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Published: 13 August 2022

By Andy Ross

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Thank you

Covid finally caught us last week and it has had an unexpected result.

Our move to New Zealand has been A Big Adventure but it has not been an easy one. Although the country is a wonderfully scenic extravaganza - at the moment, the mountains that surround Greymouth Mawhera are covered in snow and they are truly an incredible sight as the sun goes down and the white slopes blush pink - and the people we have met have been kind and generous - it has not been home to me yet. My heart has remained in Shetland. After all, 20 years of living in the islands in Ferncliff, our home on the hill, cannot be discarded easily. So, for the past six months, while we have unpacked, settled, worked and tried to adjust, it has been hard to forget the hills and seas of the North. Each time I caught a glimpse of my previous life in the photographs that fill-up my laptop's gallery, a pang of sadness and yearning struck, no matter how hard I tried to move on. I wondered if it would always be like that.

And then Covid struck. 

Now, recovering, albeit coughing and breathless and with a sense of taste returning slowly, something has changed. We have had the most fantastic care here. Every day a 'phone call to check that we are ok. A run by the hospital to our front door to bring some equipment to check on oxygen level, pulse and temperature. Family, friends, neighbours and colleagues checking-in and doing emergency runs for us with homemade soup and tests. And, once we had gotten out of isolation, people in the local shops smiling and chatting, asking how we are and glad to see us back. A run in the car to Reefton alongside amazing mountains and bush, dripping with icicles and dusted with snow, has lifted our spirits and made us thankful that we are able to get out and about again amongst the scenic beauty that has made the West Coast so famous.

While I realise that we are lucky to have escaped a more damaging encounter with Covid and that others are not so fortunate, our enforced isolation has done something useful. My perception has shifted and this is now becoming home. While I shall always have a strong pull to the islands and will always been thankful for the time we have spent living in that beautiful and wonderful place, it is time for a new adventure in this new home. Shetland, you have allowed me to survive and thrive with you. Now I look forward to creating strong links between the Coast and the islands, knowing that the same sense of community exists in both places and that we can have happy and successful lives here too. I hope you, dear readers, will continue to share our experiences as we move into this new era. Thank you for being part of that journey.