Bring on the friends!

It’s been an odd sort of week ( is it only me who is put in mind of Arkwright doing his round up as the lights go down on Open All Hours when typing such a phrase?). We waved goodbye to Julie & co and theoretically had a lull between guests (mad week coming up, guests arriving on Wednesday til Friday, day trippers also coming on Wednesday and another set of friends coming on Friday for a week – social-tastic!) but have very much enjoyed being a bit ‘hosty’ to a couple of sets of potential crofters. Croft 2 – the other 2/3 of ‘our’ field is up for grabs in the current round of croft applications here on Rum. As newest crofters we have had various potential crofters come for chats or get in touch online which has been great. We are really excited at the prospect of neighbours, new friends and additional numbers for the community. We are in the luxurious position of having *no* impact on the decision making so are able to remain utterly subjective and have personal favourites within the array of potential applicants – both on and off island.

What we have most enjoyed though is giving people our take on Rum, on Crofting and on this lifestyle. A lovely slice of positive reinforcement for what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. The same applies to Home Education actually – a letter inviting us to make contact with the local education department of the council arrived within the last week and I have had a couple of conversations with people about education and our personal brand of it lately too. All very good for reaffirming our beliefs and committment to the way we do things here. Happy, healthy children with an innate curiosity and zest for life and learning, passions and interests, a really impressive ability to engage with people in a variety of situations and a reputation that precedes them for ‘being cool’. You know what – if I had that aged 38 I’d be proud, my kids have it aged 9 and 11. I can merely bask in their reflected glory – they are their own very amazing and awesome people but I might just snatch a wee bit of enabler credit 🙂

But back to Rum. This has been a good week for reminding us why we are here and love it so much. Ady has been doing a spot of Piermaster duty, seeing the big ferry in and out. I have been very embroiled in community stuff from Midgefest prep to baking cakes for the teashop,  manning the stand at the Produce Fayre, volunteering to take on stuff at the Residents Association Meeting, getting involved in Ladies Night (local women getting together socially after dark). We’ve had people up for dinner and enjoyed several putting the world to rights sessions. As I said to someone earlier this week, everyone here on Rum wears lots of hats, we are not defined by just one role. Personally I pull off mother, wife, Home Educator, cake baker. Midgefest Posse member, hostess, pusher of social opportunities, friend., crofer…. all while still trying to be a decent daughter, sister, sister in law, remote friend and my various other off island roles too. Most of the time I feel I do a half decent job  but like many other people I know a cloning machine might well come in useful if ever they are up for sale on ebay!

Exciting times – we are utterly cut off from the outside world really. News can take a day or more to filter through, The Olympics has brought home to us how remote we are without a TV as watching even a snippet has become an epic event. All that said we are throwing so much time and energy into making sure that we play our part in demonstrating how vital our community is that we seem to find little enough time for sitting down and checking emails, uploading photos, keeping the blog up to date etc. let alone slobbing out infront of the TV.

This weekend saw Rum’s first Midgfest – an intended annual event celebrating our smallest but most powerful Rum wildlife. We had kids crafts, ranger events, pebble painting, pinata, willow midge, parachute games, sea eagle spotting, barbecue and curry on offer at the teashop, a disco in the evening and plenty of bunting, flags and other fun and games. A fabulous day in the gorgeous sunshine with lots of community members participating and surprisingly few of the actual midges turning out to attend.

pebble painting and mask making at kids crafts

It’s the Midgecatcher! (some people know him as Ady!)

some of the fabulous painted pebble midges

raffle prizes – some top wins on offer

Midge pinata – fun for all the family!

We said the other day that just three months in this already feels more like home than anywhere else has ever done. Fantastic people, gorgeous scenery, living our dream as crofters, getting to grips with off grid and sharing our lives with friends old and new. What more could we possibly want?

5 thoughts on “Bring on the friends!

  1. Can I ask another question? You’ve said a lot in the course of your blog about the “how” of Home Education but nothing (unless I missed it) about the “why”. What is it about schools that you actively want to keep your children out of them?

    And a supplementary question, if I may, is that keeping the school open is always very important to remote communities like Rum. In fact, I gather that Rum School has just closed (temporarily, I hope) for want of school age children for the first time since anyone can remember. So did you worry that your intention not to send your two to the school might have counted against you when you applied for the croft? Did anyone else with school age children apply for it?

  2. Hello again, always happy to answer questions.

    I’ve not really touched too much on why we home educate here (although I am sure it has come up before) because it’s not really the purpose of this blog. An old blog about our Home Education choices and lifestyle pre-travelling can be found at http://monsterteeny.blogsome.com/ if you are interested in reading more about it. There is plenty of all sorts of Home Education talk over there. I will state though that I am not anti-school as such, just pro Home Education.

    Did we worry our intention not to use the school would count against us? Yes, we did. Although actually our son would already be too old for the school here on Rum anyway so our daughter would be the sole pupil keeping the school open. I fail to see how that situation could make sense to anyone – taxpayer, pupil, teacher, community, Daily Mail reporter…. As it was we were upfront and honest about our continued intention to Home Educate and presumably our other strengths as applicants meant that our inability to keep a school open were outweighed by what else we could offer.

  3. Nic, I detected a wee bit of a defensive note there and I hope you didn’t think I was implying that you’re responsible for the closure of Rum school! My point was more, were you worrying for your own hopes on Rum along the lines of “We’ve got no chance! They’ll choose someone who’s got four primary school age kids!”

    I say that as a general comment about the WW blog – which I read every single episode of with total fascination – is that considering the detail you went into about every aspect of leaving home to WWOOF-ing (which I loved), it went strangely quiet around the time you went to Eigg and the whole bit about discovering Rum and applying for the croft there. I realise that’s probably because you didn’t want to say anything publicly at the time for fear of prejudicing your application etc. However, now the dust has settled, maybe you could go back and fill some of these gaps – when did you first hear about croft opportunities on Rum? What did you feel when you first landed on the island? Etc. Etc.

    As for my Home Ed question, I don’t have kids myself so maybe I have no right to ask these questions. However, you obviously think HE is better than school so are you able to say in a sentence why? (I’m just curious, that’s all!)

    Do keep up the blog posts. I check in to you and the Tattiehouse people every day to find out the latest happenings on Rum!

    • Busted! Yes I was being a bit defensive, unfortunately your question coincided with a bit of prodding from elsewhere about Home Ed and I was feeling got at. We have gone from being part of a fairly big Home Ed community enjoying relative anonymity to ‘the only school age kids in the village’ and with the spotlight on the school closing we are suddenly quite visible.

      The Home Ed question, of course you are welcome to ask and indeed I do think that Home Ed is better than school for my children. I wouldn’t presume to know what is better for anyone else’s although I do think that school should not be the default rather than an active choice. If asked to sum up my beliefs briefly I would say that before I even had children it was my intention to celebrate them as individuals, feed their strengths, tend to their unique needs. For us Home Ed is the natural extension of that. Everything Dragon and Star learn is relevant to them, of interest, learnt because the need to know it has cropped up or occured to them. A common complaint of 3 year olds is that they never stop asking ‘why?’ – our children have never ever stopped asking ‘why?’. Their why questions have gotten more sophisticated, complicated, philosophical and require more research, conversation and in depth responses to but they have the luxury of never having to sit in a classroom and learn only what is on the curriculum for that hour, only get to put their hand up to ask a question if it is relevant to what is being taught, take their turn alongside the other 30 odd pupils in the classroom.

      A favourite quote of mine is ‘education is lighting a fire, not filling a bucket’ and I think that sums it up well. An education should be about teaching someone how to learn as a lifelong skill, not about pushing a finite amount of information into someone and considering them ‘educated’ as a result.

      Your other observation is a very accurate one – posts did slow down as we applied for the croft and went through that process and a big part of that was being aware that our blog was being read by people who may be making decisions about us and our future. I will put together a post taking in some of those missing pieces as I was continuing to record stuff, just not publically on here.

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