Travel sickness

I wholeheartedly believe that life is about the journey not the destination.

I think you should live for the here and now rather than focus on what might come or what has been before.

I know that were this to have been my last day I would rather have spent it meaningfully, purposefully, with a point, to the full rather than chasing some dream off in the future.

That doesn’t mean that every so often we don’t need to pull into a layby and stop to eat a ginger biscuit because we’re going too fast and too bumpy.

Or that sometimes we get bored of the traffic jam and the feeling that it’s all going just a bit too slow.

And that at times the diversion we have been sent on beyond our control leads us in a direction we didn’t particularly intend to go, want to see or have any interest in seeing the scenery of.

So there we were, thinking we knew where we were going with a map plotted with all sorts of interesting things to see along the way and suddenly the destination is a bit unclear. And if the destination is unclear, well it could mean the journey is in the wrong direction. Or pointless. And that traffic could be something you don’t even need to sit out, you could just take the next available exit, head off on a different junction and see where that A road takes you. Or hitchhike to wherever the person that picks you up is headed. Or catch the next bus, or get a skateboard, or continue for a bit on foot. You’d see different things travelling at a different pace, meet different fellow travellers.

Or you could just stop.

That’s the thing about journeys rather than destinations. They can meander and take the scenic route or they can just faff about and delay you in getting where you are supposed to be.

It’s been a busy month for us. Unsettling in many ways. The trip to the mainland is never something we enjoy. It is always expensive, stressful, rushed. I takes us back to a life we gladly left behind and do not hanker after at all. The best part of leaving Rum is always the coming back again.

Visitors are a blessing – we adore seeing family and friends, welcoming them to our world, seeing our island through their eyes. It means so much that people travel their own journey to visit us and spend time here with us. But sharing our space is hard. The added work in having people here in our home, sometimes in our beds, feeling responsible for more people, feeding more mouths, worrying about what time we eat dinner, whether we are being good enough hosts is a challenge. On a practical level ensuring we have enough of everything from milk to loo roll to apples which need to be ordered a week in advance adds a whole new level to planning ahead and anticipating needs I am unfamiliar with.

It is of course worth it to have people here but I always underestimate the headspace required to have people staying when they are so very reliant on us to make life work for them while they are here given our very unique living arrangements and the fact that guests are always ‘on holiday’ while we are aiming not just to give them a holiday but also to carry on as best we can with our daily lives and our usual routines.

So we have drawn to the end of our second tourist season and are winding down and preparing for the winter. We don’t expect any further guests and are preparing for the more insular, introspective months ahead where the four of us retreat to our family cocoon and hatch plans for the next bit of our journey.

It’s been a time of knocks for us in some ways. Our house didn’t sell, our half made plans to build a cabin as a more permanent temporary dwelling while we build a slow house have been halted and we’ve learnt some hard lessons about livestock and crops. The polytunnel became somewhere it was impossible to spend time in during July and August as it was Midge Hell. That meant previously lovingly tended crops were all but abandoned and productivity halted. Promising saplings that were planted out were either blown about by the harsh Rum winds, drowned by the constant Rum damp or attacked by the hungry Rum wildlife and Croft livestock. My raised beds have suffered winds blowing down the netting, been feasted on by geese and trampled by chickens. My herb spiral fell prey to a mouse which was chased off by Bonnie and has been comprehensively ‘pruned’ by the turkeys. My willow fence has been consumed by deer who pushed through it and pooed nearby for good measure. The crows took chicks and ducklings and young turkeys. Our own inexperience helped by rats or crows or both took nearly half our litter of piglets. This is a life in which you need resilience, inner strength, reserves of confidence and the ability to roll with the punches and come back ready for more. One where the victories of today cannot be celebrated too loudly or with much smugness for they may be snatched back away at any moment.

Our journey has leaves on the line, cancelled connections, closed roads, missed flights and dense fog blocking the view.

Today after all our guests had gone and Ady and I were able to catch our breath and have a chat with Davies and Scarlett. We wanted to check once again that everyone is happy to stick out another winter in the static, to carry on working to make this dream work rather than think about changing direction and coming up with a new one. Both the children cried at the thought of leaving Rum. Actually so did I. Much though I don’t want to see my children cry it helps to know that we are living through tough times for the right reasons.

So we’re making plans to take things further forward here, to make this work better for us and progress and seize back some control. To take us back one last time to our journey metaphors we are putting ourselves back in the driving seat again and are not planning on being passengers.

Expect more proper posts and less of the cryptic ones very soon, we’re consulting our map and will be back with you again just as soon as we’ve worked out the next leg of the trip.

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