This weekend saw us celebrating three weeks at our new address.
We have a shelf full of New Home cards from friends and family, have met some of the neighbours, started working and applied for a couple more jobs, had our first visitors, been to our first local event and finally got our internet and landline connected. So far it is mostly very slow indeed, frustratingly so of an evening when of course we (and everyone else, which explains the slowness) most want to use it. We are supposed to still be in our 10 day ‘bedding in’ period when the router and our connection is optimising and stablising so we will see if things improve after that time is up. But still, it is nice to be reconnected and the novelty of the landline phone is huge, it’s been nearly a decade since we’ve had one of those. I very much enjoyed spending a couple of hours in the sunshine on Sunday sitting outside chatting to my sister-in-law and then my parents and brother on the phone.
So what are we up to then? Ady and Scarlett – with me as back up – have cleaning work in some local holiday lets. It’s ad-hoc based on the cottages and cabins being let and as such will likely be very seasonal but as we’re heading towards precisely the right time for that season we are hopeful that that will bring in a fair chunk of the income we want. I worked with them today and we are a good team, all playing to our strengths and working together. I do the bed changes and laundry, Scarlett cleans the kitchens, windows and mirrors, Ady does the bathrooms and hoovers. We are reliably informed there will be plenty more holiday let cleaning posts in the area in the next few weeks lasting right through until the winter.
I have applied for a couple of part time posts working in areas I have worked in over the years either in paid or voluntary capacities – jobs like library of youth worker posts. The closing dates are not for a while yet so I’ll have to wait and see on those. I’ve also been contacting local tourism and accommodation providers about produce like my jam and baking and my crafts. I have got some of my crafts waiting to go in front of the quality control panel for stocking in the local tourism office and craft shop and the local campsite is waiting on me providing them with a price list for my baking and produce. There are two craft fairs happening next week which we’re going to visit to check out pricing, range of items for sale and how folks set up their tables and displays ready to take a table ourselves next time.
Davies has finished all of his course module material and is in the throes of his penultimate assignment before working on his end of module assessment and then having the summer off. He has earmarked a potential local charity to contact for voluntary work possibilities which would be both interesting and tie in with his studying so once he is finished studying for this (academic) year he has a list of things to be thinking about and getting on with too.
We’ve been back to Rum once to check on our livestock and make a start on planting the latest delivery of trees. Ady and I are heading back again this week to finish off the tree planting, check on everything and work out a list of tasks to work through on subsequent visits. We have applied to the Crofting Commission for permission to be further than the 32 kilometres you usually need to reside from your croft (we are not terribly much further than that, but we are not within it either) and are waiting on confirmation of their approval although we don’t anticipate any issues with our application.
The house continues to feel like home. We are very comfortable and happy here. Ady has been doing tasks like clearing the gutters, fixing the dishwasher which was not working when we moved in, applying WD40 to the slightly ill-fitting windows that are swelling and contracting in the spring temperature extremes and generally making himself feel at home. I have been loving the novelty of a washing machine (another job was getting a washing line strung up between some of the tree branches in the garden), using the Kenwood chef mixer we have had for years and kept boxed up and redundant on Rum due to lack of electricity for baking, dusting off the yoghurt maker that we bought and made excellent yoghurt with but had no fridge to keep the yoghurt fresh with on Rum. And I’ve started a new blanket as the sofa we have here is comfortable but tatty and is draped with the blankets I had made on Rum but has room for a couple more to cover it.
The bath continues to be a lovely treat, as do our large bedrooms, damp-free cupboards, TWO toilets and tons of space. We’ve been getting out and about and meeting people; we’ve met some of our neighbours, we bought a little freezer off some people in the village, went to the cinema night event at the community centre, chatted to volunteers at the local charity shop where we bought some glasses and are starting to feel like this is where we live.
The previous tenants had put up a bird table but in our first week or so here we had not seen any signs of wildlife. We bought some nuts and seeds when we were in town and restocked the feeders and the table has been a frenzy of feeding ever since, with tits, finches and robins darting around almost constantly. Buzzards and eagles are a daily spot flying over the house, as are ravens. Yesterday afternoon I watched a pair of eagles engage in their courtship sky dancing of catching each others talons and spiralling downwards and then later thought a plane was passing by so close and large was the sea eagle that flew past the window, close enough to make out it’s white tail, curved beak and wing tip feather details. The surrounding woodland of the house is filled with braken and I am ever alert for adders as it is prime adder habitat. It certainly does not feel that we have left behind the landscape and wildlife that we so loved on Rum.
This past weekend was Earth Hour, an event that we have marked since it began back in 2007. On Rum it used to feel slightly empty given our lack of electricity generally. This year we turned off all the lights, lit candles and watched the stars. Mothers Day on Sunday felt all the more special for being able to head out for an adventure somewhere new and have a lovely bubble bath while dinner was cooked for me.
I am aware that I am enthusing about some of the very things that I might have previously been smug about having left behind. That this could seem a return to the life we turned our backs on when this blog first began. But this is a continuation of our story, our ever-evolving journey. When this blog began we were living a very conventional life in a busy corner of the UK, with one of us working full time and a feeling that we could be having a different, better life. ..
The bulk of this blog was us searching for that better life and trying out more and less extreme versions of it. Our year of WWOOFing saw us experiment with lifestyles before settling on the one we lived for seven years on Rum. We are still reflecting on what that taught us, what we achieved and how much it showed us and how it led us to this next chapter.
What we are looking for just now, and have hopefully found is what suits us now, as four people with very different needs to what we had when we started this blog nearly a decade ago. We were then two young children with parents in our 30s and 40. We are now two young adults with parents in our 40s and 50s. Our priorities remain our time spent together, autonomy over what we invest time, energy and attention in, achieving goals which are important to us personally as individuals, as a family unit and in treading lightly on our planet. leaving legacies which only impact positively, finding joy, love and laughter and making the most of the opportunities we have in this life. This is a slightly less planned out phase of our lives than the previous ones shared on this blog, but hopefully it remains interesting to stick along for the ride with….I can’t believe it will be run of the mill no matter what happens!