It is crazily hot here as I type. Inside the caravan it is currently over 30 degrees. The sun has shone day in day out (for over 18 hours a day) for at least two weeks maybe more. The midges have returned with an absolute vengeance and I am envious of friends moaning about rain storms or posting pictures of them enjoying leisurely evenings sitting outside. No pleasing me is there? Complaining in the winter about the wind and mud-causing rain and whinging in the summer about the sunshine and insect life! Along with the midges we are playing unintentional host to bees, wasps and beetles. All of which are interesting to photograph and identify (we have several bug ID books) although we do have to evict any who show intentions to share our home long term – a very persistent wasp has finally been dissuaded from creating a wasps nest in the shed after several removals of it’s groundwork!
A close existence to nature has it’s very definite ups and downs. For me the ups are the spring and autumn and the downs are high summer and deepest winter. I have not the complexion, build or temperament for being too hot and fortunately for me it is usually a blip rather than the norm living here in the Highlands to have prolonged high temperatures and still, sunny days like these.
It’s far from all bad though, I have to admit that walking around the croft in normal shoes (and sometimes even barefoot, which would always be the preference for both Scarlett and I), along with it being perfect conditions for the young chicks and the broody ducks (two) and geese (four) all sitting on nests, along with ideal for ripening strawberries, currants and bringing along the peas and tomatoes in the polytunnel very nicely.
We’ve had two glorious Thursday afternoon boat trips – no sea life to speak of spotted in the way of cetaceans but the shearwaters and puffins are back.
We had a weekend off Rum catching up with friends – a quick overnight trip to Inverness for me (city break!) with a coffee shop visit and a meal out in a restaurant, a mad 100 mile round dash to Fort William to do a supermarket stock up of essentials for Ady and I and some midnight trips to the beach for the teens with their friends, along with some stressy car driving in our own vehicle, some stress free driving in a car club car and an unplanned but very lovely evening of sitting with musicians singing. The car issue is now perfectly resolved by us once again not having a mainland vehicle and instead just booking the car club car(s) as and when we need to drive on the mainland. The relief – both mental and financial – is huge.
It seems if we’re not off visiting then we are here being visited. This weekend just passed we had a lovely visit from our very first WWOOFing volunteer who was first here with us nearly four years ago. It was great to catch up with him and see through his eyes how much things have changed and progressed here on the croft in the last four years too. When he was last here it happened to be an islanders birthday so there was a big party with musicians and late night drama of the air ambulance taking someone away. We assured him then that both were fairly unusual so it was ironic that he returned on a weekend that fellow islanders had arranged a mini festival with a whole crew of visiting musicians and the helicopter coming to airlift someone injured out walking….
The bank holiday, amazing weather and huge influx of visitors have meant loads of customers for us. The shed has been doing fantastically with several large sales of clocks, cuddly midges, eggs and jam and I’ve had several special orders for bread and cakes. The most recent order for cheesecakes proved especially challenging in this heat but the glowing feedback made it worthwhile.
Our crafts and produce will be displayed at the Royal Highland show in June at the Scottish Crofting Federation stand as we now have the Scottish Crofting Produce mark for our jams, eggs, photography and crafts. If you have not looked before please do check out our etsy shop .It really feels as though our work towards setting up the Croft 3 brand and finding ways to use all our different skills is starting to slowly pay off.
On a similar note we had our annual visit from a student group who visit Rum each year on a field trip and meet with various islanders doing various things. We chat to them on the croft about our lives here, what we have done to set up and improve the croft since we arrived and what challenges and impediments we have faced. It’s always interesting to be faced with a sea of people watching and listening to you start to tell your crazy life story and see whether they are engaging with you and interested or whether you are failing to reach them at all.
A tour of the croft and a chat about island life is something we have been approached to offer before and have done for various groups of students and school children. We often wonder whether there would be a demand for it on a wider basis for visitors to Rum.
Davies and I have finished our studies and submitted our final assessments. We will get our marks back in about 6 weeks or so but Davies is already signed up to continue studying in October with the OU for a degree in Psychology. He is enjoying the freedom to pursue his other passions for the summer but is looking forward to that in the autumn. I have decided not to continue studying at this stage. I like the idea of committing a set period of time each week to something though and have a few ideas of other things I could focus on myself come the autumn. I’m very proud of us both though – a middle aged woman who left education some 25 years ago and a never-been-to-school Home Educated teen. We both really enjoyed the content, learned plenty of new skills, had some amazing conversations and spin-off learning spilling out to Ady and Scarlett too and completed our studies over an academic year filled with all sort of distractions including living in three different countries and a largely off-grid life with limited internet access.
Our poor sheep are suffering from the heat – we are in the throes of sourcing some shears and will be shearing them again in the next week or so. In the meantime I have been gathering the shed pieces of fleece around the croft as they scratch themselves on posts and buildings and spinning it very slowly by hand to make a tiny ball of wool. I am on the look out for a rented spinning wheel or saving up for one of my own but in the meantime this is a nicely meditative and zen activity while sitting in the shade!