I have spent the last seven days hitchhiking around Shetland. I have caught 19 lifts with 19 drivers. I have been from Sumburgh up to Unst, Walls across to Whalsay, North Roe to Yell, Scalloway to Bressay.
I wanted to blog more frequently, but the nature of the hitchhike means I can end up anywhere, and that usually means no internet (but some stunning scenery).
I have travelled with 2500 salmon, 100 cream cakes, 4 children, 3 old ladies, 2 dogs and 1 hen party. I have travelled in trucks, cars, taxis and vans. We picked up 2 hitchhikers of our own.
I have been part of a driving lesson, a commute, a delivery, a call out, a taxi ride, a pick up and a drop off.
I have accidentally rescued a sheep stuck in a fence, fled from a field of bulls and sat in a living room in my ripped white dress, drinking tea and laughing my head off with stories about a handbrake turn and a New Year trifle stuck in a snow drift.
I have heard stories about first cars, fast cars, stolen cars, shared cars, learning to drive, car accidents, car chases, party buses, driving all night, drink driving, bad weather, mad dashes, road kill.
I have also heard accounts of bad husbands, old bakers, living on your own, how to drive an emergency vehicle, teetotal whisky tours, sons in wars, teenage love, surprise pregnancies, new nieces, pet hamsters, days of reckoning, all round rainbows, hints of the Northern Lights.
Walking along the road I have seen bones, shells, mushrooms, cans, thistles, grasses, bits of cars, CDs, skulls, caterpillars, dead hedgehogs, dead polecats, dead sheep, dead seagulls, dead rabbits, wild flowers, bubbling brooks, ripped cliffs, the ends of rainbows, mirrored lochs and skies that can’t be described.
Meeting drivers in Shetland I have felt I have met a chance cross section of lives. Lives that are connected across water, land and road. Lives that have pulled over out of kindness, curiosity or common sense. Lives that have passed me in a blur of beeps, waves, smiles, shock, indifference. Lives that despite a sense of remoteness, seem intrinsically linked. A community.
Thank you Shetland.