I was going to title this post ‘August of Opportunities’ but then I realised I’ve already used a similar title and there were plenty of adventures so I went with that. Because who doesn’t love an alliterative title? But it is mostly about opportunities.
It’s been quiet here because we’ve been so very busy. I’ll have a ‘six months in’ up in the next week or so because, yes, it’s been six months this coming weekend since we left Rum and started setting up our lives here. We’re still tweaking and working out the finer details of precisely what our lives will look like post-Rum, or maybe not post-Rum but certainly post-full-time-Rum as we combine very part time crofting with our new mainland lives here.
As my previous post described Rum in a day so August was a snapshot month of life now. In a word – busy. Busy with work, busy with volunteering, busy with hobbies and busy with friends. Probably a bit too busy to be honest, certainly at a level beyond what we could keep up with all the time, but a lovely whirlwind of a month packed with loads of good things.
Work first – lots of shifts at the tea room for Ady. He enjoys the work, feels like he is learning loads of new skills, really likes working as part of a team and is getting to know lots about the local area and meet lots of local folk and visitors to the area. The hours are rather unsociable and it is likely to be be very seasonal so will start to slow down now we are heading into autumn so he may well need to think about alternative ideas moving forward but he has a couple of things to ponder further on with regard to volunteering / studying / career paths. August was his busiest month so far there though with shifts six days a week.
August was super busy for me at work too – I had stories in the paper every week, was out on tour at a couple of local schools for summer holiday youth events, worked at the community centre for film screenings and gig events, put on a couple of events for crafts and games and did the first weekly youth club after the summer holidays (schools have earlier summer holidays here in Scotland than in England, breaking up in June and going back in August). We’ve also been doing our holiday cottage cleaning.
We took a stall at the local agricultural show in the craft and produce tent where Davies had his art work on display, Scarlett sold cupcakes and I had jam and crafts for sale. We all did pretty well but Scarlett cleaned up – she entered various cakes for the competitions and took first prize for her fabulous cupcakes. Showing true entrepreneurial family spirit she took her remaining cupcakes out into the crowds towards the end of the afternoon and sold the lot walking around, Apprentice-style talking to people and offering discounts.
Davies has had his first sales on his local art work and been working on his online accounts and getting plenty of likes and follows on social media.
Davies and I have been doing a shift or two every week on the helpline. So far we have not had any calls but we have more training coming up soon and are both hoping to put our training to use in the not too distant future. An area of volunteering where we have put our new skills to use is in the citizen science project we have been involved with locally on marine identification.
Having done a workshop way back at the start of the summer on identifying the various plants and animals found on our local shores we attended several surveys where we joined in with other fellow amateurs and a marine biologist to identify and record seaweeds, lichens and all manner of creatures found on quadrats on the shore of our local loch. We know our bladderwrack from our spiralwrack and can gender ID a shore crab, spot a lichen, name a barnacle and uncover a starfish with confidence!
As always our hobbies have blurred with our work and with our lives but there has been art and music and baking as usual. Scarlett and I have also started a new hobby which we are absolutely loving – wild swimming. We’ve invested in wetsuits and goggles and I have been taking a few lessons to brush up on my strokes (pun intended!) and we’ve spent a fair few hours bobbing about in Loch Sunart which is just wonderful.
Ady and I had a weekend away. We stayed with friends and went to a film screening as part of the Fringe by the Sea festival in North Berwick but most excitingly of all went to a show in Edinburgh. A bit of background here is that my favourite comedian when I was young was Tony Slattery. I adored him, on Who’s Line is it Anyway? but also on various of the other (many) things he did. Another of my favourite comedians is Richard Herring, who we have seen several times doing stand up over the years and I listen to his RHLSTP podcast too. When I spotted that Richard Herring was interviewing Tony Slattery for one of his Edinburgh shows it was one of those things I would have sighed over back on Rum as something I would have loved to go and see but was utterly out of logistical reach. But now it is not. So we went!!!
And then I had a photo (and a hug!) with them both and thanked them for making me laugh for so many years. And if I look a bit like I am on the verge of tears in that photo with Tony Slattery it’s because I am.
The eagle eyed among you may have noticed a new face in some of the photos above, which brings me rather tidily to friends. We have had various house guests during August – several have stayed for a night or two like my friend Helen. Ady, Helen and I managed a quick overnight trip to Rum in the middle of all the craziness which was fantastic – we had an amazing wildlife encounter on the boat trip over with a pod of dolphins and whales, countless numbers of gannets, shearwaters and a great skua all participating in a feeding frenzy in the waters between Eigg and Rum.
Helen and I got up my hill…
and she got to meet lots of our Rum friends and have a night on the croft with us. Then back here we had a wild swim, a walk in the local woodlands and plenty of time spent here with the rest of the house-full eating ice cream in the sunshine.
The other new face is less friend, more family. It’s Davies’ girlfriend Megan who was here staying with us for a whole month. Megan came all the way from America to spend August with us and was a lovely addition to the family, fitting right in. We did some special trips to show Megan part of our lives like heading over to Inverness to take in Loch Ness, Channonry Point and some of the sights…
Megan also fitted in with our day to day lives joining in with cooking, helping on the stall at the show, being on hand when one of our hens hatched her brood of chicks and joining in with general Goddard craziness.
It was fabulous to have her here with us and we’re already looking forward to her next visit later this year.
The other new face is Scarlett’s best friend E, who was here with us from Northern Ireland for a few days adding further to the blend of ages and accents in the house. Then Scarlett and I joined her heading back home and had a week in Northern Ireland ourselves.
And just to keep the whole circle joined up Helen who had visited us here also came out to stay with our friends there too!
And no, despite appearances I didn’t spend the whole of August with a glass in my hand – just the moments that were captured on camera!
There is more to say, more that the gallivanting and working and volunteering and general busyness have bought to the fronts of our minds. More that visiting Rum and hatching chicks and children growing up have made us think about. More that travel and a changed lifestyle have thrown up as considerations which were not on our radar in our old lives.
But for now, as we pause a bit to catch our breath, flip the page on to the next month on the calendar and regroup back to being a household of four instead of three, five, six or seven it was definitely an August to remember.