The log burner is lit and the wind is howling once more. Last night as we snuggled down in bed it was to the sounds of the static walls flexing and the roof rattling.
Back in January on our darkest day Ady and I decided we needed to make a proper decision at the seasons’ worst on what happened in the coming year. We decided that we could not do another winter in the static.
Yet here we sit, making plans to do just that. So what happened?
Our house didn’t sell. It was on the market from January through to May and there was just no interest. It’s a nice house; Ady and I bought it when we had been together just six months way back in 1994. It was home to us for all those years, through being newly weds, new parents, learning how to be grown ups. We extended it from a bungalow to a house, returned to it after 3 years away living in Manchester and again after our year in a campervan. But it’s no longer our home and while we will always remember that address fondly, we will never live there again.
While it always rents out well it simply didn’t sell and after six months on the market with a mortgage to pay we were forced to put it back on the rental market again so that it is breaking even rather than costing us money. Which leaves us in the uncomfortable position of having our money tied up in one property and not available to invest in building another.
Logistics of building anything here on Rum – even a sandcastle – are tough. The weather, the climate, the access to materials, the various designations on the land from SSSI to NNR all contribute to making things very hard indeed. Add into the mix our own unique location within that rather inaccessible remote island to two miles inland along dodgy tracks with no connection to amenities or utilities and you end up with the sort of project that would prove testing even with unlimited funds and plain unstartable with no funds at all.
So what to do? Decide it’s not to be and pack up and start again elsewhere? Reason that someone somewhere is trying to tell us something and maybe we should move back into that house we’re paying a mortgage on and enter back into the rat race again? Or have a family discussion, lay all cards on the table and follow our hearts instead.
No one wants to leave Rum – we talked about a temporary coming off for the winter option or a permanent ‘we gave it our best shot but the odds were against us’ choice and the answer was a unanimous no. This is home, this is where we belong and while we are not without trepidation and concerns for the months ahead we have built a life here and leaving is not an option.
Which means another winter in the static. So we’re going back on that decision made on a bleak January day and instead trying to work out what made it so bad a prospect that we decided against it and then find ways to make it better. Last winter was survival – hours spent every day collecting jerry cans of water from the river, sack fulls of firewood from the woodland. Slipping down and scrambling up the muddy croft hill with groceries and feeding the animals. We still buried our toilet contents twice a week and spent hour every day mopping up condensation.
This year we have already started to stockpile firewood, we have the compost loo and are hooked up to running water from the river direct to the taps. We’re looking at transport alternatives to get up and down the hill with food shopping and we know that keeping the log burner going will ease the condensation and damp. Uncertainties remain – what happens if the roof blows off, the water freezes, the static sinks into the mud? If we do a second winter are we dooming ourselves to accept a third? I don’t know and it’s tough to find ourselves facing the very prospect that we swore we would not consider. But I do know we have chosen this and while it is far from ideal it is our free will which should keep us warm at night and see us through the winter ahead.
Wish us luck though, I suspect we might just need it!