I always think it is bad when I don’t blog for so long but sometimes life just gets in the way. After a disastrous first five months to 2016 when I was so ill I am happy to report that the second part of the year has been much better. I have already blogged about how I joined with another crafter, Coral, and launched a new project called Crafts and Company. This has been so successful and enjoyable that 2017 looks very bright indeed. Working with someone else who is as bonkers as I am seems to be the recipe for success. We have created, workshopped, chatted and eaten cake until we have almost dropped but every moment has been filled with joy. Coral is an inspirational woman and, together, we make a great team. If you want to know more about our wee journey so far pop over to our website for a catch up, but put the kettle on first.
Family life on the island has been changeable with offspring coming and going. We were blessed to have Molly home all summer while she worked on her thesis researching the value of nest boxes with black guillemots. She left us in October and is now residing on a beautiful RSPB reserve in Lincolnshire. She will be with them until the end of February but in the new year will be applying for work and PhDs. Her dedication to the conservation of seabirds continues and we have just returned from Nottingham Trent university where we witnessed her being awarded her MSc in Endangered Species Recovery and Conservation. We could not be more proud.
Harry left home early in the summer and now lives in the village with two friends and is quite enjoying independent life. He may only be in the village but we do miss him. He is over half way through his plastering apprentice and still enjoying it. He has quite a reputation growing for his work. Harry is now 21 and every bit the lovely young man we always knew he would be.
George has probably had the busiest year completing his Higher in Photography at the local High School where he achieved an A. He also achieved a distinction for his Tourism Management diploma which he completed via distance learning college. All our children have completed courses this way and it does make us so proud as it is not an easy route. George is now on a gap year volunteering at the island Outdoor Centre and with the kayak club before going to university next year to study a four year degree in Adventure Tourism. He has already completed a whole list of coaching and proficiency courses and he has also completed his silver Duke of Edinburgh award. He is currently half way through his gold award.
Max has also achieved his silver award and is working his way through his gold award. Both boys are still very keen on their running and complete challenging trail runs with their club. In the summer they were part of a wonderful team that circumnavigated the island in kayaks for their silver Duke of Edinburgh expedition. Max and George are also members of the badminton club and Max is learning the guitar so they have plenty to occupy themselves. Max has finished home school so that is all four of them through. He is currently studying maths and digital photography through distance learning and doing very well.
All three boys run and now their father has joined in! Harry, George and Pete all completed the Great Scottish run over a distance of 10k and Max and I cheered them on. Pete has shifted jobs several times but has settled with a lovely wee job in a new café in the village. He is well suited to the job and enjoys it.
The island continues to develop driven by an acute awareness of the importance of tourism for the island economy. New businesses are springing up all over the island although sometimes I do miss the simpler, less sophisticated businesses as they seemed more in keeping with the island. It would be a shame if Arran became a carbon copy of the mainland as it rather defeats the object of the exercise – ie to live in a place removed from the mainland experience. Having spent some time on the mainland Christmas shopping in the last few days I am sure my blood literally ran cold. The stress in people’s eyes as they charge from one queue to the next credit card in hand was very disturbing. I know it is a touch of the Christmas madness but I do, increasingly, find the mainland an alien experience where I no longer fit. I leave the island less and less now preferring the company of screeching oystercatchers to the sensory overload that is now very evident on the mainland. Everything is brighter and noisier and I find it too much. That stretch of water that divides us has become very important to me in recent years. Perhaps I am just getting old?
As our family begins to prepare for another Christmas we are blessed to have all four children home with us and the annual game of cards post Christmas lunch promises to be as competitive as ever. The shutters go down once Molly is safely home on the 21st and life slows to a gentle walk until early January and we will all feel the benefit of that.
2017 will being yet more change with George off to university and just Max left at home. Pete and I are having a whole week away just by ourselves in February and that will be a very strange experience! We are off to Perthshire to walk, sit by roaring fires and drink coffee. We are both looking forward to it, although we will probably phone home every day!
I have a wee list of things I would like to do in 2017 brewing as my habitual incubation time is in full motion. I am trying to keep this list quite selfish and include things that are just for me. I do so much with the family that I usually ignore myself completely. But they are all growing up and away now and I need to make sure that I put things in place to make missing them a wee bit more bearable. We are fortunate that we have such a happy home and that we are such a close family as it means our children do return and often. I still have my book buried deep within me and I use my walks as a way to build relationships with my characters and test my plot. It is a tale deeply entrenched in the inequalities and inconsistencies that make our world so compelling but whether it will make good reading is yet to be revealed. Max and George still need quite a bit of their mum so it will be a few years yet before I can allow the tale to take to paper. Meantime I have the beginnings of a new creative direction brewing which is pricking at my imagination so all is well.
If I don’t get the chance to blog again before Christmas may I wish you and your family a happy Christmas and a wonderful 2017.
Every best wish