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Published: 12 May 2016

By Andy Ross

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An Important Lesson

Life can get tough, even if you live in a beautiful place. And this is a lesson that came along at just the right time...

It has been an interesting few weeks but, my goodness me, has it been busy and hectic. Normally we are pretty good at dealing with things as they happen and the maelstrom of life can happily be subsumed and incorporated into our creative processes at GlobalYell. But sometimes, just sometimes, things creep up and pile on, and before you know it, there is a Whole Lot of Pressure, rather like the proverbial straw and unfortunate camel. 

It is a few weeks now since Greenland and that stunning place is still very much in my thoughts. I have been buying books, historic books, some about the adventuring of Greenland, swashbuckling stories of derring-do across the ice and snow, and others more reflective, like the one which arrived this week from Denmark all about mental health amongst the aforementioned snowy conditions. The former are full of photographs, showing ways of life that were disappearing and changing in the middle of the last century and captured now forever as black and white images on a page, while the latter is an academic medical study undertaken by Inge Lynge, the wife of Hans Lynge, the artist whose pictures were turned into the wonderful tapestries in the capital city of Nuuk. I know Greenland taught me a huge amount but I also know it left me pondering and puzzling about unresolved dilemmas...

This tourist season in the studio we have also been experiencing a little strangely: visitors for the past few weeks have been few and far between. May and June are usually the busiest months of the summer and we look forward to those months because we love showing our visitors around. This year, visitors at this time are just simply not around, not even travelling on our roads, yet in August we have two tours filled. So people are coming, but just not yet. Which means that shot in the arm that we look forward to when people allow us to see our world through their eyes, renewing our faith in what we are doing and rekindling old interests and setting off new sparks that have become dormant in the long winter, is lacking. And that makes things a little off-kilter...

Our newest project, the research into Shetland tweed, has had lots of fantastic interest but, of course, along with that is the pressure to start the project before we all get Too Busy in the summer. I am looking forward to applications from Scotland, England, the USA and New Zealand. How is that for reaching the furthest corners of the planet! How wonderful that people want to work with us and are prepared to travel to do so. It says a lot about Shetland, I think, and the draw of this most magical of places and of course we don't want to let people down or take their dreams away but A Decision will have to be made about who gets this post...

Then there is our day to day work. The studio work. The warping up the looms. The planning. The photographing. The speaking to people and making new contacts. All Great Stuff, but all adding a little bit of Tiring to the day. 

So this week when a headache came along and wouldn't shift, it was time to stop. A quick nap at home after a couple of hours of Work that Needed to be Done, and then a Long Walk. One of my favourites is close to home, a walk along the banks, over a shingle beach with that extraordinary unShetland and yet so very Shetland green-blue sea on one side and the inkly blue-black of a small loch on the other, through a small deserted settlement of ruined crumbling stone houses, a gradual climb up and up until you are walking along the edge of a cliff, and suddenly, a splash of yellow amongst the green grass and red rock; the Primrose Cliffs are in view. It is a great walk, always inspiring a song or two, and this time I rattled through Songs of Travel by Ralph Vaughan Williams, matching my footsteps to the ryhthm of the music and my thoughts to the sentiments in the bucolic songs. 

This is my Special Place. Everyone knows about it but few people come here because it is not on the road so people forget. It is where I come when I need to rest: to  look at gannets diving, fulmars gliding past with gently-ruffling feathers on their wings and curiously cocked black eyes watching, little boats sailing through the sound between Unst and Yell, seals sometimes, and porpoises. It is a good place to see and watch and hear and feel again, in amongst all the turmoil.

Walking home again along the single track road that connects Cullivoe to the Rest of the World felt much better. And a cup of hot chocolate at home made everything perfect again. I am sure I will forget again and a headache will remind me to Stop, to go to the Primrose Cliffs, to fall in love again with the place in which I choose to live, and to remind myself that a lot of the time any stress I feel is made by me! A Great Lesson relearnt.