Returning to Rum

It’s now over seven months since we returned to Rum after our winter off. We’ve seen the end of winter, spring, summer and the start of autumn. Davies has turned 18, Scarlett will soon be 16. With that changing dynamic and with all we learned while we were away, what bought us back and what has happened since, we have been talking about what happens next.

Our next stage plans are still being tossed about between the four of us, there are various factors which will influence what happens next and we’re not quite ready to share them with the world yet but part of those conversations have been pondering on how it has been to come back. So in our usual style we’ve compiled a list of what has been bad, what has been good and what we have learned about coming back to Rum back in March after a prolonged period away.

Ady:

Bad:

  • It’s felt a bit like starting again with the animals. It was a really harsh winter and we lost some of the livestock having already run down our numbers anyway.
  • It was a hard lesson to learn about leaving the caravan empty for a prolonged time. The damp and mould we had to deal with upon our return and the rats getting in was a rubbish home-coming.
  • Resident numbers on Rum are very low and the people who are here are all busy with their lives. The feeling of being a part of a community seems lacking since we’ve been back. There have been no ceilidhs, events or parties this year which is a shame.
  • I’ve come to feel that we may have exhausted every sensible feasible opportunity here. Unless we spend disproportionate amounts of time, money or energy it feels that we have come to the end of what we are able to achieve here.
  • I injured my knee a few months ago. It was a minor accident due mostly to the daily activities of our life. It’s been ridiculously difficult to get proper medical diagnosis and treatment due to where we live, harder to rest and recuperate it due to our lifestyle and frustrating to feel limited by it.

Good:

  • Our return to Rum felt like a real proper home coming. A friend who had looked after our croft animals was so welcoming, we were offered space in the bunkhouse to help while we got the caravan straight, it was amazing to catch up with everyone again.
  • I struggled a little with feeling productive while we were off, particularly in Ireland. The buzz of getting stuff working and winning at things again was really rewarding.
  • It’s been amazing to feel the freedom that we enjoy in our lives here again. Working for someone else, following rules which often don’t make much sense were all difficult things to readjust to back on the mainland / in Ireland. It’s been lovely to enjoy doing what I want, when I want again.
  • I missed having my stuff around me. My tools, my speaker, my own bed.
  • It was good to see Rum friends again. It felt like coming back home to my family.

Learned:

  • That there is a widely held perception from some of the residents here that we are somehow separate to the rest of the village or community.
  • My knee is severely limiting what I can do. I hope it will improve but the reality is that my age combined with my lifestyle means even if this recovers it is only really a matter of time before the next physical or health related challenge presents itself.
  • We had gotten used to a really quite poor standard of living in many respects and make regular allowances for it. Most of the time we are aware of the trade off for this being the things I’ve listed above as good but there are times when the contrast feels huge.
  • If you pen the birds you get all the eggs!

Scarlett

Bad: 

  • It is so much harder to see friends or family or to do the things I’d like to do when we are here on Rum.
  • Losing the animals we did while we were off. Friends looked after the croft creatures really well and we would probably have lost animals over that harsh winter anyway but not knowing what happened to some of them was tough.

Good:

  • Coming back to Rum felt like coming home in a way that none of the other places I’ve gone back to has.
  • I think we had gotten quite set in our ways before and going off then coming back meant we realised there are other options.
  • I missed my things and it was good to be back in my space with my things around me.
  • It was really good to see Bonnie and Kira back in their home. They seemed OK while we were off but seeing how much they love their lives here has been good.

Learned:

  • Being on the mainland was lovely, there are so many things to do, so many distractions. I’ve looked around lots of the places we stayed over the winter or have visited since we’ve been back to Rum and all of them are nice to visit but not places I would like to live. I feel connected to Rum and it feels peaceful rather than frantic, not too busy or making me feel like I need to always be making the most of everything all the time.
  • I think I learned from the winter off and coming back to Rum that you need to try new things. You can’t hear about them and make a decision based on that, you need to experience and live things yourself.

Davies:

Bad:

  • It’s nothing new but having a smaller space and lack of privacy from living in a caravan. It’s not a huge deal but would make the list of things about this life which are not great.
  • We have made efforts to improve how much power we have and I mostly have internet all the time but we are still limited for power for things like gaming or being online whenever I want.
  • Although we have been off island more there is still no one my age or even close in age living here which is bad.

Good:

  • ¬†Coming back and everything still being the same. Rum is our space, we designed it and made it ours. It’s reassuring to know it is ours and it will always be here waiting for us. Going off and coming back showed us that.
  • Mummy & Daddy are around more here on Rum than when we were on the mainland and they were working.

Learned:

  • I really enjoy travelling and getting different experiences. I like getting to know new places and doing new and different stuff. I already knew that but coming back to Rum has really reinforced it for me.
  • I feel a combination of being off and then coming back has enabled me to start thinking about what I really want. It’s given me ideas to contrast with each other.

Nic:

Bad:

  • The initial return to Rum was very full on with massive highs and crashing lows. Dealing with the rats, the mould, the frozen water was all a pretty hard core home coming.
  • Being off and having such easy access to social opportunities has thrown into sharp relief what we miss here on Rum. I can live without many of the modern conveniences we don’t have in our life here but being able to meet up with friends, find a reading group / choir / ukulele band were all things I knew I was missing and coming back has made me almost grieve for them anew.
  • There feels to be a lot of unresolved issues within the community just now. I’ve lived here long enough to know things will blow over and stabilise again but the months since we returned to Rum have so far been some of the most unsettled in all of our time here.
  • We went off for the winter on a researching adventure to see what else might be out there for us. We came back because we felt there was nothing better than what we had here but the reason we left in the first place was because we all felt we were lacking something, missing a challenge or the feeling of moving forward. Once our initial challenges of settling back in had been met we have not really found any new challenges here.

Good:

  • I missed a huge amount of things about Rum. Last summer and autumn before we went off I was carrying a lot of sentimentality around with me thinking it might be the last time I did certain things – attended a Small Isles games, picked brambles, watched the seasons change, heard the stags start to roar. It’s been lovely to be here again seeing, doing and watching them all once more.
  • I missed my friends here. I missed the easiness of feeling you belong somewhere. I am not a fan of the anonymity of a big town or city, of walking past people avoiding eye contact in case they think you are weird, or worrying about whether they are weird. I can’t think of any other creature that passes another creature and pretends the other doesn’t exist like humans do – even dogs sniff each others bums! Here on Rum you never walk past anyone without exchanging a word or two even if you are strangers, that feels so much more natural to me. A step further is knowing who people are, even if I just know they don’t live here, and people knowing who I am.
  • The others have already said similar – I missed that sense of home. That is both my belongings, many of which we left here and that feeling of roots. I know it is not only on Rum where I am likely to feel that, it is anywhere which is my permanent address but what we have created on Rum is entirely our own and I am never likely to experience that again anywhere else.
  • Almost in balance to my previous ‘bad’ I think that returning and taking stock this year has been good. We have not done nothing but we have not made any great leaps forward or tried anything new. It has been a season of considering and measuring where we are while pondering about where we could be.

Learned:

  • In coming back to Rum after a prolonged period off I think we have learned how to leave and how to come back. We have learned the ways in which is is possible to spend time away from the island and the ways in which you need to adjust to return. We have had quite a lot of time away for short and long trips and I think we have come a long way into working out what balance suits us for the next phase of our lives.
  • That maybe we don’t need to take quite so much rough to get the smooth. That the bits of this life that we adore and cherish maybe don’t need to come at quite such a high price.
  • That this definitely is not enough any more. It was, it has been, now it’s not.

 

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