A COUPLE who swapped their comfortable life in Sussex for a static caravan on a remote Scottish island revealed how the harsh weather and little daylight turned their dream into a nightmare.
Adrian and Nicola Goddard upped sticks and left behind their four-bedroom house in Worthing in 2012, and took their two kids, Scarlett, then aged 14, and Davies, then aged 12, with them to be homeschooled.
Adrian quit his £45,000-a-year job as a sales executive and the pair bought a £7,000 caravan to start their new life on the Isle of Rum.
Now five years later, the couple are appearing on Channel 5’s Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild, as they told the presenter how their self-sufficient dream fell apart.
The family initially spent £100 a year for eight acres of land, where they planned to grow their own vegetables and raise animals, including pigs and geese.
But the harsh realities of island life soon took its toll, with the pair being battered by the elements on a daily basis.
Chatting to Ben on the show, which airs at 9pm tonight, Nicola said: “It's really difficult, there's six hours of daylight a day, any other day there's a gale storm.
"We felt like we were doing nothing productive. We literally spent our days gathering firewood and keeping animals alive for the winter.
"It is just a constant battle. The outside didn't stay outside when you shut the door, it was coming inside with us, whether it was condensation on windows or walls rocking because of the wind.
“The worry becomes that you get too bound up in your life up here so that actually, staying here feels like staying here is the safest option and that going back to the mainland is big and scary.
“The reality is, when you're standing there in a hailing gale, you live in a caravan halfway up a muddy hill with no connection to the grid and that feels like the safe option, you may need to question some of your choices and motivations.”
They downsized their farming area, with Adrian saying: “The whole thing has been scaled down dramatically from 8 acres to an allotment.”
But the demands of their off-grid lifestyle became too much, and they were forced to move back to the mainland.
The mum-of-two said: “It wasn't an easy decision but it was no longer meeting our needs as much as we wanted it to.
“I think it's always the danger that you keep on the dream and instead of becoming a dream, it becomes a nightmare. And you can see it's become a nightmare.
“We were getting older, the kids were getting older and the caravan was getting tired.
We literally spent our days gathering firewood and keeping animals alive for the winter
“It was a lot harder than we thought it was going to be. We just didn't have the resources we needed to do it.
“We put 110 percent into it and you know this, Ben, you came to help us for a while. It's just such hard work so we just sort of thought we're gonna kill ourselves doing that.
“We never went there to build a house, we just went there to live a dream.”
Ben agreed their decision didn’t come lightly, as he explained: “They don't consider it as a failure that they had to leave the island.
“They decided small island life wasn't for them and they started all over again and it's not the end of a book, it's the start of a new chapter.”
Initially Nicola had plans to build a mud house, costing £10,000, but eventually the family moved back to the mainland, in a four-bed house with central heating and internet.
Adrian and Nicola now have part-time jobs to pay the bills, while ensuring they still had ‘quality time’ as a family, with Davies, now 19, now planning to leave to study psychology at university.
Despite living a more conventional lifestyle, Nicola said she’d never go back to her old life in Sussex, while Adrian admitted he did miss the animals.
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