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July

Another month is drwaing to a close and life carries on running away with us.

At the start of the ‘season’ a few of us decided that as a fundraising venture we would open our village hall kitchen on a Sunday and run a Community Teashop. We’ve done six of them now and they are building in busyness every week. The idea is simple – there are six teams of volunteers who take it in turns to open the hall up for refreshments between 11am and 3pm on a Sunday. You have a £10 budget (more if you think you can do really well and recoup your costs) to spend and need to offer something sweet and something savoury along with tea, coffee and squash.

Every week has been a really different offering so far. Ady and I did the first week and brought along home made soup, freshly baked bread rolls, quiche as an offering from the croft (made with our free range eggs), two types of cakes and some flapjacks. It was a fairly traditional home made tea shop type deal and we did pretty well.

We took our second turn last weekend and had morphed a little into more sophisticated flatbreads served hot or cold, a different home made soup with rolls and a choice of cakes again. If we do a third turn we have a plan to do a foraged teashop option serving up wild foods from the island.

We’ve had all sorts of different pop up teashops for the duration of the venture so far, really reflecting the personality, culinary and hosting skills of the islanders running it. We’ve had different music playing according to taste, a variety of hot and cold specialist dishes with more or less ambitious options. We’ve had people drafting in family members who were visiting and putting on really impressive menus.

Best of all though we have so far raised about £500 towards repairing our village hall.

It’s not been without it’s frustrations; a shared use hall and kitchen space means different people feel differing levels of ownership towards the space and there are the inevitable quibbles about who left things in what state. There have been issues with people being unable to take their turn when they were supposed to so others standing in for them.There have been minor moans and groans about the advertised Monday to Saturday teashop menu not being available and people appearing after the Sunday teashop is closed hoping for a cup of tea and finding everything packed up and the residents who have already given five hours of their Sunday up for nothing ready to go home rather than unpack everything for the sake a quid for a cup of tea.

But it’s been a victory overall. A fabulous community spirit building, money making, fun enterprise for those who have been involved. Either in volunteering and running it or as has increasingly been happening as the weeks have gone by in coming along to patronise and support it.

It’s another of the many things on Rum I am very proud to be part of and be involved in.

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Where to start….

Blogging gaps are never good. You wind up trying to decide whether you should catch up, make excuses or gloss over the absence. And all too often you put off blogging even longer while you decide which course of action is best making the gap between posts yawn all the wider.

So do I try and catch up – well no. Not possible. Life moves so fast and yet so slow I would do it a serious injustice to try and summarise or post some lengthy tomb bringing things up to date.

Do I make excuses? I could. I could tell you about how busy we’ve been – a visit from my parents followed by the Small Isle games all tangled up with life in general but that veers dangerously close to a catch up post after all.

I could gloss over, except in posting the paragraphs above I have already acknowledged the absence so I’ve failed rather in the glossing over stakes.

I guess I’ll do a sort of highlights type post instead.

My parents came. It was fab to see them, we do miss them so very much.

It was almost like having WWOOFers as they did loads of helping out. Mum spent ages cutting the grass around the willow fence. Dad spent lots of time down by the river side and with the animals. I love how much my Mum and Dad love Rum. I wish it were closer to where they live, I wish they lived closer to where we are. I am eternally grateful that while we are unable to get down to visit them in Sussex (600 miles and a ferry, four people and a dog plus a whole host of livestock and crops to arrange to have looked after is way trickier than two adults booking one lot of time off work and getting in their car to drive here) they are able to get up here to visit us.

We had a visit from a researcher who is also a blog reader so a big wave at Sarah and my favourite thing I think I learned this month comes courtesy of her – Rum is almost exactly the same size as Paris. I don’t need to give you all the stats about the many ways in which Rum is nothing like Paris; population size, wildlife, landscape, culture etc.

We had some hatchlings – four ducklings hatched out of the seven eggs Mrs Broody Duck was sat on. She still has one. I am coming to terms with this rather poor rate of survival at the same time as being very reticent in getting too attached to the remaining one as we have to accept it’s odds are pretty poor. We have created all sorts of mesh lidded pens and duckling number four was found dead next to her, apparently unharmed which suggests either natural causes or siblingicide I think. Numbers three and two simply disappeared, both from the mesh lidded areas. Sadly as much as we make them safe from crows from above the rats come in at night and create duckling sized rat holes which the little ones can go out of and get nabbed by the crows. We lost one during the day and one at night so I guess rats or crows could both be responsible.

It hits hard losing livestock as I’ve said before. There is guilt for not protecting them properly and possibly subjecting them to a grim, predator death, financial and mental waste as small scale farmers that we have failed and a simple disheartenment that our dream is being snatched from under our noses by creatures cleverer and more streetwise than us with a more fierce sense of survival.

It’s far from all gloom and doom though. The piglets are doing really well and two will be off to their new home in the next week or so. The two we are keeping are about half way through fattening so we’ll be swotting up on how that all works.

The eight turkeys are doing well, growing loads, getting used to us and having some free range time every day with the aim of totally free ranging them in the coming weeks.

The goslings are doing amazingly well and run with the two adult geese all the time. They have grown so much it takes quite a bit of looking at the eight of them to work out which are the originals. I’m hoping the two ganders will be identifiable soon.

We currently have three broody chickens which is bad for egg production bringing us down to six laying hens but good for potential livestock. Ten days to go until hatchwatch begins again!

We’ve been eating salad, strawberries and lots of herbs, harvested out first potatoes today and have tomatoes and peas looking good in the polytunnel. I’ve been learning more about foraged and wild foods and have a new friend coming over again this week who will hopefully teach me more about this exciting area I have only dabbled in before with a view to doing loads more in that area.

I made my first jar of jam of the year – raspberry 🙂

Market Day has gone well so far – three down, three to go. My scarves are selling really well as are Davies’ postcards. Seaglass and resin jewelery is slower but baking is going down a storm. Learning all the time.

Ady and I did our second Community Sunday Teashop and made over £100 so a nice healthy contribution for the hall fundraising.

I have become a rep for the Small Isles Community Council which started with a seven hour trip on the boat yesterday for a two hour meeting on Eigg. Lovely to hug a few of my favourite Eigg folk, do a bit of inter island networking and have a yummy pie before coming back again via all the islands. It was a fab day for such a long boat trip though and I saw lots of minke whales and some close puffins along with my first sighting of a diving gannet this year which is my favourite seabird sight.

Rum hosted the Small Isles games which included Rum victorious in the tug of war which I understand is the real decider of the winners! I wrote a bit for the Isle of Rum website which saves me writing about it again. Very proud of both our children for running and doing so well in the hill race 🙂 It was a fabulous weekend with wonderful weather and a real sense of being part of a wider community with the other Small Isles.

I have lots of photos but in the interests of breaking the silence and catching up I’ll post this and follow up with some photos soon.

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When I grow up…

Facebook asked me today to fill in details about where I went to university and where I grew up. Given I have yet to do either of those things I was unable to fill in the answers…. Davies was asked recently about whether he wants to be an artist when he grows up from someone…
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Back to where you once belonged

Today was my first day of not working. I worked Tuesday to Friday mornings at the primary school. I didn’t think 12 hours a week would feel like much out of our lives. I used to work 11 hours a week at the local library back in our old lives and that was a fulfilling, worthwhile and meaningful way of earning a bit of cash and reasserting an identify for me away from Ady, Davies and Scarlett, our house, our Home Education, our allotment etc. In short that was somewhere that I was able to be a different part of me that was not part of the rest of my world.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, by coincidence (although I increasingly question just whether coincidence exists actually, so many things seem to be inserted into life at key moments for reasons which later can look quite contrived) about the challenges of early motherhood. As Davies is just weeks away from teenagerhood and Scarlett is into double figures it does start to feel a very long time ago indeed that I had babies and toddlers. I can recall with fond memories the times that Scarlett emptied a whole tub of sudocrem on her bedroom carpet and Davies redecorated his bedroom with baby powder. The whiff of playdoh is likely to have me smiling in memory of hours spent admiring a creation that was not actually identifiable to anyone but them but to me was the most beautiful sculpture ever rather than fretting about the best way to remove mashed up playdoh from clothing or rugs. It is years since I wiped a bottom or a nose, I’m more likely now to have to engage in a long and teary conversation to sort out troubles than be able to kiss things better. I loved the days of Incy Wincy Spider, raspberries on tummies at nappy changes, carrying sleeping children from the back of the car. I adored being there for first steps, wobbly teeth, milestone moments. But I love having bigger children more. And I was missing out in those 12 hours each week.

So today it rained all day and that was just fine with me. This morning we talked about marketing and advertising, mind mapping and important messages to get across, we looked at poster design and talked about business opportunities. We all listened to Popmaster. Scarlett sorted out her seaglass stash and decided on some new jewelery to make. I made soup, soda bread, cheese scones and bread dough. We all had lunch and chatted and listened to music. Conversations too wide reaching, diverse and numerous to mention or even recall happened and everything felt back on track and in it’s natural place once mor
I nipped down to the polytunnel to water and do a bit of fiddling about for an hour and then we all went to the village to listen to a talk from a woman visiting Rum for a few days who happens to be a foraging expert and wanted to share her passion, knowledge and enthusiasm and teach us a bit about the resources here on Rum. She was fascinating, really exciting to be in the company of and a timely reminder of the wealth of opportunity and possibility here on Rum. It was fab to feel inspired and enlivened once again about what we’re doing now and most importantly what we can do in the future.