A step back in time that helped me realise a dream.
I am not sure why, but as soon as I entered the main room in this Blackhouse something swept over me. The gentle air of smoke that emanated from the peat fire made my senses dance and my 21st century mind relax. It was as though we were being transported back in time to an age and lifestyle that is becoming all too fast forgotten.
Built somewhere around 1880, this blackhouse was once the residence of a Hebridean crofting family and their animals, who moved out in 1966. The interior of the main rooms are apparently as they were left by the last residents of this traditional island home.
As you enter the main room a peat fire burns slowly in the open hearth, with the smoke rising gently up and filtering out through the rustically thatched roof above. A simple bench sits against the wall and would have been where the family and friends sat to chat and rest after a hard day working their land. Although this room showed signs of more recent belongings, I would imagine even up to the very end of the families life here it was a hard life with a seemingly simple existence. Mainly living off their land, I bet life was continually shaped by the weather, and the harshness of island life would dictate day to day events.
Sat on the bench with my clothes slowly absorbing the peaty aroma I felt awash with calm, a feeling I often get when sat alone inside a bothy. The difference here is this was homely and had creature comforts you would expect at home, yet behind these modern utensils and furniture was a simple dwelling that hasn’t changed much for hundreds of years. The bedroom was a more recent addition, before that everyone would sleep within the main room. Walking though to the newer bedroom it was evident this would have been a cold room, the heat of the small fire didn’t have much affect once you were away from it, although I am sure the additional space was more than welcome.
As we walked out and away from the Blackhouse I couldn’t help but keep looking back, there was a charm, a simplicity to it that made me think about how we live today.
A simple life is maybe a better life?
As I mentioned above, my visit here left an impression on me, partly due to my love for old buildings and history maybe? That aside, there was something else niggling at me quietly. It may not have been a glamorous life, times would have been hard but like many lives in the past they would have known no different. They would have led a simple life, a life living within their boundaries, growing as much food as they could themselves and looking after animals to help benefit their existence. Most of us couldn’t imagine that style of living now, we have become so far removed from it that the thought of this would repel many. Yet there is a minority that are now searching for this lifestyle, although maybe with a modern twist. I have to admit I am one of these people but will be the first to admit I couldn’t give everything up. Like the more modern furniture and utensils in the main room of the black house we evolve in life, we now have computers, internet, phones etc. I love these inventions… A LOT but they shape my daily routine a little too much, I want to slow things down, simplify parts of my day and with that slow my family life down too. Over the next few years we have plans that will take us outside of the house more. Time will be spent tending to our vegetable patch, growing fruit, producing honey, cooking outside as much as possible and try our best to spend more time away from a flickering screen full of information that isn’t really helping us grow as a family. Exciting times are on the horizon and I look forward to sharing this with you.