Rum is part of the Small Isles, a collection of four islands off the west coast of Scotland, just south of the Isle of Skye. The four islands are clustered together – our island, Rum is the largest, Eigg is next largest, then Canna and finally Muck is the smallest. All four are very different in landscape, in geology and wildlife, in population and in ownership. We are clustered together for Calmac ferry timetable purposes, share a Small Isles Community Council, a doctors surgery and consider ourselves a wider community with many inter island links.
One such link is the annual Small Isles games, a sort of mini highland games crossed with a school sports day which is hosted by the islands in turn so everyone takes a turn once every four years to host. In our second year here Rum was the host and this year it was our turn again. Unfortunately we didn’t get to Eigg last year as the ferry timetable only allows for a two night stay which was too long to leave the croft during the summer and the previous years games on Canna was during weather so dreadful the return ferry which would have meant we could daytrip to the games was on amber alert for being cancelled so we didn’t risk it. We did get to Muck for their turn three years ago and it was one of the highlights of the last five years. A large group of Rum residents went, we all camped overnight on Muck, did well in the games, had a blast at the evening ceilidh and returned home inspired to offer an equally good games when it was next our turn to host.
So we’ve been heavily involved in organising the games this year on Rum, arranging afternoon and evening food, a variety of games from the sporting to the silly, getting a running order sorted of all the various games people were up for running, working out scoring and divvying up who was doing what before, on the day and afterwards. The boring stuff like clearing up, sorting out rubbish management, cajoling raffle prizes from people to raise some funds to cover the costs, getting evening entertainment sorted and so on. As usual we are more than the sum of our parts and the day was a success with people from all corners pulling out all the stops, playing to their strengths and getting involved.
Mostly though we had fun. Yelled ourselves hoarse from cheering on those who were competing, making sure everything was running as planned, catching up with friends from visiting islands, having the odd go at a game (or in the case of Davies and Scarlett wearing themselves out joining in with pretty much everything), making sure all the things and all the people were in the right place at the right time. Some of my favourite moments were the little things – the expression on a child’s face as they leapt first across the finish line with their tattie and spoon, the pure ridiculousness of four people in a bulk bag trying to co-ordinate 1, 2, 3 JUMP! Winning the tug of war, being bribed by the island coming fourth in the scores to give them an extra point in return for a beer (hey I never said I was impartial), seeing Ady atop the castle tower looking down taking aerial shots, having a ceilidh dance, getting persuaded by the various attending children to draw ever more ridiculous things on their hands with a purple pen when I was taking a turn at collecting money on the door for the evening event and marking people’s hands with a cross to show they’d paid (dinosaurs, cars, stars, flowers….) and then being persuaded by a group of adults to do the same for them as they didn’t want plain old crosses (boat, steam engine, aeroplane…) and finally getting into bed that night knowing it had gone well, it hadn’t rained, people had had lots of fun and we had lots of photos to remind us of it all.
This week I’ve been sending out lots of thank you emails to various people who helped make it all happen and looking at all those photos. Another brilliant memory made of another mad, fun, it-could-only-happen-on-Rum experience.