We recently moved 500 miles away from family and friends in search of a new life, to somewhere we could only get to by boat or a five-mile walk.
We’ve now been living in a one-room byre on a peninsula in the Scottish Highlands since July last year.
We have no bathroom, just an outside toilet. Our heat is from a log burner and we cook on a hob using bottled gas.
Adjoining the byre is a two-bedroom traditional croft house in need of major renovation in which there’s an old oven that I use to bake my bread. For the first couple of months until we had our wind turbine installed we managed without electricity, we also now have broadband.
It continues to be a fascinating journey for me and such a radical change of life.
Before, we were living in a semi-detached in the East Midlands, UK with a couple of supermarkets within walking distance, lots of fast food places, busy roads and lots of noise.
Our noise is now the wind blowing through the trees and birdsong.
I look out my window and see trees and the sea.
The logistics of it are both a nightmare and its saving grace.
There are times I’ve been frightened, the boat has been particularly daunting.
Having lived in the middle of the country my husband, Rich, and I had no boating experience whatsoever. Rich bravely did a weekend powerboat course just before our move, we collected our new boat in the removal van on our way up here, unwrapped it on the jetty then set sail.
I knew nothing of tides, winds, knots, or winches.
It’s been a steep learning curve but we’re getting better at it.
To start with we struggled to even pull it into the water (it weighs over 30 stone) but now working together we know how how to tilt it slightly at the front and pull it at the right angle whereby it keeps moving and doesn’t get stuck.
I found it difficult at first to even get into the boat, we push it into the sea as deep as our wellies will allow and I hold it while Rich gets in and starts the engine, once that’s done I then clamber in.
I’m standing almost to my knees in water and I’ve short legs. I’ve got wet so many times, usually because as I’ve kicked my leg up in the air a wave has gone down my waterproof trousers so when landing in the boat I sit in a pool of water.
I have now perfected the art of throwing myself in so hopefully the days of doing the fortnightly shop with a dripping wet bottom are over.
Rich and I have had to learn to handle the boat together, we depend on each other. The winch has been our savior in helping us pull the boat up the beach but it’s hard work.
A trip out takes an extra two hours dealing with the boat.
We have to be aware of the weather, you can’t just go out when you want to, plans often have to change at short notice. I’ve had to learn to surrender and accept this.
Daily life is taken at a slower pace, I bake my own bread and I chop the wood for the fire.
I take a pride in the fireplace, I arrange my logs at the back and sticks at the front. I’d never built a fire before, it’s been empowering learning to do so.
Over winter it became the routine that while Rich boils the kettle to make tea, I see to the fire.
The weather was so harsh that we kept it lit most days. There was something very comforting about lying in bed as the fire was dying down, to see the last flames light up the darkened room.
Being here, living a more basic life with less is giving me so much more.
The beauty of nature fills me with gratitude and awe and never ceases to amaze me whether it's a dark night sky full of stars, dolphins swimming alongside our boat as we cross the loch, or the sun rising behind the mountains.
At least once a day I look across the loch at the snow-covered mountains and can’t believe we’re here.