Friday, 12 October 2012

Welcomed by another stranger.

Welcomed by another stranger.

As I woke, the temperatures were rising, for the sun was doing its best to climb high and thaw the rain soaked lands. A boy of about 2 came speeding along the B.M.X. track on his bike and was evidently surprised to see my tent on the path, but cleverly avoided it by going through a puddle and splashing mud all over himself. I was glad his mother didn't see that. Still, actually she came along pushing baby number 2 in a pram and began to engage easily with me. I said my apologies for drying my tent on the path where her son wanted to ride, but she happily waved off my concern as to the increased work load on her washing machine. Karen, Hamish the bike rider, and Isla (sleeping mainly) were the first people to really interact with me on any serious level here in this village. And they were newcomers here too. She and her Husband had moved here from Edinburgh to have a quieter life, and as yet had not integrated fully into the village. She explained that some of the islanders are still a bit reluctant to show too much tolerance of the invaders as they saw it. Especially tiny places more so than towns. I understood, but what people have to be frightened of is beyond my guess. We live in the 21st century people!!
Karen chatted away quite easily with me for about 45 minutes, as we walked about keeping an eye on a 2 year old who thought he was Evil Kinevil, invincible on two wheels. Mind you he had no stabilizers fitted.
I was very thankful of the attention and shared a few thoughts with Karen about my experiences so far, which she said were reassuring of the hope for a better chance of peace one day. That is to say, that if people can be this kind to a stranger, then maybe the world isn't past hope.

I shot away up the hill towards the main road and found a place where the road overlooked the island of Mousa, and Mousa sound, the stretch of water between. There was a famous Broch there, but it was surely too late in the season to get a ferry over to see it. Apparently it is one of the best preserved Brochs of them all, standing at about 13 metres from the ground. I sat and ate something whilst writing poetry again. Well I have no great hurry do I? The road was mainly downhill for the next few miles and then a sharp upturn. As I passed the toilet block on the main road, I popped in to quickly freshen up, and when I came out, my bag, which fortunately was covered with the rain cover, was wet. I was astounded at the quick flash downpour I had just missed. I hadn't seen any signs of it in the sky just a few minutes ago, or I had fallen asleep or gone through a time window wormhole...
I came along then to another great looking shop, the North Bridge Shop at Cunningsburgh.

Inside I got chatting with Jane and Lillian who made me a hot drink, and asked all about the world here. Jane another newcomer to the islands gave a nice insight into the oddnesses I had observed yesterday and over the past few days to be fair. She was keen to introduce me to all the people who came in, reminding me of Pete, back in the diner van near Beverly east Yorks.
A lady called Margaret came in and later offered to give me a lift down to the harbour where I could meet some fishermen, who might be able to help me get to Mousa. It was very thoughtful of her, and of Jane for suggesting I speak with Alan a local fisherman.
At the harbour there were many vehicles about, some with doors open as if the drivers were close by, but no sign of anyone. I walked to the sea edge, by the floating landing pier and presently a boat came over from the Crill platform where he had been setting the nets. It was in fact the Alan spoken of by both ladies and he came over and began chatting. He also owned with some others, the ferry to the island of Mousa, but they had recently taken the pier away for the winter, making it very unlikely of a landing until next season. Never mind, it was interesting talking to a real fisherman. He had to go and collect ice for the fishing trip tomorrow so offered me a ride with him and dropped me along the way to Lerwick, so I could see another well known Broch called, Clickimin. I thanked him and he said that I should come by the pier another day and we could perhaps go out for a while on the sea and catch a Mackeral to cook and eat. It sounded like a very good idea and one I might take him up on.
The Clickimin Brock was as heralded, very interesting and gave me a good glimpse into the building techniques of some of the older eras, that made Britain great. Norsemen who could live of the land and sea with ease.

As I was back close to Lerwick I called in to the Hostal to see if they might do me a favour and let me use the facilities without stopping the night and incurring a fee I well couldn't afford again this week. They were happy to accommodate me as I had been here 2 days previously. It was great to get clean and warm and set myself up for a walk further northwards. I did some shopping and set off again towards Gremista and then the pass through the mountains towards Voe. I found a place in the bracken and heathers high on a hill overlooking the bay, where it was dry enough to put the tent up.

Almost immediately it began to pour with rain and I managed to get in before getting too wet. A few days ago, one of the two tent poles had snapped and I have had to do a makeshift splint to hold it in place. With the wind getting quite strong I wonder how long it will last. I wont be able to send it back either, so I may have to manage until I can buy another tent or get it repaired properly. Where is that brown packing tape when you need it?
All night the wind and rain hammered at me but the praying must have worked, because I was still dry in the morning.
A new day and more rain. I decided to wait until later and see if it would abate. All I needed was a few minutes to get out and pack it away, but every time I tried it started raining again. I was sure I saw Noah getting ready again down below me, with his big box floating
In the end I just had to go for it, the cold was stopping me from concentrating on anything, and I needed to get moving to exercise. A brief halt in the storm saw one of the fastest pack times ever recorded in modern history, and it was all stowed as the rain fell again. Wahoo........

I carried on along the highway, here the side verges were small gravel and easy to walk on avoiding the oncoming traffic. I saw what I assumed was Tingwall airport across the plain form the top of the hill I had just walked up and so I was able to get off the main road and bypass some of the new roads, following the much smaller old ones. I was hoping that, being an airport there would be the usual, duty free cafe, shops etc. It was barely a shed this place. Actually it was a small building with little signs of life. Only light aircraft fly from here, and small jets. The garden centre just above the airport was my next promising hope. Unfortunately no cafe here either, nor coffee machine, but the lady serving was keen and helpful to find a hot latte for me to drink, that she lovingly prepared. Janet asked me if I were a Christian and did I go to church. It seemed like one of those questions that had a reason other than curiosity alone.
I told her my truth. I believe in Jesus having been a man on this earth, but have my own interpretations as to what that might be with regards to divinity and the rest of the bible's supposed teachings about him and his purpose in being here. She invited me to a Church in the Valley service, Sunday night at a local golf club building, near Tingwall.
I have to say it was a tempting offer, I have need to see many new and engaging things during my travels and wasn't about to turn down such a nice lady's request, especially one who had donated to charity and to kindness towards me. Another lady and her daughter came in to buy something and I offered to help carry it to the car for them. Vivian was the wife of a pilot at the airport here, Jade her daughter and she were keen to know about my walk and also donated to my attempts to raise money for charity. It was almost like a contagious affect, but then I guess kind people only need a focus for their help to be given freely.
Well done anyway to them all on behalf of the 5 charities I support with Imagine.
Janet was telling me about her husband who was a retired preacher, and that kind of explained her previously prompt question. When he arrived to collect her from work, she offered me a lift to Scalloway. It seemed that the walk I was undertaking was fraught with many hills and lack of resources by way of shops or bars and cafes. The intuitive part of me accepted the help and the lift, as it would mean I got to see the Scalloway castle too and another new place, as well as the possibility to attend their service the following night.
They dropped me off at the town center and I made a point of meeting the locals in the pub. The locals amounted to a few young people, and none of them seemed keen to chat to a stranger, and it was all I could do to get a drink without pouring it myself....
Seriously though they were a quiet lot here in Scalloway. I needed a hot meal and so set off to the Chinese takeaway, where I got what I needed. I still needed somewhere to camp, and the castle grounds looked like a good prospect. Fortunately the Museum next door was closed and so I used the very neat newly mowed and flat grass and put my tent out of sight around the back of the building. The food was excellent and it all amounted to a great day of adventure in total. 

Waking up with the castle as a backdrop was quite funny. I thought that I had better pack up early or the museum staff would think it odd of me and call the police. But then it dawned on me that the museum was now closed for the rest of the season, until the spring, so if I left my tent up, as I desired, it would be pretty safe from prying eyes and here when I came back later. Which gave me a perfect opportunity to go off investigating and exploring the new town.

I was in need of the loos, but the local ones had not been opened yet despite displaying opening times long since past. I knocked on the door of the local day centre as I saw people up and about inside. Janet happily invited me in to use the services, and promptly invited me to have breakfast with her and the rest of the carers at the Walter and Joan Gray day centre/care home. Janet from Oldham, Jordan a young man from Stirling, Leila from Hungary, and Jo from just outside of Glasgow shared a breakfast with me of boiled egg toast and tea......mmmm....
I felt very cared for by the team, and their respective stories about where and why they worked here and in the care industry were lovely to take on board as part of my queries about Great Britain and its people.
Janet said to me, that when I had entered she had felt that sometimes angels walk amongst us. It seemed somewhat out of place as a comment, but I knew exactly what she meant. Indeed these people here, some of whom were clearly angels were reinforcing my belief in this truth too. I admire people who can give of themselves as carers, and be so patient and tolerant with people who need their support and love. And it is not these people that are richly financially rewarded for such dedication, sadly. But they clearly do it because it is reward in itself, to be able to help others.
They certainly made my day with their thoughtfulness. Korene was the only islander to be working here today and Paul the chef was likewise a foreigner to these parts. I thanked them as they left to attend to business and I set off to walk the road to the lighthouse by the Salmon farm.
It was as I stood out in the street that I heard music and my feet led me into the church a few doors away. A harvest festival service combined with a baptism was about to begin, so I stayed to observe and experience another new treat. It was more a regular church experience, and thankfully I didn't nod off and wake up drooling. But I did see a lot of life from a small village community. Afterwards they served teas coffee and cakes. And it would seem that no-one was keen to scurry away home before at least sharing some fellowship with one another. I was also grateful for the feeding frenzy I was participating in. It was going to save me heaps of money today.

Later I did get to walk to the lighthouse and it was a very warm and sunny afternoon strolling along the waters edge. I wrote more poetry and had a small siesta in a sunny spot, shaded from the wind. I visited the pub to use the power sockets to be able to type all afternoon until it was time to prepare for my second helping of god Jesus and singing. The alcohol helped me to relax also.
And it was a lovely welcome that I received on the way to the service. Janet stopped to pick me up and take me to the hall where I was one of only a few to have arrived. The place soon filled up with people as well as instruments, especially Accordian's. Six I counted in one orchestra, as well as Saxaphone, Trombone and Guitars, a Violin and a Piano.
Alan, Janet's husband was indeed a fine preacher and I
did enjoy his way of conducting the service, even if it was a bit unusual. Still, I was pleased that they welcomed me, even though he put me on the spot for a moment when he asked me to introduce myself to everyone present. I hope I sounded natural, I was taken aback to be honest. Anyway things went on and a group of men called the 4 notes came up to do an acapella three song hymn set. The whole experience was great, and refreshing, and I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to talk to many people about the walk I was doing when they flocked up to ask me many things afterwards. People from all over the British isles were in attendance. At the end of the evening I was again fed and watered and Janet packed me off home with a selection of cakes and sweet bread. A man gave me a lift home to my museum home, and the day had been a full and fruitful one, and I slept like a man with many things to be grateful for.

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