Tomorrow, 10th November, marks the five year anniversary of the very first time we stepped foot on Rum.
It was a Thursday, just as tomorrow will be. The weather much as tomorrow is forecast, grey, a bit rainy. There was no snow yet on the peaks of Hallival and Askival which there already is this year. Back then we didn’t know the names of those hills yet. We’d spent the night before in Willow, parked in the carpark in Mallaig, scraping together pennies to cover the cost of the return ferry trip. We’d arranged to chat to a Rum resident on the ferry crossing over as she was also on board, except she forgot to look out for us and was busy chatting to someone from Canna. We were supposed to be met from the ferry by the development officer but she was busy with a contractor who was over so she didn’t meet us either. We were exhausted after nine months of travelling, volunteering, living in a van. We were daunted at the prospect that this could be the most life changing three hours ever, we were daunted at the idea that we could base this brief visit to an island on such a huge step. We were filled with excitement and hope and a sense of possibility.
We found Vikki and Georgie, the people we were supposed to meet on the boat and from the boat – both of them were instrumental in our decision to move to Rum, helping and making friends with us by email and phone call prior to our move here the following April. Both were really good friends to us when we first arrived and in our early time here. Neither of them live on Rum any more.
The winter ferry timetable allows for brief day trips to Rum on a Tuesday and a Thursday, arriving at 1135am and departing at 2pm, with time to get to and from the pier you have a scant two hours. Two hours to walk around the croft, that two mile trek from ferry port to croft gate since made TV worthy by Ben Fogle. Two hours to walk the perimeter of the croft ground, try and envisage the imaginary croft boundary line dividing the 20 acre field that makes up crofts 2 and 3. Two hours to whizz around Kinloch village and get our bearings, understand where folk lived, where the village hall was, the shop, the facilities. Two hours to ask as many questions as we could think of while trying to create a good first impression of ourselves. We took 13 photos during that visit, spotted a sea eagle, realised we had phone signal on the path above the crofts.
When we got back to the mainland we bought reduced to clear pizzas from the CoOp in Mallaig for our dinner and a bottle of drink of each of our choice (Ady was beer, I was alcoholic ginger beer, the kids were coke as I recall) and drove to a campsite on the shores of Loch Lomond to spend the night. We all recall that night as one of the most happy and exciting of our adventures. One chapter was over, finished against all odds and expectations and complete. The next chapter was about to begin and no matter which direction it led us in we knew it would be just as action packed and fun as the one before. Those pizzas and bottles of drink were so delicious, we slept so very well that night. The following day we drove to stay with friends to catch them up on our plans before heading back to Sussex the next day.
Today as I walked down to the village to spend a couple of hours drinking tea and eating cake with friends I looked back up at that same bit of field. Now it looks like this