Saturday, 29 September 2012

Back to where we once belonged

Over five months in and we had our first visit back to the mainland this week. The bright lights and razzledazzle that is Fort William! Supermarkets, McDonalds, Boots the Chemist, people, traffic, noise....

Clearly the honeymoon period has yet to wear off for us because we currently miss nothing about the mainland (family and friends excepted). Sure we love the cinema, theatre, museums etc but realistically they were infrequent treats rather than day to day life. If we want infrequent treats we can still have them, just not quite so often and at greater expense with more planning required. We're only 100 miles (and a ferry trip!) from Inverness, there is a cinema / theatre on Skye, we can hold film nights here on Rum and we're hoping to put together a fabulous schedule of events and visiting attractions right here next year. There is nothing you can't order online and get delivered and the excitement of getting a new clicky thing to light the gas rings through the post as a parcel will never wear thin compared to just nipping to the supermarket and buying one :).

The reasons for our mainland trip were to get Bonnie spayed and for Dragon to have an appointment at the eye department which was a referral to our GP from a routine opticians eye test back last year that we failed to get sent through in Sussex before we moved so had transferred up here. We originally were supposed to go off at the beginning of September to do both but the hospital cancelled the appointment so it was all rescheduled for this week instead. It all took precision planning; checking ferry times, joining the local car club and getting documents printed off, signed, verified, membership paid for, car booked and arrangements to collect it made. By very happy coincidence our dear friends who are now considered family traveled back to Rum with us for a visit and had booked a holiday cottage large enough for us to stay too so instead of an expensive and cramped stay in a budget family room in a large chain we had the luxury of a gorgeous holiday cottage with bath, sky tv, large kitchen and space.

That was the highlight of our stay really, being with friends in such nice accommodation, oh and meeting someone in McDonalds who we met on the day we moved to Rum and got chatting to in Mallaig as we waited for the ferry to take us off to start our new lives. They recognised us and were really pleased to hear we have settled in so well and are so happy here.

Everything else was stressful, didn't go to plan and simply served to remind us of why we now live where we do and enjoy the lifestyle we have chosen. Circumstances contrived to mean that instead of getting spayed Bonnie was discovered to have come into season (her first and within hours of the planned operation). After discussion with the vet the decision was made to not go ahead after all and we'll have to return at some point to have that done. Dragon's eye referral turned out to be an over zealous optician finding something that either wasn't there in the first place or has healed itself nearly a year later. The doctor and I concluded perhaps the optician needed glasses! Of course we are far happier with the news that there is nothing the matter with Dragon's eye than any other possible news but given it had never given him any trouble anyway so was less a cause for concern and more us being conscientious about  following up appointments and the delay caused by the cancelled appointment had meant the delay in getting Bonnie to the vets it all felt like rather more than just a wasted few hours...

Determined to find silver linings and rescue the justification of the expense, car hire, ferrry prices, time away from home and need to call in favours in animal sitting back on the croft we did manage to combine our trip with our first visit to neighbouring Canna for a couple of hours. We didn't meet any of the islanders and although it is nice to have visited we certainly didn't fall in love with Canna like we did with Eigg and Rum on our first trips. We'll go back, probably next summer for a full day trip but it was great to have finally got there and to have seen another edge of Rum's coastline that we'd previously not navigated.

We also spent lots of time filling up the car with shopping. Tins, jars, bottles, supermarket own brand stuff that will see us through - long life milk, tinned fruit, vegetables, meat and fish for those Famous Five times when we're cut off from food deliveries by cancelled ferries and need to wash down our tinned feasts with lashings of ginger beer. We bought Dragon and Star's chocolate advent calendars ready to stash, Ady and I got a thermal base layer set each, I stocked up on socks, both Dragon and Star spent some of their cash stash on toys, we visited a sweet shop, bought kitchen bits like new scales, whisk, pastry brush, cereal bowls.

On Friday morning we were not at all sure the boats would be running but got to the ferry, loaded our stuff on the van for Rum and paid freight, nipped to the CoOp and stocked up on loads of meet to stash in a friend's freezer to see us through the next few months, parked the car and returned the keys and then got on board. It was a rough crossing and we were greeted at Rum with one of the most severe hail showers I have ever seen but it was fab to be back.

We've a crazy couple of weeks ahead with visitors galore before I suspect it will all go quiet for the winter. We're still getting batterings from the weather and although with every storm I get a little more confident at the static's ability to stay put we will be packing an emergency bag and stashing it in the car tomorrow and going through some evacuation procedures with the kid so that in the event of a middle of the night loss of the roof or similar we all know what we are supposed to be doing. Hopefully having a plan and a packed bag will be enough to guarantee it is never needed.

6 comments:

  1. Interesting. how does the car club and the Rum van work?

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    1. The car club is excellent - check it out at http://westwheels.co.uk/ for more info. Basically we pay an annual membership fee plus insurance deposit (refundable if we ever leave the club) and can then book online a choice of 3 cars - two at Mallaig, one at Arisaig. For a bargain £24 a day and 24p a mile (fuel all included in that price) we had a spacious four door car.

      The 'Rum van' is the vehicle loaded up with deliveries and post for Rum and driven on to the ferry and off again on Rum. Some ferries it stays here between boats, some it comes off, gets speedily unloaded and is driven back onto the ferry to go to the other islands.

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    2. Is the van exclusive to Rum or does it belong to all the islands? Who is its owner exactly? Calmac? Do you have to pay an extra charge to put something on it? (Sorry for all the questions but v interested in the logistics of island life!)

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    3. Yep, van belongs to Calmac. We paid freight to add stuff to it at a set price per kg. Light stuff gets sent over free but any great weight and we have to pay freight costs to Calmac for it. There are several vans some open backed and some not which belong to Calmac and depending on volume of deliveries for islands they send one or more. Sometimes it stays on the island inbetween boats (in summer we get two boats per boat day), sometimes it drives off, gets unloaded and drives back on again in the 15 mins the ferry is in dock.

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  2. absolutely - I have (fingers crossed & mostly!) found that the best insurance against unwanted events is forward planning. Especially if the event then happens, at least you know what to do. Very much hope it works for you guys too :)

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