When you don't want to be anywhere except where you are.
2020 is the year of Scotland's coasts and waters and as Storm Dennis arrived in Shetland I was happily watching, cosy in my lighthouse keepers cottage at the southern tip of Shetland at Sumburgh Head. I had the eerie and magical privilege of spending a week there in February, watching waves, weather, seabirds and the gloriously atmospheric sight of the loom of the circling light.
Outside sketching was it's usual challenge of keeping warm and keeping control of my materials, but even more so as I had to focus very hard at keeping a strong hold of the sketchbook at all times so the wind could not snatch it and send it out to sea.
A place of sensory delight and somewhere that never fails to lift my spirits, where you can get up close to the architecture of a Stevensons lighthouse, to sea birds, to have a birds eye view of the sea and the cliffs, watch the Fair Isle ferry The Good Shepherd make its way out from Grutness passing Sumburgh, soon dwarfed by the swell of The Roost (the name of the patch of water at Sumburgh head where big seas build up as it passes the tip of Shetland) and the light at night, sending it's loom out to sea circling around the buildings and tower of the lighthouse, shadows coming and going on the walls, a truly eerie place where I had to ignore my inner horror story dialogue and focus on the sound of the wind and the atmosphere.
Staying at lighthouse affords you with some insight as to what it may have been like in the past to earn a living in an environment that is all about the elements.
As M.L Stedman writes so beautifully in The Light Between Oceans.
"The isolation spins it's mysterious cocoon, focusing the mind on one place, one time, one rhythm - the turning of the light. The Island knows no other human voices, no other footprints.
On the offshore lights you can live any story you want to tell yourself and no one will say your wrong, not the Seagulls, not the prisms, not the wind"