3

Shed to Shop update

Inbetween everything else we’ve been up to we have been working on the shed project too. It has now had two coats of green wood preserver on the outside, mostly done by me with help from Scarlett on the second coat.

It looks pretty good. It’s not quite the vibrant green we usually use for Croft 3 stuff as in the fridge and our logo but it’s pretty close. Wood preserver doesn’t seem to come in properly bright colours.

shed2

shed5

shed4

We’ve done the doors green inside and out as we are not decided yet whether we’ll leave them open or closed when the shed is open for business. We know we’ll need to keep the doors closed during wind and rain and strongly suspect our chickens and ducks will investigate the shed rather too closely if it is open so it will probably be doors closed.

The rest of the inside was both dark due to small windows and probably closed doors plus the rather lurid standard shed orange was a bit overpowering so I have used diluted white emulsion to do a 90s style paint effect colour wash (anyone else recall Changing Rooms style rag rolling, or applying paint to the walls with a scrunched up carrier bag, oh how my decorator Dad used to scoff at such notions!) on the walls and ceiling. It looks pretty good and will provide a nice light neutral background for our various artwork, crafts and produce.

shed3

Still undecided on the floor – it will need to not get slippery when wet and muddy (rather inevitable here!), not show too much dirt and not be too distracting. Still pondering on that one.

This afternoon I started working on the outside of the shed – most people will approach the croft and see the back of the shed first, it also slightly blocks the croft gate from view so needed a good clear sign. After lots of debate about naming the shop we have gone for ‘Croft 3 In The Shed’ as that is what it is – all the things we make, create and produce here on Croft 3 available to buy ‘in the shed’.

So this afternoon I did the first coat of white lettering, ready to outlined in black and have our customary swirls added.

shed

I’ve also done the first bodies of ducks and geese but for now they are just white blobs until I get back down there with orange and yellow paint for bills and feet. Chickens and maybe a turkey (ambitious!) to come along with some jars of jam and other such pictures and plenty of swirls of course. I’m very much making it up as I go along in my usual fashion.

Ady is in charge of fashioning shelving and displays from old wood and then I can start assembling items for sale and laying it all out. I need to make signposts from the village and labels for the various displays inside. I have a plastic mirror on order so people can admire themselves in my scarves and we’re planning to put some of Ady’s photos on canvas as artwork for display or sale. I am debating bunting…. these are the sort of highbrow dilemmas we face up here on Croft 3!

0

Step into our world

We had friends visiting this week. A friend I made online over a decade ago and have probably met in real life only five times or so but has shared early parenting, middle parenting, teen parenting, different phases in our lives, victories and challenges, celebrations and commiserations in a mostly virtual manner. Along the way that particular group of friends and I have had our real life get togethers, despite being scattered all across the world and have also met partners and children and some of us have become family friends too. It is connections like these which remind me that socialising can take so many forms and while there is little that can really beat sitting side by side on a comfy sofa with a bottle of wine and a bowl of crisps between you that does not take anything away from the card in the post, text, the reply to a thread on a forum, the like on a facebook photo, the comment on a blogpost. These too are important and bridge the gaps between real life meet ups, particularly when you are as scattered across the place as this group of friends are.

This was their second visit to Rum so we had already established a pattern last time of meeting around lunchtime, the children going off exploring, cooking dinners together and spending long evenings chatting and singing. We fell back into that this visit and it was lovely.

It’s been a crazy week – wild weather interspersed with gorgeous sunshine. Our usual large ferry broke down on Saturday, the relief boat could not get across due to the weather on Sunday, we’ve all been watching the updates on the ferry website and pondering deliveries for the shop, of post and parcels, we were waiting on petrol and cherries for our Christmas cake, contractors and islanders were waiting to get off Rum, visitors and another islander were waiting to get off. At the weekend we had one set of folk stranded here for an extra 48 hours nearly missing a flight while others were facing the opposite dilemma, able to see Rum looming large from the mainland but not able to get here. Today the ferry set out, turned back, set out again and finally arrived, along with the small boat which was doing a passenger run – just like the proverbial buses they both arrived at the same time!

We realised in talking to stranded visitors that sometime over the last 4 years since we first stepped foot on Rum, arriving in the middle of just such a ferry / poor weather period we have become used to this. We fret, in a grumbly islander manner about it but deep down we accept it, expect it and almost enjoy it a little bit I think. It’s part of the adventure of living here. The visitors to Rum at this time of year get to see something a bit more special I think, a real taste of island life and all it’s highs and lows.

In between we have also managed our usual getting on with things this week. We killed and butchered another pig, taking full advantage of a lovely morning of weather, there were plenty more of the last few brambles picked and turned into jam – I think we are at 172 jars made this year just now. I have painted half of the shed – hoping to finish the other half tomorrow and then we start the more interesting tasks of decorating it and fitting it out. We have been experimenting with the new wind turbine and while I have not committed any of it to paper / screen just yet I have been mentally composing a couple of pieces of writing.

The clocks going back have robbed us of a precious hour of daytime daylight but we’ve been striving to ensure the hours we do have fully count.

0

The week the winter started…

The spring never came, the summer never really got started, the autumn was wonderful throughout all of September and most of October but days before the clocks went back the wind and rain came back and now we have the dark nights too.

Going into our fourth winter we have learnt a thing or two. Lesson number one remains of course expect the unexpected and always be very aware that in the scheme of things you have way more still to learn…

A saying I am often to heard repeating to Davies and Scarlett (one of those ones they may one day say to their own children, or will certainly hear my voice echo through their memory saying to them for their whole lives) is to make today count, to ensure you do one thing every day that scares you, that is new, or worthwhile, or fun. Make today productive, do something you are proud of. These short Rum days of winter approaching make that advice all the more pertinent. You simply have to find value, to remind yourself why you are living this way.

For me and for Ady too, it is really important to get outside every single day. Of course with animals to feed and check on twice daily, firewood to bring in and often a ferry to meet to collect deliveries or post that happens most days for one or both of us anyway. We’re still in foraging season – for now it’s brambles, I’ve been out every day this week with a bag picking brambles. If it’s a day when I’ve been out anyway for some reason then I’ve tacked that on to already being outside getting wet, on days when I have a choice about my timing I have dodged the rain showers. I think we probably have a week or so of brambles left before they are over but that should coincide with the start of basket weaving materials being ready to cut and collect – willow, holly, brambles, dogwood, hazel and more should all be ready in the next week or two so I’ll be out gathering armfuls of that with my secateurs.

I’ve also been in the polytunnel this week, clearing out the failed crops and feeding them to the pigs, adding the spent compost to the raised beds, weeding and ensuring there are no cosy corners to attract mice and rats to snuggle into over winter. I’ve bought my seeds out to stocktake and look at plans for next year. The next job in there is a thorough weeding as I am planning to grow direct into the ground in there next year with the shelves used for starting seedlings. The polytunnel is a nice place to hang out on a rainy day but it does need to be still as the door can only be put on and off from the outside so on a windy day you’d be risking blowing everything around or damaging the polytunnel.

The raised beds are needing to be cleared now aside from those with root crops in and the single bed of strawberries. So I’ll be taking off the netting and we’ll feed the birds on the beds to get them to scratch up all the weeds and spent crops before covering them with mulch over winter. We need to collect some seaweed for mulch on both the raised beds and around the feet of the fruit trees and bushes in the fruit cage although they don’t need to be mulched until later in the season. Another job.

We still have three pigs to process – that will hopefully be a job for this week coming. We’ll get them ready for the freezer and plan a day of inside processing soon.

We need more firewood to get us through the winter, so a couple of days of cutting, chopping, splitting and stacking wood is also on the list.

The shed is waiting patiently for a coat of preserver and all the various latches, hooks and bolts on it outside, shelving and kitting out inside.

And then all those outdoor jobs which mean indoor finishing off are to be tackled. A day of sausage making, more jam making and jar labelling, seed sorting and planning, reading and researching ideas for next year, coming up with the 2016 masterplan, working out what did and didn’t work this year and what we want to get on with next. And then crafts – more knitting and crochet, candle making and drawing, model making, sign making, writing.

It’s almost a relief to finally have the winter here, to feel okay about lighting the fire and accepting what didn’t happen this year and transferring plans to next years calendar instead. Could probably do without quite so many gale force winds though…

1

Big and Small

We do a lot of walking here on Rum. Walking is our main form of transport, of getting ourselves and various stuff around. I have always walked a lot, home from school, home from the pub or nightclub, to work. When the children were babies I walked for miles pushing pushchairs, with a baby strapped to me or clutching the tiny hand of a new walker. We used to walk from the house, or sometimes drive to a different location to walk – in the woods, on the beach, across the downs, around a nature reserve.

Walking with small children is a totally different experience to walking as an adult though. You are slower, the walk does not have a purpose as an end goal, the walk itself is often the purpose. To get some fresh air, to sooth frayed tempers, to get a change of scenery, to splash in puddles, to soak up the sunshine. We often walked around Bonfire night to spot fireworks, or near to Christmas to look at the lights displays neighbours had. I am sure I have shared before the story of a walk to the library taking a short cut through an alleyway with Davies and Scarlett as very young children and Scarlett exclaiming over the diamonds and emeralds and their beauty as I tried to rush us along the litter filled, urine scented damp alley way. She was of course talking about broken beer bottles, to her the shattered green and white glass was beautiful.

A great ‘walking for the sake of walking’ idea we used a lot when Davies and Scarlett were little was a Penny Walk – every time you come to a fork or turn in the road you flip a coin, heads is left, tails is right. Sometimes you end up circling back on yourself, often you take dead ends or head down paths you would never usually venture. Sometimes we would task ourselves with finding ‘clues’ or spotting the letters of our names – car registrations, street names, writing on drain covers, road signs, shop fronts, house names. We would spot cats, birds, interesting things in people’s gardens.

Here on Rum we never cease seeing the beauty of our surroundings, often pausing to comment and note the colour changes, spot the wildlife, hear the sound of the river changing flow, take photos, but even so we sometimes don’t take the paths less trodden. We don’t always spot the different perspectives. We are all of a similar height these days so there is no body walking at knee height seeing the down-low perspective. This last week though Ady and I have both been seeing new sights on Rum.

Ady has been ghillie-ing, leading a Rum pony to collect culled deer stags. This has taken him up high onto Rum’s peaks, across the island on previously untrodden paths, walking slow at the pony’s pace, pausing to ensure the deer is secure on the saddle. It is a different view of Rum, you are looking down rather than up, able to see the sea all around and realise that Rum is not so very large at all with land beyond.

ghillie4

ghillie3

illie2

hillie2

ghillie

Meanwhile I’ve been bramble picking, just the opposite. Down low, rummaging in the undergrowth, looking up at a towering Rum, tall trees, taller peaks. It’s been a glimpse into the world of fairies and wee woodland folk. Dewdrops on spider webs, tiny toadstools and mini waterfalls.

bramble walk 1

bramble walk

bramble walk6

spider web

Chasing the brambles, or leading a pony, it’s been a return to a walk with a different purpose, a peek into a different world sitting side by side with the one we usually see. Seeing the extremes of high and low, of big and small, heads or tails.

0

For Granny…

Davies and Scarlett on their new bikes – birthday gift from Granny & Granddad. They took some getting here but they finally arrived on Friday and we put them together today. Davies and Scarlett were straight out on them and are delighted.

new bikes

0

Shed to shop

I touched on our latest project a couple of blog posts ago but it’s very exciting and deserves a blog post all to itself really. Well a series of posts actually. So here is the first one.

When we started out here it was always our intention to strive for self sufficiency for us and surplus produce to sell. We quickly realised that self sufficiency is a very long term goal and that excess produce was also a bit of a pipe dream in the early days. However we also realised that Rum is rich in bounty to forage – for food for us, to add value to for selling, to use for other purposes around the croft. We set about gathering brambles, picking winkles, collecting firewood, digging up clay from the croft to create, picking and drying wild flowers, taking inspiration for artwork and crafts, photographing our beautiful island. This is our fourth autumn, the time of year which brings the most abundance of free food and we have been building our jam production year on year. This year we are on track to make over 200 jars of jam, all from hand picked brambles, added to as many Croft grown extras or other natural additions as possible, packed in hand drawn labelled jars.

We have been selling jam and eggs from our Honesty Larder at the croft gate for the last couple of seasons and done really well from that. We have also sold though the Rum Crafts shop in the village and at the regular Market Days in the village hall in the summer but selling from the croft gate has always been our dream. We have a great market of people who have walked a bit further out into the island around the nature trail which borders our croft, people get to peruse our range of produce and crafts while looking at the croft, seeing the free range birds roaming the land, the polytunnel and raised beds we grow food in, we are more likely to be around on the croft to chat or answer any questions than we are to be in the village and we are able to keep an eye on keeping the stock filled and fresh and tidy.

So we have invested in a shed. Usually we would either construct something ourselves from reclaimed materials or be looking at something more quirky, but Rum chucks some pretty full on weather conditions at us so we decided to start with a conventional shed as a base and Croft 3 it up a bit to create something a bit more ‘us’. We chose a budget shed knowing we’d be doing improvements anyway. Getting it here in the first place was not entirely straightforward but finally it arrived and we got the component parts all down to the croft gate.

shed3

Our first step was to reinforce the floor. It was really flimsy MDF board, with really spaced out struts to support it underneath meaning anyone other than Bigfoot was likely to step in between two struts and put their foot through the floor. So we added another one inbetween each one, six in total. That took a whole morning of dismantling an old pallet to get the right size wood, sawing it to size, screwing pieces together to create struts and then screwing them onto the floor. Once done we had something super sturdy – and really quite tricky to lift!

shed2

Then to erect the actual shed. We upgraded almost all the screws to far superior, longer, thicker ones.

shed4

Next Ady wanted to secure the shed better. There are various aspects which are vulnerable to the winds here – firstly the shed itself. A light shed, not secured down could lift in it’s entirety and be blown away. So Ady banged in four fence posts, one in each corner and secured the shed to them. He then put battens around the two long sides and one short side of the shed and secured those too, effectively creating a cradle for the shed. It is now secured to it’s own heavy floor, to all sides of the cradle and to the four posts buried a couple of feet in the ground on each corner.

The next vulnerable area is the roof. We upgraded the felt nails to longer ones and put many more in than the instructions suggested. Then we strapped over the roof in three places and secured the straps to the cradle.

shed

Always time for an arty shot…

shed roof

The next vulnerable places are the doors and windows. the windows are non-opening, perspex but are fairly ill fitting and a bit rattly. We have put in extra batten to secure them more from the inside and beading on the outside. I don’t have a picture of that finished. The door is currently just wedged shut with a very heavy block but we have various door furniture on order – a decent latch to allow people to open and close the door, a really good hasp, staple and weatherproof padlock to secure it closed when it’s the end of each day, we are away or the weather is too poor to have the shop open, and a pair of brackets to hold the doors open if we want to.

Next we need to do a bit of tidying up around the area, sorting out the ditch that runs around the shed, getting some signs up to show it is a shop. We have ordered some wood preserver in our usual Croft 3 green to paint the shed prior to decorating it with our trademark animals and swirls. Ady is busy dreaming up interesting and quirky things to do with pallets to create shelves, tables and display spaces, I am thinking about bunting, colours and decorations and signage.

Finally, but most importantly we’re thinking about stock. Scarlett has a whole host of ideas for candles so will be getting busy over winter making those. She has also had the genius idea of making little Croft 3 creatures with the clay and painting them. So far she has made a couple of pigs and they are fabulous, full of character. I’m not sure she’ll be able to part with them though…

pigsclay

Davies is working on more post card designs and thinking of other ideas too, I’m championing pebble / stone painting as a pursuit for him, I think they would make excellent paperweights and oranaments.

Ady has had some of his favourite photos turned into postcards and is going through the hundreds of images he has to come up with a few more to get printed off. We may invest in a couple of his prints on canvas too, they will be great artwork for the wall of the shop, display his fab photography and can be purchased too.

I have various crafts to add, my moods of Rum scarves, now available as long scarves, shorter cravat style necklets with a wooden button and triangular scarves with dangly braids. I have my Flora of Rum pot pourri made from dried wild flowers and larch cones, my midges set in resin jewellery, my string art signs and will hopefully have the start of some willow and other hedgerow material baskets weaved over this winter. As soon as the brambles are over I’ll be out armed with secateurs instead of bramble collecting bags foraging for materials for weaving with.

More Shed to Shop photos and news to follow as progress happens.

0

A busy week…

It’s been a really busy week all round here. Bramble picking and jam making aplenty – Ady and I have both done plenty of picking, Scarlett and I have both done plenty of making. If I am the Bramble Mogul (as coined by the presenter when I was on BBC Radio Scotland recently) then Scarlett is the Jamming Queen. I reckon we have a week or so left of brambles but we are on track to hit the 200 jars made target.

We experimented with both wet and dry cures for the meat from the pig we killed at the start of the week. The dry cure was to make bacon and was our most successful yet – we ate it all yesterday lunchtime in bacon sandwiches. The wet cure was in brine – sugar and salt solution with added herbs and spices, soaked for five days. We have two large hams to go in the freezer for Christmastime and we boiled then glazed and roasted the two smaller cuts for dinner tonight. Delicious!

Ady had three days of ghillie-ing this week – out and about leading a Rum pony over hills and moorland. He has really enjoyed it despite the long days, heavy lifting and rough terrain. I have been doing lots of Post Office shifts, had a directors meeting, a very long phone chat with a TV and radio researcher, compiled, edited and sent out our residents newsletter, written a couple of chapters for a book I am co-authoring, spent an afternoon crafting and chatting with a friend.

Davies and Scarlett had their first solo mainland adventure. Heading off on the ferry all alone, meeting friends at the other end, spending two nights away from Rum, including a 24 hour challenge to live outside the house with their friends in a tipi cooking all their own food. We missed them lots, Bonnie was particularly confused as to why various of the four of us keep disappearing these last couple of weeks.

I have been fighting a cold which I bought back from the mainland, but despite all the busyness I have managed to eat well, drink plenty of fluids and ensure I’ve been in bed early and it seems to have run it’s course and left me fairly quickly.

Today we started on our latest Croft 3 project, building a little shop to go at the croft gate to sell our crafts and produce. We have done really well with our little honesty larder fridge selling eggs and jam but with the children and Ady also starting to come up with arts and crafts along with my midges in resin, dried flowers and Moods of Rum scarves we felt the time had come to set up a place to sell our Croft 3 items all in one space. We would normally come up with something more ‘us’ than an off the shelf shed but after tossing ideas about for a bit we decided it was the quickest way to get started and we could put our own stamp on it. That started rather earlier than we expected when we realised just how flimsy the floor of the shed was and set about creating reinforcements to the floor panels. We have also constructed using heavier duty screws, many more than suggested and created a cradle to go around three sides of the shed to protect from the wind and give us something to anchor roof tie downs on to. All of this meant it too rather longer than we’d hoped and we still have the roof to felt tomorrow but within the next couple of weeks hopefully we’ll be past the construction phase and onto decoration and Croft 3-ising it.

shed

0

I’ve been thinking…

Despite living in what could easily be considered a Tiny House, in our caravan the one thing we are rich in here on Rum is space. Space on our eight acres to allow our birds to properly free range, our pigs to have massive amounts of room to root up the ground, space to set up as many raised beds, polytunnels, animal houses and fruit cages as we like. Miles and miles of sky above us, no visible neighbours, no need to worry about being too noisy and disturbing people. But the most precious space of all in our lives here is head space. Room to think.

A simple life like ours, where you hands or body is busy getting on with tasks – feeding animals, picking brambles, crafting, chopping firewood, kneading bread, making jam, scything the grass, weeding, watering, sowing or harvesting crops – allows so much time for your mind to drift, to day dream, to wander, to mull over, cogitate and ponder.

It occurred to me this morning, as I was ambling along to work, stopping to take photos on the way that since we have lived here I have heard the other three say more often ‘I’ve been thinking…’ than in all the previous years of living back in our old lives. Back then there was no space in our heads for idle thought, our minds were busy, filled with details, the need to concentrate, remember, focus. Always chasing our tails, mentally ticking off job lists whilst all the while adding new tasks to the bottom of the list, planning ahead to meetings, appointments, shopping lists, kids activities, which petrol station to stop at, what to cook for dinner, which route home to take to avoid the traffic, what needs ironing for tomorrow, is it anyone’s birthday or anniversary or other event requiring a card or phone call… a constant round of pressure, of harried thoughts bouncing off all sides of our brains. Our minds were consumed with the here and now, with details, there was no room for abstract thought, for starring into the middle distance and entertaining mental flights of fantasy.

It’s a different story now. Davies and Scarlett come to me with ‘I’ve been thinking…’ ideas, creative thoughts, inventions, inspiration for adventures, things to learn more about. Ady poses ‘I’ve been thinking…’ cunning plans, different ways to approach things on the croft, building projects. My ‘I’ve been thinking…’ thoughts are arranging hopes and dreams, mentally composing writing I want to commit to paper / screen / blog post. We are more daring, creative, inspired, free…. free your mind and the rest will follow.

0

Pig Day 6

Today was our sixth pig day since we’ve been here on Croft 3. We only had two remaining piglets from our first litter and a friend shot those for us, teaching us about the butchering and splitting the meat with us. That was my first experiment with bacon making.

Last year we had three piglets to process and had invested in a bolt gun so that we could do the whole thing ourselves. Ady killed the first two and I did the third. We were much more proficient at the butchering and processing thanks to our friend’s teaching and our own experience processing venison over the last couple of years. We had some great cuts of pork, some fantastic sausages, some ill fated chorizo (lost in the polytunnel when it blew down) and another rather experimental go at bacon. My brine cured hams were very good though.

This year we have six piglets in the litter. Our plan is to keep two of those – one a sow to run with Tom for breeding so that we have two breeding females, giving us two litters a year, the other is the little piglet who will have so little meat on her and has won hearts all over the island so assuming she survives her first harsh winter gets a reprieve.

So that is four piglets to process and we started with the first today. It was an easy choice for the first one – there was only one male in this litter and he was the biggest piglet by far, the biggest appetite and the one most likely to start problems in terms of mating with his sisters or mother, or fighting with his dad. He had done none of those things but had grown as large as he was going to without starting to eat a lot of our bought in pig food as the weather turns colder and grazing gets less.

I was doing a post office shift so I helped Ady by feeding and distracting the rest of the pigs while he killed the pig and removed him from the pen, then I went off to work while Ady skinned and halved, then quartered the halves into joints. I got home in time to roll some joints and practise my butchers knots, bag up and label the various cuts and weigh the whole lot.

We now have about 6 roasting joints in the freezer, along with a large bag of meat waiting to be minced (sausages!), ribs and diced pork for stir fries. We have a large container with a sugar, salt and spice brine mix with two large and two small hams soaking and 2 lumps of meat in a dry cure mix to make bacon.

The rest of this week is looking pretty busy so it will probably be next week before we deal with the next three pigs after which a big mincing and sausage making session is scheduled.

baconing

butchers knot

pig day

21493770123_ea3d53a60c_z

21927015268_cbbd101011_z

0

Adventures off island

Davies had a hospital check up (he’s fine, it was a routine thing) last week which necessitated a four day trip off due to the time of the appointment. What would have been a morning of inconvenience back in our old lives became more of an epic logistical achievement due to living here. As such we made the most of it and planned as much around the appointment as possible.

We shopped around for the cheapest accommodation options, booking well in advance and gambling on paying upfront for the best prices. I booked the night before and the night after on more expensive flexible deals so that in the case of cancelled ferries either side we would be assured of somewhere to sleep – in the event I was able to cancel both of those bookings despite high winds forecast for the day we went off making the ferry on amber alert for disruptions. We used public transport – train and bus, along with the ferry of course. We also used a taxi while we were off, but all cheaper than hiring a car, if rather less convenient. I confess to being a bit of a princess about public transport, having had my own car since I was 17, along with a pushbike and very accommodating parents to offer lifts to and fro before that, so I never used buses much and trains were only really used for London trips. The option of having my hot chocolate laced with a tot of Baileys as I was getting the bus later rather than driving while we were off rather cured me of that though!

We managed to coordinate eye tests for both Davies and Scarlett, an overnight stay with friends, various shopping (transport allowances permitting) and enjoy some of the local tourist attractions in Fort William which we’d not experienced before. Ady stayed home on the croft with Bonnie – we no longer have a resident dog sitter here on Rum so getting off all four of us at once will prove trickier and Bonnie *really* doesn’t enjoy the mainland experience. We missed Ady a lot, as he did us. However he also enjoyed the opportunity to watch whatever films he wanted (war, slapstick comedy, neither of which are genres appreciated by the whole family) and eat chilli con carne three nights in a row (a dinner none of the rest of us eat) followed by a pie in a tin on the fourth night. I loved the opportunity to recapture some of the party of three dynamic that Davies, Scarlett and I used to enjoy back in our old lives and found we slotted straight back into being a trio. They are excellent company and the three of us had a great time gallivanting, adventuring and relaxing.

train1

team train

train

On picturesque train journeys – with a friend (chance meeting), Glenfinnan (made famous from Harry Potter film) and spotting the famous steam train.

And waiting for that train…
platform

By bus bus

Rather more exotically by cable car (part way up Ben Nevis)

cable car
cable car 1

I have no photo of the taxi, but amusingly he recognised off from the TV show and gave us a discount!

We ate very well: plenty of ice creams (Davies had been desperate to try pistachio nut flavour)
lollies

ice cream

We had fish and chips, amazing pastries from a newly opened bakery and several picnic teas back in our hotel room
bakehouse

breakfast

fish n chips

Definitely our favourite refreshment break was the hot chocolates in the cafe on Ben Nevis though – whipped cream and marshmallows for Davies and Scarlett, Baileys for me and an amazing view (complete with the very top of the highest peak on Rum just about visible) – what more could you want?

nevis view

hot choc

We did lots of sensible shopping – toiletries, new underwear and socks, food bits and pieces etc. but our favourite purchase was in a closing down sale in a charity shop of this wheelie trolley for just £1. Useful, practical and thanks to being named and given a sort of personality now one of the family!

margaret

We made the most of the bath for bubble baths, face packs and lengthy soaks (we all used the hairdryer at least once)

bath

And spent plenty of time watching TV – there is a LOT of really poor daytime TV!
tellyy

Enjoyed our night with friends (so much that Davies and Scarlett are heading back again this week for another couple of nights with them)
friends

But as ever the sweetest view is the one of Rum looming ever larger as we sail closer to home

home