|Sign of spring (1)|
Well, where to start? So much has happened in my comparatively short absence...fears of boredom as I returned simply can't be justified, as there have been dramas, comings and goings and news at every turn.
I came back on what seemed to be the first day of Spring, although the day that preceded it was anything but. Travelling from a hot and sunny Cambridge with blossoming trees, blue skies, cheery tea-shops and flip-flopping students, 500 (?) miles north to a freezing cold Glasgow my heart sank as I arrived at Queen Street and was greeted by sleet, rain and hordes (well dozens) of drunken Scots who had been to see the rugby. Slept for four hours on the train, and just managed to download "Call the Midwife" (final chance to download anything before island internet kicks in!) before falling into my Premier Inn bed and instant sleep. One huge breakfast and a beautiful train ride later I was ready to board the ferry...the sun was shining, the sea calm and blue and birds singing away as if winter had never happened. The sky and sea were so clear, everything was reflected like glass; a far cry from the "keep your eyes shut and pray" journey last time around. It was lovely to arrive at Rum and see Mel waiting, and walk along the shore road to the accompanying sound of blackbirds, robins and who knows what else (haven't had a chance to check yet!) singing their little hearts out and catching up on each other's news, while I caught up with ours.
|Rum...from the boat, 10th March|
Since then, my enthusiasm has taken the normal knocks (the internet is soooooooooo slow! the rain is soooooooooooo horrible! etc etc...) but a general sense of excitement is still alive in there, somewhere! So what has been happening? Get on with the gossip, I hear you say...
Tea-shop ructions as Claire gave an ultimatum to the rest of the island about having sole use of the community hall (our only public space)...we said no, and so she has pulled out for good! Who will provide this vital service now? (See below for some ideas!) The new playground equipment for the children has arrived and is being constructed next to the shop...giant swings and what looks like a survival course climbing frame are first up for use! Debs has started a spinning group - not cycling but actual spinning, some lovely wools are now being produced. The Ranger has resigned, and a new one is being sought. Our poor castle has suffered so much from the perpetual rain in February that the ceilings are now buckling ("Just run quickly through the hall and you'll be fine").
|New roof on the hostel (behind the trees) and invisible new roof on the turrets!|
|Sign of spring (2) - turkeys displaying|
But although today it's raining again, we know that Spring is here. It's not only the daffodils finally pushing through to the light, or the birdsong, or the turkeys attempting to get it on up at the croft. It's something about the fact that it's now light until 7 pm rather than 3 pm, the way we can walk around the village without wearing three hats and five scarves, a birthday celebration that takes place in the light not in the dark. A sense of new beginnings. Which everyone needs in spring, but we need it perhaps just that little bit more than those sun-spoiled Cambridge types. Being away has given me a bit more perspective and it's so clear from people's stories that winter is just really, really tough here. We're not kind enough to ourselves. We didn't create a social space for ourselves over winter, didn't continue the Sunday tea-shops (or any tea-shop), didn't think about how we might deal practically with the undoubted fact that the word isolation comes from the Latin word for island. How can we make it better?
Everyone has their own story. Gav and Laura and their new baby are living in a friend's room, the weather has been too awful for them to finish their croft, and they wonder how long their resilience will hold out, much as they want their new life here to work. Debs is new to the island like me and, also like me, is here because of her partner's job, spending much of the time on her own at home; self-sufficiency and "being creative" is all very well, but...One couple's marriage has (we hope only temporarily) broken down. Other people struggle with accommodation issues. Yet on the other hand, this can be such a wonderful place to live. We talked yesterday (during an all-day Six Nations TV marathon - yeah!) about how we could stop being so isolated, have more fun, enjoy things more.
I came back full of positive thoughts, ideas to make things work better, things I can do myself to help out. What stops me? Fear that nothing will come back from others - this is a real issue, so often the impulses I have had here and the suggestions I've made have met with no response whatsoever - more daunting perhaps than an outright "No." Or perhaps I've set the bar too high. This isn't like at work, where you can ask people for things and they are bound to help you if they can. No-one here has to do anything, if they don't want, and many people are busy enough already.
However, it's amazing what just talking to people can do. Chatting to Debs in her sunny kitchen over lovely coffee (the first time I've been to someone's house for coffee!) we hatched a plan to take on the tea-shop for two days a week - daunting but exciting. And also, what is even more daunting, to try to set up a coffee morning (or afternoon) one day a week. A drop-in? A book group? Or just a place to sit and drink excellent coffee (very much lacking on Rum!)? I now have to work up the courage to actually ask people! It sounds so odd, but it can feel as though the onus is entirely on you not only to ask a question, but to provide the answer yourself too.
There are many things that need doing besides this. The archiving. The tea-shopping. The Rum guide-book which I am applying to write. Keeping the flat clean (now it's Spring we can see all the dust!). Ordering food. Keeping an eye on those dodgy ceilings. Plus, we are now starting a garden; this is a long-held ambition, and the outgoing Ranger has very kindly bequeathed us his raised beds in the back of the walled garden...we have started digging them over, but I can see there's going to be a lot more work involved...
But I feel sure that having some kind of island get-together, a daytime chance to sit and just chat, is the most important. Probably because it's the most important for me. Hell, if no-one comes along I'll just eat all of those cakes myself, and what will I have lost? Nothing really. But the fear of failure really can be more than just worry; it can stop you doing absolutely everything. So we have to overcome it. Or nothing will ever change!
|Sign of spring (3): smiling!|