The world sometimes feels smaller to me than the small Shetland Islands, north of Scotland. I live in Kuwait, I work for a Houston-based American company, with a head-office in Sens (in France), and I cover the Middle East and the UK. Last week, I had a meeting at BP’s Sullom Voe Terminal. I later spent the late afternoon exploring the place including an hour of bird-watching.
The journey started early morning in Aberdeen, and the short flight was in a small Saab propeller plane. We took off minutes before the Scottish air-space was closed (due to the ash cloud). We landed at Scatsta Airport which is this little blue building. It includes arrivals, departures, security, baggage reclaim, a seating area, and even a place to eat. I hired a car without seeing anyone from the hire company. The key was left with airport security and the car was in the car park outside. I returned it to the same place, gave the key back to security. Islands are strange places.
We went straight to our meeting at the oil terminal. Our installed equipment here is almost as old as I am. I’m always impressed to come across such reliable manufacturing. We spent all morning and most of the afternoon in meetings – taking a break for lunch at their canteen. About 3pm, I drove us to our hotel at the capital, Lerwick.
I had a short walk around Lerwick and found it to be very pleasant. The people were nice, and the town very tidy and quiet. We drove around most of Mainland, and I was shocked at how thinly spread the tiny population of 20,000 is all over Shetland. One of the islands has a population of 80! I suffocate just thinking about it.
The roads are fantastic. Miles and miles of nothing; with great bends to test the handling on your car or bike. Watch out for surprises though… and I’m not talking just little furry things. We drove to the south, an area named Sumburgh. I needed to follow signs to the airport in order to find the light house (for a good bird-watching area – next post). What I didn’t realise is that I would physically be driving across the runway itself. It had one of those barriers you’d find on a railway crossing.
This is a very special place; a very different place. I can’t give it justice in this brief post. I haven’t seen anything properly. I had a few hours (as usual) and I needed to fit in as many tasters as I could. The time of year is another factor. Later during the summer, the weather is probably more welcoming.