Saturday, October 16, 2021

Dark clouds over Ramsey

An all too rare walk on the beach

It's often said that moving house is one of life's most stressful events—along with divorce, death of a close relative; a change of job or school... Combine two or more of these and the strain can fracture even the tightest of bonds. In our case they remain tight and intact, but there's no denying these last few months have taken a toll.  

For to live where we do exacts a price that few appreciate and most romanticise. 

The reality of rural life is somewhat different to the magazine dream—and especially so, when you add 'remote' to the mix. Chores and choices that were once incidental require careful scheduling: popping to the shops is an hour's round trip; the nearest airport, three hour's drive... Much of our life—and that of our dog's—revolves around the tides. 

But there are compensations too.

This morning we walked the silver-washed sands at Newgale, dark clouds gathering as Oscar chased his ball, oblivious. There were dead seals on the shore; pups washed up overnight... two miles in and I was regretting my decision to forego a coat. A great deal here depends on the wind.

And yet, today—like with so many of our darker thoughts— the billows passed and brighter skies prevailed. 

At the head of the beach, I caught Jane looking out to sea and remembered when we first came here, how we'd walked and walked... and made decisions that are with us still.  That they are is as much fate as it was foresight, for if these few months have taught us anything, it is that nothing is truly in our control, and that to think otherwise is hubris.

As we turned to face our home I reflected that change and stress—like birth and death—are part of life; it's how we respond which shows and makes us who we are. And if at times that's tough or taxing, it doesn't mean it's not worth the effort. 


  1. Hari OM
    Indeed, change is the only constant in life... here's to the new situation bringing respite and renewal. YAM xx

  2. Sometimes, I think it is the effort we make that demonstrates the true measure of our love.

    That picture? The cloud looks like a giant arm giving a thumbs up.

  3. Sitting in my Torridon cottage, I can very much relate to all that you say here, even though this place is not and never will be, my primary residence (for many of the reasons you mention). You are right that so many folk have a very romanticised view of life 'on the edge'. One couple bought a house just up the road from here two years ago and after spending one winter here, put it on the market again, apparently citing 'the dark, cold, rain and wind' as reasons for not staying. NW Scotland dark, cold, wet and windy in winter - who knew? Apart from the dark bit, it's like that through much of the summer too!
    Chees, Gail.

  4. Foolishly I like to think that I am in control of my life but I know that the slightest thing can send it awry. As you say, it's how we deal with stuff that matters in the end.

  5. I noticed the clouds 'thumbs up' immediately - well after looking at Jane on the shoreline - need to blow this one up and frame, it's awesome!
    Are you moving? At this stage of life (and another birthday almost here), I would like an easier place to care for, on one level, without a garden and stairs etc., however hubby won't budge! It could be just nearby, in another town, or on the coast of Maine which would be perfect, but of course it won't happen.
    So, one day at a time now - and grateful for what I do have which is so much more than many others in this day and time.
    Always nice to see you here Mark.

    Mary (North Carolina)

    P.S. I cannot find your books available online - do you have a place where I can find them?

  6. Taking events in stride is key. Living seaside is very beautiful until a patch of wintry cold rain and snow hits. The light is dark and the air is damp. That said, a quick reminder of sunshine and blue sky is just around the corner resolves the hardship.

  7. From time to time my husband and I discuss this very thing. The choices made affect so much, not only our own lives, but those of our children. We have also noticed how much worldview and thought, especially during these pandemic days, is influenced by the micro-culture of where people live. Beautifully expressed.

  8. A very good choice of photograph for a poignant post. I can relate to all of the above and rural isolation in particular.

  9. Sometimes I watch that house moving programme - "Escape to the Country" and wonder how those urban dwellers will get on. Living in the country isn't all a bed of roses and I speak as someone who grew up in a small village.