Bad, Good, Learnt in 2014, hopes for 2015


1. I feel we have not made as much progress this year as I would have liked, we have become a little complacent about things. Areas such as power, compost loo loo etc have not really progressed – we found a certain level of comfort in these areas and stopped moving forward.
2. I feel this year there has not been as strong a community feel to the island as when we first arrived here. Several key people have left the island during this year and the hole they left has not really been filled.
3. We didn’t do as well on crops as I’d have hoped. We could have done more to improve this but didn’t manage to.
4. We have still not explored the island as fully as I would like, there are lots of places here on Rum that I want to see.
5. We are still in the static!

1. We have had a whole year of really good health – no colds, no sickness or general illness.
2. The Royal Highland Show in June was a real highlight of our year. The Small Isles Games was another great weekend and the couple of other times we left Rum for trips back to the mainland were all really good. The novelty of mainland life is so far removed from our day to day existence here.
3. Doing the pigs. It felt as though we had truly achieved self sufficiency in rearing and processing the piglets ourselves.
4. We have been really on top of firewood this year and have never needed to ration it. Having a chainwsaw has helped a lot, as has keeping it regularly topped up.
5. Feeling like an established, accepted member of the community. It’s great to feel you fit here and know how things work.

1. That if something isn’t working then you need to move on and not waste too much time and energy on trying to make it work. Don’t flog a dead horse!
2. Car Mechanics – still very much Rum style rather than anything I could do back on the mainland but I have a far greater understanding of how cars work and the confidence to try and fix things.
3. About cob – we attended the course, built the cob pizza oven, have started digging for the houseplot and believe in it as a viable building option for us.
4. About pig processing. Along with more venison processing I feel I have really mastered butchery and processing.
5. I have learned loads about Kinloch castle having worked doing tours and at the hostel this year.

1. A cob house build.
2. More produce – hopes that the crops perform better.
3. Sheep – I would like to start keeping sheep on the croft.
4. A bath!
5. Better survival rate for pigs litter with more reared to slaughter age.

Ady’s special bonus hope – to see the Northern Lights do a really spectacular coloured display.


1. That we are still not in a house.
2. I have not done as much Bonnie training as I’d hoped.
3. I didn’t expand my postcard business as much as I’d hoped to.
4. We didn’t do any fishing this year. I loved fishing in previous years.
5. Ranger Mike left Rum. I miss him 🙁

1. I have not felt lacking in time with friends this year. Going to the mainland for a party and having lots of visits has been good. I have actually made friends since we have been on Rum with children from the other Small Isles and regular visitors to the island.
2. The Royal Highland Show visit was a great part of my year.
3. We got two new cars and they work really well.
4. I managed to tick off several lifelong wishes including going on a plane and learning to ride a bike.
5. I can now read really well and read loads including online research in my interests.

1. How to ride my bike, which is fantastic as I have had that on my list of things to learn for years.
2. So much more about Shearwaters from all the stuff we did with them this year including the burrow checking, night time walk up Hallival and boat trips.
3. I have learnt about researching and finding stuff out online. I am really interested in conspiracy theories and mysteries and have been learning loads about that on my tablet.
4. I learnt a tiny amount (Davies actually called it the ‘tip of the iceberg’) about butchery from the bit I watched Mummy and Daddy doing with the pigs.
5. I learnt loads from the Rum lectures this year – particularly Jed’s geology talk and Steve’s history of chess.

Hopes for 2015
1. To learn and be a big part of the house build. Learn about cob and building.
2. Expand my postcard business.
3. Train Bonnie to herd to my command.
4. As a family explore more of Rum than we did this year.
5. To be part of a gathering of our friends back on the mainland again in 2015.

Davies’ extra bonus hope for 2015 – to see more red deer rut action – I’d like to see the antler clashes.


1. We lost loads of our birds offspring – goslings, chicks, the chuckling.
2. Humphrey the hamster passed away.
3. It’s a shame we are not living in a house.
4. Lots of our friends left Rum and don’t live here any more.
5. I didn’t raise any ducklings.

1. I have a successful business with my candlemaking. I really enjoy making the candles in the first place and they sell very well.
2. That when our washing machine broke down we were able to re-use it and turn it into a chicken house. This was also the only place that we bred birds which survived.
3. Lots of friends have come to visit us again this year.
4. I really enjoyed the Royal Highland Show.
5. A brilliant year for wildlife experiences ; amazing minke whale sightings, lots of dolphins, some fab shearwater stuff, lots of eagles, lots of red deer.

1. I learnt lots at the Rum lectures – particularly Ali’s red deer talk and Nicola’s elephants and baboons of Tanzania.
2. I learnt how to ride a bike.
3. Lots of shearwater stuff. Doing the burrow checking and the nighttime walk to the colony – I learnt loads from Lesley about shearwaters.
4. I learnt loads from the Hebridean whale and dolphin trust people that came over to do a talk. They identified a dolphin skeleton that we found and taught us lots about cetaceans.
5. I have mastered the art of candle making properly and really understand how it works.

Hopes for 2015
1. That I hatch ducklings as pets.
2. I would like to have a house.
3. I hope our birds do better at rearing young.
4. I enjoyed helping with the pig processing – sausgage, bacon, gammon, salami etc and would like to do more of that next year.
5. I’d love to see a basking shark, sunfish or leatherback turtle or orca.

Scarlett’s special bonus hope for 2015 – I hope to do more cooking with my Mummy


1. Obviously I have to say my top bad, like everyone else’s is that we are still here in the static, still too much at the mercy of the elements and still without a bath.
2. The pace. Nearly 3 years in I am slowly learning to accept the slow pace of life on Rum and indeed in working land / keeping animals. I don’t think it will ever not frustrate me to some degree though, I am definitely by nature more of an instant gratification kind of girl.
3. Low points this year were definitely not getting the bunkhouse manager job (although retrospectively we are relieved, at the time it was a very testing period) and my increasing frustration with the community not all sharing a common vision for moving forward.
4. We still rely on mechanical things to take us over a very basic level of comfort, existing for a couple of months without a vehicle, the washing machine breaking down, strimmer not working, technical issues with the wind turbine etc. I’m not sure whether my bad is our reliance on them or that they are at times unreliable but I know that when we have been without something is massively impacts on our already at time challenging day to day lives.
5. Although we had a lot more times with friends this year I still miss having regular access to an afternoon or evening in the company of really close friends.

1. I left Rum seven times this year – for our trip to Eden for Big Lunch Extras, for our cob course, to go to the Royal Highland show, to visit Muck for the Small Isles games. We also had two brief trips off to the dentist and once for just me to the hospital. The trips included hiring cars, plane trips, train and tram and of course the ferry. We caught up with loads of family and friends we had not seen since we left Sussex, made it all the way back to Sussex, met my nephew and closed the great chasm of a gap which had opened between our lives here on Rum and the ‘real world’ back on the mainland. I think we had needed that space and perspective in order to properly settle here and make this our home. It was good to revisit and realise it’s all still there and nothing has changed.
2. The pig processing this year has been a massive victory. The first two pigs gave us our first experience in curing and this years piglets killed at the end of the year by us gave me my first kill, our first solo butchering and processing adventure and netted us a massive 50kg of meat in the freezer including sausage making, wet and dry curing and our salamis still hanging to cure.
3. My first paid writing work. Published twice in a magazine, some more writing work done for nothing to support a couple of publications I really believe in. I really get to consider myself a writer as 2014 comes to a close. A huge personal ambition realised.
4. Hosting volunteers – having our first WWOOFers and long staying guests was excellent. It gives me confidence that we will be able to tackle big projects which need lots of willing hands and thrilled to know we offered the same sort of learning and different experience and adventure that we had while we were WWOOFing ourselves.
5. Friends old and new. We have made some amazing friends over the years. It is fantastic to know so many of them are prepared to make the epic journey to visit us here and support us. Friends we have made here on Rum, some of who have moved on but stayed in touch, some of whom are regular visitors to Rum but don’t actually live here and of course the fellow Rum residents who make up our friends, neighbours and community are always a highlight of my every year.

1. Cob building. Not as much as I am hoping to learn next year but certainly more than I knew at the start of 2014
2. How to knit socks. One of those skills which always looked rather like black magic to me and was never replicable from books or pattern. But thanks to a new friend spending time with me I mastered it. I also started learning how to spin but don’t consider that properly learnt by a long way yet. I have two and a half pairs of socks to show for my sock skill so can claim it!
3. Pig processing. I had long wanted to do the actual deed of killing an animal and did it – both the pulling the trigger and the slitting the throat. Massive skill and personal hurdle in doing so overcome.
4. Some new tech skills. Thanks to a new chromebook which I had to get my head around using, changing hosting for my blogs and email and an unexpected glitch in the changeover necessitating rather more input from me than I’d expected.
5. About investing in the future. I had a real wobble earlier this year about things not happening and progress being obvious. I sit here at the end of this year having learnt that sometimes the stuff below the ground, the invisible foundation laying is more important than the showy ostentatious things. This year we have planted trees which may take several years to fruit, built raised beds and a fence around at area which didn’t yield much in crops this year and may not do much next year either but five years from now will hopefully be an established allotment.

Hopes for 2015.
1. A cob house. A home for our family by the end of the year. With a bath.
2. An adventure. I really want to end 2015 feeling we have achieved something other than simply surviving. The cob house is an ambitious project which will require working with people we don’t even know yet, finding a path through all sorts of challenges we have not even considered yet. I am looking forward to that either working out against all the many odds stacked against it, or giving it our very best shot and deciding to try something else completely different. This year has not felt as risky and crazy and seat of our pants and I think us four thrive on that.
3. More livestock successes. We are hoping to have another litter of piglets, acquire some sheep and that our bird stock breed and rear successfully.
4. More writing work. I know this coming year is shaping up to be pretty busy and full of things already but I would love to do some more writing in various places.
5. I hope new people move to Rum and fill some of the gaps left by the people who have moved away over the last two years. More dreamers, more doers, more crazies, We need more of all of them!

and my bonus hope for 2015 – to see an orca or basking shark or the northern lights or the stags clashing antlers. Basically I hope everyone else’s special bonus hopes come true 🙂

3 thoughts on “Bad, Good, Learnt in 2014, hopes for 2015”

  1. Happy New Year from W.Canada. Love reading your blog. I hope you fulfill all your dreams for 2015, or at least make a good start on them.

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