Friday 3rd August 18 – The F’s and T’s: Food, Fuel, Telecoms and Transport.

The first week here has been mentally draining, especially the effort and frustration in trying to communicate and get the business end of the move sorted out. I’ve kept trudging up the hill in the wind and the rain on errands to try and answer text messages that have managed to find their way through whilst my phone professes ‘no service’, only to find that either I can’t get a network anywhere or that the text was irrelevant in the light of all the others that I didn’t get.

Financial issues have been worse. I have a banking app that I’ve been able occasionally to access, but see some debits from my account that don’t make sense and that I don’t have the means from here to investigate. It makes me quite paranoid and fearful, which in itself is worrying.

Yesterday I stood out on the headland, hotspotting my ipad and phone so that I could access password and account information that I needed in relation to the debits, completely unaware that my ipad was getting rained upon. I’d dashed out in my shorts and vest to try and reply to a query, and so was also being insect-bitten and stung by nettles and thistles. Then I repeated the whole sorry scene a few hours later when another text came through.

…so I’m beginning to appreciate that I can’t do things the way that I did before. There’s no use in trying to be responsive, and in trying to check on everything as it happens. The phone is now switched off and will stay that way until the weather and my spirits are sunny enough to make an excursion seem like a good idea.

Being alone together here – Katy and myself, the dog and the cat – is alternately heart warming and desperate. Katy has always had a habit of bad moods in the morning, which I’m trying to accept and not badger her about, but when she sits glumly and won’t engage with me I ask myself “what have I done? Will she ever forgive me for taking her away from the comforts and contacts of home?”

But then the day gets going, and she takes Faffy to the beach, makes mobiles from the shells she’s collected, and we paint a room together – and she’s talking to me again. The animals are a massive help, though I worry about them too. Percy won’t eat the dry food, even when I soak it, and is running out of his can of cat meat. Faffy follows me about, finding it hard to settle. But on the other hand, Percy is happy sleeping on Katy’s bed, and Faffy on the bed next to mine; both comforts that they didn’t have before. Hearing Faffy breathing in the night reassures me a great deal.

Last night we had tinned chilli con carne with rice and Katy ploughed through two portions, saying it was really good to have hot food: “proper” hot food”. She wouldn’t have called it that before. I think she’ll appreciate meals at school!

I’m already fretting about how we will cross Ulva sound on her first day at school (whenever that turns out to be). In order for me to get back we’ll need to use the dinghy. She’ll need to help me launch it and look after Faffy, who I can’t leave alone all day. It can only happen if the water is a s still as a mill pond, and there are people about, just in case…

The school starts back on Tuesday 14th, but I’m not sure about the hostel. I’ve just tried to double-check the dates on my phone, but the phone has put my calendar on the cloud. It isn’t only the electronics that have been conspiring to make things hard. Even the bog-standard electrics have been giving up since we started our move here. Yesterday the second hand of my lock dropped off (probably soon to be followed by the minutes and hours); my watch battery stopped working; the solar lights we put up in the kitchen went dead last night through loss of power – and all this following in the wake of the last-minute suicides of the vacuum cleaner, washing machine, hairdryer etc. In Ditton. Going off-grid has anti-electrical kick-back operating around it clearly – “so you think you can do without ‘electrickery’…we will see!”

I always did like to write with pen and paper, but it isn’t easy to share that way, and will leave me with a daunting typing-up job (that I’m currently on).

Bedtime Diary Entry

Today was a non-burn type of day. Some days it seems impossible to get a fire going, and today we’ve had nothing but a smouldering stove. It wasn’t cold, or even wet, outside, but the damp in the house lingers on and you want warmth to mitigate it.

I get as far as making biscuit dough, but never got enough heat to bake it, so we’ve that to do tomorrow. I might burn more books since they go quite hot, but need constant looking-after. There are heaps and heaps of mouldy books left here, so it seems the best solution.

Katy decorated a new dog bowl for Faffy made from a washing machine door (the one we stripped out of the kitchen along with the rusty old oven). After some clearing out and painting we went out foraging, through one bay and into the next where all the storm debris washes up. There’s so much wood there that it’s hard to know where to start. My arms ache now from all the sawing, and my back isn’t much better from carrying a pack of it out of the bay, and into and out of the next. I’m dog tired.

Faffy has been behaving strangely tonight, which concerns me. She needs a better routine to settle her. Percy, though, seems quite happy, apart from not liking his food very much. He went outside for a stroll today. I’ve softened his dry food and mixed it with fish oil tonight, so I hope that tempts him. Goodness only knows what Faffy’s been adding to her diet. On the beach all she seems to do is eat things. Her main mode of interacting with the world is to eat it! Her belly looks quite bloated so I’m hoping nothing untoward happens tonight.

We’ve been playing poker each evening with some ‘cards’ that Katy made from exercise-book paper, but not tonight. I think she’s tired as well.

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