I am sitting here in the sunshine, listening to the birds singing and the new lambs in the field behind bleating, with the sun on the sea in front of me reflecting one hundred million diamonds on the little ripples. The wind has dropped and it is a beautiful day.
As usual the photos don't show what the eye sees
so here is a zoomed in photo showing Fair Isle more clearly
Just in front of us is a pretty little sunken garden with stone walls, the daffodils in full flower, and a lovely hedging of trees and bushes, though still with completely bare branches. Every so often a flock of birds makes a landfall from their migration, stopping to have a breather in the sheltering branches, then refreshed, they fly off before the next group appears. They seem to be large groups of starlings, with probably some robins and blackbirds in amongst them, possibly even sparrows. It is difficult to know which are residents and which incomers.
I love birds, but coming from the Midlands was less aware of the migratory patterns other than swifts, swallows and martins, and cuckoos of course - plus the skeins of geese which flew straight over us honking loudly, and determinedly heading north or south depending on the season. Probably most of our robins and blackbirds stayed the winter, though thinking about it there was an influx in the spring. And each year beautiful large Mistle Thrushes would appear and sing conspicuously from the topmost branches for a short while till the Sparrowhawk ate them.
Maybe at this time of year the dominant pairs drive last season's youngsters off and they go ever further north in search of unoccupied terriotory? Having intermittent internet, and not having been able to take my books with me I will just have to surmise and maybe do some research later.
Its not just the birds dropping by. Every so often a smart red helicopter lands on the pad just at the front of the hotel. Its surprisingly quiet whether taking or landing off and makes very little disturbance to the general peaceful and relaxed feel of the place. I suppose it it because the propery is so large, and also there is nothing to throw the sound back at you, and it just drifts out over the wide sparkling sea
View from Thebus window round side of Sumburgh Hotel with helicopter coming into land
I went into the hotel for morning coffee – and it was wonderful, freshly-brewed, ground coffee, and those nice little rocky lumps of brown and white sugar, plus a big jug of proper milk for £1.25, I can hardly imagine that could be beaten anywhere for value, especially when added to the view of Fair Isle which went with it. Holly made the coffee for me as I was a bit early, but then a charming Spanish lady served me. They call her Isabella, but I think she introduced herself in her lilting Spanish accent as MarieIsabella. She came to Shetland a few years ago and loves it. Though she goes home on visits she says she has no intention of returning, saying she has found her true home here in Shetland.
View from Sumburgh Hotel
I went in again later on for lunch. Yesterday with Sally and Garry I had chosen catch of the day which was Snapper, quite unusual to find on menus back in the Midlands, but locally caught up here was beautifully fresh. I had it pan fried with nice crispy brown skin and we had a pudding afterwards, but today I decided to try their Smoked Salmon as a starter, then just have a main course.
The smoked salmon was, to my taste, perfect. I had forgotten how it tasted in the old days before it was so regularly available in every supermarket. It was like the difference between a normal supermarket chicken and one of my Cuckoo Marans, free-range reared at home and properly prepared and aged. Or the difference between milk from my own Jersey cow and supermarket milk, which in comparison tastes of boiled milk allowed to go cold. Or skimmed milk which doesn’t even taste like milk at all. After I stopped keeping a house cow I used to say to Mum 'They shouldn't call it milk, they should call it Drink Whitener'
But this Smoked Salmon was delicious, with none of that slimy greasy feeling and flavour I have learned to expect. It was properly dried without being dry, tender, and full of flavour, plus there was a huge mounding plate of it with some salad. With a bit more bread and butter it would have passed for a main course, but I was committed now to Haddock and Chips afterwards, and very good that was too, with a huge portion of beautiful, locally caught fresh haddock. I had a glass of white wine with the starters, and a bottle of the locally brewed 60 Degrees North Lager with the fish and chips, so, suitable filled, and feeling very mellow, strolled back round to Thebus.
On the day I was moving on I went to take some photos of the lovely hotel staff, but pretty well everyone I had met was off shift, and the photos I did manage to take came out dark and blurred - and it wasn’t the day I had the glass of wine, and glass of lager!
I doubt I will have time to return unless it looks as though the puffins will come early to Sumburg Head, otherwise I am intending to start heading back. Thebus is booked in for his warranty work, and also rather worryingly the slides are playing up badly and now the jacks won't work at all.
I really did want to be able to see some of the West Highlands and Western Isles before returning to the Midlands. Fingers crossed I think.
View of Fair Isle from the coffee lounge at Sumburgh Hotel
Early Morning View