Mid summer in Shetland
I'm just back from a few days in Shetland. Mid summer, but you'd never guess from the weather. Wind and cold rain for the first couple of days. Only the light showed it was the longest day. Walking back from friends' house at nearly midnight, it was daylight. Despite the gloomy weather we could see the hill beyond the voe and the colours were still sharp.
The rain was an excuse to spend an afternoon in a croft house kitchen drinking tea and getting background detail for the latest Jimmy Perez book. This is the time of year for clipping sheep. The tatties are coming up. Beryl was carding wool ready for spinning. And summer is the time for Sunday teas - a chance to taste wonderful baking and meet people in small community halls.
Another afternoon I spent talking to an English class at the Anderson High School. On my last day the weather cleared and we went to Eshaness to explore a part of the island I'd never visited before. Staggeringly beautiful. Huge cliffs and empty spaces. The cliffs covered with flowers - sea pink and blue spring squill. A diver on the loch by the lighthouse.
Then it was back to Lerwick to get the ferry south. NorthLink had arranged for me to sign copies of RAVEN BLACK and it was an opportunity to chat to passengers. I met two people who'd worked on Fair Isle - a lighthouse keeper's wife who now works in the Shetland Times Bookshop and a helper in the observatory.
The next week's going to be frantic. We're moving out of the cottage where we've lived for seven years. But at least it takes my mind off the Awards Dinner on Thursday. I'm glad Cath and Margaret from Murder Squad will be there. I'm much more comfortable in a croft kitchen in Whiteness than in a posh frock and heels at the Waldorf.