Live and learn

As previously mentioned this was a knee jerk, impetuous decision for three months. We left Rum in November with a few goals to achieve – to work out what we wanted to do next, to see what the mainland and a more conventional life had to offer, to experience some of the stuff we had been missing out on by living on a remote island for the last five and a half years. We wanted to catch up with family and friends, escape the worst months of the weather on Rum, finish off Davies and my studying and enjoy a cosy winter with a few home comforts after five harsh winters battling the elements.

Somerset was great – a lovely, busy reintroduction to mainland life. We spent loads of time with friends, enjoyed the run up to Christmas in style and thanks to the generosity of our lovely friends Jill & Johnny were treated to many experiences. We had a cosy cottage with dishwasher, washing machine, fridge and freezer, bath and central heating. But we knew it was not where were supposed to stay and settle. We have connections in Glastonbury which will always call us back, even more connections were made this visit with more friends and memories.

Sussex is comfortable and familiar, filled with memories at every turn – here is where I grew up, went to school and college, learned to drive. Where I fell in love for the first, second, third time. There is the pub I used to drink in, the houses of friends I used to know, that is where I had my first job, used to go shopping, pushed my children in pushchairs, took them to the park, played on the beach. It’s where family live, where many friends still are. We will come back there again and again but it’s definitely, 100% no longer home.

It was so illuminating to spend time in those places at the end of last year. So interesting to live a different life, albeit briefly to the one we have lived for the last five years. To remind ourselves of how things used to be, how they could be again if we chose. I certainly expected to feel as though we had barely been away and as though we could slip back in, almost unchanged as though we had barely been away. After all we had left and returned to Glastonbury several times during our WWOOFing year, at the very start, midway through and again at the end. We had left Sussex for several years in the early 2000s and come back and re-settled.

It turns out though we have changed more than we realised. In ways we could not have imagined. Sitting at a Christmas party table with more people around it than live on the whole of our island did not excite and delight as we might have imagined it would. Instead it reminded us of those friends we usually live alongside and know so well that many of the conversations around that table, indeed the fun game we played after dinner to test how well we all knew each other (it was a staff party, many of those attending work together day in, day out and have done for years) would have been a flop on Rum as we all know each other so well it would have been redundant.

So to Ireland – what started as the calling across the miles of a beautiful house turned into a real option for another few months. An opportunity to explore another country, live somewhere we have never spent much time but wondered about after friends moved here more than a decade ago to start a new life. Land and property are cheap, the climate not unlike what we are used to. Transport links better than the Inner Hebrides and closer proximity to a town for resources, shopping, social opportunities. A house with a bath, washing machine, freezer, electricity. A house we can drive right up to to unload shopping. Land for the cat and dog to roam free once more. A bigger space for us to fill, more privacy and larger bedrooms for Davies and Scarlett. If not a permanent solution it could well offer another alternative to consider in working out what we do want next.

So far – just over two weeks in – we are learning every day. Learning how to operate a very different house to any we’ve lived in before. One with cooking, heating and hot water fuelled by a wood burning clay oven and a peat fuelled range. One in a different country with a different currency and different rules and ways of doing things. There are frustrations, things to get used to, things to learn and things to understand. While we’re here we are working through a list of ‘places to see in Ireland’ – some are revisiting from a previous trip, some are new. Some are experiences, some are destinations.

We are also doing a whole lot of talking, planning and working out what happens next and how we go about making it happen. A new plan is forming just as we hoped it might.

In the meantime though, Davies and I are back to studying, Scarlett is back to baking, Ady is back to photographing and we’re all getting on with living, learning and making the most of wherever we happen to be right now.

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