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Stick or twist?

Balchrick is remote! Photo
credit: Trish Goossens

If you look in the dictionary for a definition of remote, there’s probably a photograph of Balchrick! Located around 3 miles north-west of Kinlochbervie and 10 miles southwest of Cape Wrath, Balchrick is over 500 miles away from London yet only 250 miles from the Faroe Islands. It also happens to be around 650 miles away from Brussels, which will become significant later in this story…

For the past 10 years Balchrick has been home to Patricia ‘Trish’ Goossens, her Flemish husband Frans and her 34-year-old daughter Alice. Perhaps unusual, given its remote and rugged location, but Trish specifically moved there from her Orkney croft seeking “better weather”! Trish and Frans got married in Ullapool in 2012, and the family has lived a happy and simple life in their rural idyll, complete with chickens and sheepdog Bran, despite a number of health challenges. This lifestyle is funded solely by Frans’ lifetime disability benefit, which he was awarded by the Belgian government in 2006 after he contracted peritonitis and, technically, died on the operating table. Trish is Frans’s principal carer and has her own serious health issues, suffering from COPD, heart arrhythmia and osteoarthritis. She also cares for Alice, who has Asperger’s Syndrome.

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