Living and working at the old North Road close to the sea has many advantages; for instance, a load of wool ready for shipping and leaving us is less than five minutes away from the cargo boat. We are also very fortunate in that over the back fence we are virtually in the country due to the Staney Hill. To quote one well-known local the hills are the “lungs” of Lerwick. The only downside to being so close to the quay side is that we are subject to maritime noise sometimes on the night, discharging cargo boats and on board generators supplying power to the vessels.
Cargo vessels are the lifeline for the Shetland Islands, bringing in essential supplies and transporting goods and livestock to the global market place. In the winter months we are at the mercy of the inclement weather and occasionally there can be a shortage of foodstuffs leading to a slight panic in some cases, people bulk buying just in case.
As I have mentioned before, we overlook the ferry terminal and on a fine morning can hear the announcement, “Car drivers and their passengers should proceed to the car decks.” Across the harbour is the island of Bressay which is served by a small roll-on roll-off ferry, it beggars belief why in these modern times and with the island’s oil wealth there is not a fixed link, similar to our neighbours the Faroe Islands and Orkney.
In the summer months, Lerwick Harbour is home to dozens of cruise liners brining over 50,000 people from all over the globe to our remote archipelago. As many as three cruise ships in one day can visit; two of the berths used are directly below our home and my work. These visitors provide much needed revenue to the islands; the streets of Lerwick are inundated with crowds of people. Bus trips take them to all parts of Shetland where they witness the beauty of our islands and visit our historic places of interest.