Sunday, 6 January 2013

Day 6 - crazy, sexy

Sunday 6th January An earlier blog today because I fear for my sanity as the day progresses. Very rough night in the Doubleday house with illness around every corner and the new kitten deciding that this would be the night she would cry! All calm now and even the kitten has stopped that awful cry. We all seem to have gone through the phase of sweating and shivering and are firmly on the mend. You can't keep a good family down for long. Pete and I are doing our usual thing of taking on each other's new year challenges. I bought him a fabulous book written by Kris Carr called Crazy Sexy Diet. Her story is amazing as she had learned to live with cancer that should have killed her a long time ago. Her tumours, although still there, have shrunk dramatcially and this has been through to a massive shift in her diet. Pete and I are at the age when we are starting to say 'I can't eat that anymore' and he is much worse than me. Over the past year or so we have been making small changes to our diet and feel the better for them. Crazy sexy diet takes it onto a whole new level! I suffer from a chronic autoimmune disease that will not feature in this blog because I try my best to ignore it but I would just say that this book has persuaded me to try a gluten free diet. We shall see if it makes any difference. For those of you that want to be healthier in 2013 I recommend this book. She is a strict vegan and I am not suggesting that we should all follow it to the letter but I do think she knows her stuff and the evidence speaks for itself. Enough of health matters and onto my beloved Arran. I thought I night tell you a bit about the island. My apologies to readers who actually live on the island as I am writing this as if readers know nothing about the place. Arran is off the west coast of Scotland and is the most southerly of all the Scottish islands. I wasn't far off when I said left of Glasgow as we are just two hours travel from the city. The ferry takes 55 minutes and leaves from a place called Ardrossan. I will let you all encounter the contrast between Ardrossan and Arran yourselves when you, hopefully, come and see the island. The island is approximately 20 miles long and 10 miles wide and has 3 roads. The 'main' road runs all the way round and it is a drive to die for and well worth doing. From a settlement point of view the nearly 5000 residents bunch up a bit in Brodick, Lamlash and Whiting Bay with braver souls living in the smaller, more remote villages and hamlets. We live in Whiting Bay, so clearly not one of the brave ones. I know you will all want to know about shops and yes we do have them, just not very many of them! Brodick is where the ferry comes in and has about a dozen shops including, if you can believe it, two Co-ops. The shops on the island broadly fall into three categories - food, outdoor clothing etc and gift. Whiting Bay is served really well as a village and we even have our own post office! The island is a picture to look at from any angle with mountains, valleys, forests and the all important shore. We are blessed with wonderful beaches where you can truly lose yourself and I frequently do. The weather is incredibly changeable and we really have our own micro climate. The winds are perhaps the biggest feature and cause most of the 'chat' on the island as yet again the ferry can't sail. I always like it when the ferry doesn't sail unless I am trying to get on or off the island. We do get a lot of rain, but there again, so does the whole of the UK now. Snow is far too infrequent for my liking but I may well be a lone voice on that topic. I am anticipating readers might be interested in employment as that is an issue raised when people are thinking of giving up the rat race to come and live in a place like this. The good news is there are jobs the bad news is most of us have at least two! Many of us islanders work two or more jobs to make the living we need. When we first moved her I was lucky to pick up a part time dance job but there were no teaching jobs for Pete so he became a classroom assistant for a while. Almost the second our feet landed here we were thinking of starting our own business and that has really been the picture ever since. Many islanders run their own busineses and it is not always easy. The island is incredibly seasonal in terms of tourist visits so many businesses rely on a very short burst of income. But we have schools, doctors surgeries and even a small hospital to soak up some of the workers. One of the issues about being a parent on the island is what do the young people do. Most leave as there just isn't the employment or afforable housing for them. But some stay and make a real life for themselves. As a family we are aware of the different implications of the choice that Molly made versus her brothers. She chose to go to university and that offers her a route off the island and a chance to build a life in a relatively easy way. The boys are less likely to go to university and we feel they need a bit of a bridge. The children have all worked in the various family businesses and have developed some amazing skills. Harry is still better than me on the sewing machine! The plan is for a new business to begin which will be run by the boys with mum and dad just helping out; a kind of switch of roles. We are about to plant 200 willows on the smallholding in order to make willow wreaths for various occasions. We have grown herbs from the start and made wreaths using them for years. Now we plan to make the bases from the willow as well. 'Whimsical Wreaths' is the name of the new venture and we are quietly confident the boys will make a go of it. As a family we have 10 years experience of retail and wholesale trading so it is over to the new generation now. It will provide some income for the boys as they continue with their qualifications and working towards their own careers. Harry already works on a local build part time - see what I mean about multiple jobs! That is probably more than enough to take in on the subject of Arran for one blog. I hope it gives you a context to help understand how we make it work here and, indeed, why we came here in the first place. I will end by making a stark contrast. I was watching Kirsty and Phil doing their stuff on the telly programme by helping people property search. These two brother were flat hunting in London and were delighted to find a two bedroom ex-council flat for £350,000. You could buy a large detached property with outbuildings and land for the same price on Arran. Tempted?? Photo might tempt you further.... xx