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Published: 11 June 2016

By Andy Ross

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Why I live in Shetland

Over the years, 15 to be exact, that I have lived in Shetland, people have often asked why I live here. I guess to almost all people it appears remote and isolated, rural and somewhat of a backwater. Here are some very good reasons to live on the island of Yell. 

Last night in the Simmer Dim - the long days of midsummer - I went for a walk along the hilltop to North Sandwick. The views across the Sound to Unst and Fetlar with the ferry busily plying the waters and the fishing boats coming and going, are always spectacular. And last night at nine o'clock it was broad daylight. The clouds hanging in the sky seemed so close that they might have been just out of reach, casting grey shadows across the hills of Fetlar and steel shade on the blue sea. Larks and curlews flew and called, and snipe thrummed in the blue skies. Across the way offshore islands bubbled above the horizon, slightly darker than the misty distance and close at hand a busy tractor ploughing gathered clouds of gulls behind it. Reason Number One: It is a glorious and beautiful place to live. 

On the walk I thought about the various places I have been lucky enough to live in; Southern Africa, the USA, London and now Shetland. Of all of them, this is the longest I have lived anywhere. I feel settled and yet not so settled that I am bored. There are lots of chances to chat with people and friends, and our communities are good here in Shetland. Life is full of excitement and possibility, and it is only when there is space around me that I can breathe deeply and make plans. I guess it is not everyone's cup of tea, but it is definitely mine. Reason Number Two: this is a place that allows you to grow and find yourself.

And now probably the most important reason to live here. In amongst all the chatter of the modern world and the problems that seem to beset us at every point, doing something like running a textile studio must be one of the most fulfilling jobs ever! Yes, there are lots of challenges and problems but we get to work with beautiful design and fantastic colour, and we get to actually make cloth! Plus we get to meet some Very Interesting People and organisations. We cannot say too much yet but watch this space for some exciting news. So Reason Number Three: This is a place where we can be creative and for that to be accepted as a valid choice to make, and where people who like creative endeavour can find us easily. 

Are those reasons enough to live on a small island in the middle of the ocean? I think so...