Friday, April 22, 2005

Voyaging North


This is where I am going at the weekend.

I haven't been blogging much of late, cause I am immersed in writing the memoirs of my love-life (Millions of Women are Waiting to Meet You; Bloomsbury Books, 2006 (for those unfortunate souls who have forgotten)). I'd like to say this situation is going to change anon, that I am soon going to start blogging like a bastard, but I'm not sure I am: because at the weekend I am flying north to the most remote inhabited isle in the United Kingdom: Foula (pronounced foo-lah) a chunk of wave-lashed granite, twenty miles from the Shetlands, not far from the Arctic Ocean.

Foula, by all accounts, is a rum place. Until recently a lot of people spoke in a Norse-inflected dialect - a hangover from the Viking invasions of a thousand years ago. Even now, people on Foula (all thirty of them) use a different calendar to the rest of us: the Foulans use the old-fangled Julian calendar rather than our funky new Gregorian calendar (rolled-out across Europe in the Renaissance); this means the islanders celebrate Christmas on June 10th. Or something.

There are other odd things about Foula. It's got some of the highest cliffs in the world. People like to eat puffins there, when they can't find a nice juicy gannet. The main means of communication on Foula used to be a postal service like none other: when the island was cut off they had to put letters in small wooden boats, chuck them in the sea, and hope that the prevailing currents would carry the missives to the mainland, where the letter would be posted. Apparently this method was quite unreliable.

Even now Foula is very remote and easily isolated. In bad weather the islands can go six weeks - SIX WEEKS - without any contact from the mainland, without any visitors being able to come or go.

So I may be gone some time. I hope not, as it's lambing season there - and I am staying in a croft where I will be 'expected to muck out on the farm'. Nice.

All in all, I feel I might not be blogging quite as regularly over the next few days as I'd like. Unless they've got some kind of broadband access, involving thistledown.

Wish me luck! Posted by Hello

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