What a weeks it’s been! While easter brought celebrations of spring, we were plunged back into winter.
It began with 60mph winds and was quickly followed by constant snow showers. It certainly hasn’t done my garden any favours and yet I can’t deny that it has been a beautiful week. In between each little blizzard of snow, the sun came out and the skies turned a most brilliant blue.
The sun kept melting the snow, then the sky turned grey and everything turned to white again!
Amidst this crazy weather, we were trying to get our van back on the road. It’s been out of action for the past month and a half and although we lived without a car for years, when our older children were small, life up here feels much more difficult without transport.
It was the first time, that we have had to figure out the logistics of living on an island with no garage and no recovery vehicles to help, when things go wrong. As we were unable to get it started, we couldn’t get it to the ferry, to get it to a garage on Orkney.
Our neighbour (who has experience of tinkering with cars) came to the rescue. He and Matt diagnosed the problem, the turbo had blown. They managed to get the old one out and ordered a new part to be delivered.
With no place to work on it indoors, fixing it had to be fitted in around the weather. It wasn’t an easy job, but finally, last week I heard the exciting sound of the engine running once again.
While we have been without transport, I have been travelling by ferry and bus to get to the supermarket and stocking up with as much as my kids and I could manage to carry. It’s been very different to our usual routine of shopping for 3-4 weeks at a time.
So we booked it into a garage as soon as we could, for an oil change and a few other things and hoped that we would finally be able to restock the cupboards and shelves.
Unfortunately it needed an overnight stay, so we made our way home without it once more. At least we had sunshine and some beautiful views for the journey!
I travelled back over on the ferry the next day, to pick it up and shop, shop, shop. I really couldn’t have fitted anymore into the van if I tried, so it’s just as well that it was feeling better.
It was such a good feeling to know that we had everything we needed for the next few weeks, including garden supplies and some equipment that I needed, for dyeing and paper making. I even bought some herbs and a few bare-root trees for the garden.
We had a couple more days of snow and then, at last, spring returned. So of course, we headed straight for the beach and have spent much of the last few days outside, soaking up as much sunshine as possible.
What did we learn from all of this?
Well, we have started to stock up on things, to make maintaining and repairing our van on the island easier. I have learnt that I need to use a lot more garden fleece if I’m planting out before the lambing snow. I need to get better at securing it too, with the strong winds that we get up here! Fortunately, most of our plants were still safe and sound in our little growing room and Matt has made a start on building me some nice big cold frames.
We’ve also learnt that although it’s a lot easier to live up here with our own transport, we can still manage to keep things ticking along without it. Oh and very importantly we have seen how people on the island, help each other out when help is needed. Not only did our neighbour give up a lot of his time to help get things going again, but also I was rescued and given a lift home when the van first broke down, miles from home, and other islanders lent tools to help with the repairs.
So we feel extremely grateful and if anything, more settled in our island life than we were before.