Over the years, this site has featured a number of artefacts found on our croft. This find – an Anglo-American oil barrel – didn’t take much finding, since it has been rolling around Home Park (the field between the road and Carrick and the sea), all the while we’ve been here, and from the evidence and circumstances, we think it’s likely it came here, full of petrol, in the 1930s. Despite it being subjected to decades of rain and salt-spray, the galvanizing is still in good condition, very little corrosion, and the only holes are those that are those designed to be there.
Anglo-American barrel. Galvanized steel – very heavy! Probably 1930s
‘The Property of Anglo-American Oil Co Ltd’
During out time, it’s served (on it’s side, and sunk slightly into the ground) as a shelter for a nesting goose, but these days the geese find more natural shelter among the long grasses and other vegetation we’ve promoted, and this barrel has fallen out of use. Even so, we’re reulctant to part with it : if nothing else, it’s a conversation-piece for guests staying at Carrick!
After many months of shifting thoughts on the question, we’ve decided to relegate our blog from the front page of The Big Garden website to, well, just a page. And by relegation we mean also that we’ll be posting much less often.
We very much appreciate the interest of our many readers over the past ten years, and in particular the comments so many have contributed. Indeed, this change is something of a reprieve : even within the past hour we came very close to shutting down the website entirely. If it wasn’t for our followers, we might have done just that ; but we have a natural wariness of any action that is abrupt, extreme, or contrary.
We’re both now in our 60s, and after 15 years of this way of life – which is all-encompassing and very physical, we’re increasingly finding we don’t have the strength and staying power that’s needed. We need to work less, and leave ourselves more time to rest and relax. But our way of life is a patchwork of, well, work – with little space left for anything else : the inter-connectedness of our many activities is, certainly, profoundly pleasing – but it is also perplexing. It’s difficult to find a way to do less of anything we do, let alone actually give it up.
Casa Los Fueros
And yet, something has to give. Anything! And soon!
The Big Garden Blog started, nearly ten years ago, as a make-over of a conventional website we’d been maintaining for a few years, to promote our (then) developing micro-businesses. To us, then, WordPress was just a new online publishing technology. The blogging side of it was something that simply came with the package : we thought we’d give it a try, as a sort of enhanced marketing tool. Soon, though, we found it offered an intellectual and artistic counterbalance to the highly physical and mundane of our island everydays .. and so it remains to this day. It’s also proved to be the only way we get to know others – mostly in North America, as it turns out – with similar interests and outlook.
Over the past year or two, though, we’ve found that the technological rigour needed to keep a website up and running – and secure – has become increasingly onerous. It’s the same for on-line marketing : ever more effort seems to be required, over an exponentially expanding universe of portals and platforms, merely to slow the inexorable slide into oblivion. This is not what we moved to Uist to do.
We’ve another six years or so to this way of life. That’s neither a figure plucked out of thin air, nor one arbitrarily imposed on us : it’s a point towards which we foresee various life-lines converging. We hope that the changes we must contend with will come progressively, smoothly and above all happily.
We want to enjoy our remaining years here in Uist, fulfilling our dream of living on and from the land – and from our own talents. That’s the goal that we have achieved, but only by investing everything we have, in terms of money, time, commitment, energy … Now we want to ease off a little, to free up time and mental space for regeneration : sowing seed, nurturing and growing our dreams for life after Uist. We need time to dream, to discover … but also to prepare for what comes next.
And, without doubt, that means more time with our daughters and their families – in Navarra, yes, but also in Wales.
Casa Los Fueros, the house we’ve bught in San Martin de Unx, Navarra, is a down-payment on that new life.