Some of the ‘Watch This Space’ stuff.

If you know us in real life, or even have just been following us for a while you will know that Davies is the artist and Scarlett is the naturalist.

If you read back to the start of this blog and then all of the various posts along the way you will discover how these passions have shaped not just their lives but also the direction our whole family unit has taken.

Of course they both have other interests too and in fact Scarlett is also a very talented artist and Davies is very knowledgeable on all things nature related too but in the same way as the first thing Davies reached for as soon as he was able to make a move in a certain direction as a toddler was an unattended pen to scribble with or even a mug of tea to dib a finger in and daub somewhere, Scarlett was grasping for our pet cats, or slugs in the garden.

Home Education, in the autonomous style we followed has allowed them both the freedom to follow these passions without distraction. A story I will tell for the rest of my days is of kissing a barely-school age Davies goodnight, sitting on his bedroom floor for a while and then heading downstairs confident that he was moments away from sleep after a relaxing dinner, bath, cuddles and story bedtime routine before bed. Only to discover many hours later when I finally headed up to bed that he had filled half a notebook with an entire retelling of the story (it was Ted Hughes The Iron Man) of the story in picture form. It was way past midnight but set the scene for the rest of his days and in fact still does even now he is an adult, when his most productive, creative, imaginative and brilliant moments are late at night when the rest of the world sleeps.

Scarlett, who does not have an official diagnosis but is probably dyslexic came late to reading and writing, despite having a groaning bookshelf and surrounding herself in bed each night with a heap of cuddly toy animals and a pile of animal related books. During the day if she was not out exploring she would be glued to a dvd / tv documentary channel about animals. If David Attenborough was explaining things to her then so much the better but Gordon Buchanan, Steve Backshall, Steve Irwin or Chris Packham were just as acceptable. Despite being interested in the natural world myself she had far outstripped me in her ‘specialist subject’ before she reached double digits in age. I distinctly recall walking around Edinburgh museum with her when she was 12 as she confidently identified every single creature on display asking me to cover up the labels on things. Not only could she tell me what bird or animal they were she could also reel off a whole load of facts and information about each one too.

Our pre-travels, pre-blog life had us arranging educational workshops and experiences, family holidays and weekend trips and any opportunity we could find around supporting Davies and Scarlett in their interests. Whether it was zoo trips and keeper for the day experiences for Scarlett, joining the RSPB wildlife explorers and supporting her through bronze, silver and gold awards with the RSPB, finding educational sessions at the British Wildlife Centre, Longleat safari or Drusillas Zoo Park or camping in Scotland planned around the very best time of year to spot dolphins in the wild. For Davies it was sourcing decent art materials, taking him to every art gallery from Brighton to London and beyond, supporting him in booking display space at three local libraries to put up his first public art displays aged 7 or finding him as many opportunities to experiment with creative art techniques as possible.

These were children who were always offered as many diverse opportunities as possible but were dragged away from and distracted from their passions as infrequently as possible because we believe that even at a very young age a person already knows best what it is they most want to invest their time in.

Our original travel adventures and eventual move to Rum was as much shaped by the dreams Davies and Scarlett had as those Ady and I had. For our poetic, artistic son a whimsical land filled with dramatic landscapes, wild weather and endless inspiration for creativity. Our little shed shop was home to much of Davies’ creative output. For Scarlett a whole croft full of animals where she was around to rear hatchlings, witness piglets being born, be around to help with feeding and tending the animals and understanding what keeping livestock meant in all it’s full technicolour good and bad glory. As a National Nature Reserve and home to world famous natural research and monitoring projects including the red deer who feature on Autumnwatch, a massive share of the world population of Manx Shearwaters who return to the island each year to breed and rear their young, the release site of the reintroduction of white tailed sea eagles back into the wild in the UK as well as access to a community ranger, visiting and resident animal researchers and weekly boat trips to spot sea birds and cetaceans.

During our seven years on Rum the young children we moved there with became adults and so when the time came for us to leave it was as four adults with diverse and collective ideas about what happened next. Davies has been selling his art, alongside his studies and voluntary work. Scarlett has been involved in more practical life stuff like making sure that when the rest of us are working or studying we are supported with food and so on, looking after the chickens, cats and dog and helping in various part time jobs when an extra pair of hands were required.

Scarlett was also seeking her own voluntary opportunities and along with hours every week on the beach collecting rubbish and plenty of citizen science projects last year she has been working through the training to volunteer with the local Cats Protection League and pre lockdown was involved with a local social croft – Darach Croft where she was helping with various animal related tasks on an ad hoc voluntary basis.

All of which meant that when some paid work experience / apprenticeship / training opportunities arose at Darach Croft she was perfectly placed to apply for one. This week she had her first ever job interview, having previously put together her first ever CV and job application and did wonderfully well, being called back the same day to be offered one of the posts.

It was amazing to see Davies and Scarlett from nearly 6 years ago feature on the TV this week being asked about what they might want to do in the future. Davies talked about travelling – a dream which should have become a reality last year were it not for the pandemic. That is fine, he has simply got more time to further plan for that exciting adventure. Scarlett talked about how she would like to work with animals, probably on a croft. The day before the show aired she had just been offered precisely that opportunity.

She starts in a few weeks time and I am sure there will be updates from her on how it is going once she is settled in. For now though we could not be more proud and pleased for her. As well as slightly relieved she did indeed stop trying to grab and eat all the wildlife as she did with that first garden slug!

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