Today is one of those rare perfect days – it is still, calm, bright, sunny and clear. The Ewes are still lambing, the air is filled with the sound of birds and it’s a rare opportunity for me to get out on the bike. The regular winds make cycling difficult here. I used to bike about 8 miles a day in Sheffield, every day, in all weathers, up the hills with all the shopping in the panniers and a back pack on. Here, my bike has been in the outbuilding for about 5 months.
Today, I oiled it, brushed the dead bugs out of the paniers, loaded it up and set off for St Ninian’s and Bigton hall for soup and cake lunch for £5. Along the side of the road Sea Pinks and wild primroses grow. The deep blue sea is always to my right going to St Ninian’s and to my left returning. When cycling, you see all the things missed by being in a car and I felt grateful – really grateful to be alive and grateful to live in this beautiful place – so extreme that the weather governs emotions. St Ninian’s is 3 miles around the corner from here. Seeing it has never ceased to make me happy, whatever the weather, time of day or how ever I am feeling. Just seeing the natural tombola makes my heart sing.
Back home, Tiggy sits beside me now on the South side of the house. We both soak in the sun’s warmth. His fur warms up. His eyes run from the winds. My shoulders loosen.
At the back of my house is an old barn and a small byre. I dug the byre out and sieved every bit of soil that now rests in two builder’s bags. One is full of growing potatoes (they’re too close – let’s see what happens) and the other has carrots, onions, beetroot and strawberries in it. They may never grow, never ripen, the weather in chilly. Until last night, I covered the potato bag because of the chill. It is still really cold at night – but last night was still, calm and clear. I captured the early moon and at 1am, it was still light. On some occasions, it makes me laugh – just to be here, to see this incredible world so far north, to try to grow things, get the bike out, paint things and make tidy the untidy. When I sat at the small café at Sumburgh yesterday, I looked at the edge of the earth, the horizon, Fair Isle 24 miles away, and I watched the birds rise up and fly.
During the week, I am working now, 3 days a week and I also volunteer another day. I do this to meet people, be part of the community, give back to others and to pay my bills. The work is full on, with few pauses and it’s extremely detailed. I also teach online knitting workshops and manage the online process and am currently writing a booklet about Susan Halcrow and I, living in the same house over a century apart. So, understandably, there is little time and today, I have decided to put out a call for a strong person who is able to help me with the back yard, lift the stones, lay flags, remove some soil, rebuild a low garden wall and help with painting the outside of the house because I am short and getting on a bit. If you are interested in 2 – 3 weeks staying here in Shetland, in my guest room with full board in exchange for helping me with all the stones at the back of the house and to paint the front and week the endless dandelions out, then contact me. If I don’t know you, I will have to ask for a reference. But, Just contact me if you are interested because I am interested in getting this work done and sharing the opportunity of staying in this amazing location with another person.
I’d like to hear your thoughts.