Island Rules: Not everything will go your way (and that’s okay)

island mentality rest

island mentality rest“I like this island, because it slows you down whether you want to or not. The island itself literally won’t allow you to rush.” 

My brother in law said this as we were driving along the winding, rutted, curving roads of Mull. The sea was crashing on our right, the sun glowing through the clouds ahead, and some very unconcerned sheep were straggling their way along the road itself. 

Once the sheep moved on, the fog came down. 

When the fog lifted, the sun broke through in such glory we stopped to stare. 

When we arrived at the ferry to Iona, we had to wait for it to come back from the other side. 

This happened the whole trip – particularly on Mull, which is smaller and quieter and almost all the roads are single track. 

No matter what you did, you couldn’t move too fast. 

On our last day, we were driving to Tobermory to catch the ferry back to the mainland. We left the cottage early…significantly early, and I’m not quite sure why, except that I felt it was wise to have more time and not less when trying to catch a ferry. 

We were about 15-20 minutes from our destination when we came upon a bridge that was completely flooded. Not just flooded, but rushing, fast moving, peaty water flinging itself across the bridge in an endless flow. 

I have a Mini Cooper, so the likelihood wasn’t great anyway, but even the Range Rovers were turning around and going back the way we had come. There was no crossing that bridge that morning.

So we turned around. We went back over the most rutted and most single-track of all the single-track roads on Mull – the one marked as a “weak road”, and we felt that was putting it lightly. 

We drove alllllllll the way round – see my not-to-scale map. It took us a full hour and then some, when we had been only 20 minutes from our destination. 

But we just couldn’t do it. We couldn’t get the car, and us, and all our stuff, across that bridge in time: so we went another way. It was a longer way, and it too was full of miniature floods to drive through, but we managed, and we even made it to the ferry with 10 minutes to spare. And I heard later from someone on Insta that the water had slowed down by the end of the day and the bridge was crossable again. 

This is the island mentality (and the island rules) which I appreciate so much when I go to Mull. It’s true for most of the islands, but particularly true for Mull.

I’ve always been slowed down by the island, and it starts from just getting onto it in the first place. It’s the reason I love Mull more than Skye, although it feels like every person I meet in the world has heard of Skye and thinks it’s amazing. 

But Skye has a bridge, so you can get onto the island any time of the day or night, and most of the roads are pretty decent. 

Whereas Mull is not accessible unless you take a ferry. So you have to wait. You get to Oban (or Kilchoan) and you wait for the ferry to come. And sometimes it’s delayed. And then you get across and the sheep slow you down or the highland cattle decide to take a field trip or the bridge is flooded. That’s just the way it goes. It’s island rules. 

We talked a lot about how to remember the island mentality when you come back to the mainland. It’s hard, and I admit there are things I really like about being back on the mainland. I like Aldi’s and Amazon Prime and Hello Fresh and drive through Starbucks and being able to pop by and visit a friend. I like phone connections and strong WiFi and roads that don’t make me nervous about the state of the undercarriage of my Mini. 

But I can catch myself when I’m driving on the big open roads, and someone cuts me off or is in a hurry. When the WiFi won’t connect, or my email isn’t working, or we have changes within the team. When life itself gives me a reason to slow down, what do i do? 

On the island, I simply accept it. There’s no building a new bridge within the space of a few minutes, so you go round. Or you wait. 

But I can choose what attitude to have whilst I do it – and what I love about the islands is that everyone is choosing the same attitude. Patience, and peace, and gratitude. 

My holiday didn’t work absolutely perfectly. There were days where it poured rain and days when the bridge flooded and blisters on my feet and some big things going on which had to be thought about and dealt with even whilst on holiday. 

I loved it though. I loved every minute on Mull because I chose to love it, and one day I shall buy a house there and go over as often as I want…as long as I go on island rules, and with the island mentality. 

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ON THE GRAM

Well. So. Small update.

Was out hiking on mull and slipped on a rock crossing a burn, and broke my ankle. (I remember hearing an audible “crack” as I went down.)

No signal on phone. Managed to climb down a ravine to get to a more open place and hopefully signal. At that point still convinced it “wasn’t that bad”. Tried to walk along the path and realised yes, it was that bad.

Phoned coast guard, who were utter legends. Sent a boat AND a helicopter. Sun was setting and they didn’t want me sitting in the dark. Oh my word it was cold. Helicoptered out to fort William hospital (nicest people ever), then down to airdrie where I got a cast.

Ankle broken in one place. Doctors pleased (as much as you can be!) it’s a clean break & lining up well. I’ll be down for 4-6 weeks.

I’ve repeated myself a lot over the last few days so here’s the short version to all the questions, with appreciation for the care.

Yes, I’m okay. I’m also utterly exhausted & have hit the “damn, this is going to be a long road” phase. Taking it one day, one hour at a time. 

I’m being looked after. Very kind friends and things being delivered. My amazing sister @secondsunrise2 flying in tomorrow from america to be with me for a few weeks. SO grateful.

What do I need? I’m good on the basics. There have been unexpected costs and more coming so if you want to PayPal monies for deliveries or getting my car & belongings back or all the taxis or whatever, feel free. I’m hardly destitute so only do that if you want to send something useful and aren’t sure what. PayPal username karenlreyburn. Amazon wishlist in bio. Random care packages also happily received!

My car & belongings are up on mull. I have people to help and we are working on timing. But if you’re on mull and want to return a car near Glasgow, let me know :)

Shout out to the Coast Guard for being so swift, & that beautiful combination of sympathy and practicality.

Download the @what3words app. Literal lifesaver.

That’s all for now. All the love. Oh - and no, I don’t hold this against mull at all. It’s still my happy place. Things happen & the mull community has been beautiful. Shout out to @treshnish who couldn’t have been kinder. ❤️
Morning walk. I stood and watched the ferry come in and the sun lighten this little edge of the world.
Been going through old photos and letters - the last of the boxes i had stored at my sister’s house in america. 

When I first moved to Scotland, I only planned to live here for a few years and then go back. Then after a few years I wasn’t ready yet…then I got my residency…still not quite ready….then started a business…then Scottish citizenship…bought a house …finally accepted this is my home and I wasn’t moving back. 

And with every visit back to the states I would go through more boxes, more photos and letters and memories. I’d keep some and throw others away; take photos out of frames and give away the frames; and as time went on I was able to distinguish between the ones I definitely wanted and needed to keep, and those which were lovely at the time but didn’t need to be saved anymore.

Over twenty years on and this past trip I went through the very last of the boxes. I joked to my sister that I’ve now officially settled into Scotland 😆 

This photo of me and my Gramps is a fave and definitely a keeper. Most of the photos and letters I’ve kept are those of family - parents, grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews. And as much as I love taking landscape photos, I noticed that 20 years later it’s the people photos I am more likely to keep. Thankful for the traditions and patterns of seeing family every year or so since moving to Scotland. They’re small things - baking Christmas cookies and going for walks and going for road trips - but it’s the time together and the continuing family jokes and the memories which remain. And a few photos.

My grandfather (and all my grandparents) have now passed on, but I remember with fondness sitting around at their kitchen table, eating fresh vegetables from the garden, playing scrabble, laughing and talking and drinking coffee.

It’s the small things, and the rhythms of family, which last. ❤️ 
#family #memories #grandparents #oldphotos
Made fresh mince pies for the first time ever. Over twenty years in Scotland and I’d never tried to make them from scratch, so I figured…now is the time! I’m doing lots of thanksgiving baking (yes, we stretch it out here so I’m still prepping!) and decided to buy the ingredients. 

Dried fruit…mixed peel…lots of spices…and Venezuelan rum :) I made up the mincemeat last night, and then today put it in the little pastries and even cut out the wee stars to go on top!

I think I can safely say they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had. Fresh out of the oven sprinkled with icing sugar and with a glass of said rum alongside :) 

Now we are curled up with a Harry Potter marathon, with plenty of mince pies AND a thanksgiving feast still to come. Happiness! 

#mincepies #homebaking #maryberry #maryberryrecipe #happythanksgiving #happychristmas #harrypotter #hpmarathon