Monday, July 18, 2011

Fair Isle

Fair Isle is the most remote inhabited island in the United Kingdom.  Located in Northern Scotland between the Orkneys and mainland Shetland it boasts approximately 55 permanent inhabitants.  The entrance to the well protected harbor was a little precarious but we made it through and tied up to the dock.  There is a bird observatory just next to the harbor and we popped in there to check if we were docked in the right location as we were the only boat in the harbor.  We were told that we were welcome to join for dinner but needed to let them know early in the day. 

Fair Isle is a beautiful, windswept cliffy island with sheep clinging to the cliffs just like in the Faroer.  ‘Don’t they ever fall off?’  we asked one of the islanders.  ‘Oh, yes, all the time’  she said.  ‘ Look, there’s one on the beach over there.’ We took a long walk and bumped into a father and son who had flown in in their plane.  They were staying at the South lighthouse and managed to cadge us an invitation to dinner.   Stunning vistas and friendly people at the lighthouse. 

On our second day on Fair Isle we were informed that there would be a wedding that evening and all people on the island (including ourselves therefore) were invited to attend.  We pulled out our fanciest duds and headed up to the church a little dubiously, wondering if we were really invited or if they were just being polite.  We were warmly welcomed by the happy couple, the family and the rest of the islanders.  The musicians that were booked to play that evening were unfortunately unable to fly or boat in due to the weather conditions (a common occurrence).  This did not phase anyone as there were so many musical people present that a rather professional sounding group was assembled and they played throughout the evening.  Emma made a friend in the daughter of the school principal.  Seb and Macsen wandered home about 2330 and Emma and I stayed and danced and played until 0200! She has never been up this late in her life.
What a wonderful balance of resourcefulness, creativity and patience people need to have to live in this wild and beautiful place.
We leave Fair Isle with the very strange knowledge that this will most likely be our last stop before arriving back in the Netherlands.

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