Experiences, not things

I’ve been busy setting the ball rolling for the big build next year. A few facebook posts, some emails, catching up with people who have expressed an interest in being part of the project to give them a heads up that it is happening. I’ve written an update for the WWOOFing newsletter and am very excited at the prospect of a group of very close friends making it up here next year to join in.

I was reading an article on the Tiny House movement earlier which had a lovely quote:

People would rather have experiences than things

This has been something I have believed for a very long time – in summing up a day, a week, a year, a life it is never the stuff accumulated which makes it count, but the memories – the what you did not the what you had.

We have been so pleased to have such a great first response to our plans for next year – it’s been raining pretty much non stop since we first posted about it last week so we have yet to translate our own enthusiasm into the first breaking ground on the house plot clearing the site but hopefully by the end of this week we will have some pictures to share of the actual location looking like the start of something exciting rather than just an untamed corner of the croft.


Draw a house

When I was a child I drew hundreds and hundreds of houses. Early depictions would have been of the square topped by a triangle variety, that would have been followed by 3d versions and I distinctly recall more sophisticated illustrations with a garden wall, goldfish pond and a few trees and flower beds. What I…
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Cob, cob, glorious cob….

We’re going to build a cob house.

We’re going to build it next year. Here on Croft 3, using clay dug from the croft. We know roughly where we are going to build it, we have an approximate timeline, we’ve done some critical path analysis, we have an agreed design.

I remember announcing something pretty similar in just a few lines four years ago.

We’re going to go off traveling around the UK in a campervan. We’ll do WWOOFing

I also remember the reality of what that plan took to organise, to make happen, to convince all the interested parties that this was a good idea and we hadn’t completely taken leave of our senses. It was not without challenges – both the planning and the execution of that plan. There were times when I think everyone concerned secretly – and sometimes not so secretly – thought actually it would be better to not be doing any such thing. But we did it, we made it happen.

Then a year later we came up with another plan.

We’re going to move a remote Scottish island with just 30 odd people and be crofters. There is nothing there at all yet except a bare field but we’ll keep animals, grow food, find a way of making a life there

Turns out that we did that too. We’re still doing it, it’s still a work in progress so I guess this latest announcement is more of a sub heading underneath. But it is pretty similar in many ways. There will be schedules, people to talk to, communicate with, help and support to be garnered, people shaking their heads and thinking we are crazies to be proved wrong.

All of the most amazing adventures I have ever been on have started life as a slightly random thought that struck me one day, snowballed in my own mind into an idea and then I took to Ady to persuaded him to join me with. Latterly I have taken them to Davies and Scarlett too. Sometimes when they are properly crazy or ambitious we take them to other people too and with a mad glint in our eyes, a passionate tone of voice and an air of excitement about us we ask

We’re going to do something a bit out of the ordinary. It might go wrong at times, it certainly won’t go completely according to plan.  There will be surprises and adventures along the way. We will try hard and plan as much as possible but we will need to be prepared to change our plans, sometimes at the last minute when things crop up that we didn’t anticipate or expect. It won’t always be easy but it will be a lot of fun. We will laugh a lot, sing a lot, build lots of memories together and take lots of photos. It will definitely be hard work but then anything worth doing always is. Do you want to join in?

How does that make you feel?

Are you shaking your head? Did you even read to the end? Is it the sort of question you turn away from and assume was not actually being asked of you?

Or does it make a little cartwheel spin down in the pit of your tummy? Does it make you a bit restless in your chair? A bit twitchy? A bit inclined to type something in the comments box about how yes, you’d like to join in?

At this stage we are working out what help we need and when. We will want people to come and move heavy things around, get muddy, make cob, make tea and big pots of soup to feed hungry workers, we will need people to sing, take photos, make everyone laugh. To hand round midge spray or hold umbrellas. We also need people to watch from afar and cheer us on, to celebrate with us and commiserate with us. People to read the blog and smile and feel proud to have commented and been a part of it.

What does this post make you want to do?




As I type the wind is howling around the caravan. Ferries have been disrupted today, already cancelled for tomorrow and the wind turbine is tied up against forecast gales. My reaction to this – to my Mum on the phone last night, and to a random tourist I was chatting to in the shop this…
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The ‘Oh look, it’s a whole new masterplan Masterplan’

I think we might be on v3. Or maybe even v3.1

Never be afraid to upgrade, enhance or completely change your masterplan.

In our case I think we may be doing a little bit of all of the above. The current Masterplan is a cob house build in 2015. We’re starting small – permaculture principles suggest small steps make for small mistakes, cob house builds suggest small houses make for smaller amounts of cob mix required. But we hope to have something suitable for next winter built by next winter. If that works we can progress more in the following year for the following winter.

So we are finalising designs for something with a living / cooking / eating space, a place for a bath, three separate rooms for a bedroom each for us, Davies and Scarlett and an indoor loo. We have worked a lot on the design plotting the shape of our days, working out best use of space, deciding what we do and don’t need room for and looking at seasonal changes, sunrise and sunset, views, weather and the general knowledge of our land which two and a half years of living it has afforded us.

We have decided on a plot and marked out the rough size. The next stage is clearing that plot of grass and starting to dig out the footprint. Over the winter Ady and I will aim to dig it out, put in drainage and build the low wall that a cob building sits on. That is the practical side.

The planning side is rather more complex – we will get planning permission for a structure on the croft of the relevant size and shape. We will organise a large volunteer project to come and assist at the key points we will need help for, sort out the logistics of the materials we will need to buy in and work out the finer details.

I have been spending time on a Masterplan master plan brainstroming all the required things to organise and sort out, listing them, prioritising them and creating a timeline. This has then broken down into monthly targets and will then fit into weekly lists of things to do. Divided into indoor and outdoor, practical and planning sections. It’s all quite complicated! It reminds me of the 9 months of planning that went into our WWOOFing adventure and how we went about organising that.

Everyone is feeling quite enthused and excited about this and it’s great to be heading into winter feeling empowered and in control as we face the most unknown and out of our hands season of life here on Rum. I can’t control the weather, the fate of the caravan or many of the other variables of our lives here. We can seize the reins of at least knowing which direction we’d like to be headed in and doing all we can to be moving in the right way.


And then there were four…

I know it is only October but there is a real ‘end of season’ feeling here. The winter ferry timetable kicks in in the next week or so, the hostel is closed for the winter, the teashop is only open for limited times. We have turned round our ‘produce this way’ signs leading people to the croft.

We have had our last planned visit of the year to the mainland for food shopping and dentist check-ups. We waved off our last visitors of the year – my parents – on the ferry yesterday.

Today has been a day of planning – the start of the planning for the cob house build next year, a winter plan for general indoors and outdoors croft going forward stuff, a month-by-month timetable for the coming six months. We have some possible work opportunities, next years livestock and crops to bear in mind, investments of time and money in the coming year, an evaluation of what worked and didn’t work, what can be improved and enhanced for next year.

The cupboards are full of pickles and preserves, the freezer is stocked up, we have craft materials ready to be turned into sale-able items, to do lists, ideas and inspiration.

But first, just for a few days, we’re going to do not much. To spread out in our own space, catch up on watching films and downloaded tv shows, luxuriate in the end of one part of our year and our life here and just catch our breath before throwing ourselves into the next bit.


In your own time

I tend not to focus on the can nots. On the things we are not able to do. Mostly because I do believe that in the main it is what we can’t do yet rather than what we can’t do. That if we actually wanted to do something then we could. I think that what…
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Autumn watching

It’s stunning on Rum just now. The colours are fantastic, photos don’t do it justice and words fall way short. There is a smell of woodsmoke in the air and the sun (which continues to keep putting in an almost daily appearance) is hanging low in the sky giving a fantastic quality to the light….
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Thrust into autumn

With the autumn equinox so we have been thrust straight into the changed season. Our usual Calmac ferry is off for it’s annual time in drydock so we have had a combination of various other vessels bringing our freight and visitors. That makes for a fair level of disruption generally to the timetable as one…
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