Static Abuse

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.

It was every bit as scary as this picture makes it look. The static caught on every tuft and rock and tree stump. The gas and plumbing pipes all got ripped out, we lost three of the metal bars that make up the chassis and the axle got bent with the nearside wheel bent at a crazy angle. We’d hit the point of no return by then.

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.

Wrong!

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.

 

Everyone was lovely. Claire brought us up dinner, Rachel brought us up beers and then we went and stayed at the castle for the night as the static needed a lot of levelling and straightening to be safe to be inside, let alone comfortable to sleep in. This was when the feeling of being in a community came good. Neighbours, friends, fellow islanders.
The next day, with help from Sandy we got the plumbing and heating sorted and the static level. We moved out stuff back in and resigned ourselves to staying where we were for a while longer. An expensive set of replacement wheels were ordered online with further cost of next day delivery to the highlands bumping it up even more. It was arranged for Alastair to come back the following weekend and meanwhile we tried to work out how to straighten the bent axle so that the same thing wouldn’t happen to the new wheels when we tried to move it.
To say it was a tough week would be an understatement. My usual positivity and airy ‘it’ll be fine’ attitude had been proved wrong, dented, battered and bruised. We kept reminding ourselves of all the ways it could be worse but we were spending yet more money we don’t have on something we had no confidence would actually work with worry about impacting further damage and still not getting to the croft. The isolation of island life became a real reality and although our fellow islanders have been a huge source of support we still feel way too new to be leaning quite so heavily on friendships that have not yet had time to develop to that level.
Further kicks were dealt when the wheels did not arrive on Wednesday’s ferry. Further phonecalls (always made more difficult when you have no phone signal so are asking yet more favours to use landlines) resulted in chasing the wheels and learning they had definitely arrived at Calmac on Thursday so should be on the Friday ferry. Alastair arrived with two others from Eigg on Friday morning and we waited expectantly for the ferry to bring our wheels. But they were not on the boat. They were on the list of things that should have been on the boat but not there. We rang around again – to the office on the mainland and to the other islands to check they had not come off the boat elsewhere. Finally at 5pm we found someone who had them, opened the box to check what they were and loaded them on the van ready for the boat on Saturday.
Saturday dawned and sure enough the wheels arrived. By 10am they were fitted to the newly straightened axle and then the grafting began. A team of six men, two women, six mats to smooth the way, a tractor and driver, a few million midges (who didn’t help in the slightest and meant we all wore midge nets, sprayed ourselves constantly with midge repellant and kept splashing in the river to deter them so certainly made their presence felt) and lots of swearing, hoping and yelling ‘whoa!’.
starting to move. The track is made of the sharpest rocks and is a challenge to even walk on let alone pull a 3 ton static on a pair of little wheels. These mats took the impact of the stones and spread the weight. We couldn’t have done it without them.
Round the first corner with much manouvering and onto a slightly less scary terrain of bumpy rocks but one full of ridges and ruts that needed further careful negotiating and some filling in with stones as we went.
It was really hard work – the teams on either side had to keep dragging mats from the front to the back while also watching and anticpiating problems. I was on ‘whoa’ duty at the front as with the noise of the tractor it was hard to hear what was happening. I was also taking pictures, which felt like tempting fate really but of course now we’re happy to have the record.
That bit of the track done we faced the next big challenge – crossing the river. Although we have had a few heavy rainfalls in the last week the river is very low at this point still. You can walk it in wellies. But it still dips down and turns a slight corner so the worry was as the wheels hit the lowest point the front and rear of the static would ground out and get damaged.
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.

water feature?

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.

welcome home

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.

16 thoughts on “Static Abuse

  1. OMG. That sounds such a serious experience. I am so glad you have your home on your land, but at such cost! Really hope you get all settled in soon xx
    Best wishes from us all, Vikki (abusymum)

    • Thanks Vikki 🙂 It’s been a really testing challenge but we are now safely installed on our croft and it feels amazing to wake each morning and know we are properly ‘home’ 🙂

  2. hey guys, that is amazing! well done for getting it on there – i wish i could’ve been there to help/support you. i’m so happy that it’s made it to the croft – it must be so good to be there finally. georgie xoxoxox

    • Ah we did that ages ago, it’s only now we’ve been so public with our craziness 😉 I thought of you several times and wondered how much you’d cringe!

  3. Well I must say I did wonder about the logistics of moving that static from the ferry to the croft!

    It prompts me to two questions:-

    1. Would you say you (Nic) are becoming a bit less obsessive about planning everything and becoming a bit more “cross bridges (literally) as you come to them”? (I’m thinking back to your early posts before you went wwoof-ing about checklists for getting the house let and Willow sorted etc.)

    2. Did you need planning permission to site the static on Rum?

    • Ooh good questions 🙂
      1. Yes, I guess so. I am probably better at going with the flow than I come across on here, but was definitely more organised and well planned at the beginning of our adventure. Ady agrees it was more to appease him than for my own benefit though, I’ve always been a little on the ‘by the seat of my pants with a nod to pretending that was my plan all along’ side. It is striking a balance between not being 100% que sera sera and not being too anal I guess.

      2. No, crofts can have up to 3 statics or caravans on the land without permission. Also once we get planning permission for our actual build we will have permission for a temporary static dwelling while the build happens.

  4. I have just read your latest blog while enjoying my first cup of cofee of the day. I am now so exhausted I need to go back to sleep for a while! So pleased and relieved that you did succeed, well done all, Rose xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    • Thank you 🙂 It’s been crazy, far more challenging than we’d anticipated really but we’re here now and ready to face the next test! xxx

  5. Wow, what an adventure, and one I am sure that will live in your memories for the rest of your lives – which is what it’s all about. So now you are ready for visitors! If we only have space in our luggage for Scotch or midge repellant, which should we bring? Mike

    • That’s tough…. I’d say midge repellant but then I’m thinking we could all brave the midges if we’ve had enough to drink… I’ll let you make the call! Looking forward to seeing you soon x

  6. Hi Nik, Ady, Dragon & Star, So, so glad that you are finally on your land. Paul was really worried for you, but it seems like you got there in the end, brute force is always good!!!! See you the weekend of the 14th July to say hello. Love Carolx

  7. Fantastic news to hear you are finally able to live on your land. You guys are so totally awesome and inspiring x

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