Saturday, 24 March 2012

Isolation, inclusion and chickens in boxes.

How on earth are you? I'm clearly enjoying the sunshine and feeling very, very  tall! Today I went to an Island I've never been to before called Graemsay so the posh wellies came too...... Inhabitants um, 23/24/25/26 or is it 29 people.........or so. I went to do a bit of working gardening (today being a non-womble day, I'm quite liking being a hybrid kind of working person switching from recycling to gardening in a heart beat - much fun) and had lunch with a fellow island blogging chum. Which of course meant hopping on a 'peedie' (wee) ferry. Oh dear, its such a hard life isn't it. Before I leave Orkney I want to visit as many of the 88 islands as I can (only 15 are inhabited) and so far I've been to 12 of the inhabited ones and a few of the unihabited ones, so I've still lots to try and get to! Today its Graemsay..........
This ferry doesn't do cars, its too small, but aside a deck you can view the isles on, it has a wee lounge and a coffee machine which you can buy a cuppa for 60p or get freight hauled over for 50p for 20kg or 70p for 30-40kg.......what a bargain. We had to go to Graemay via Hoy - one of my favourite places. which took less 30 minutes. I guess ferries are like buses here.
I love the views of Hoy when we reach the peir in Moness.
I like ferries being buses. Its quite cool. After leaving Hoy - we head towards Graemsay - and in the distance there - through the sea mist - the light house I look over from my house. I am so excited I'm visiting one of the islands I've never been to before. Look just passed the boat - to the right - can you see a lighthouse too - I normally see from the comfort of my sofa!
Now I can see it from the other side! I'm behind it!
And how much fun is a walled garden and the view of the 'big' ferry from someone elses garden!
And, aside crisps - a lovely bonus for being over for the day and Sian's lovely hens is that she was happy to rehome a few - put a hen in a dark space - they sleep - slumber central here.........a bit of hen relocation about to happen. 
So back on a ferry - with hens and tools and freight and free plants to home with a few new hens.....
What a lovely day. Over lunch on amazing home made soup and bread. Yum Yum. The talk turned to isolation. Sian lives on an island of less than 30 people. She's a busy lady, she works, she's busy and she has a go at anything going on locally. She's not alone, far from it. We talked about how different life was for us in towns/cities on the mainland of the UK. It got us to talking - who's more isolated? Folk like us on islands or folk on the mainland of the UK who either don't know thier community or neighbours - or haven't the time/dont' feel safe/comfortable engaging with them?

Sitting on a ferry with hardly any folk, you are polite and engage in conversation about life, the view, why you have a couple of chickens in a box and what you've done today.

In a town, I know I didnt' do that much, talking, not the travelling with hens. I'm not 'townist' - but I found it much harder. Maybe it was me, or maybe its harder in a larger urban sprawl to talk to folk or be part of your local community. I'm from a large town, where I never felt more lonely. Then again, I dunno if I made the effort - even if I knew how too. I felt isolated there, I don't here. What's changed - me? Or my geography?
I wonder what you think and how you feel? Do you get involved? Do you back away.

I'm heading to this over the weekend - one of the local community events in my parish. I know I'll chat to a few folk I sort of seen in the passing and I might meet a few folk I know more. But, I'm happy to be going.
I guess - I'm asking who's the more isolated?

Islanders where neighbours are few and far between, a human passes by and you nod a hello, or you stop and chat for a while feeling part of a community and attending local things to show support. Or folks surrounded with people all tucked in together? How much do you know your community?

And if you don't, do you mind?

[Whilst I know my more thoughtful, random reflective posts never get many comments, and chickens maurading in the house and trying to play the drums are far more exciting, I'm just wondering how you all feel and if there's a debate to be had - I'm working on Saturday all day - so don't worry I won't be offended by NO comments and will get back to both the new arrivals and why chickens feel the need to invade my house at every opportunity!]

However, I'd love to hear what you think about the whole, who's more isolated - rural communities with low populations or cities/towns with oodles of folk, who don't often even acknowledge to each other they even exist by holding up a hand, never mind having a conversation or even a hello.........I'm interested. I was brought up in isolated army bases throughout the globe, I returned to a large town/city in Scotland - and I've lived in rural/remote islands for nearly 20 years now.  I'm busy but I like folk have the time for me!

I like when I pass a human, we share eye contact. When I go 'sooth' I try it - but often like most folk, my heads often down - eyes averted, whats that all about. I'm not comfy in my space or I don't care - I hope its the former not the latter.

If youv'e time, drop me a wee comment. Who's more isolated - islanders/rural folk or those living in denser populations.


  1. I think in lots of ways people are more isolated in towns, but having said that I have lived all my married life (53 years, I am old!D!) on a farm, in a valley, with neighbours, who I dont see a lot of, when we were first marrieed lots of friends in the town, but I worked hard on the property and there was little time to have tea with a neighbour, now I am older I wonder if I should not isolate myself so much, but although farm work is not done by me any more, I do a lot of 'other' stuff, indoors sewing and fabricating, out doors still some gardening, still busy and slower, if my husband dies before me? Now that is a worry. Not sure where we go then.
    I think talking about hens maybe better! My wretched girls are not all laying where they should.
    Off to a poultry market tomorrow, I might come home with something exotic and not just have my brown laying hens.
    I am actually going to help my daughter sell her muscovy ducks of which she has too many and they try to walk into her house too.
    this is becoming an opus, dont know if blogger cuts you off at so many words per comment.
    Love reading your blog, not a good comment maker usually.

    1. Penny - its so easy to stay in and keep busy isn't it - I know I'm very inclined to bumble about on my own and keep myself back from folk. I'm not naturally a 'people' person - folk generally terrify me - but I'm lucky with many aspects of my work I get to blether to folk. Whilst I'm shy, I'm a natural chatterbox. Here's to both you and your lovely hubby having a long and very happy potter about together.

      Hens - new ones are integrating with the flock here - although its the cockeral who's trying to do most of hte owrk - then again he's a vested interest. Muscovy ducks are very naughty! I hope you get them sold - wondering if you came home with something exotic.....

      Thanks for popping by.

  2. Cannot have you with NO COMMENTS.. now can we!
    I live in a town(Crewe), I have also lived in a city (Manchester), personally I think a lot of it is down to people. When they are confident in their selves and their surroundings they look... up and out... and they notice others, and tend to smile, nod a head and as they see that person more begin to say .. hello. I think maybe it takes a bit longer for sme than others no matter where you live ... BUT if ONE of you makes the first eye contact, smile it works.... thats not to say you want to live in their house! OR be theeir best mate!! But it is contact.... and you can shut the door if you want to. No need to be lonely xx OK enough rambling thoughts... enjoy your life and your hens xx

    1. Diane thats a really interesting point - confidence - the lack of it can often lead to folk putting their heads down and getting on can't it.

      Eye contact is the key -even when driving - if you're looking and a tiny nod is often all it takes. I think its nice to acknowledge folk but when in a dash, I'm often lacking in trying!

      Rambling thoughts very welcomed! Thanks for your comment!

  3. Pah, just wrote a huge comment and lost it! Will try to be more concise...

    I live in a city, and I wonder whether in a city you get more 'communities of interest' (people who like the same things) rather than geographical communities (people who live close to each other). Because there's so many people who live close, you tend to gravitate towards people who quite specifically share the things you are interested in - so in a city there might be hundreds of communities of interest, all layered on top of each other.

    It would be hard here to say hello to everyone (can you imagine? 'hello' 'Hello!' 'hi!', 'hello!!') so maybe people tend to stick to folk they have things in common with.

    We know our neighbours to say hello to, but not to pop round for a cuppa - perhaps we all just know other people close by who we share more with. I suppose in a small community you have less people in general, so you tend to see the same ones again and again and get to know them better

    (goodness, my original comment was MUCH better than this, sorry!). I suppose what I'm saying is that it's probably quite easy to be isolated wherever you live, depending on what you do, and who else is around you. If you live in a city and nobody at all shares your interests (or you can't find them), then you probably will be isolated, because there isn't necessarily the habit of geographical communities in the same way as in rural places.

    Not sure that makes sense - but now - chickens please! :D

    1. Cheery dear girl that makes perfect sense. Isolation is more about connections rather than geography or population density is I think what you're saying - I hadn't thought about it like that. Its interesting.

      Its easy to feel isolated in a new area if your interests aren't similar to anyone elses. I don't really know my neighbours very well - not to pop by for a cuppa - but we do say hello when we see each other - living rurally means often we're in cars rather than walking which can be quite isolating too.

      I guess you have to ferret out the folk who you have things in common with as well as engaging with others around you. Otherwise you can feel isolated.

      Oh dear now I don't make sense! xx

      Chickens on their way......

  4. Island life is very special. We've always been made very welcome and everyone is very hospitable. I still find it difficult to get to grips with the fact that everyone I meet knows who I am, where I live, what I do and takes an interest. I'm also still struggling to remember all the names and work out who is related to whom (well everyone to everyone else).
    I also treasure the solitude and quietness that island life offers and the isolation from city life and a set of values based on money and selfishness. In practical terms I'm not isolated modern technology will bring me most things if I want them. Ok there are sometimes practical problems but they teach you patience, the value of time and self-reliance.
    That's you're lot - the sun is out, a bit windy but I'm off to do some gardening.

    1. Croft garden thats how I feel about things too - I like the special way I feel living on an island - but often don't recognise folk (I've a terrible memory for names/faces) when I lived on a tiny island in the west (Colonsay)I found the sense of no privacy quite tricky. And, the relatives and who's related to who!

      I treasure similar things to yourself, I like the isolation and the big skies - these exist I guess in remote place of the mainland too I guess.

      I find the age of the internet has changed my island existance beyond beleif - I guess sometimes feeling isolated geographically - the web is amazing at making folk feel connected.

      Glad you've got sunshine!

  5. Isolation...... funny old word isn't it? I think, and this is from my own personal experience, that isolation is brought about by the individual who is experiencing that feeling. As Diane says it can be because a person is not confident in themselves, head down moving forward, "nothing to see here" as a particular friend of ours says.
    For me I grew up in a fairly large town. I had lots of friends but I was shy so rarely made new friends. As I got older, I became more confident in myself and so made new friends and just chatted randomly to people I came across. Then I moved to the country. In work I carried on meeting new people, new acquaintances. I live in a well populated village, I speak to my neighbours (its always me speaking first though) and I have lots of people around me. I feel more isolated here than ever before. I don't believe that is because I am living rurally though. I love the peace and quiet of the countryside. I have come to understand that isolation, for me, isn't about just having people to chat to on a daily basis (and I can get that in the country or in the town) its about feeling "connected" to people. Having that ability to discuss a shared interest whether thats a hobby, a knowledge of the area or its people. Being able to talk through a problem or something that is niggling me with somebody who understands me and doesn't try to "help" or judge but is just there to help me work things out. That, for me, is isolation.
    Great questions Fay........ thanks for giving me something new to ponder today.

    1. Cheri You always have such a wonderful way of lookign at things! I think you've hit it on the head - tis about feelign connected.

      I find the idea of towns scary as I feel I'll die in a sea of isolation - I think thats why I'm thinking of it all - our impending move in 2014 (when the children scarper from Orkney to go to Uni) we'll be moving and I think theres fear there for me. Change is something I don't mind, but I need to feel confident in the change and dimension of it.

      I'm coming to terms with the fact that a move away for me - will involve losing connections I feel here - they hopefully may remain but its forging new ones which will also be important and looking for a place to live which will give me that sense of isolation/community and connection I appear to crave.

      Thanks for the ponderation too! x

  6. I have many more connections since coming to lie in a rural area.I like that people have time to say hello, that shop assistants smile and chat with you and even the postman has time to chat a little on his rounds. I feel much less lonely living here and have made many connections within the community by getting out there and joining different groups and attending things that interest me.

    1. Dreamer thats great isnt it - I know you moved from a more town like existance previously. I'm glad for you the moves been all those things you hold dear to you. And, gadding out and about! Good for you.

  7. Easily those in smaller communities, we'd say. In provincial France the 'bonjour' habit etc., still thrives - even with outsiders. In Spain there's an element of that, too, though they seem a bit more reserved, possibly because they tend to be more family oriented. Here in the midst of Swedish forest, the communties thing is not that visibly strong but everyone helps when needed and has time for a chat/nod/whatever whenever. After over 40 years in small communities, I go with the latter everytime. Though from all I've read, it still applies also to boat-dwellers and those on the Cut.

    1. Interesting stuff Ian - we're of a similar mind. I like the 'bonjour' habit too - even if its an 'Aye beuy' here. I like the idea that folk have time for folk.

      Campervan owners also nod and exchange when they see each other - and chat about it all - a bit like Cheri mentioned and Cheery - about connections and common ground too!

      Cheers for popping by

  8. I have lived on a small orkney island until recently and had hoped to find that community feeling there. I think I started to feel suffocated by people knowing my business. We were friendly to each other but I didn't manage to make many friends unfortunately. I did feel lonely and isolated during my time there. Someone earlier mentioned something about meeting other people with things in common. This I found difficult in a small island and it is something that really matters to me. I have since moved to a city where family live and I have a connection to other people and places. I say hello to people I pass in the street like I always have done. I think some people are more suited to city life and as much as I wanted to live rurally I have admitted to myself now Orkney was just not for me.

    1. Hello - I've really appreciated your honesty here - I think tis fair to say the smaller islands are more like 'real' islands to me - whilst I like the mainland of Orkney (and we call it mainland here, Scotland is over the Pentland Firth, as you'll know).

      When I lived on the west much of what you're saying was similar for me - folk knowing everything (or thinkign that they did) - living on an island with 95 people I struggled to find more than one or two I had anything in common with or could talk to and be 'understood'. I did feel lonely and isolated there - but I don't here - maybe I've the best of both worlds living on Mainland Orkney - I know enough folk to make me smile and say hello - but we've still some anonimity.

      I'm sorry you've left - but if its for the best for you then good on you for recognising you needed the change. Often connections like family are hard to replace. Sounds like you're in a good place now - which is really important as you say.

      Thank you so much for sharing htis with me - its really interesting the experiences we have collecively.

  9. We are in a small town. Isolated by being - not from around here altho we've lived here 6 years now, and by the language. Our new neighbour is away and has housesitters. Unknown. Today we went to the olive trees at our road entrance. Are they ready to pick?? The 4 of us got chatting, phoned her sister who has olive trees. Sister came over, and said YES when they are black like this. We now have 6 litres of olives to process, and some more to pick. Our town is big enough that people know of us, but not all about us. The housesitter told me happily she is born and bred here.

    1. Interesting, isolation through language - I hadn't thought of that - whenever I've gone to forgein parts though (holidays not living) I've found the sense of not being able to converse fluently very isolating.

      I know our lodger (Karyn, a german lassie) and our french lodger found the not talkign in thier own language a bit strange and isolating until they could talk to family each day.

      I think your Olive tree adventure sounds great - how exiciting to have met folk, talked and have olives to process too!

      Thank you for sharing with me!

  10. Having lived in both rural communities (including 4 different islands) and in cities, I'm going to go with cities being isolating. Sometimes there's some comfort in that, people don't know your business and you don't have to interact if you don't want as it's not expected. Even if you had a chicken in a box it's not likely anyone would question you. Rural communities are nice though, even if you don't know someone there's always a wave, nod or hello. Much more approachable. Too friendly on occasion -they would definitely want to know what's in the box, how it got there, can they get some too and would you mind if they joined you for chicken dinner.

    1. Ha Marguerite you're of a similar mind to me, infact the chickens were carried on the boat by one chap - who asked me all about htem, carried off hte boat with another family again a bit of chat. No invites for dinner - although I met a girl on the boat who I vaguely know and had a lovely chat with her - I feel I know her a bit better now.

      I like that I can be isolated in a city - but found even living in Edinburgh for a year a bit strange - I was lucky I was doign a course and so we had that sense of being all in it together - but otherwise I didnt' adjust to the isolation very well.

      Same in Fife - never really found more than one or two folk with any common ground with adn although I had access to everyone/everything I rarely made the effort to see my chums. Hence the return to Orkney I guess, back to a sense of a life I understood.

      Would I mind if anyone joined me for a chicken dinner, probably not - although I'm not a 'just pop by' kind of girl - I like my isolation and privacy at home - but like being a part of hte community too. Guess I have the best of it all here. I'm hoping to find it all elsewhere too - community and privacy.

      Now, what was that about a chicken dinner.......?

  11. Woah...expect you are going to get snowed under with comments. I have lived in the countryside and felt lonely and now live in a nice old house on a main road where it seems everyone is preoccupied with making as much noise as possible so that makes me feel isolated because I like quiet! I follow a few blogs of creative people, yours being one obviously, trouble is I end up feeling isolated by reading about peoples busy lives and how much they have packed in to their day. I read them because I want to connect with other people that I feel something in common with that are missing from my real life. Where I live I find it hard to fit in, when you get older everyone has established groups and you feel like an outsider. Today I had a brief conversation with a neighbour of 12 years who hasn't spoken to me for about 10 of those because I once made a comment about her dog barking for hours at a time....yep..that's right 10 that a British thing? Personally I like knowing about peoples lives and they about mine, I feel I am in a minority though. love from a fellow stripe lover x

    1. Hilly - how lovely to see you on here. Interesting stuff indeed. You've done both. I find hte noise of towns incredlly unsettling and the litter - quite strange when I first go down but after a day or so it kinda melts into the background. Oh dear to the dog barking and 10 year silence - folk are a bit strange aren't they? And, probably a bit British!

      I like knowing a bit about folk and about my life - its more chaotic and crackers than 'creative' - sometimes I wonder how we get through the day. I like following blogs with folk living in quite different lives to my own and obvously I have a plant fixation so I fantasy garden through many blogs. Its interesting seeing what folk are upto.

      Stripes of the world need to unite! They rock.

  12. I have always lived in the North of England, mostly in Sunderland, but for two years between the ages of 9 and 11 I lived in Kielder (before the dam). As English locations go it was about as remote as you could get. Our doctors were in Scotland - Kielder is only 2 miles from the Scottish border, but the doctors being the nearest to us were 17 miles away. The nearest town was Hexham at a distance of 36 miles. The village had a post office, but apart from confectionery it didn't even sell basics like tea, sugar etc, so all food purchases were done by travelling shops from vans. We had a bus service - two buses a week! The sense of community though was second to none. Everyone knew everyone else, if anyone ran out of anything someone always stepped in to help. My parents moved back to Sunderland when I passed my Eleven Plus, because I would have had to go to boarding school in Hexham and this was something they were unprepared for. I continued to live in Sunderland until 1999, but always remembered my wonderful two years of childhood in Kielder - I wanted my children to experience country living. Maybe not as remote as Kielder - but still in the country. We moved to our present home in the Durham dale of Weardale and I have never looked back. It isn't as remote as Kielder and after 12 years I still only know a fraction of the folk - but that's down to the fact that work close by is difficult to come by so Hubby and I both work in towns over 25 miles from home. It means we get to live in a place we love, but don't have the opportunity to really become part of the community. My three daughters however were 8, 11 and 12 respectively when we moved here and know everyone. Not one of them would move back to town living. Incidentaly I do envy your life on Orkney. We have holidayed there twice now - once with our oldest daughter and her partner and the last time just hubby and me. We will be returning again this year however with middle daughter and granddaughter - can't wait. The people on Orkney are so friendly, it seems a very special place. xxx

    1. Hi there Now thats interesting to isn't it? That is remote! I'm glad you've found where you find yourself needing to be and make sacrifices to let your kids have the kind of life you wanted. I visited a pal in the rural part of northumberland/north of newcastle - excuse my English geography its truly rubbish and I found her place to be so remote too!

      I bet you've such stunning countryside around you which I envy too!

      I'm really glad you like Orkney, its such a special place isn't it. When you're up in the summer - and if you've five minutes - wonder if we could catch up for a walk along a beach? x

  13. Hello Pip, Kittikins here :) I think living in a big town/city is more isolating, you have to make such an effort to go out and meet people, I used to live in London and hated the fact that whilst you could go and meet up with friends and go to the theatre, restaurants etc, you had such a long journey home again, usually to the other side of London than the people you were with, yuk.

    Also, another nasty only seem to hear of people dying alone and not being found for days/weeks in big cities. There'd be no chance of that here for me, even though I'm now in a detached house, the neighbours are very friendly (I think they see DD as an extra grandchild :) ) and I know they'd be over if they didn't see us pottering about for a couple of days.

    I now live in a large village in sunny Sussex and love it. I came from a tiny village in Oxfordshire originally where I knew lots of people as I was growing up but noone there now (apart from my folks of course!!).

    The village I'm in now is lovely - due to DD being at the village school and me being involved in guiding with her and going to a localish church, I feel like I know nearly the whole village to nod at, and about a quarter of the village to chat or have a cuppa with :) What with my OH living at the other end of the village too, it's a great plcae to be.

    1. Hey up KK - nice to see you on here - I'm so glad you're enjoying your new home. And, there are real advantages to village living aren't there. I guess sometimes it can feel as if you're all in it together.

      :) I'm so pleased its working out for you!

  14. Thanks for your comments guys really interesting - I'm out at a local spring fair today - so I'll comment properly to you all later. Once I've done my local bumbling about bit! xx

  15. Hi - what a thought provoking post (btw I'm known as lionheartedgirl in another parish!). I live on the edge of a little village outside a large town in the south east of England. I am pretty isolated where I am, as a single girl who was not born even remotely locally.

    I moved here with my ex hubby and have no other connections to the area. I have made friends based on shared interests but it has been a long and difficult process - people don't move away from home here and while not unfriendly, it is hard work making anything other than passing acquaintances. Mind you, the difference between here and 25 miles down the road, where you are into London commuter belt, well it's like another country where they speak another language!

    My mum said she found it easy to make friends but only ever at the school gate - I don't have children so this isn't an option. I have made my closest acquaintances with my nearest neighbours - the garage and double glazing shop across the road, and getting involved in my local Brownie pack (via a former work colleague).

    However, I definitely agree that it's about where you are at personally. You do have to force yourself out there to at least try and find something going on that you like - but if as others say, there are no likeminded souls, then sometimes a place isn't for you and there is no shame in admitting that it's just not for you. It's about the trying, rather than the just giving up and saying No-one Speaks to Me - unfair criticism if You Speak to No-one!

    Previously I've lived in big cities, but only as part of a student community or being in a relationship. The north is easier than the south, and the rural south is easier than the city south. In my experience.

    1. Hey there LHG! Thanks for popping over. Interestign what you're saying too - I think its very much harder for people without children too - when we returned to the mainland a while back the kids here were older and there was no need to be at many school events or even at the gate to pick them up and it was very hard to meet anyone (in a town in Fife known for its lino) - I do think its about trying too as you say - I found it hard to make the effort as I didn't think I had anything in common with the folk there. But, eventually I made a few chums which was great but mainly though my other halfs family and work.

      I do think its where you are personally too. I can't imagine being so near to London commuter belt! In Orkney it does seem to appear to be different in different parishes - folk can be quite transient here (staying for maybe a few years for work) so getting ot know actual local folk can be harder - but they are very friendly. Infact we all are but you're right its an effort thing too.

      Living in a city as a student is fun I think, and interesting you tink north/south is different.

      Oddly its mainly (except for Shetland) all 'sooth' from here! But I know what you mean.......


    2. I only started to feel settled in Edinburgh once we had children. And next year they'll both be at university and life will change again. We are starting to plan a move north, and the thing I'm looking forward to there is knowing people who do all sorts of jobs, not just existing in a little bubble of people who do the same level of job as we do. City life is horribly stratified in terms of economic status.

    3. Linda kids being about certainly helps doesn't it? I've one leaving this year (Ayr) and then the cellist will finish up here in 2014 - then its 'sooth' for us. I'm a bit concerned about leaving Orkney as I'm scared of the sense of isolation that comes with a new move and I'm not really sure how 'non-island' communities work - I guess probably quite similar if they're rural.

      I hear what you're saying about economic status and being in a bubble of folk just working in your field. One of the things I like about rural living and islands especially as there's not really any of that - or if there is I'm unaware of it - I've a battered old car we might replace later in the year but I feel no pressure too for any reason other than my own wish to have a car which doesn't have things falling off of it!

      I wish you well in your plans for moving north - oddly we're beginning the planning for the move 'sooth' - starting to wonder about locations. A feeling of community is clearly something I need - so we'll have to really look hard. Mr F's job has flexibility at the moment - but that may change if he ever moves company - so we'll have to think hard of that.

      Thanks for posting!