Days 75 – 84 Living in Lerwick

Day 75 – 84 29th September to 9th October 2010

Living in Lerwick

Waves crashing at Lerwick

On the first morning in Lerwick, I decided I would live like a princess for the day.  John brought me fresh coffee and chocolate brioche in bed.  I made my bed bigger and lay the newspaper in front of me while I ate.  There is something so decadent about breakfast in bed and reading the newspaper (broadsheet of course).  I called my girlfriends on the mobile and felt like a real girl – lazing about in bed, eating yummy breakfast, having a laugh on the phone and really just feeling very lucky, happy and alive. I felt like I was in a 5* Hotel, it was so darn good.

It was kind of foggy and my friends were telling me about the cobwebs they could see outside and how lovely they looked in the dew.  Amazingly, they both mentioned it to me.  I always loved the way the cobwebs looked in the frost too, such beautiful and intricate patterns, strong, but delicate.

I went to the hairdressers and had my hair done – highlights, wash and blowdry.

Highlights and hairdo!

Later in the evening, I went to the co-op and got drenched, not exactly the way to show of my new hair do!

Dad’s birthday was on the 30th September so I said hi to him on the phone.  I had a ‘Things to Do’ list

  • Battery (for the camera  – wink wink)
  • Darning needle (for the crocheted necklace)
  • Wet wipes
  • Anti wrinkle cream
  • Moisturiser

Later I went to the boat club for the wifi and Scott kindly helped me get it hooked up.  I met Captain Brian O Flynn and Johan Poulsen from the  RV Sea Surveyor. We decided to meet up and get the bus to Scalloway the following afternoon.  They were in due to the weather also.  Oh, Brian was from Baltimore in Cork, and Johan was from the Faroe Islands (working for Statoil).  I was invited aboard and shown the bridge, the library/TV room and the Captain’s quarters.  It was all very grand and I felt quite privileged to have been invited.

We had a fun time in Scalloway and had a delicious lunch of Plaice with gruyere cheese and Dijon mustard served with hand cut chips in the Scalloway Hotel.  There was a warm welcome and a lovely atmosphere too and the beer was excellent. That night there was a fierce wind and John had put lines across the dock for extra holding and we had every fender out. It blew with gusts of 70knots. The gale passed and settled down by morning.

Scalloway Castle

The next day, Brian and Johan asked me to join them on the ferry to Bressay.  I was delighted and away I went.  It was great to have some interesting company, and people who fancied going to the pub for an hour for the craic.  We walked to the only hotel and we spotted seals lazing about on the rocks after a tough day’s fishing.  At the hotel (which had no signs or any indication whatsoever it was a hotel), there were 3 members of staff behind the bar and no customers.  There were several tables set for meals so it looked promising as a venue for food.  Alas, the English gentleman told us “You are too late for lunch, and too early for dinner!”

Brian said “What about a sandwich?”

“Oh, we’re preparing for a party who will arrive at 3pm!” said the English gentleman.

It was about 1430 at this stage.

We ordered some beverages and exchanged bewildered looks.  By 1445, the English gentleman decided he would announce that he could prepare us something to eat.  I was about to say thanks, but Brian gave me a kick on the shins that made my eyes water and said “We’re grand, we’ll be going now, thanks”.  He was right, the chance had been missed to secure our business and we could eat in Lerwick.  We had fish and chips from a takeaway served at our table in ‘Da Roost’ where we received another warm welcome.

The next day, I had to say my goodbyes to Brian and Johan.  They had brought a bit of fun and enjoyment to my life over the few days and I felt I had made friends for life.  Within 5 minutes of their leaving, I was already missing them.  I went for a long walk along the coastal path and enjoyed watching the Gannets diving for their supper.  I got some pictures of the seals resting on the rocks

Seals at Bressay

Becky from Rona called over to the boat for tea and a chat.  We had borrowed her Norwegian passage chart and it was returned to her with much gratitude.

We went to Tescos as we needed to replenish the onions (I kid you not)!

Next morning, I got up to use the head and John stopped me telling me that he had not flushed.  Flip me was there no end to this carry on?

I went to my bunk after tea and listened to Gerry Anderson on the podcast.  I could smell bacon in the background.  Mmmm!

I walked past John and I just couldn’t help myself.  “John, Please change your clothes and wash.  His place is a pigsty.  It’s a disgrace and embarrassment bringing people back here.”

“It’s not too bad” he said.

“John, it stinks in here and so do you”

“Give me the key for the shower then.  Gal you’re just not able to adjust to the lifestyle!”

“I have no intention of becoming a FILTYHY, STINKING, LADY just because you’re a DIRTY, SMELLY, OLD MAN” I bellowed.  And on and on I ranted.  I was in a harbour for days and there is a saying that Ports rot boats and men.  I was starting to feel miserable.  I left and went to the Peerie café for cake and wifi.  John was gone when I came back and his clothes were hanging out to dry. I left again and went to the museum, there was a poster advertising a Makkin and Yakkin group in the library that evening.  I went to the library and met Otie, a lady from Finland who had met her dutch husband in Ireland and Evelyn from the Shetlands.  The craic was ninety as there was plenty of Yakkin and there was a little crocheting and knitting done so the Makkin happened too.

In 9 years, today was the first time I really fancied a cigarette.  I did not falter, but went to the boat club, had a few drinks with Scott and came back to the boat drunk.  I had not eaten dinner.  I made John join me for a glass of wine and then threw my guts up.  Being a kind man at heart, he held my hair back, rubbed my back and gave me water.  I woke up with the hangover from hell.

Finally, there was a weather window and it was all systems go to slingshot to Cape Wrath. I had everything on my to do list on board. It was just as well we were leaving, as I was starting to develop a Scottish accent and felt as if I should be arranging to be on the electoral roll! We cast off from the dock and I had to run for the pole as we weren’t backing away.  The propeller was not turning! We drifted towards the dock again and I had to leap from the bowsprit and tie us up again.  John’s sleeping bag had got wrapped around the prop shaft and jammed the prop. John was hoking about under the coats checking to see what was happening and I had secured us to the pontoon.  I was yapping on the phone when John said “We’re taking on water, we need to pump!”

“Hey, gotta go, we’re sinking!” says I to my mate Martina.

John was convinced this stroke of bad luck was because we tried to leave on a Friday.  I told him it was because there was too much junk onboard.  Thank goodness this happened at the dock, but it wouldn’t have made for much of a story to be sunk at Lerwick dock!

On my way to the machine shop to pick up a key for the prop coupling, I met James McGonnigle, the skipper of the FV Neptune. One of his crew had seen us in Donegal and had mentioned the fact.  I asked James if he knew ‘Bomber’ the skipper of Lady Gray. That was the wonderful skipper who helped me to join Faraway the first time at Aranmore Island, but that is another story in itself! They had been damaged and were in for repairs.  The boat was from Kincasslagh in Donegal and was a really fine ship.

As sure as night follows day, John fixed the boat and we were ready to go in the morning.


Breakfast – Porridge, apple, raisins and toast (This was mostly the same every day) except for the day I played Princess.

Lunch – I treated myself to coffee and cakes and delicious salt beef with harissa cream cheese sandwiches in the Peerie café whilst using the free wifi.  I was taken out for lunch once

Dinner – There were steaks, pizza, chicken and fish dishes.  Fish and chips from a café too.  Too much beer and too much wine.

Snacks – Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate, I did eat fruit too.  A packet of Salt and vinegar crisps, a star bar, figs, dates and nuts.

This was a selection of food I ate over the 10 days I ‘lived’ in Lerwick.

Designed by Tim Sainburg from Brambling Design

Designed by Tim Sainburg from Brambling Design

Designed by Tim Sainburg from Brambling Design

Meraid Griffin

Freelance writer, adventurer and public speaker. Descibed in the Sunday Times as a ‘modest explorer’. Nothing modest about me.

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