Room with a View
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.