For those who haven’t been following my adventures on a remote island on the Scottish Community Land Network, you can catch up here (start at the bottom of the page).
For the rest of you; here I am again! A friend recently impressed upon me the absolutely vital importance of continuing the blog; as a way of recording the passage of time and my changing responses to events as they unfold, if nothing else. Several glasses (or was it bottles?) of wine may have been drunk at the time, but a certain wisdom in her words stuck with me so instead of waiting to see what happens with the new Highlands & Islands Enterprise website, I’m going to pick up the story here.
I’ve been reading through my original blog posts, and am struck by the surge of optimism and naivety which carried me to Rum, and by how it was gradually eroded as time went on and the realities of just how damn hard it is to live alone in a remote place. Every single thing is so much more difficult; every step forward involves at least five steps backwards (or sideways). And yet ... a year later, I’m still here.
We’ve been having some exceptionally lovely weather – the kind that makes me realise there’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be than right here. I’ve also finally arrived in the Time Of Change I’d been looking forward to all winter. Our new crofting family has settled in beautifully, although the “Rum Effect” has stalled the progress of their static caravan at the beginning of the croft access track, rather than actually on the croft where they’d like it to be. They’re being remarkably stoic about it, and say they’re enjoying all the attention from walkers passing on their way to or from the Nature Reserve. The Weshman and his (not)Wife have also arrived and started work on Tattie House, the only privately owned property on the island. They’re living in a touring caravan for the summer and blogging [http://tattiehouse.wordpress.com/] about it. One of our families has left for a new job on the mainland, and will be replaced by an older couple this month. That makes 8 new people so far this year. I’m pretty excited to see what will happen...
We have some new faces on the board of the Trust, with two Directors returning from taking a break and one newbie who’s already proved her brilliance by taking over the management of the camping cabins (before she even became a Director). Yes, the cabins have arrived and yes, all the wailing and gnashing of teeth was worth it because they’re incredibly popular and they make me smile every time I pass them, knowing that I made that happen. It was a bit touch and go for a while; - the bases almost didn’t get built in time - but thanks to Dave Won’t-be-Beaton and Miss McGinty’s Dad, everything turned out fine. The composting toilet is also in situ and in use – it’s rather too beautiful to be hidden away beside the boatshed. The pier is spick and span, with some screening around the rubbish skips so they’re not the first thing you see when you arrive. It sort of all happened at once, and I was so exhausted by then that I just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep for a month.
The community’s grand designs for a bunkhouse and the redevelopment of the Byre buildings are proceeding apace. We have a site and a design for the bunkhouse, now all we need is the half a million pounds needed to make it real. The Centre at the Edge (everyone still calls it the Byre project) is a longer-term prospect which I’m approaching with some trepidation. It’s going to be massive. I’ve already applied for some money to get it started, from the Coastal Communities Fund with its year-long lead in time, but I suspect it’s going to be oversubscribed so I’m waiting to see what happens.
I’m trying to clear my To Do list before I go off on holiday for 10 days in June, but I keep adding things to it rather than crossing them off. Our Climate Challenge Funding came through and they are my most favourite funder to deal with because they make everything so easy; others could learn a lot from them (I’m looking at you, LEADER). Our polytunnel has arrived! It’s stored in the boatshed because one of our resident Twitchers has requested that we wait until the grasshopper warbler which has made its home in the long grass of the walled garden has finished nesting. “When will it be done?” I asked. “July,” he replied. Ah, Rum. So rewarding, so frustrating.