London Lockdown

The streets and squares are empty here in London. It’s quite surreal for a city that was packed with people only a week ago. I know that they’re in the houses and flats somewhere, living their lives behind the windows, but it feels deserted.

London is now officially in lockdown. Bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms and businesses closed. Very limited public transport. No cars on the road.

Buying food is now a problem. We have some stores of dried and frozen food, but have no idea how or when we will be able to buy more. Online food services are overloaded and either suspended or not taking on new customers due to demand. The local Tesco supermarket has been stripped back to the bare shelves through panic buying.

I have bread flour, and when my current loaf runs out I will bake bread at home. Sourdough, flatbreads, rolls, scones. As long as I can source flour we won’t starve. I know how to make meals from scratch and cook with the dried pulses and grains that we always have on hand, but I do wonder how many of the generation who don’t cook this way are going to cope.

Perhaps this will be a reset for humanity. Maybe this will act as a very real warning that we have lived disposably, wastefully and with excess for too long. I believe that we will get through this, but I also think that what we will be left with when we do will be a very different world.

On the Skye build front- it looks as if work should start in the next few weeks at last, subject to contracts next week. If we still have builders who are able and allowed to work, that is. I can’t think in chunks of more than a week at a time at the moment so where we go from here is very uncertain.

Both Hugh and I wish that we were a year further along and had the resources of the croft behind us for isolation, but there’s no merit in that thinking. We are here and we need to make the best of our current reality. All this has done is to re-strengthen my resolve to be more independent – to grow vegetables, keep a well stocked pantry of essentials, and build the life skills to get through such times as these as easily as possible.

Using the time wisely

As the weeks move on and progress inches along slowly, I try and keep my resolve strong and hold onto the dream by looking back at why we are doing this and using my time in active preparation for our new life.

Photos and videos that we’ve taken of the croft help me to reconnect. Endless lists and plans scribbled in notebooks also help. We are making progress, even if it seems painfully slow at this stage.

๐Ÿ’We hope to have confirmed costs in this next week.

๐Ÿ’The builder has visited the plot and is firming up initial estimates.

๐Ÿ’We have a Quantity Surveyor appointed who is managing the activities around the build.

๐Ÿ’We have the window and doors ordered, along with the request to start SIP panel production.

Yet somehow, until we break ground and I see something tangible, like the access road or the foundations for the house, it doesn’t seem real…

In the meantime, I re-read my books on bread making, jam making and crafts, all things that I hope to happily fill my time with once we are in our new home. I plan for years out when we have hedgerow fruits and can make blackberry wine!

I resist the temptation to peak too soon and buy demijohns, which we’d only have to cart a thousand miles to the island..

I create mood boards and source paint colours. I find floor tile and wood samples and try and decide remotely what will look best in the space and the light, balancing practicality with design.

We plan endless potential uses for the old barn on the croft. Book barn, accommodation, studio, willow weaving shed, brewery… I think we’re up to around 400 potential uses for it so far ๐Ÿ˜ฌ. It’s become our family joke. I think it’s because it’s the only actual building on the land, however tumbledown. At least it’s real.

I think of my studio and all the things that I will create once I have the time and mental space to do so – canvases, textile works, sculptural objects, things with driftwood and beach finds. I’ve commissioned a weaving for the wall.

I dream about the croft. I think about how it will look once we have thousands of trees planted and birds and wildlife start to return to the land. I dream of those beautiful views across the sound, and the sheer magical peace of the place.

And I try and use the final months here in productive preparation. Organising the recovering of my bargain sofas for the house. Sourcing a local stone sculptor to make our house sign. Researching where we can find the cheapest scaffolding boards on the island. Thinking of buying a car suitable for the roads on Skye. Contacting the forestry commission and woodland trusts. Sourcing firewood. Registering the croft.

It’s coming, we tell ourselves. Hold on.