Back at the blogging keyboard for the first time for at least a fortnight. A week at home – scarcely time to think let alone distil those thoughts; then back at work in England and increasingly an environment that denies me the very things that inspire me …
But now various threads are coming together, a sense of direction is restored, and here I am …
And I think it’s been much the same for Denise, too.
Denise: I’ve now got more details on the wool yarn and needles required for the Eriskay knitting. Needles are very fine – 2 25 and made of rosewood at £18 a pair; and the yarn is an extremely fine multi-ply. However this is an important investment in a potentially high-value new area of work, and it is good to be learning something new.
Today I sold our motorhome. A few weeks ago, as I was walking up to the van, someone stopped me to ask if I was thinking of selling it, as he’d noticed it a few times and thought it would suit him and his family. At the time I was so surprised all I could say was that as I would no longer really need it from end of October, I’d let him know, and took his contact details. Back at home a fortnight ago Denise and I talked it over and agreed we would not really have a need for the van; it would just sit outside rusting away and we needed the cash more. So a few days ago I got in touch with Paul and his wife Donna, and yes they were still interested, and this morning I gave it the most thorough clean it’s had for at least a year. This afternoon they came round to look and a test drive. And yes they loved it and we agreed a price, and a hand-over on Saturday morning 30th October – less than a fortnight away. I’ve now got to fix up my journey home, and in particular the problem of getting all my goods and chattels over to Uist!
A few days ago I checked out prices for other Autosleeper Clubmans – £12k-£14k. That’s from a dealer, in average condition and mileage for age, and our van has done 85000 miles not 55000, and has quite a lot of rust spots on the cab and other blemishes, and a few defects – none too serious or too expensive to put right – inside. So the price agreed was, shalll we say, very substantially less than that average! But considering that for the past couple couple of years Denise and I have reconciled ourselves to the likelihood that we’d end up having to scrap the van, and possibly even having to pay for it to be taken away, we feel ourselves well off indeed.I really liked the people who are buying it: it’s nice to feel the van will be making a real difference in their lives, just as it has for Denise and I over the past nine years.
The photo here was actually taken in 2003 when I first started using the van for working on the mainland. If we’d never bought the van, back in October 2001, I would never have volunteered for that secondment to work in Scotland (loads of overtime to help pay for it!); I would never have seen the Outer Hebrides for the first time from Skye; we would never have gone to the islands for an extended holiday; and – having moved to the islands – we could never have afforded the costs of accommodation when working away from home. What a god-send it’s been!
Denise had a visit from the Comhairle’s (council’s) environmental health officer – a complaint about the geese again. They’ve been ‘camping’ overnight outside someones gate and leaving a bit of a mess! Strictly the geese are doing what they are entitled to do, but it doesn’t make for good neighbourly relations. I’ve been on the phone to the council and to my neighbour about this, and we’ve agreed that he should show ‘calculated aggression’ towards the geese to make them feel it is not a nice place to be (not something I can do myself – the geese would never come near me again!) and I shall do what I can – once I’m home for good – to ‘re-educate’ the geese. It’s a fine line to be drawn between holding out for my rights, and also accommodating my neighbours, even when these are in conflict. Not easy! But this is the stuff of making life as a community work.
Denise: Noticed a notice about a course on Eriskay knitting. The island had its own tradition of family patterns, and there’s very few who know how to knit them, especially the most authentic patterns. Norma Neil from Askernish is going to present the course, with the support of a native of Eriskay. I’ve signed up for it, and got the information on what yarns and needles I’ll need.