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This could change our lives

No, not the moving to a remote Scottish island, setting up a brand new life as crofters, as a family unit being 10% of the island population, dealing with midges on a daily basis, coping without electricity or running water or flushing toilets.

Not living alongside wildlife such as eagles, deer, dolphins and whales.

Not finally getting the static on our croft land, waking up each morning and being relieved anew that the challenge of getting it here is over, amazed and inspired anew at the stunning and ever changing views out of every window and overwhelmed anew at the sheer beauty and wonder of the landscape around us.

What is really likely to change our lives is being able to sit on our bed and get mobile phone signal and having broadband internet connected today to our static. Oh yes, welcome to crofting and roughing it 21st century style. I can research the best building methods for a compost loo, purchase our piping to sort out water supply from the burns online and finally make contact by phone again with family and friends without having to stand in the dark / rain / cold.

It’s all suddenly gotten ever such a lot easier in our world. And even better we have had our holding number and business registration paperwork come through so can start looking at grants and funding and really make some headway with our plans.

Life is good 🙂

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Static Abuse

It’s all been a bit quiet hasn’t it? It’s been a Very Big Challenge the last couple of weeks which accounts for the silence. It’s ironic that we last year we travelled the UK, this year we did the 600 miles and a ferry crossing from Sussex to Rum but the part of the journey…
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Rocking our (very small) world

One of the first things we realised about island life and being in such a small community is how intense life here is and how magnified and blown out of proportion everything can feel. The smallest thing here feels so much bigger than it would back on the mainland with more people, more distractions and more of everything to put it into perspective.

We’re a few ‘men’ down at the moment with several people off island for one reason or another. With such a small population every person counts and leaves a gap. We have just welcomed back one of our number who had a stay in hospital after an accident, another couple are off having treatment for illness, another on holiday, another away for a short break and yesterday we waved a tearful goodbye to another leaving forever to return to her homeland. Although we’ve only been here a matter of weeks it already feels like a big family, sure there are frustrations and things which annoy you about people, those you have a real affinity and closeness to and those who you just bimble alongside with a nod and a hello when you pass them. You need every single one of those people to make it feel just right.

Croft 2, next door to us is being advertised currently. I know of a fair few applications and would happily have any of them as our new neighbours 🙂 If Rum is to achieve all it is capable of and dreaming of then we need more people, more ideas and more diversity. More dreamers, more thinkers, more crazies!

This weekend is a big one for us – we are hoping to move our static onto the croft. We have a tracker and trailer coming over from neighbouring Eigg and along with a hefty dose of helping hands and a massive chunk of luck we may well be sitting in our home, on our land by this time next week. I am hardly daring to imagine it will happen while at the same time barely able to contain my excitement at the possibility of looking out over our croft when I pull the curtains in the morning.

Paperwork is still a slow and painful process with forms going back and forth between us and the crofting commission. Eventually we’ll have our land registry changed, our holding number sorted and be in a position to start looking at grants and funding. First on our list of projects is a compost loo, then a shed to house a washing machine, then a solar power shower block or woodburning bathhouse, then a pizza oven and firepit area. I’m gathering books from amazon on various subjects and getting very excited at the prospect of all these projects. Alongside that we are also researching alternative technologies including hydro, wind and solar and working out the best methods of getting water. We have become WWOOF hosts and had our story in the WWOOF newsletter this month which was very cool. We’re already getting a steady stream of potential WWOOFers contact us so I am putting together a very clear set of information about who we are, what to expect both of us and of Rum and quite how it all works in our rather unique little corner of the world.

Other exciting news is that we may even have internet access before too long up in our static. For me this has been the biggest struggle so far as I feel out of touch with family and friends and am itching to upload photos, blog our experiences and research stuff online so having to come down for an odd hour here and there to the village hall is far from ideal.

When we arrived I blogged about normal service being resumed as soon as I worked out what that was. We are not quite there yet but it’s feeling a lot like home and if all our short term plans fall into place I think we may well be approaching our own brand new version of normal before too much longer.

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One for her Maj’

Even on remote islands we celebrated the jubilee. Loads of the islanders came out to sit under the bunting, braving the midges and consume Pimms, cucumber sandwiches, jelly and cake. Cheers!

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Crofting for beginners

And a more positive ‘where are we at’ type posting if only to push the one below back where it should be, firmly  underneath all the many great things we have been getting up to. More Shearwater trips – we’ve managed every week so far and this week just gone was the most exciting yet…
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Predators and parasites

Not a comment on the other islanders – honest!

An observation on some of the other challenges of island living though. Please don’t carry on reading if you are eating or of a sensitive disposition!

Here on Rum we share our gorgeous island with some pesky non-human types including microscopic menaces such as ticks and midges and some rather larger nusiances such as the hooded crows (known as ‘hoodies’) and deer. Not all wildlife is great all the time.

We’ve been losing eggs to the hoodies, blood and sleep and sanity to the midges and ticks and if we are not very cunning we’ll be losing crops to the deer too.

There are solutions – Bonnie has been tick & flea treated, we’ve been burning endless incence sticks and midge net proofing the static, we have a tick removal tool and everyone reeks of midge repellant and is getting good at self checking for ticks.

We’ve all had some worms – both us and the pigs! Inevitable with the level of animal handling I guess but a hassle getting the treatment sorted by post and the expense and wait. The pigs had already been wormed so this was the passing of the worms rather than anything new.

I’ve also been having some internet woes – I can’t get into my emails and although it is more or less sorted out now the combination of reduced time to spend online anyway and very reduced electricity means it’s been far less straightforward to deal with than it might have been.

Someone said to us when we arrived here that everything feels magnified way beyond the perspective you would have on the mainland. This is partially true just because you are able to give things way more focus than you might have time or energy for in a ‘normal’ world and partially due to everything genuinely being more of an issue to put right and deal with.

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Atypical Home Ed Day

Just about when it was still May we photo documented our day for our annual photo blog. We’ve been doing this since 2005 and I don’t want to miss a year, particularly when our life has changed yet again and Home Education and a day in our lives is different again. As ever there is…
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