Here’s a response to Joe’s comment below. I was going to send you an email Jo and then I thought, maybe this is something other people might want to know too so I’m blogging it.
My mum and Dad bought a small, run down cottage on lIsmore when I was 1 1/2 years old. A cottage with two rooms and a tiny attic. They were drawn to the island because both had spent time here as children, my father because his grandmother was from here and my mother would come for camping holidays.
Every year my three sisters, mum and dad and me would holiday on the island swimming in the lochs, exploring under blackthorn thickets, looking for crabs under stones, dancing in the hall, camping with friends, making hideouts, the list is endless.
As a teenager I was more interested in Edinburgh, clubbing, town life and friends and then went on to study in London and during this period I spent very little time on the island, but whenever I did I was always immediately welcomed back in to the community without a flicker of distance. I remember once arriving back on the island after an absence of maybe four years to Archie shouting “Sarah Campbell, how are you doing…jump in to the tractor and I’ll give you a lift to the cottage.” Coming from London it was quite overwhelming to recognise that here was a place where you were never forgotten and people would not forget your name or your face. I realized that over the years of being on this island my family had become part of this gem of a community.
Yorick and I got together and had Ruben, we were living in London but occassionaly came to Lismore for breaks and that’s when the strong, powerful draw of the island began. We would walk past ruins and dream of renovating them and living on the island and plan potential business ventures. The children, Tom appeared in 1998, adored the island where they had absolute freedom to roam and cycle and camp and make hideouts and all the things that children should be able to do but don’t because of cars and television. This went on for years, eight to be exact. Every time we came to the island we would leave committed to selling up and moving and then three weeks later life would take over and we would scare of the idea.
My bond with the island had become so powerful that every time it came to leaving I would be choked with tears and miserable for the following day or so. i remember once arriving on the island and walking up the hill behind the cottage where you can see the complete panorama of the mountains crowning Loch Linnhe from Ben Nevis to Glencoe, right down to the paps of Jura, Mull and then the wild, barren regions of Morvern and Morar and the sun painted glow on the water between, and I realised this was where my heart is, this is my home and the idea of not being here was devastating. It was as if some force had gotten tired of subtly sending the message of where we had to be and on this occassion punched me with it.
A plot came up for sale on the island and we decided to go for it. The sale fell through but we had made our mind up and moved anyway. It was the best decision of my life and I have never looked back. Two years later and after a series of failed plot purchases we now own the croft where my great grandmother was born and that’s a story for another time.
I have friends who have moved to the country and have been misearable. Generally it’s because of the isolation or feeling that there are no kindred spirits around. It’s different here. Lismore is a vibrant and very active community where there are endless opportunities to meet people: on the boat, passing on a the single track road, at the shop, at the ceilidhs, dances, whist drives, meetings, craft nights, yoga. everyone knows everyone and sometimes the relentless and endless social calander can become too much and you have to escape the island for peace and quiet.
But, you know, I’d rather have it this way anyday and suspect I will be here ’til the end of my days. So Jo, I hope this inspires you to follow your heart and take a leap.