01 Jun An ode to Shetland
I moved there with my parents ten years ago this July, having finished a foundation Art & Design course in Banbury, and wanting to take a gap year before uni. Very quickly, within a couple of months, Shetland became home to me. I LOVED the landscape, the light, the beauty, the way the wind changes every half an hour… Shetland is the windiest place in the UK (so windy that trees find it very difficult to grow there), but this wind gives the place a constant variety. Everything feels FRESH. Alive. Moving. There’s no stale, static, dead air. I bought my first SLR camera here and the hills and voes of Shetland were its first subjects.
Shetland has a way of embracing people I think, (probably helped by the number of people with very embracing arms!) I love the generation span. It’s a cliche that small, remote areas have a stronger community feel. But it’s also true. The people I met, and the friends I made, ranged in age from 3 to 90. That adds a balance to life that you don’t find when you surround yourself with friends and opinions of the same generation.
But life moves on. Having moved away myself after graduating, I can’t complain that my parents are now making the decision to come south also. But it does mean my immediate link to Shetland will be no more. Knowing that this was my last trip north to my parents’ home, Ruach, on Burra (the most beautiful part of Shetland, by the way), I took some moments just to focus in on the little details, the little things I will miss.
I know I’ll be back. I literally don’t think my lungs can function for too long in the Manchester smog without a Shetland fix every now and then.
I’ve often said, when asked where I’m from, that I claim dual nationality: English and Shetlandic. Shetland became home and became part of me and my language and my living and my opinion and my outlook and my breath. I’m well aware it sounds ridiculous (every time I say it, I’m laughed at!) but I’m a firm believer that home is where you make it. And the Shetland air is in my veins.
Oh! Look what we found when we wandered into the Boat Hall at the Shetland Museum?!
So glad I had my camera, and caught the first kiss. The bride was wearing a traditional Shetland lace stole – sooo pretty.
(If you know who this couple are – married 5th April – please let them know, I’d love to send them a copy.)
Ps, Please go and see for yourself how magnetic Shetland is. www.shetland.org has all the information you need.