Decision time

Sunday April 17, 2005

We’ve reduced our choice of possible destinations to two. It’s likely that, when it comes to it, we’ll be choosing between an extremely rural location in the cachement area of Inverness, in the Scottish Highlands, or a semi-rural situation in Somerset. In the first we’ll aim to follow a rural isolationist lifestyle, doing our own thing in our own way in a stone-built cottage on a plot large enough to have a decent garden and vegetable patch. No livestock. In the second, Graham will work as a bar manager and we’ll live in a bungalow close by his work place, part of it, in fact.

I don’t have a crystal ball and if I did I think I’d leave it covered. We’re unlikely to be in a position to decide until the end of May, so the question of the timing of our house sale here is a difficult one. If we put it on the market now there’s the possibility it may sell very quickly. Impossible to tell. Should that be the case we’d likely be obliged to go for the Highland cottage. Graham is probably going to spend a week in mid-May as relief/auxiliary barman-manager at the place in Somerset that may yield a permanent job, and will seek to obtain a firm decision from the owners one way or the other. If the job materialises then we’ll almost certainly go for it. If not then we’ll head for Scotland when the house here does sell.

Both options have a lot going for them, and both have disadvantages. We’ve discussed them endlessly, and shall continue to do so right up to the point where we hold our noses and jump. The question of distance from Graham’s mother in Wales has exercised us most particularly. We’ve concluded that the Highlands are not the end of the earth and that a trip two or three times a year is just as possible from Scotland as it is from Lincolnshire. There are good rail and air communications and the life-style will be flexible enough to permit him to take the time. Should we go for the Somerset option there will be less distance to travel, but work commitments may well operate to restrict the visit to once a year only.

If we were forced to choose here and now, today, we’d almost certainly go for the Highlands. The prospect of a coal-fired AGA in a living-kitchen and a good supply of fresh home-grown vegetables and locally-caught fish is hard to resist, as is the opportunity for Graham to develop his skills as an artist-potter. We’re not obliged to choose now, however, and we are very unlikely to do so.

All of which is not to say we exclude other options totally. We’ve considered the Lake District, Northumberland, and the North Moors in Yorkshire. There’s always the possibility we might stumble over the perfect house in an ideal situation here in a more rural part of Lincolnshire. Life has a way of throwing spanners in the most carefully constructed plans. At present however, the choices, limited to two, seem to us to be equal in their appeal and likelihood.

I face either prospect with equanimity. I had been a little concerned that my arthritis would prevent me from the kind of active participation in day-to-day chores that would be needed if we move to a rural isolationist life-style [some people call it ‘homesteading’ and I’ll probably adopt that term for the sake of brevity even though I argue with its applicability to our specific case]. I’ve become convinced however that a combination of positive thinking, healthier life-style and a diet rich in fish-oil will see me through that one. Both choices afford me the opportunity of spending a good chunk of every day under open skies and looking out over water. When it comes down to it I don’t really aspire to much besides that and, when decision time comes, I’ll be happy either way. So, I suspect, will Dolly.



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