Now sheltering from the wind and the rain just north of Lerwick, on my way to Yell but still full of memories of a fabulous time on Fair Isle.
Setter, the home of my dear late friend Gordon Barnes. I sat, after a seasick ferry ride, on Gordon's bench and looked over to the croft where he and Perry, his wife, lived in when he was a crofter on the Fair Isle. Met Ian and Ruth the present owners and marvelled at the life of my friend.
A 3 night stay in the South Lighthouse where Dave runs a B & B. Dave's an eccentric with a lovely personality. Food given in large quantities and accomodation very comfortable.
No ferry to get back to Shetland due to weather, so a quick visit to Neil Thomson, the captain of the boat, and a real shock. I mentioned that I'd been singing Pink Floyd music recently whilst riding my bike. 2 hours later I came out of their beautiful home with a new friend. Neil had played Pink Floyd's comfortably numb, run like hell and a number of other of my favourite rock classics superbly on his 1965 telecastor. Brilliant fun and he's such a brilliant musician. Thanks Neil. [This was repeated later in the week with more music played including a perfect Hawkwind Silver Machine moment.]
Wednesday, a visit to the superb Fair Isle School and a lovely half hour with the children. Now can I remember all of their names? Hello . . . Henry, Raven, Lowri, Ythan, Sebastian, Orla, Amber, Robyn, Fynton, Oisin and .... oh dear that's all the names I can remember. Hey, I think that's all of them! Thanks to
Lisa the headteacher for her welcome too. A truly fabulous Eco School.
Other crofters met, Stewart and Trinona, Florrie and Jimmy, Darren and Angela; all lovely people and so friendly. Wonderful, wonderful people.
Also a visit to the superb Waterson Museum with Stewart Thomson. Brilliant displays on all aspects of the island from ancient neolithic history, crofting and many old photographs and artefacts.
The birds? Well 10 year ticks over the week including buff-bellied pipit, rosefinches, bluethroat and a number of warblers with a new bird for me, pallas' grasshopper warbler as well as subalpine, many barred and a few yellow-browed. Yet it was Fair Isle as a whole that I loved. The scenery, the fact that I could get up and bird watch the early hours and not see another birder until after 9.00am; well I was based down the south end and a fabulous new bird observatory is in the north; and the people.
Eventually a calm, flat sea and a long ride on the Good Shepherd to Lerwick. No seasickness this time just a great time with beautiful views of the South Shetland mainland. The a goodbye to Neil with a promise that I'd be returning.
Must say a million thanks to the Shetland Community Bike Project for the superb help they gave in repairing a few problems with the bike. Fabulous people there too and many thanks for their donation too.
Also many thanks to Hugh and Ann for their hospitality and friendly chat.
Now the year list stands at 232 having seen an arctic warbler and a red-breasted flycatcher at Sumburgh Head. So 20 more bird species to break the NON MOTORISED YEAR LIST RECORD, until someone else is trying to break it too this year. I wonder?