Thursday, May 1, 2014

On the Road Again

peerie fleuri park
The time has come for me to fly out of Shetland to meet another of my cousins in Bath. Today I shall be taking three flights and a train to travel from the far north of Scotland to the south of England. Scotland will hold a referendum in September to decide whether the Scottish people would like to leave the United Kingdom. In the 1970's, the Shetland people actually talked of breaking away from Scotland!

In some ways visiting Shetland is like taking a trip to another time where family lived close to each other, visited, and met each other on the street regularly. As I have been a visiting family member, everyone has been so eager to show me family photos and to give me gifts to take back to Canada.

The Shetland Islands are a lovely spot to visit. Flowers are blooming everywhere and every house has a garden or greenhouse. Although we are located North of Sixty, there is sunshine and on the few days without wind it is possible to sit out in the gardens and parks.
container of tulips in garden
The old way of living on the smaller islands was to build homes close to family members. Land belonged to families and proximity meant that old folk and bairns could be cared for by the family.
In my family, it has been common practise for two brothers to marry two sisters so land has been easily shared and there are a lot of "double cousins" who are almost like brothers and sisters. Traditionally people "pair up" early and have more children than we do in Canada.

greenhouse in Shetland

The people work very hard here. Few people leave the islands to attend university because of the high cost of living off island but there are colleges where people learn trades. Most of the my mother's cousins were away to fishing, whaling or the merchant navy but now there are houses being built and there is the gas processing and North Sea oil to help to support the community.

The oil money has provided modern care homes, leisure centres, a state-of -the art museum and a performing arts centre. Considering that Lerwick has a resident population of fewer than 7,000, the amenities are excellent. Ferry transportation between Lerwick and Whalsay is available every 45 minutes and is inexpensive for foot passengers. 

I will be sad to leave all of my family knowing that I will not see some of them again. I hope that I will be able to come back with my daughter so that she can learn a bit about the family and experience life here even if it is only for a few days.

I hear the clock ticking and I am being picked up in just two hours so I had better go and cram my possessions back in the suitcase. I started out so well-organized but it is almost two months since I left home and the system has broken down along the way.

I wonder what adventures the South will bring.
view from where I am sitting right now



7 comments:

  1. The images of Scotland are beautiful. It would be a wonderful opportunity for your daughter to meet up with your relatives at some point. Enjoy your trip south....

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    1. Isn't it amazing how 10 degrees further North the tulips are at the same stage as in Victoria? Shetland is beautiful in such a different way from Paris. I like the idea of the next generation having some connection to their roots.

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing some of this precious time with us. (and I note that you've answered my question about the gardens north of 60, TY!). I'm crossing my fingers that your luggage stays with you this time -- That's a gruelling day, but Bath is so lovely, it will be worth it once you get settled in there.

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    1. The gardens are quite amazing for such high latitude. I didn't lose my luggage and had a lovely day in Bath. Your big day is fast approaching! Now in St. Ives, I am looking at a blue sky and sandy beach.

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  3. Great post, particularly since I am reading Ann Cleeves novels set in Shetland. Love your reference to "double cousins".. I thought that was an east coast Canadian term. A few sets of double cousins in my extended family...two sets of great aunts/sisters who married boys who were brothers. But not their own brothers...oh.. you know what I mean

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    1. They are filming Ann Cleeves in Shetland and hopefully we will see them in North America one day. I guess "double cousins" are common in small communities. I take great pains to explain to people what we are talking about because sometimes they look at me oddly.

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  4. I would love to see Shetland, it must have been fascinating to meet your extended family there.

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