At least, this time I escaped. For, when I weaved my way downstairs to breakfast ( a banana and black coffee because I couldn't get the bloody foil off the milk in my weakened state) I asked the purser if the crossing had been, in the scale of one to ten, a five, say? He looked at me as if I'd sprouted tentacles and laughed rather nastily. That was the easiest, smoothest crossing all month, he said. Ah, I said. When you going back? I replied mid-October. More nasty laughter. He said (damn his eyes) better start worrying now, then.
Oh, how we laffed.
For the short times I managed to fall asleep in between bouts of wondering if I was going to be sick NOW, my dreams were weirder than weird. This lack of quality sleep rendered me too weak to defoil my breakfast milk and also turn the key in the door of my new harbour hut. Barely recognised Donald when his car drew up alongside mine in the rain. Oh, the rain. Drove to Scalloway on autopilot, following Donald's tail-lights and feeling utterly disconnected. Jet lag? Pfffff. That's for wusses. Real travellers get ferry-lag. Stared at Donald as he reeled off a list of directions to some Blues Festival gig in a village somewhere out there in the Shetland outer fringes, but eventually I had to confess that none of the directions were getting through, or if they got through, they promptly slid noiselessly off my teflon-coated brain. Donald very sensibly left me to it. It was either that or stand in the rain watchinmg his brand new writer-in-residence turn to an amoeba in front of him. Didn't have a nap, like a sensible person, but began to put my new harbour hut in order. Consequently, I've been going through this day like a half-shut knife, and even had a fit of the weepies coupled with a bout of acute homesickness. But hey. I'm better now.
And I'm unpacked. Got my 12 days solid playtime of beloved tunes up and running, got artwork out, started to reorganize the bonsai galley-kitchen. Sadly, did not manage to attain broadband nirvana. Couldn't even scrape a pass with dial-up, so, once again, this message is going out late and part of a batch with the wrong date on it. Kinda cosy, huh? Just me, myself and I for now.
Pulled myself together sufficiently to begin masking off artwork on the first spread of 'The Problem with Dragons '. Even though it was grey and gloomy outside. Where are my daylight bulbs now, pray? Let's hope there are some brighter days, because I need masses of light to paint, especially with my diminishing eyesight. As the afternoon grew late, I downed tools and took myself off to walk on an amazing isthmus which is lapped by improbably turquoise seas on both sides. Turquoise despite the fact that it was chucking down and I had been forced to zip my outer layer in a fashion that made me look like I was off to the international train-spotting/ Goretex jousting championships. What the heck are turquoise seas doing out on an afternoon like that?
Five minutes after my boots hit the white sand of St. Ninian's Bay-Bigton Wick, a black dog came running at me, scrawny and desperate looking. I braced myself for shredding with menaces, but the poor mutt only wanted companionship and adopted me on the spot. So. Nothing like a dog to validate a solo walk on a day typifying 'Scotland's weather - what else can it throw at you - rocks?' I've never seen a dog that chased seabirds with quite such desperation before. And no matter what the wind did, her hackles stayed up like porcupine quills for the hour and a half she kept faith with me. So - the black dog of St. Ninian's Isle, huh? It's probably famous. Probably the spirit-being of a long-gone writer-in-residence who fell prey to the Drys.
With this in mind, I headed back to my little harbour hut and poured myself something pleasant out of a green glass bottle, before crawling up into the sleeping platform for an extended wrestle with that old duvet and duvet-cover combo. Outside, the wind is trying to tear my hut off its moorings and hurl it into the sea, but d'you know what? It won't succeed. Tonight, my bed will not pitch and yaw.