Friday, July 20, 2012

Sumburgh (Sum bur a)

I arrived in Sumburgh on the Shetland Islands today. There are not words to describe what I've seen so hopefully a few dozen pictures will help.

I should have known Sumburgh was pronounced Sum-bur-a instead of sum-burg. Just like Edinburgh is E-din-bur-a. It sounds a lot better rolling off the Scots' tongues than mine though.

After checking in at the hotel,which is absolutely lovely, I headed to Jarlshof which is a 4,000 year old settlement. I saw the progression of homes from roundhouses, to wheelhouses, to brochs, and longhouses. Those of you who have my manuscript know that this is a crucial setting in my work.

Next I headed towards Sumburgh Head. The guy at Jarlshof pointed me in the direction of the footpath. I walked along a rocky cliff, over a fence that said "Watch for bull," and over unstable ground that had holes in it. When I looked in a hole, a bird cawed at me. I apologized to the bird and went on my way. Near an inlet two-thirds of the way there a large white bird with a yellow bill and dark markings on its face started swooping down towards me repeatedly and making a terrifying noise. I backed away and another one came. I walked with my hands over my head since they were 8-10 feet above me. After one more attempt and the same results I went back to the hotel and called a taxi.

The clusters of puffins on the cliffs near Sumburgh Head were breathtaking. It was a lot more peaceful experience than the previous bird encounter. I took numerous pictures and video. I cannot even begin to describe the sound they make. Now that I have been to the two places I wanted to see and I still have one more day here, I have time to explore other areas.

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