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I live on an island off the coast of America - ask me anything

(251 Posts)
catofdoom Fri 09-Aug-19 18:42:05

As requested @IdaBWells smile

There was a thread before but I can't find it. When Mumsnet has its brain fart a few months ago I could never get back in to my old account.

I live on a little island off the coast of Maine. I moved here after living in London for 15 years.

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greenwaterbottle Fri 09-Aug-19 18:42:53

Did you post about nightmare guests?

catofdoom Fri 09-Aug-19 18:45:05

* Did you post about nightmare guests?*

Eek! Yes! This is quite an outing thread though so I won't talk about that so much. gringringrin

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SperanzaWilde Fri 09-Aug-19 18:51:44

I was about to say 'Are you the person who lived off the coast of Maine?' But so you are! I enjoyed your last thread.

What's the demographic on your island? I mean in terms of social class/wealth/blow-ins vs native islanders etc. Is it privately owned?

A friend of mine spent a couple of summers in the 70s or early 80s working as a cook on one of the Elizabeth Islands off Martha's Vineyard, which are (or were?) owned by the Forbes family, and has a share of a family home on another island in the same general area which is privately owned by its summer residents,. I am entirely fascinated by her account of the dynamics, and the combination of extremely old money and comparatively primitive conditions.

greenwaterbottle Fri 09-Aug-19 19:03:09

I remember you having to pack your winter gear away. Must have been a massive shock to the system coming from the UK.

catofdoom Fri 09-Aug-19 19:13:22


It's not privately owned.

We have 500 to 600 year rounders. Most are people born here and scrape by. Some are people who've done a 'good life' type thing and relocated here as it's a lot safer than a lot of the US. And it's a bit trendy with the whole homesteading thing and self sufficiency becoming popular.

We have a few old money people here year round too. A Tiffany, an Aster, some Rothschilds.

Then in the summer we grow to about 2500-3000. It's insane. But all private houses, there's no hotel here. We have some film stars and a couple of royals who summer here.

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catofdoom Fri 09-Aug-19 19:17:31

@greenwaterbottle you have no idea!! I'd spent a couple of summers here before I moved here. When I moved dh bought me a new coat and boots. I pointed out I had several of both and he laughed. That first winter was SO cold and snowy. We got almost 5 feet in one storm. shock

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SperanzaWilde Fri 09-Aug-19 19:21:48

Thanks, OP. Fascinating.

What are relations like between the year-rounders and the (presumably wealthier?) summer residents? Is there a sense of 'Here you come, wussy fair-weather types'? Or are they appreciated for (presumably) bringing in some money to fund things of benefit to all islanders? What is on the island other than homes -- shop? Pub? Church?

SperanzaWilde Fri 09-Aug-19 19:23:03

And is the appeal for the rich and famous the comparative isolation and presumably freedom from being papped in the case of the film types?

catofdoom Fri 09-Aug-19 19:23:16

I'd love to go to Martha's Vineyard but I bet it's very similar to here!

Because of the enormous taxes the summer people pay we have an outstanding school.

There is quite a divide between the summer people and year rounders. DH grew up living in an off grid wood cabin with no running water or electric in the summers then moved in to a 20+ bedroom mansion in the winters so is friends with a lot of the summer people and their kids. Mostly the two groups don't get on so well though. Most of the summer people see us as uncultured people who look after their houses/boats/gardens and cook their food and most islanders think they're stuck up, entitled pricks. Both can sometimes said to be true. grin

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catofdoom Fri 09-Aug-19 19:29:29

@SperanzaWilde oh for sure if there wasn't the summer community there would be very few people here. DH and I try to remind ourselves of that when it's July and hordes of people in white trousers are badly parking all over the place and letting their kids and dogs run riot!

All of DH's work is for summer people, the same as most who live here.

We do sometimes struggle in the winter if he doesn't land a big job. One year we were putting heating oil in the tank by the gallon jug, and trying to heat the house mostly with wood.

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Iwantacookie Fri 09-Aug-19 19:29:32

Is there anything you can't do there that you can on the mainland and miss?

justasking111 Fri 09-Aug-19 19:30:30

I would like to go to Nantucket one day. DS lived on a tax haven island for six years, there was tremendous wealth rubbing shoulders with poverty. Then the tourists which you did tire of by the end of the season.

The import tax and the cost of actually getting goods to the island made them much more expensive. The islanders would try to get goods in another way by boat. Do you find it expensive living there compared to the mainland?

catofdoom Fri 09-Aug-19 19:31:45

Some of the famous people who are here are extremely private so I'm sure it's a big draw that it's more isolated.

They do a lot for the community though. Our old people's home is funded by them and free!

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catofdoom Fri 09-Aug-19 19:33:35

@Iwantacookie order food to the house!!

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Knittedfairies Fri 09-Aug-19 19:34:29

How often do you leave the island?

Sagradafamiliar Fri 09-Aug-19 19:35:47

What are the crime rates like?

thinkfast Fri 09-Aug-19 19:36:25

How big is the island and how far from the mainland? Do you ever feel trapped?

AllFourOfThem Fri 09-Aug-19 19:38:44

Are you happy living on the island and what do you miss most?

FiveGoMadInDorset Fri 09-Aug-19 19:42:25

What about supplies in Winter?

catofdoom Fri 09-Aug-19 19:46:46

We have a little shop that's open 8-5.30 but not on a Sunday. It weirdly sells loads of British stuff! Twinnings tea, McVites biscuits, Coleman's mustard and now Fever Tree. Their stock goes down in the winter, they'll get something in if you ask for it though.

We have a bigger store up island. For some reason it spooks me out. A couple of years ago they used it to shoot a scene in a horror full so clearly it's not just me that thinks that! They sell hard spirits as well as wine, the other shop doesn't have a liquor licence, just wine and beer.

We have a post office. We have a mailbox there because the mailman won't drive down our shitty road. Same for the school bus so when ds starts we'll have to take him every day.

We have a cafe in the community centre that our friends run. He's actually British too. Every Friday night they open for dinner too and all the kids get given pizza and sent in to the kids zone to watch a film or play with Lego/games etc.

There's also a big hall with a stage there. You can borrow it for any events you want to do. There's a gift shop where year rounders make mostly cheesy tat (seaglass earrings, wood burnt signs etc) and flog to summer people for a ridiculous amount of money. They probably feel obligated to buy it and take it back to NYC and show their friends and laugh at us. grin

There's also a gym there, conference rooms anyone can use when they need to have a meeting and a huge community kitchen anyone can use. It's used as a warming shelter/showering place when we lose power.

Which we did for 8 days when ds was a newborn. Changing nappies by holding a torch in your mouth is NOT fun. And it was over Christmas.

We have an ice cream store open in the summer, it's an original 30's style one, it's gorgeous. And a summer shop that sells lobster napkins and overpriced posh lady tunics.

We have a building that house the town office, health centre, police and fire. Next to that is our brand new, purpose built pre-K which goes from 6 months to 5 years and is a stonking £12 a day!

There's a garage and a couple of boat yards and thats it!

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catofdoom Fri 09-Aug-19 19:49:24

@Knittedfairies used to be 2-4 times a week. Then they raised our ferry fares by 120% so it's more like once a month now. It's really hit people hard. It now cost £40 for our family to go off.

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catofdoom Fri 09-Aug-19 19:52:03

@Sagradafamiliar rime is pretty non existent.

The island policeman is bored stupid so when something happens he goes all CSI and take prints, tyre tracks, DNA. If you do something you're more than likely going to get caught.

Somebody broke in to a summer house and pooped in their kitchen a few years ago. Already from that it's mostly speeding tickets.

We haven't locked our door in years, nobody ever takes the key out of their cars either!

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RandomMess Fri 09-Aug-19 19:53:39

Have you ever gone through a bad patch in your relationship, if so so you think living in such a small community made it harder?

catofdoom Fri 09-Aug-19 19:55:46

@thinkfast it's 3 miles to the nearest mainland town. By ferry it's 20 minutes, by our boat it's about 10.

When I moved here I felt incredibly trapped! I didn't feel comfortable driving and couldn't work because of my visa. DH and I had a rough couple of years!

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