I discovered the Shetlands were treeless islands for the most part, with narrow unmade roads, with pubs open if someone needed a drink, and a taxi that flew between the islands. I discovered a spirit of togetherness unmatched by almost anywhere else in the UK. People were hard, but friendly, the weather was hard and unforgiving. Most of the Shetlander lives, revolved around the sea, from the fishermen to the inter-island ferry operators, from the postman to the Sheriff.
Milk was expensive and the only shop near to where I lived, seemed to be able to charge anything they wanted for their goods, often selling slightly older goods at a lower price, and making stock we thought they had, not available to us. Eggs were very expensive and petrol was almost rationed. I lived there while Piper Alpha was establishing itself, long before the great north sea tragedy that spewed forth onto the worlds newspapers as fire seemed to consume men and equipment for days.
I could walk the hills in absolute safety, save for the birds protecting the area they nested. The pure pristine beaches were heaven on earth and fishing with a single hook could net a feast or at least a yarn to spin in the pub that night.
The cliffs were home to countless millions of seabirds and the local people seemed to live in the space below upturned boats, mail took three days or more to get to England and the air was so clean you could taste it. The wind blew relentlessly and clean air from the Atlantic ocean bathed and cleansed everything in the Shetlands.
I would love to go back there now I am retired, but I fear for my pension, my lifestyle and the medical services I need from time to time. Had Scotland the money to look after it’s pensioners, the freedom to let them buy the goods they want and have the medical help they need, I seriously would rethink my sojourn in England. I know now, sadly too late, that if the British Government had in fact looked for a way that England and Scotland could have been financial partners, best friends and supporters of a form of Independence that would allow Scotland to grow in the way she needs while England benefitted from every ounce of oil, whisky, tourism, invention, ship building etcetera to the Scots benefit, it would have been utopia on earth and I cannot think of any right minded individual who would not want to be a part of that.
I for one, would pack up my campervan, invest in a few quarts of petrol and a Ferry Ticket to Lerwick and to have a life in the most beautiful place on earth, a lovely place to write, to live and champion all that is right.