Message in a Bottle Other Islands

  1. 2037, Knoydart – Kitty Brown, Mallaig High School

The bright rays of sun pierce through the gloomy-grey clouds, illuminating the hills that dominate the rough landscape.

Rain begins to fall, a common occurrence here. I tilt my head and stare up to the skies, letting the cool drops hit and roll off of my face.

I step out of my cosy cottage’s door, the sun beams down, warming my forehead, while my bare hands begin to tingle due to the icy-cold air that surrounds me. Wandering out of the front gate, and out onto the muddy stone and dirt track, I pass my small flock of sheep, already up and grazing on the variety of grasses that grow in abundance here. I can already hear the cries of the gulls and various other seabirds that circle overhead. Actually, I’ve been hearing them since roughly 4am; sometimes living here can be a curse too.

After letting the chickens and ducks out of their houses -we lock them up every night, pine martens are regular visitors round here- I wander towards my fairly sizable vegetable garden. There’s not much to tend to there in the winter, but I grow what I can every season, and it is a bit more work, but I usually collect seeds from plants that I’ve cut and dried out, so I can continue the cycle of life without buying commercially grown seeds. 

“Oh shoot, forgot about the compost bucket!”  I mutter to myself, and begin jogging back to the house.

After my morning garden visit, I return inside and light the Rayburn (I should probably stock up on wood soon, better go and ask the foresters if they have any spare later) and make some tea and porridge. The oats in the porridge are sourced from one of the other farmers on the peninsula, how cool is that?

After eating, I plop myself down on the sofa, turn on the telly -all of our electricity is hydro generated, don’t worry- and flick to the BBC Alba channel. Even though I don’t speak Gaelic fluently, I still find it interesting to listen to.

Then at around midday, the time has come to feed the animals. First the sheep, just some ewe nuts; as well as some supa beet for the lambs born the year previous; for the cows, some hay with some supa beet and the poultry get their feeders refilled with pellets and seed. I get all of the food from eco-friendly suppliers just on the mainland; the hay comes from a friend of mine here.

As for my afternoons? I usually spend them inside reading or out and about with the dogs, some days I work too. And today I’m doing just that, working some hours at the butchery: now, that may sound not very eco, but we only produce venison that comes from the peninsula, and we do this so that our deer population remains healthy for the land. Most people now have electric cars, as charging points have been installed around most homes and hubs, so I hop in mine and head on down to work.

I get back around 7PM, and have dinner shortly after (mutton, potatoes and veg, all from my croft), pretty proud of that. Then I head on to bed, and prepare for another day on Knoydart.

  1. An Eco Friendly Rum in 2040 – Eve, Mallaig High School

Saturday 31st March 2040

8:00am: I haul myself out of bed. It’s a sunny day, only a bit chilly. A light frost peels away as the morning light touches it. Grand! I flick the solar electricity on for the day. All houses are connected to solar, hydro and wind power, with solar panels on every roof. so that there’s always electricity no matter what the weather’s doing. If it was a rainy day we’d be using the hydro.

I snap on the kettle (it keeps the water warm long enough for the whole family’s morning drinks) and head out to the garden for some mint. Bliss and Moss have a family-owned tea shop on the island where they make all kinds out of what the landscape has to offer; pine, heather, heather and pine, but I always prefer bog standard mint from the garden.

9:00am: After breakfast (bacon and eggs, the meat from Aggie and Olive’s farm over on Eigg and the eggs from our hens) I hop onto my bike to go and check on the community gardens, orchard and ice house.

The garden is behind the castle, we all put something into it and we’re all free to take what we need. Instead of there being sections for people’s gardens there are sections for different types of fruit and veggies and people grow what they want. Most people have their own gardens at home and come over with their leftover seeds to plant them here. Above Rock Cottage there’s a potato field as well.

I’m off to sow some pea and mangetout seeds as well as just checking up on the place. I go and make sure everything’s fine and dandy once a week here. I wander into the orchard, where we have apple trees and anything else we can grow. It all looks fine and I spot an early bee buzzing about in the dandelions by the wall. The underground ice house is where we keep the stuff from the orchard over the winter. The Castle’s one by the power house was extended to suit our needs.

10:00am: Time to go to the shop. Most of the stuff in there is from the archipelago; from pig to parsnips to postcards, it’s all local. What is not sourced in the Small Isles  is imported from somewhere else in Scotland. We used to get it from the rest of the UK as well but then we became an independent country and that was that. It arrives with post and people on the ferry. The machine runs off wave electricity. Water goes through turbines under the boat and makes it tick. It has room for around 250 foot passengers and, as well as one lorry for either replacing the skip (only recycling now, the landfill skip was done away with years ago because nothing was being put in it) and three or four cars. A lot of islanders still have an island car, if nothing else, and use public transport (which all runs off 100% renewable electricity now) on the mainland.

In the shop I greet the shopkeeper and her dog. Always greet the dog! I purchase the latest West Word and some fruit-(as well as some homemade toffee for Mandy.

11:30am: Just before lunch the boat comes in. I hop into the community Land Rover: it’s a fab electric one, they were released in 2032 when diesel and coal were banned. And hurry down to the pier to do my job sorting and delivering post (and the occasional lost tourist) to their destinations. I do the post run on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The job is shared around the community.

Of course with there being over a hundred people on the island- a far cry from the 40 odd back in 2022- there’s always a fair amount of post to deliver and the whole business takes about an hour or so. People are generally encouraged to collect their own frate from the pier but if they need a helping hand I’m happy to deliver that as well.

People now mostly live in new (ish) houses going up the road past croft three, but here’s still only one main settlement though as the rest of the island is and always will be an NNR.

On the way back down the road I encounter a young woman with a toddler (I know the pain) looking for a lift to Harris Lodge. The building was done up in the 2020s and was completed in 2025. I’m not in a hurry so I take her to the high point and vroom back home.

1:30pm: For lunch we have pancakes (special treat) with honey from the bees in the orchard and jam (courtesy of mum), followed by a family game of qwirkle: we’re trying to teach Mandy the family tradition but she seems more interested in eating the tiles than beating her mums.

2:30pm: Before settling down for the afternoon we go for a quick stroll around the Nature Trail with Mandy in the baby-carry-thingy.

We manage to spot a few lizards, lots of pippits and tits, a hen harrier and a golden eagle.

On the way back we meet Amanda walking past the newest of the new houses. We see a painted lady and get utterly distracted.

5:00pm: For dinner we have venison stew and dumplings with potatoes, carrots, parsnips and broccoli.

7:00pm: We put Mandy to bed and turn on the TV. It’s still light so we leave the solar on and put the hydro on standby, then when the solar turns off we’ll still have power.

Welcome to my glorious eco-friendly island. I hope you enjoy your time here.

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