Home… can you choose what you call home, in a broad sense? Some people revolt against the idea and say that one’s home is a given. That sentiment is foreign to me. I think that ‘home’ is a feeling before anything else and nobody can impose a feeling on you, not even fate. Home is where the heart is, isn’t it?
A few weeks ago I had the chance of visiting a place that about a hundred and twenty people chose to make their home. The place is called Knoydart, the remotest area in mainland Britain. It is a peninsula in northwestern Scotland, disconnected from the country’s road system and therefore only accessible by boat or foot. In the latter case, it is a two-day hike from the nearest road through rough mountainous terrain.
The village of Inverie accommodates most of Knoydart’s citizens. In the week that I spent there as a part of a study group, I had a chance to see the nature, meet the locals, and appreciate the pub and the coffee shop. We found out that none of the people living there were born in Knoydart. Settling there was a conscious decision for all of them. We talked a lot about the reasons behind wanting to come and stay in such a place – far from ‘civilization’, far away from people. Motivations are myriad, of course, as are personal circumstances. Someone came for a job and stayed while someone else lost their family on the ‘mainland’ and, prompted by grief, felt that they had to live a simpler, harsher life.
Andy Irons, an Australian woodworker originally from Sydney, wanted to escape the rat race of modern society and found peace and quiet in Knoydart, an environment where he thoughtfully creates furniture and wood designs. I don’t know whether he ever misses Sydney, his other home. I am not even sure he would call it home any longer…