ST NINIAN'S ISLE
Having left Sally and Garry and their lovely home I explored down the south east coast, stopping off to see the seals hauled up at the Mousa Ferry.
Garry had said that sometimes whales could be spotted from the lighthouse at Sumburgh Head, so we drifted on up to the Whale Watching Point. It was still early, as being Mothering Sunday I didn’t want to get mixed up with the traffic associated in my mind with the day, though being Shetland I needn't have worried.
It was the first Mothering Sunday I will not have spent with my mother in my entire life, so of course she was in my thoughts a lot over the day. I know she would have very mixed feelings about what I am doing, as she too was very much a home-bird, but I also know that seeing me so happy she would have realised it is what I need at this moment in time.
The day was the best we have had here in Shetland, and the best so far of the year. I have noticed the grass has been greening and the sheep are spending more time cudding and less searching for blades of grass. The first sheen of green over the dried brown winter sward showed on the day I was stuck at Lunna Kirk. But certainly now in the south of Shetland the spring was getting going, and I saw my first Shetland lamb out in the park (as they call the fields here) with its mum.
We stopped in the lower carpark of the lighthouse – repairs to the road and all round the lighthouse, with the builders still in action even on a Sunday meant I didn’t try for the top one. I opened Thebus' doors and windows and Phoebe lay outside on her sheepskin rug all day, though attached to her new dog tether, until at about three thirty the sun started to loose some of its strength and she thought she would come in.
I got the binoculars out and had a good look but didn’t sight any whales, or any other sea mammals for that matter, though apparently pretty well the whole gamut has been spotted from here. So with Phoebe having completed her sunbathing we set off to find somewhere for the evening, the carpark here being too steep for a comfortable night. Travelling north again the road was signed for St. Ninian's and knowing this was a beautiful place with room to stopover I headed that way. The late afternoon was still warm and sunny when we pulled in, choosing the higher of the two carparks, which though on more of a slope and further from the beach, gave a wonderful view of the bay and island
Below is St Ninian's Isle as the light is falling, with the tombola stretching out between the island and the mainland
The island of St. Ninian's is attached to the mainland by a Tombola - yes I had never heard the word used in that context, thinking of it purely as a church raffle game. I wonder if there is any connection between the two words? One dictionary definition says it means to tumble but another says it is from the Latin root tumulus or mound. Anyway in this context a Tombola is a stretch of sand with the sea on both sides of it. There are several tombolas (or should it be tomboli - or maybe tombolus) on the islands, and in fact a double Tombola, which I photographed earlier on without even really being aware of what it was. Once again the photos of St. Ninian's Isle that I have taken simply do not do justice to the reality of the place. In fact I feel that photos should really only be used as an aide mémoire, in that when you see a photo your mind can be transported back to the time and place it was taken. Other than that 2-D images are of very little use to convey the essence of a place or person.
Once the last of the dog walkers had left at dusk we had the place to ourselves with just the seabirds and sheep for company though walking Phoebe early next morning I did see fresh otter tracks in quite a few places.
The day dawned as perfect as the night before and viewing the expanse of beach it looked so tempting a place for a walk though quite a long way for me to go. In the end I could not resist it, so taking Thebus down as near as I dared in the sand we went for a walk along the Tombola with the waves breaking on either side. We still had the place completely to ourselves and very beautiful it was too.
It is distressing to see the amount of plastic being washed up on our beaches, so I took some time to collect what I could carry to take back to the bins by the carpark. If everyone visiting a beach did that, although they might not be able to remove it all, and there would of course always be more washed up I am sure it would help. I read somewhere that the plastic does not degrade in the sea as such, but just gets ground down like the sand and pebbles, and when ingested by the sea creatures is causing great problems.
This is a lovely little filmlet made by the children I met at Ollaberry school, I thought how well it was done. I wish my education had been more like that. I always felt I wasn’t at school to be educated, more that the children were essentially a nuisance to the teachers, to be tolerated at best and tormented at worst. I often remark that the world has changed - but when you think about it, its not all for the worse, the educational opportunities available these days for the youngsters are wonderful compared to that in the fifties and sixties.
Top two photos are seals at the old Mousa Ferry Harbour Jetty, and below some seabirds on the rocks just offshore
St. Ninian's Isle from the top carpark in the late evening