It’s nearly ten years now since we landed here at Lackan and in some ways the world has changed very little, and in others we live in an utterly different universe to the one we inhabited back then. Ten years ago we were holed up in our truck in Bangor, building a reciprocal frame roundhouse, and searching for somewhere to put down roots. We were testing the waters, trying to understand what it was that we wanted. A simpler life, a permanent home where we could grow food and live in a clean environment. Where we’d have no debt, few bills, and a minimal ecological footprint. That was pretty much it. We wanted to be prepared for an uncertain future that might happen one day.

Well here we are in one day, and we surely got the uncertainty that we feared. A pandemic, runaway climate change, brexit and all the resultant fallout from those, from unpredictable weather trends to supply chain collapse. Now of course we are mercifully cushioned from the effects of those here in the north west of europe (unless the jetstream and the atlantic conveyor stop working, when we’ll be frozen) so we should be thankful that the effects are limited to occasionally slow supplies of goods and some price increases. Certainly here at Lackan we weren’t overly impacted by the effects of the lockdowns, so our efforts were worthwhile.

But its not the effects on us that have been most impacted – its the effects of us that have really been affected. 2020 began with a full programme of courses –  in the end we managed to run two. No open days, no volunteers. We found that online teaching wasn’t for us. It all. Just. Stopped.

And then we had 18 months to reflect on the past decade, and think about what it was we wanted as a family. After all, we began this as two, and now we are three, and the third is plenty old enough to have her own opinions now. Whilst sharing our space with guests, visitors and volunteers was pretty much constant for the first 7 years of her life, that seven years was spent relentlessly building, planning, planting and working. Something we realised in lockdown was that we’d never had our own space. We created this great place and didn’t spend enough time just appreciating it. Our original five year plan was at best optimistic, and it’s only now after nearly ten years that we’ve reached a point where some if not all things have come to a point where we can say ‘yep, thats done’.

Of course its never all ‘finished’ and never will be – tinkering is all part of the fun, but certainly we’re at the stage where we are now wanting to focus on what comes next, rather than how we build this place. Partly that is down to age – a lot of energy has gone into Lackan and we can’t go at the same pace we did a decade ago. But partly its about priorities. The old cliche about kids growing up so fast is true. Before you know it they’re independent and wanting to do their own thing, so right now we need to focus on treasuring the time we have with our nearly-nine-year-old before its too late and she’s off. Plus its genuinely nice to just be.

Now this doesn’t mean we’re not going to welcome guests, visitors and volunteers, but that we’re going to pick our moments, make sure that we can give them the best experience we can when they do come here, and really focus on the things we enjoy doing, and the things we do well. We’ll probably start with an open day to get used to the idea, and then we’ll be asking you what you want to come and do here too. Heck, I have no idea how many people actually read this, so we’ll see. You might be the only one, or maybe there’s a bunch of you. I don’t know.

So thanks for bearing with us, we’ve had incredible support over the years and met so many amazing people that we don’t want to stop doing that. I just wanted to share our reasons for being a bit quiet, when it seems much of the world is starting to open up. Hopefully we’ll see some of you soon.