I’ve been reading a book called Oasis of the North (1958) about Dawn MacLeod who leaves her mundane public-sector job in London to help her aunt tend to her gardens in the remotest Highlands of Scotland. The gardens are Inverewe Garden, a quirky botanical garden with diverse plant life thanks to an unusual sub-Tropical climate supported by the Gulf Steam. It is now part of the National Trust.
I’m not recommending the book here (though it’s perfectly nice) or hankering to tell you about the gardens, but I wanted to share with you the opening lines of the book, which are about her escape from comfortable mediocrity.
She receives a letter from her aunt, apropos of nothing, calling her to adventure:
A little later in the book, she starts to think about practicalities — only after escaping! The desire to leave was stronger than figuring out the details.
She takes a little audit, realises that she’ll survive in a frugal sort of way, and then realises with “a jolt” that she had forgotten about her National Insurance (healthcare and pension) contributions, a process normally taken care of by an employer (or, today, the PAYE system). Familiar!
Spoiler alert: she gets along just fine.