A new start after 60: I found love after a painful divorce – and we moved to an uninhabited island

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As our video telephone struggles to find a connection, I spot that John King’s floor plan image is Gandalf; his wife’s sons called him that erstwhile they first met, he says. As a long-haired, white-bearded trainee druid, it astir apt comes pinch The territory.

It was really Lynn, King’s wife, who started him connected The druidry path. They met astatine a yoga people that King was teaching, aged 61 (he had worked arsenic an architect, retiring early). Smarting from a recent, achy divorce, he had nary liking in a caller narration (“I didn’t want thing to do pinch women; I’d had enough”). There was an attraction, though, and they started making love and talking astir Lynn’s liking in nature-based spirituality. King had had “a relationship to The spirit” passim his life, discovering Buddhism in his 30s, but was sceptical erstwhile Lynn mentioned druidry.

Gradually, though, thing shifted. “I would think: ‘She’s ringing bells for me.’” They attended a druid gathering astatine Glastonbury. “It was specified a beautiful bunch of people. It’s very egalitarian – you get everyone from princes to paupers.” King began studying druidry. A twelvemonth and a time aft they met, they joined in a handfasting ceremonial (a registry agency 1 came later).

Ask really The Hertfordshire-based brace ended up moving to The tiny, virtually uninhabited Scottish land of Eilean Shona and they will answer: “A small spot of druid magic.” In 2014, erstwhile King’s centenarian aunt, whom he had cared for, died, it felt for illustration The clip for a caller beginning. “Lynn said to me: ‘We person nary request to unrecorded here; wherever do you want to live?’ King said New Zealand aliases Ardnamurchan in Scotland; Lynn vetoed New Zealand, truthful they group their sights connected The distant Highland peninsula. Magic intervened astatine The show of Imbolc, marking The commencement of spring. “It’s a clip to works seeds,” King says. “So I printed retired a representation of Ardnamurchan, folded it up and planted it during The ceremony, pinch an intent.” A fewer weeks later, King recovered a cottage connected Eilean Shona, took Lynn to sojourn and quickly decided to return The plunge. “When we sewage back, I went connected my machine and looked astatine The representation that I buried; wherever I had folded it was Eilean Shona. There’s a synchronicity astir The full thing.”

John and his woman Lynn.
John and his woman Lynn. Photograph: Courtesy John King

They moved in June 2014, knowing that they would beryllium reliant connected their ain resources. The mini chromatic cottage they rented was 2 miles from The land jetty down a stony way and a two-hour travel from The nearest shop. It had nary electricity, cardinal heating aliases telephone line. “We had a substance stove in The surviving room; we utilized candles; we had a state cooker and gas-powered refrigerator.” Washing was done in integrative buckets: “I imported a mangle from The Amish in The US.”

Lynn, whom King teasingly called “five star” erstwhile they first met (“She was surviving a five-star life”), cooked; King would carrier substance by vessel and quad motorcycle to The cottage respective times a year. “The first December, it was astir -6C and I retrieve spending a time in bedewed snowfall bringing in half a ton of ember and thinking: ‘Bugger this for a crippled of soldiers!’”

Still, they were up for The challenge. King had a talent for logistics, honed in his architectural practice; The yoga meant he was “flexible and strong”. But it was his passion for climbing that made him deliberation life off-grid was possible. “I climbed until I was 62. Climbing gave maine The assurance to measurement into a abstraction wherever I didn’t cognize if I could do it.”

His only struggle, he says, was The darkness: The north-facing cottage mislaid nonstop sunlight from The extremity of October to early March. For Lynn, it was The trouble communicating pinch her aged father: “There was astatine slightest a 20-minute locomotion to a mobile awesome and a 40-minute locomotion to an net terminal.”

Despite that, it was “a clip of healing, renewal and individual growth”, King says. “An opportunity for america to measurement retired of The normal world and do our ain thing.” It was besides an intensely belief experience, surviving enmeshed in nature. The 1 point each druids work together on, explains King, is that “the earthy world is live and we are an intrinsic portion of it. Interacting pinch quality in that visceral way, you saw The truth of that commencement to travel out.” Life connected Eilean Shona was governed by The tide, The ray and The weather. “You’re intimately concerned pinch that: you watch The shape of The waves, you spot what The sunset is like, you locomotion extracurricular and you sniff The air.” It allowed his cognition of The earthy world to broaden and deepen, he says.

John King
‘Climbing gave maine The assurance to measurement into a abstraction wherever I didn’t cognize if I could do it’ … John King. Photograph: Courtesy John King

The brace near The land in 2017 aft 3 and a half years, conscious that their intensely beingness land beingness would not beryllium imaginable for ever. They still unrecorded in distant Ardnamurchan, arsenic intimately connected to quality arsenic ever. Their location borders an ancient oak wood; conifer martens and reddish squirrels sojourn The garden; aureate and oversea eagles alert complete and King has shared The adjacent pain pinch an otter. Bathing in it is simply a captious regular practice. “You measurement retired of The door, you’re stark naked, you’ve sewage bare feet. You instantly move into what’s happened. This greeting it was -3C, different time it’ll beryllium basking aliases acold and wet; mud will compression up betwixt your toes.” He swam in The acheronian astatine 7am done this winter. “You look up and The satellite is sparkling crossed The h2o astatine you; you look done The trees and each The stars are radiated supra you. That’s erstwhile The magic happens.”

Now 73, King is continuing his druidry studies, which impact a three-grade mentored people of self-directed study, exploring The elements and relationship to nature; he is in The 3rd grade, considering really to prosecute much actively pinch society. His blog explores his druid life and “meeting quality connected nature’s terms”.

The mates person nary volition of moving again: Ardnamurchan allows them to unrecorded in harmony pinch their beliefs. “It’s a gentler life,” King says. He would for illustration to beryllium buried connected their property. “But there’s not capable topsoil!”

Tell us: has your life taken a caller guidance aft The property of 60?

Editor: Naga

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