We are well into autumn now and having moved here at the very start of spring there is only winter left for us to experience. Here on the mainland winter festivals are already very much in evidence, a bit of a culture shock after nearly a decade out of that particular loop. Has it all started even earlier or did we just forget?
Certainly in Ady and my working life in retail, going back many years ago ‘season’ meant something very different to what was happening outside in nature. Having worked in high street fashion and card and gift retail, DIY superstores and garden centres as well as a huge shopping mall with a Christmas grotto branch to the business we are not strangers to Christmas starting in August. But it felt largely in the planning and the behind the scenes side of the businesses back then – looking at recruitment for Christmas temp staff, interviewing Santas, making space in the stock room for the influx of deliveries or packing away the last of the unsold summer clothing ready to bring back out again with slashed prices for the January sale (which incidentally started earlier each year and reached Boxing Day even within my retail career lifetime).
Here though we are still managing to mostly retain our appreciation of the season changing to the leaves turning colour and falling – a spectacular event that living right in the middle of ancient oak woodland is making one of the most photogenic autumns I can recall. To the decreasing day lengths – now when I wake it is to the sun directly shining in through the bedroom window because it is that low in the sky, the chickens are going away every earlier each night, the fire is being lit, we are back to carrying a ‘just in case’ torch in a pocket once more. Today I dug my doc martens back out to start wearing in favour of my shoes.
There remains an off-duty feel to where we are living, in common with Rum. There are fewer people about. Our holiday cottage cleaning has come more or less to an end (although we have potentially picked up a new contract for next season which is good), there are less cars on the road, our trips into Fort William which we aim for every ten days or so to do food and supply shopping are notably quieter in the shops and on the roads, the ferry has less people and traffic, the lambs who were both a delight and a traffic hazard gambolling about in the roads are now indistinguishable from their parents and barely look up as cars pass.
Ady, who is still working six nights a week at the tea room is reliably home most evenings well before 10pm, sometimes even by 9. I am already on the first half term break from my youth club, we have a table booked at the ‘Christmas’ craft fayre locally and this week we made our Christmas cake. A time honoured Goddard tradition happening sometime in October, or very sometimes November depending on ferries bringing the ingredients or us not being on the road somewhere.
We are continuing to settle in here nicely. We are starting to make plans well into next year which suggests we are planning on this being a permanent (for now!) address. We are enjoying the benefits and opportunities that mainland life offers and are fairly regularly being very grateful we are not heading towards the winter in our caravan.
Bring on the seasons. We’re loving every one so far.