It’s been a life in the spotlight this last week again. Life in a West Sussex coastal town prepared us to an extent for the seasonal nature of life here on Rum but this is to the extreme. In the summer the village and indeed the whole island is packed with thousands of visitors coming here during the season. We spent our first few weeks here saying hello to everyone we met unsure as to whether they were islanders or tourists. This time of year it can be like a ghost town here with nobody staying but us locals and even we are in depleted numbers with people off on holiday, seasonal workers starting to leave and some folk saying goodbye for this year as they head off to lead the other part of their lives – not everyone on Rum lives here all the time! Kate and Ian from the Tattiehouse have headed to the other place they call home for the winter, Claire who runs the teashop is off for a month catching up with family and friends and taking a holiday now the teashop has closed for this year.
But it being half term in England has meant a small flurry of visitors and elsewhere the red deer of Rum featuring in Autumnwatch has meant eyes are on us from afar. We enjoyed a Ranger event Coastal Otter Walk on Tuesday this week along with five visiting tourists. We never stop telling ourselves how lucky we are to live here but it’s nice to have someone else saying it too. Reading the various coverage on the Autumnwatch stuff on facebook, forums and other online places and seeing the passion people have for our beautiful island makes me very proud to live here and very humbled at how little we still know about this place. We have a plan to explore a new corner of Rum every week and have been doing well so far pushing further out into places we have not been to before. This could easily take us forever, there are a lot of hidden corners and secret places to discover!
The run of gorgeous sunshine has ended very abruptly and we are back to rain again now with the first fall of snow on the peaks this morning. It is beautiful and the light here is amazing – walking to the croft this afternoon at about 4pm felt like the hours just after dawn with a clear and slightly eerie quality to the colour of the sky and the way light was bouncing off everything. The full moon and galaxy of stars reflected in the sea and the river this evening when we walked home later was equally breathtaking. But it’s cold, oh so cold. We are having to re-think our plans to keep gas heaters burning to keep cosy as the condensation in the static is already creating problems and it is only just the beginning of the winter. The ceilings, walls and internal doors are literally dripping, not to mention the windows and external doors. Bedding, soft toys, clothes and curtains are growing mould and mildew before our very eyes and we are very aware that the impact on our health not to mention our belongings could be dire if we stay in these conditions for the next4 or 5 months. We’re looking at woodburners having been told by everyone (literally, everyone!) that it’s the answer to the cold, damp and condensation so that is next week’s project.
Halloween was very comprehensively marked here with pumpkin carving and gingerbread biscuit baking and decorating in the morning, a party at the school (Dragon and Star dressed as zombies!) in the afternoon and the judging of the island Pumpking Growing Competition and some trick or treating in the evening. Mucho sugar, lots of silly games and plenty of wandering round in the dark with torches. Plans now are for Bonfire night – the good thing about this time of year is that you never seem to be more than a week or two away from the next celebration!