Wednesday, 2 January 2013

January 2nd 2013 - day 2 - Hints of island living I don't think it got light today. A mucky grey mist descended on the island and didn't budge all day. I am not sure we were very different from other places in the UK and that is a growing trend. People expect rain in the west of Scotland and Arran has never disappointed on that front! But, in recent years, other parts of the UK have also experienced lots of rain so for those of you who would not like to live on Arran because of the rain perhaps you need to think again. But the rain remains a strong hint of island living. Personally, I don't mind it with the exception of the summer of 2012 when my slugs got fatter and fatter and my vegetables disappeared in front of my eyes. 2012 growing season was a complete wash out and I am determined to fight back in 2013. Early January sees me stuck into seed catalogues with that rising feeling of excitement about another growing season. We have 10 acres on our beloved smallholding but it would be a complete lie to say we are self sufficient in vegetables. It remains an aspiration rather than a reality. That said, we do our bit on that front and grow lots of lovely food which constantly reminds us how tasteless most vegetables from the supermarket are. Here lies another hint of island living. The dreaded supermarket experience. We have no choice as it is the Co-op or the Co-op. I have nothing against the Co-op as I am aware of their fair trade credential but I simply hate the supermarket experience. The hint of island living was most evident today as I walked into the main Co-op in Brodick to be greeted with empty shelves where the fresh produce should have been. It is a bank holiday in Scotland today and as we depend on ferry deliveries it will be a few days until normal service is resumed. Strangely, I am not complaining because I think this situation serves to remind us to be resourceful. It forces us to learn how to bake bread, grow our own vegetables and support our small local shops. None of these things can ever be seen as bad things. I believe, passionately, that the most successful islanders are those who are the most resourceful and I try and learn from them. My challenge for the day was that there were no cut flowers to be bought anywhere on the island. I do flower arrangements in vintage tea cups to order and I have an order for tomorrow. On the drive home from the flowerless Co-op I pondered the issue. No matter, I do have the most beautiful potted rose in the house full of stunning little blooms and I have acres of greenery. I don't think I am ever happier than when I am challenged like that. As well as working as a freelance writer I make varied crafts (including flowers) under the design label 'with love from Arran'. In that context I have taught myself to be both inspired by the island but also creative with the resources available to me. I end with another huge plus of island living. It is 8 oclock in the evening and you fancy some chocolate. Tough! The local shop shuts at 7pm and the nearest open shop is 9 miles away. No bar of chocolate is worth that.....or is it?! Speak tomorrow.