Daily Archives: July 13, 2022

Us and them

There’s so little traffic in Shetland that the powers that be must have decided it’s a waste to build a road wide enough to accommodate a vehicle going in each direction. Behold the one-lane road with passing places.

The rules are logical and easy and within a few days we had it down pat. The main rule, as in most driving schemes anywhere, is to stay on your own side and don’t cross over if the passing place is on the other side but rather stop on your side and allow the oncoming vehicle to drive around you on the passing place.

The other day we were on a single-lane road when we saw a hire car coming the other way. We had a passing place just ahead but the oncoming car panicked and kept coming, then crossed to their right and pulled into our passing place. It wasn’t kosher but we kept driving and waved as we went by.

“They’re not from around here,” Jack said. I thought he was commenting on the break in protocol.

“How can you tell?” I asked facetiously.


I turned to him, confused.

“I’m wearing earrings.”

“You’re not from around here.”


For a quickie intro to the eccentricities of Shetland, check this out including this caveat:

We’re not the Shetlands; we are just Shetland. Period. Call us the Shetland Isles, or an island archipelago, or da auld rock, or da rock – whatever, just don’t call us ‘the Shetlands’. This is a sure-fire way of getting off on the wrong foot, or most usually, corrected.

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We insist on decorum

It was a rare sunny but blustery day when we crested a steep blind summit on the one-lane road leading to our next parkup. Dear Reader, I think you should just assume that the first or second sentence of all of our blog posts from Shetland will have the word ‘blustery’ within, just so we don’t have to keep writing it and you don’t have to read it.

So where were we? As we started down the steep road a vast green valley was arrayed before us. Somewhere down there, tucked into a corner of the bay, was our next parkup. How can such a small island constantly convey the profound sensation of vast space? You’d think they’d be jamming stuff in every square meter instead of letting miles and miles go by with hardy anything in it. But it works. It really works. This place is beautiful. Details near a corner of the bay started to come into view.

A collection of a few buildings came into focus and maybe a vehicle or two. Things changed as we pulled in. It was a tiny, rough parking lot with campers parked at all angles, spoiling the view and limiting space for others. Day trippers in cars parked inbetween and around the campers. Words were exchanged. The situation perturbed a certain member of the crew.

Eventually most of the inconsiderate people got the picture and left. We moved our camper to the outer edge, setting an example for how best to use the small space. Order was restored.

This is a popular spot. Free is always popular. Campers and day users continued to come and go. We set up spotting shop with binoculars and soon we could watch otters and seals and, wherever there are fish, the ubiquitous cormorants.

The following day we opted for a spot of hiking around the tiny community on the peninsula.

At several points there wasn’t much path left.

We were reluctant to move on, but new arrivals followed our established parking scheme, so our work here was done.

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