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Bare Necessities

Hello readers, I hope you are all staying safe and well. I haven't been very present on social media since taking the decision to close my volunteer operations. I really wanted to keep you up to date and keep sharing photos from the wonderful island, but being online has been quite overwhelming. I was feeling very stressed and anxious over the situation and needed to take some space. I hope you are all managing to look after yourselves during lockdown.

Olly and I have been doing our best to adjust, Olly is now on North Ronaldsay full time, in fact we're unable to leave without a very good reason. I'm facing the foreseeable future without my enthusiastic volunteers, which is a real shame and a huge loss for the island. We are missing our lovely families and friends, who we haven't seen since Christmas and who have had to cancel their plans to visit us.

After losing his jobs on mainland, Olly has thrown himself into the garden. When we arrived the majority of our walled garden was covered in rosehips, and they are very tiresome to dig out. But, bit by bit, Olly has diligently been clearing it for us to fill the garden with vegetables. Our first seed planting session was in February, we were a bit overzealous with the tomato seeds, and are now taking care of 127 tomato plants (a 102% success rate, somehow!) We're hoping to build our own polytunnel out of waste material, a serious "upcycling" project.

I am so grateful to be able to carry on with my job and day to day life with relative normality. It is easy to avoid other islanders, I either work on my own or with my star volunteer (Olly). Our groceries are delivered on the ferry as normal, our island shop even has toilet roll in stock!

In addition to spending time outside building the dyke, watering the many tomato plants, we have been keeping up with (mostly) daily yoga, to help our mental wellbeing. I've been using Movement for Modern Life for nearly 3 years. It’s like the Netflix for yoga. The community is so supportive and they are offering 10 weeks free membership for NHS workers. They’ve also made a Time to Breathe move list (like a playlist but of yoga videos) for keyworkers. If you're not an NHS worker, but would still like to try it out they do a 14 day free trial and you can get 50% off your first subscription with this code 31645V

Before the lockdown I joined Alex for running. We did two days together, chatting the whole way round, before we had to start running separately. Some days we manage to be organised and pass each other in opposite directions for a quick motivational wave. It's been good to take up running again. I started training for a half marathon last year in Devon, where it was so unbelievably hilly - North Ronaldsay is the exact opposite! Running along Linklet Bay last week at low tide, in the sun, on the sand hidden below the rest of the island, I felt like I could've been anywhere.

The weather can make all the difference to our outlook on life. Olly and I made the most of two lovely warm sunny days last week by swimming after our building sessions. On Friday we even had a BBQ in the garden, just in time before the clouds rolled in. It's been important to make the most of these small moments, they are disproportionately good for the soul.

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I'm glad to see how you are handling things. I hope you are still there by the next time I get to Orkney! George

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