Get Outdoors . Connect

Hi, so it's been a while...

I'm just going to be honest, the last two months have been a struggle for me.

I lost my connection to the magic of the incredible landscape in which I'm so lucky to live. Sometimes I get too caught up in my head (I'm sure many of you will get that), concerning myself with things that take me away from the meaning I choose to give my life. Go right back to one of my first blog posts and remember. Intuition. Instinct. Trust myself, even if what matters to me is not always completely understood by those around me or does not fit with how I 'should' be living. The best way I find to connect with myself again is to unplug and get outside.

I have a customer at Jamieson & Smith, the wool shop where I work, to thank for the extra rush of inspiration I needed to get me out this past weekend. She had travelled from Canada and had been solo-camping around Scotland for the last few weeks, she had the weekend in Shetland and had planned to head out to the Westside for her last walk and camp before going home. I was so excited! I put out a message asking for camping advice and my brother said he had a tent I could borrow, and that him, his wife and the bairns were going to try out their caravan for the first time. He suggested I come along and give the tent a try knowing that they'd be nearby if I needed anything. It was a bit of a rush, I grabbed an ancient sleeping bag from Mam's.. and that was pretty much it! (maybe a few regrets there ha ha! but experience is the best teacher!)

We headed south to Bigton and St Ninian's Isle, the largest active tombolo in the UK and caravan accessible.

It was lovely and sunny but a North wind meant it wasn't overly warm. We did have a look for firewood but St Ninian's is NOT any use for finding much washed up! Disposable barbecues were at the ready and helped ensure we were well fed after playing around on the beach and getting the tent set up for me.

After the bairns fell asleep we enjoyed the rest of the evening sitting out watching the sun go (mostly) down. This is the time of the simmer dim in Shetland where it never really gets dark.

I settled down for the night in the tent about 11pm, the wind was cold and cloud starting to come in or we would have stayed up later. Only when I was properly inside and in my sleeping bag did I realise how uneven the ground was! We thought we'd found a reasonably flat area but it ended up there was a ridge right along the middle of the tent from which I couldn't get away. However, using a few cushions I made the best of it. It wasn't long before I realised I had underestimated how cold it might be or rather how not warm the sleeping bag would keep me! After a while I did get warm enough to fall half asleep but by then my hip was sore from the ridge in the ground so I had to move which meant I got cold again... warm, sore, move, cold... and repeat... throughout the night.

The birds had been quiet a couple of hours but their cries gradually became more frequent and I guessed it may be getting nearer to morning (my phone had died meaning I didn't know the time). Although I knew it would still be pretty early I decided to get up as I wasn't going to sleep any longer.

I headed five minutes up the road to the public toilets (yes I know, not exactly wild camping yet!). The sky was just starting to get lighter again (I realise my flash must have been on here, oops)

On the way back down, after the blood had started recirculating and my toes no longer felt like they were about to fall off, I thought I'd just check the time on the clock in my car... are you ready?... yes, it was 3.36am! Ok, I thought, I don't want to knock on the caravan door and wake up the bairns I'll take the chance to walk right around St Ninian's Isle, that would take up a bit of time and keep me warm.

St Ninian's Isle Circular - Promote Shetland (www.shetland.org)

St Ninian's Isle Circular - Promote Shetland (www.shetland.org)

Looking back to the mainland from the East side of St Ninian's Isle with the sun beginning to rise.

Looking back to the mainland from the East side of St Ninian's Isle with the sun beginning to rise.

Looking South to Sumburgh.                                                                          South West view

Looking South to Sumburgh.                                                                          South West view

Getting back to what I was talking about at the beginning of this post, the sensation of being stuck in my head and totally overwhelmed by everything I thought I should be doing, everything I believed people expected of me, it was all pressure I was putting on myself because I'd lost focus on what is important to me and it led me to freeze, to numb out when I got home instead of enjoying designing and weaving. I've never wanted a fancy life, really all I want is some land of my own and space to breathe.

Wildflowers showing bright as the sun rises up over the hills in the distance.

Wildflowers showing bright as the sun rises up over the hills in the distance.

I'm glad I woke super early that morning and that no-one else was around as the more I walked, taking in the growing light, the sound of the sea, sheep and seabirds, the clearer my mind and the calmer my heart became. Until... (now before I go any further, I knew fine well that there was a reason the fence cut down the middle of the isle... and that there was a reason that the sheep stayed away from the North West corner... and I could see the ground was becoming more suitable for certain fear-inducing flying things, but I looked ahead and couldn't see anything moving, although the rising sun was in my eyes...)

The sun was in my eyes I tell you!

The sun was in my eyes I tell you!

First was the sound.. I know that sound well as it's one that instantly almost makes me break out in a cold sweat because I know what's coming... and I still couldn't see properly because of the sun! By the time I turned to run (and I did genuinely run!) it was too late, the skooty allan was coming straight for me. The thing about skooty allans and why they scare me even more than bonxies and certainly more than tirricks, is because they don't fly up above and swoop down at you, they rise up from the ground until they are horizontally directly in line with your face then fly straight at you with the aim of kicking you in the head. I had no choice, I dove to the ground until it passed then got up and ran. They are beautiful birds but they really put the terror in me!

After all that and my shaky legs had regained their stability on the walk back over the beach it was still only 5am so I settled down to read until the bairns woke up. It was the most joyous moment when I was seated in that caravan with a croissant and a mug of lovely hot green tea!