Livin’ on an island

Even out here in wildest west coast inner hebrides we have technology you know! Most of the parcels that arrive for us come via (other online retailers are available!). The island has a very fantastic website – you may recognise some of the faces in the ‘news’ section. Various of our fellow islanders have blogs:
Check out Ranger Mike, fellow new arrivals from the Tattie House, and along with a blog you can look at the wonderful range of stuff available at Rum crafts on Fliss’ website.

I remember watching a TV programme as a very small girl about people who lived on a Scottish island. I wish I knew which island it was or could remember more about it but it stayed with me all these years and I can still recall the clip showing the whole population of the island turning out to greet a small rowing boat arriving with the post and some provisions on a rough, wet, windy day. I remember it looking exciting and romantic. Clearly the huge inconvenience of such a lifestyle didn’t strike me as a child, just the sense of adventure, of community and of it being a really interesting looking existance.

Funny how all these years on, with life on a remote island never factoring in my life plan at all until about 6 months ago I find myself here doing just that.

In so many ways the world is a smaller place now, internet and phone makes everything so much easier, when we want groceries or petrol or pretty much anything else you can think of we just get online or make a phonecall and order it. Sure there will be times when the ferries are disrupted and stuff doesn’t arrive (I had the very funny reply to a chased up delivery today from a company that ‘it is showing as dispatched on 10th May, please check with your neighbours incase someone else took it in for you’ – I soon put them straight!) but there is very little out of our reach with a little forethought and planning.

Having registered our address and made enquiries as to how to get on the electoral roll we have obviously alerted some sort of triggers and this mornings post brought a letter from the TV licencing people (no, we’ll not be needing a licence what with not having electricity let alone a TV!) and one from the council tax assessor team (yes we do live here, no we don’t have water, sewerage, mains electric, street lighting, refuse collection… yes we’ll probably still have to pay, which is fine, I want my right to vote and am happy to contribute to secure it). We’re in an odd sort of middle ground of spending £40 to renew our driving licences with our new address but running a car on red diesel with no tax, insurance or MOT because we’re on private roads so don’t need them. As fairly upstanding citizens we have full intentions of paying whatever we should be whilst saving loads of money by not needing other things. An odd sort of halfway house really.

We’ve had some really interesting converations between the four of us as to just what ‘community’ is – what does it mean, who is the community, what are our responsibilities collectively and individually? What are our priorities? Should we support each other, take advantage, lead or follow. What is ‘the greater good’? It’s a fascinating place to be as observers, as participants and as community members. Our opinions are constantly being reformed, shaken up and tipped upside down. We are thriving on the challenges, the learning and the opportunities it presents.

7 thoughts on “Livin’ on an island”

  1. We think it all sounds great.

    We’ve been fascinated by island living for years, so loving reading about it. Sime applied for a job on the Western Isles back in the 80s, but didn’t get it & so we went off travelling instead… We remember reading about the family who moved to Bardsey a few years ago, it just sounded wonderful.

    Your blog is making us think about it again… Hahaha!

    Kay (& Sime)

    1. We went on a day trip to Bardsey a couple of years ago, it was amazing. We’d forgotten the conversations we had afterwards about what it would be like to live on an island!

      Croft 2 still up for grabs here if you are tempted… 😉

  2. Just a few tips:
    1. Highland council operates the pier and the refuse collection. Your council money goes towards employing someone to be at the pier and greet the ferry, tie it off etc. As well as collecting the recycling container and refuse containers.

    2. Be very carefull with the whole “no insurance” and driving around there. Accidents are in a small corner, and to have no form of any insurance can be dangerous as you will be liable for any damages caused. If I just mention the following words, perhaps relay them onto Marcel or Jinty they will fill you in: “Alcohol” “Picknick bench” “Ditch” “Petrol Store Fence” in relation to driving.

    A easy way out of it is to get insurance with NFU or someone similar for your croft, and class your car as an agricultural vehicle, that way you get liability insurance etc if something goes wrong, and it will also cover your caravan (Crofts are entitled 3 caravans without the need of planning permission – for renting out.)


    1. Good points well made 🙂 I did know about the refuse collection and ferry point and should have mentioned it 🙂

      We’re doing the NFU croft insurance so yes, our vehicle will be insured and the static (once it actually makes it on to the croft!) too.

  3. There was a TV series, Castaways 2000, about a group of people taking on the challenge of making a community for a year on the uninhabited island of Tarensay in the Outer Hebrides. The only person we still hear about is Ben Fogle (TV adventurer/presenter). Lovely to read how you are now very much a part of the Rum community. x

    1. I LOVED that show – I often think of it now. I have the book that went with the TV series somewhere, must dig it out and have a re-read.

  4. It’s that show that introduced me to the following poem that inspired Toby (iirc) to apply for a place. It’s now one of my favourite poems:

    To laugh is to risk appearing the fool,
    To weep is to risk being called sentimental,
    To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
    To expose feelings is to risk showing your true self,
    To place your ideas and your dreams before the crowd is to risk being called naive,
    To love is to risk not being loved in return,
    To live is to risk dying,
    To hope is to risk despair,
    To try is to risk failure.

    But risks must be taken, because the greatest risk in life is to risk nothing.
    The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing.
    He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow or love.
    Chained by his certitude, he is a slave; he has forfeited his freedom.
    Only the person who risks is truly free.

    Often attributed to the poet and thinker, Leo Buscaglia, the real author of this inspirational verse is Janet Rand.

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