It's amazing the things you need to have, to live a simpler and less wasteful life. So, from wellies, through to 'mauls', its all had to be sourced and bought, in preparation for the big day. Which is only just over two weeks away now!
Having spent a whole weekend, clearing out the black hole I call 'shed' (without Maximillian's help), and sifting through an untidy and unruly bunch of tools; I think I'm almost prepared, if one can ever be. I'm sure there'll be things I have forgotten or just hadn't thought of, but they'll have to wait, as I am almost completely out of money now - better get sowing that food pretty quickly, when I get there (don't worry neighbours, I've still got a bit left for Beer!).
This was all sparked off by my incredibly helpful new neighbour - who I've been talking to (over email) for a few weeks now. He furnished me with a great list of 'things' he had needed, or had wished he'd discovered sooner - having lived on Scoraig for some years now.
From this list and with more help, advice and very generous gifts, from other practically-minded 'sources', I have been emulating my old Grandma and have shopped around for bargains. So, here's what I have been buying or blagging, in case you are interested or are following a similar adventure, where it may help save you a few quid...
The word generator was new to me, unless you count the one at school that made your hair stick up (courtesy of Van De Graaff). But I was advised this would be a very useful 'backup', for when the wind stills, the sun doesn't shine and the water flows less. Its a way of protecting the battery bank somewhat; where, as the batteries drain during use - with no power being generated - it can be flicked on for a couple of hours, to give them a bit of a recharge. Its also useful for running power tools directly, that otherwise would drain lots of electricity; also allowing said tools to be used further away from a 'plug socket', than an extension cable would allow.
It seemed a rather difficult task to source one of these. With a couple of weird episodes - such as driving 45 miles to a Chinese restaurant car park (unbeknown until arrival), waiting 50 minutes, giving up and then being called a "time waster"! But, eventually, I managed to get a brand new one locally, from a Bouncy Castle and Mobile DJ company, which was music to my ears and had me jumping for joy.
So, having learned as much as I could about my KVA's and my AVR's, I landed a Honda-engined 2.5kva (2kw), long-running, low-decibel petrol version for the princely sum of £325. This may sound a lot of money to the 'uninitiated-gennie-buyer' (as I once was), but when alternatives were hitting the £800 mark, it seems like a bargain.
As said, I did have quite a few tools already, some useless, some rusty, most in one big inaccessible pile. A big sort out revealed I had a good deal more useful implements than I thought - I just need to work out how to use them now! A lot of the excellent tools I discovered were from my Father's inherited collection and donated by my Brother-in-Law. A very decent set of wood chisels, of varying sizes, plenty of spanners, sockets and screwdrivers and a couple of beautiful old hand-drills; which I'll lovingly look at before picking up the cordless driver.
But there were a few 'holes' in the arsenal. As I've mentioned previously, the Scythe and Bill Hook were sorted, but I was in need of other chopping and sawing apparatus. Amazon furnished me with a great set of Draper Saws: 500mm Hand Saw, 300mm Tenon Saw & Hacksaw, at only £14.99. Along with a brilliant little Gerber Suspension Multi-Tool for only £18.99 (I'd seen this for £50 in a local shop!). They both appear to have gone up in price now. Toolstation were kind enough to sell me a beautiful (vintage-looking) Smoothing Plane for £12.69. And Screwfix had a fantastic Log Splitter Set set: Maul, Hand Axe & Wood Grenade, for only £39.99. Again this appears to have gone up already, so it appears timing is crucial too, on tool buying.
Lastly, after being convinced of their usefulness and 'power', by the builder fixing up the exterior of my present office building, I was on the hunt for a good quality Impact Driver. The local B&Q was the place for this, where I managed to get a twin-set Ryobi 18v Drill & Impact Driver for only £159; a saving of almost £30 - less impact on the pocket, nice.
I'll be christening all these new purchases this coming weekend, when I make a start on building the toilets and a desk (which I'll then flat-pack for the journey North). I should be able to post my experiences and photos, of the endeavour, next week, "if God spares me".
My neighbour also imparted some excellent counsel on what clothing and footwear I would benefit from.
Having spent most of my adult life in an office, albeit a Graphic Design-related version of an office (with jeans and t-shirt, or shorts and vest in summer), 'working' clothes were a bit of a mystery.
Wellies, I knew would be a necessity, so I bought a cheap pair for a tenner from B&Q. After doing this, the first advice my neighbour then gave was: "Don't bother buying a cheap pair of wellies". Damn! So, on his very sound recommendation, I sourced and purchased some Dunlop Purofort Thermo+ Safety Wellies from here. At an average price of £100, finding them for £69 would have made Grandma very proud.
Next up, waterproof Bib & Braces; with the logic being: "If its raining and you have to bend over, getting rain down the back 'there', is pretty uncomfortable". Ebay supplied these for the princely sum of £20. Its an interesting feeling having braces on again after so many years - the last time being a small stint (in bright red ones) as a 'skinhead', with my old mate Byron Gibson, at the tender age of ten; when we were One Step Beyond.
With my fingers twiddling at the lint, in the bottom of my pockets now, I have also been very lucky to have acquired some useful and essential items for free. Some given to me by the living, others bestowed from beyond the grave.
Some might think that an air rifle (along with a petrol generator) doesn't sit well with the eco/green/hug-the-planet stance I have taken (and still intend to follow). But, as also declared, I am a realist and these 'tools' are a necessary 'evil'. The generator, for both developing and improving the land and allowing me to live and relay the 'story', when no other 'power' is available; and the air rifle to undertake the essential task of controlling populations of rabbits (and other "pest" species) now and then - which will, of course, not be wasted at all.
Not having any real experience of air rifles, much to the chagrin of my Father, when my sister and I discovered one in his house, after his 'passing', we thought it broken - after trying to 'work' it. So, imagine my surprise, when I took it to a knowledgable friend to look at (planning to give it to him) and it worked perfectly! On his advice, I started the search for a good scope, finding them pretty expensive, and ammunition (the posh word for pellets). I needn't have bothered. My Dad was, again, looking down on me. In another box of 'stuff', I discovered both scope and pellets. Later on, my Brother-in-Law (not that one the other one) gave me more air rifle-related bits; so I really am armed-and-ready for those (rare) occasions, that I may need to be.
So, I'd like to dedicate this post, to all those, here and departed, who have helped and supported me in this new venture. I am very grateful to you all and will do my utmost to make you all proud and to make you feel a part of the exploits to follow.