The tide ebb’s and the tide flows, this is just a fact. So too does life. Living on an Island it makes you acutely more aware of this process. Sitting in my office with the vista of sea and rocks in front of me, it’s hard not to notice the changing in the tide, the current and the colour. It seems to reflect your mood from one day to another. Today it is grey and moody looking, not sure which direction to turn for now. So too is Island life today. I have been an Islander all my life, born on one, raised on one, moved to one live on one. you would think then that it makes it easier to adjust to all the things that come with it. People move from far away to live here, seeking the peace and the solitude and the slow pace of life. This is a great part of Island living, don’t get me wrong, when I visit the big city of Glasgow for a weekend, and then return home, the peace is so clearly noticeable, no sirens, no constant movement of people, hardly any traffic. Peace, perfect peace. But for me, the peace is not perfect anymore. I yearn to live somewhere else. Perhaps I have a case of the grass being greener on the other side? But that makes no difference. Let me explain what life on the Isle of Jura is like. To get here, you can fly from Glasgow, a 40 minute no frills flight, you touch down in the Isle of Islay, great! or you have taken the ferry from Kennacraig to Port Ellen then you have a 30 minute drive to get to the ferry to take you to Jura. Depending on tide and wind, you may get an amazingly calm crossing or you may be tossed around like some flotsam in an Atlantic storm. The crossing is only 6 minutes, but if it is like the former description, it can feel like an eternity as the skilled skipper(s) handle the boat, turn her into the oncoming barrage of waves, turn her away from the side impact waves – remember, all this happens in 6 minutes. You get to Feolin on the Jura side as we say and you thank all and any gods you may have been praying to that you have landed and are off the boat. Wow, it’s beautiful, all you have are hills, grass, a small 1960’s building that houses a toilet, a single track “road” – mind your tyres on the pot holes, which are every mile on the 24 mile stretch of Island road. You see the stags and hinds on the shore, munching on seaweed, jumping the road in front of you, just to make sure you are able to make an emergency stop and testing your brakes. You meet the endless stream of tankers and draff lorries taking to and from the distillery, you think you might as well set up home in a passing place. That’s a mildly amusing account of getting to Jura – now, living on Jura.
We have one of everything, 1 road, 1 shop, 1 hotel, 1 distillery, 1 school. Yesterday, I needed to get some bits from the shop, unfortunately the weather was so wild, the Jura boat didn’t’ cross, which means that nobody got off or on to the Island. No milk, no bread, no fruit or veg. So you make do with what you have in your cupboard, this is fine for a day or maybe even 2, but when the weather means a few days of nobody getting anywhere it is bleak. Grim is a good description of the mood when this happens. I make it sound like an adventure. It’s not. The reality of living on a remote outcrop is depressing. So why did we move here? Why don’t we leave? Jobs are scarce everywhere, but more so on the Islands, at the point we moved here it seemed the right thing to do, my husband is a distillery worker so we followed him to a distillery job. I am a teacher so worked on the neighbouring island of Islay for many years, travelling by that boat 5 days a week, all seasons, all weathers with a new born to contend with too.
Now, we have tried to leave on several occasions, but for some reason, things just don’t work out, I may get offered a job, but my husband doesn’t, we can’t live off one salary and vice versa, he may get offered but then there is nothing for me. It is frustrating. We have our daughter to consider, so just moving and seeing what happens is not an option. the more time that passes when we are keen to get away makes the grey days seem dreary. We want away to have things to do, to not have to get 2 boats which may or may not sail to get home, to give our daughter the opportunity to study music, to attend concerts of her favourite bands Skipinnish and Tidelines. All these things may seem trivial, but to us, they are the life we now dream of. Maybe I DO have grass is greener syndrome, but until I find out I will be as restless as the ocean in front of me.