Room with a View

I'm sitting typing this looking out of the office window in Shetland. It's a beautiful sunny morning in late March - and the only domestic sound I can hear is the kitchen clock ticking in the background.  If I push the window open I can hear the waves in the voe just below the house, and the herring gulls and fulmar crying as they swoop down over the waves.  In the distance I can see Sumburgh Head and directly in the foreground the Scatness peninsula reaching down to Horse Island.  A little further to the right is Lady's Holm and behind it on the horizon the outline of Fair Isle. After dark last night I could see the three flashes of the Sumburgh Light and on the horizon the two flashes of the Fair Isle North Light.

This week the waves in Quendale Bay have been very gentle, a real contrast to the energy we saw on the last visit. The big winter storms were a reminder that just along the coast was the site of the Braer disaster in January 1993, even my ill-educated eye can see how much of the beach at Quendale was moved around last winter.

We first looked at the house 10 months ago, and finally bought it last summer.   At that time it was a freshly refurbished empty house and when we stayed there it felt a bit like a very lightly furnished rental cottage not unlike the ones we'd stayed in on previous visits.  Over the last eight months we've gradually filled up the house with our stuff - big furniture bought locally in Lerwick, smaller stuff  brought up from the south of England in several car loads, and pictures unearthed from various cupboards down south have finally been hung around the house.  It now feels like a northern home rather than just somewhere to visit.

My original plan had been to spend a lot of the summer up here watching birds and waves, and taking photographs as the days lengthened into Simmer Dim, and then gradually retreated into long autumn and winter evenings.  I'm actually only going to be able to spend a few weeks here over the summer but I will be based in Shetland over the dark months next winter and with the exception of a few trips to the southern hemisphere to see some sunlight and to take some pictures on some other remote islands,  I'll really be calling Shetland home.

One of the things I've always wanted to have in front of me is a sea view - this house has it in plenty.  However I must admit I'd never given serious thought to the fact that the view might be a problem. My Oxford view is a relatively unchanging (or at least slow changing) street or garden view.  My Shetland view is the constantly changing sea - each bird cry or crashing wave brings the possibility of something different happening, and even if there isn't anything dramatic the ebb and flow of the tide ensures that even minute to minute things do change.  It all makes it far too easy to look up from the keyboard, and then glance back and find that 20 minutes have somehow disappeared. Maybe in the winter it'll be easier to concentrate on the computer screen - although the hypnotic lights from Sumburgh Head might still be a problem.

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