
However, in the same way as this blog began as an account of a period of change and a break from the norm this next phase is much the same. It’s about readjustment and starting from scratch to work out what is important, what is essential, what is desirable and what our priorities are.
So here we are, summing up those first six months into our new life here. The highs, the lows, the learnings. And we have added in a line each about what we’d like the next six months to bring, where we would like to be after a whole year into this next chapter.
* We are not fully in the loop of all that is happening just now on Rum but we are aware that there is some turmoil and changes. It is frustrating not being fully part of it, not having a say any more and knowing that some of the things we helped to build are not going so well just now.
* The internet here is poor. It is very slow and not really up to the demands of four people with various devices. We need it for study, for work and for leisure and it is often simply too slow to meet those needs.
* For the first time instead of dreading it I am actually looking forward to the winter.
* I enjoy my job. I like learning new skills and working with people. The hours (I work evenings) are not great but it does mean no early starts and I still have all day to myself.
* Now we are settled here and planning on staying long term we are starting to make the house our home. We have been furnishing it and getting things like lights. We are also looking for a sofa. We are buying from re-use centres or charity shops to avoid buying new things but it is nice to start making the place feel like our own.
* I have loved having lots of people to stay and am looking forward to having lots more. It is not the worry it used to be on Rum about running out batteries or filling up the loo, we can just relax and enjoy being hosts.
*I have gotten some of my tools over from Rum and am enjoying feeling practical again like I used to in that life. I have fixed a wobby loo seat, am planning to put some tiles up around the bath and re-seal it and it’s good to feel useful like that again.
* I have learned loads from my work at the tearoom, about prepping food, cooking food, waiting tables. I’ve learned a bit about the politics and differences in types of catering kitchens.
* I’ve learned how close Glasgow is! From all our trips to the airport in August and a few deviations off to shopping centres I have realised that getting to the airport here takes not much longer than it would have done to get to Heathrow from our Sussex home, or into a big city for an Ikea trip. Suddenly we don’t feel so remote.
* From the Strontian show we got a real taste of the local community here and how it feels close knit and friendly.
* That it really is possible to find the right balance between how much you work, what you do and what you need to earn.
In six months time.…I would like to have a more stable job – with regular hours and term and conditions / a contract. I would also like us to have a second mode of transport and a TV.
* I have only been back to Rum once and still have lots of my stuff there that I would like to get over here.
* I have not done the beach cleans that I used to do so regularly on Rum as it’s too far to head down. I am managing to do it but nowhere near as often as on Rum when I did it most days.
* My room is on the north side of the house and is a bit dark. If I want to do art in there I need to have a light on.
* The internet is very slow here and is often completely unusable.
* I had really hoped to make selling cupcakes a business and that looks like it might not be quite so easy to set up as I wanted because of the private water supply here.
* I am really enjoying wild swimming in the loch with Mummy.
* It’s been nice having guests here. We were able to collect people from the airport and have lots of people here to stay.
* Winning first prize for my cupcakes at the Strontian show. Also selling my cakes on our stall there.
* Going to the cinema week at the Sunart centre. It was really fun seeing four films in five days.
* It was cool to see a fox (even though it had caught two of our chickens!).
* I’ve really noticed how much Bonnie has slowed down and aged and life here is so much easier for her so it’s nice that she gets to retire in comfort here.
* I’ve learnt loads from the Marine ID surveys we’ve done and really enjoyed those.
* I have learned lots about swimming, particularly in open water from having some lessons with Mummy with a swimming coach.
* Our visit to the local sand mines taught me a lot about how mines work.
* In the six months we’ve been here we have seen about four or five road traffic accidents, all of which have had a big impact on traffic and holding people up. It has made me realise that people are not stupid but are so used to being told what to do that they struggle when they have to think for themselves. They either wait for the police to direct traffic or someone else to take charge. Back on Rum we were used to using common sense and making decisions for ourselves.
In six months…. I would like to have set up a small business selling my cupcakes. I would also like to explore the possibility of volunteering or getting involved with an animal rescue charity or sanctuary.
* The internet is very poor. It stops me from doing much of what I would have planned to do.
* I have set up as a self employed artist and registered for universal credit. This has meant meetings and phone calls with a work coach at the job centre. I find this a bit stressful and not really very helpful. Often the coaching sessions are not relevant to what I want to do and I feel they are taking away my time and attention from my art or selling my art.
* I often blamed my lifestyle on Rum for preventing me from achieving some of the things I wanted to. Six months away has shown me that actually it is myself.
* Megan came to visit! It was easier to collect and take her to the airport living here, we had more room and privacy here than we would have done in the caravan and we were able to do more stuff like: bowling, shopping, meeting other friends, going for a meal, visiting Inverness, going for walks.
* I love the space, the freedom to do more of my own thing in a bigger room, the increased privacy, the extra bathroom of the house.
* There are increased opportunities here than on Rum for social, educational, voluntary things. I am not necessarily making the most of all of them yet but at least things I don’t do here are because I am choosing not to rather than because I simply don’t have that option.
* The cinema. In six months we have seen lots of films at the cinema, in Oban and at the local community centre. Cinema was one of the things I missed on Rum so it’s been good to go regularly again.
* I have learnt things about running a business and the ins and outs of running a small business. I have created a business plan and looked at things like cash flow.
* I have learned a lot about biology both from the Marine ID workshop and surveys but also while Megan was here we looked at lots of videos about evolution and genetics which used lots of the same terminology and theories as we’d learned on the marine courses.
*I have learned lots on the training courses for my voluntary work on the phone line. Both the actual content of the courses in areas such as suicide prevention and awareness, phone line counselling, confidentiality, protecting vulnerable people etc. But also about how training courses work as I have not been on anything like that as an adult before. I am attending another course soon on domestic violence awareness. I have also found that a lot of the course content fits in to what I have been learning in my OU course about social sciences.
* I have learned some more things about cooking such as making lasagne, cheesecake, potato gratin, pork chops in pepper sauce. There are more things I would like to learn to cook but this was a good start.
* In the last six months I have made moves towards an adult independent life. This has included setting up a business, managing my own money, living with my girlfriend for a month. Mummy and Daddy were away for a lot of August either working or actually staying away and I was responsible for the animals, the house and things like food.
In six months...I’d like to have a trip to America planned. I would like to have my business more established with an understanding of how it will develop into the future. I would like to have my next module of study well underway and the end of that block planned.
* An inevitable consequence of both moving away from Rum and getting busier lives, along with young adult children is that we do not spend quite so much time together as we previously did. While this is a natural move towards Davies and Scarlett becoming more independent and the next stage of our lives and we are all finding ways to ensure we still spend quality time together as it was more me who has always had one or both of my children within very close physical distance I am mourning this change a little bit.
* Life is a bit more compartmentalised. Further to what I said above back on Rum our work / life / family / leisure / hobbies were all very blurred together and it was all just ‘life’. Now I have clearer boundaries between things I do to earn money, things I do to keep the house going, time I spent with one or more of the rest of the family, ways to ensure I am staying active etc. I am working really hard to ensue that I still merge these things wherever possible but it requires more effort.
* I still have not found my social niche. I have met a fair few people that I have clicked with and some I would even start to call friends but still no one I could send a message to and have turn up an hour later with a bottle of wine for an evening.
*I will echo what all of the others have said and say how many friends and family we have had to stay over the six months here. We love having a house full of people and while we had lots of guests to stay while we were on Rum it was always harder to manage due to space restrictions in the caravan. Here we have plenty of room and have really made the most of it.
*The work we have found. I was confident that if we had just a couple of months somewhere we would be able to find opportunities to earn money and we did. I possibly have slightly too much work to feel I am doing it all justice but I am sure that over the coming months I will work out which to prioritise and find the right balance. I am really enjoying getting to know people in the community, working with local young people through the youth work and flexing my writing muscle with the freelance reporting. All of the jobs have potential to create more opportunities to suit me and it’s good to feel useful and that I am an asset to these various employers.
* I am absolutely LOVING the wild swimming. I am loving doing something with Scarlett who is a perfect buddy for it as she is adventurous, enthusiastic and super fit so she urges me on to be better myself. We have shared so many magical moments out of our depths, bobbing about in Loch Sunart looking at each other with absolute glee. We have made new friends, experienced new challenges, encouraged more people to do the same and seen a whole world beneath the surface of the loch as well as a whole new perspective of where we live.
* Seeing my family so happy and settled. There was a moment last month where Ady had just arrived home from work full of gossip and pride for having cooked for a huge number of people with sounds of chatter and laughter drifting downstairs from Davies, Scarlett and their two best friends / partners where I just felt so happy. I’ve not really had any doubts that this move was the right one for us, but seeing the other three so happy here is a real high.
* The opportunities. From being easier to get to events such as a gig, the cinema, a concert, away for a weekend, to collect or drop off a friend from the airport. A highlight which was amazing in itself but also a shining example of this was going to Edinburgh festival and seeing Tony Slattery.
* I’m learning new stuff in all my various jobs, as you always do in new jobs. Stuff like actual skills to do the jobs, stuff like the work place culture. It’s great to be doing contract / self employed work too so that the things which I know I would struggle with in a more conventional job are not an issue because I think learning or re-learning those would prove tricky.
* How life works here – from the ferry times to the etiquette for the single track roads, having bin-day and the opening times for the local shops. The best place to get local information or who to ask about what. All of those general, not always quantifiable things to learn about the mechanics of a life somewhere.
*That in the same way as you will always spend at least as much money as you have you will also fill up all of the time that you have. I would have anticipated having loads of free time without all of the time sucks I used to have on Rum like fetching things from the freezer every day, meeting the ferry to collect the post, spending hours each week processing laundry. But I actually seem to spend less time with nothing specific to be doing now than I did then.
* I would agree with Scarlett on learning about swimming. I have been having some lessons and have massively improved. I have not paid to learn anything for years and would previously have always thought I could teach myself something. So I have not just learned the swimming, I have also learned about learning!
In six months time… I would hope to be ending our first year in this new phase of our lives with our various jobs more settled. I would like to have some crops growing or at least seedlings planted for the season ahead and some crafty or creative pursuits happening for myself. I would like to have a more local social life established.