It’s all been a bit quiet hasn’t it? It’s been a Very Big Challenge the last couple of weeks which accounts for the silence.
It’s ironic that we last year we travelled the UK, this year we did the 600 miles and a ferry crossing from Sussex to Rum but the part of the journey that has posed by far the most challenges is the final mile from the village to our croft.
If we knew now, what we knew then and all that….
Our decision to buy a static as a temporary home for our family on the croft was for various reasons – an instant home complete with all furniture and furnishings and appliances. Ady and I felt very strongly that Dragon and Star deserved bedrooms of their own. After a year on the road, sharing a bunk with just a small cupboard each for their stuff we really wanted them to have their own spaces again, their own beds, their own walls to decorate, their own floors to leave stuff all over – what sort of childhood would it be if they never got nagged about keeping their rooms tidy?!! We knew building would be a very long project that would take planning, researching, learning about first let alone the actual build so we wanted a proper base to come ‘home’ to while we were setting up the croft and creating our home.
There is a serious lack of housing on Rum, we have dwellings with single people or couples in with many spare bedrooms but in terms of accomodating a family of four there is nowhere so renting was not an option and of the various possible temporary housing choices a static seemed the most logical. At our interview we talked about a static and were told ‘oh yes, you’ll get a static up there on the croft’. When we purchased it and showed the delivery driver pictures and measurements and described the route to the croft we were assured he’d get it there.
How naive were we?!
We realised when we arrived back in April that it would be a far more challenging task that we’d previously anticipated during our very brief visits here before and sure enough when the static arrived on the lorry the driver took it as far as he could get it and then it stopped. About halfway between the pier and the croft. A gorgeous location certainly, but slap bang in the middle of the nature trail, just offset from the road to Kilmory and Harris which anyone leaving the village and going into the reserve takes; on foot, cycyle, quad bike or vehicle. For somewhere pretty remote we got a lot of passing ‘traffic’. Bonnie would bark and chase (as puppies learning about territory and protecting their ‘pack’ are wont to do), we’d feel rather like we lived in a goldfish bowl and it became a proper walk to the croft twice a day to feed the animals rather than just stepping outside.
Many plans have been hatched, many brilliant brains have been picked, many crazy suggestions have been posed – my favourite was Star suggesting we sail the static along the river or tether red deer to pull it for us :). Yet it remained there, along the nature trail for our first two months here. Finally it was suggested by a fellow small-isle-r that one of the residents of neighbouring Eigg could come with his tractor and trailer and get it there. Many phonecalls, a video clip and expensive booking of the ferry trip later (nearly £300 for a trip from Eigg and back, less than 20 miles round trip!) last Sunday saw us embarking on what proved to be the darkest day of our lives here on Rum so far.
The static was hitched up to the tractor and reversed back onto the path then pulled along the track a little way.
|looks long doesn’t it!|
Then came the scary bit – the track to the croft was an impossible path for the static – it was not wide enough thanks to a bank of bedrock with a drop to the river on the other side. It also contained a twisty turn that 32 foot of static attached to another 10 foot of tractor simply would not bend around. So the only other option was to go down the bank instead. A very steep, very muddy bank. Trees were chopped down to make a path and down it went.
|it didn’t get very far before the tractor was stuck. The digger was called into service to get the tractor out. This did not bode well.|
|Imagine this was your home…|
Friends came – bringing tea and coffee, sandwiches, hugs and moral support aswell as muscle and creative thinking. Finally we were off the bank and assessing the damage. It didn’t look good and the next big challenge was crossing the culvert. A broken down bridge constructed from falling stones and sleepers with a drop down on either side that we didn’t want to consider the consequences of falling into.
|will it make it?|
|creaking, groaning, splintering, I’ve never been so scared!|
|I was on this side and knew we were right on the very edge when the shout came from the other side ‘whoa! can we go over more the other way?’ we couldn’t, but a tree was pressing against the front door on the other side.|
|The only answer? Leaning on it from this side (knowing how close we were to pushing it off the edge if we leant too hard) while the tree was cut down.|
|yet more power tools, testosterone and scary stuff|
That done we finally were across the culvert and thought we could all breathe a sigh of relief that the worst was over.
The bent wheel gave up and fell off. With a sickening thud the static dropped down on that side. We all crouched down to look underneath and the other tyre exploded from the pressure. Ady got a cut on his head – I think he was lucky not to lose an eye. Cue another thud as the static balanced itself back on that side.
Which was where it had to stay, even more in the middle of the nature trail, wonky, with a door that had swung open and wouldn’t shut, all interior doors not opening, the shower door at a crazy angle and all of the underneath in tatters.
This photo sums it all up.
and the carnage we left behind. On a nature trail around a National Nature Reserve.
|debating the best plan|
We decided on sleepers to bring the ground up more, covered with the mats to help spread the weight. Cue everyone carrying sleepers over the rough ground. Not easy work, I’m still aching three days later and have impressive bruises on my arms and shoulders. It was like WWOOFing all over again!
|most impressive was Ian who managed two at a time!|
It worked. But the gtractor didn’t! Half time oranges all round while the technical issue with the tractor was sorted and the static had a rest in the river.
|Vikki, me, Kate and Ian|
Back to work, it felt like we might actually get there now, the mood lifted and hope was starting to flicker once more.
|the croft land is on the left, we are in sight!|
Next we needed to turn the final corner, which should have been easy but naturally it was not. A rusty metal bar set in a HUGE boulder was in the way. Much forwarding and backwarding and finally three of us bouncing the whole static as we passed it and we just scraped by. It was *very* close.
|a whisker away.|
And so on to the croft. Cockiness and confidence came into play and we did away with the mats. A cheer went up as we came through the croft gate and onto our land.
But cocky and confident comes with a warning. Straight into a soft bit of ground and nearly on it’s side in a ditch!
we got the mats back again. Sharpish!
|view from inside the ducks run. The birds and the pigs were most disturbed by this great big procession of people and vehicles noisily coming across the land!|
Up the hill, slowly, slowly, slowly…
And then, finally, against all odds and with sighs of relief all round the static arrived where she will now forever stay.
Ian came and helped Ady level it up. We need to do some repairs and we will need to get it secure against the winds.
It has been the most testing and daunting experience, one I never want to repeat and will no doubt be dreaming about for a long time to come (the cries of ‘whoa’ still haunt me!), every time we walk or drive the track we are reminded anew of what a crazy idea it was to ever dream we could get a static along there. But we have the best views and I’ve never felt more at home than I do sitting watching the sunset, the birds fly, the clouds pass over the ridges and the deer wander across the croft.
I can’t thank our friends here enough – for the support and cuddles, the bottles of house warming juice we’ve been presented with, the sharing of our load and becoming yet another chapter in the stories to be told about Rum and about us. We’ve most definitely been tested, I’m hopeful we can say we passed.