Thursday, 24 May 2012

Lime light - unexpected. A benefit of island living and commuting.

Is there anything better than dappled sunlight on your skin? This unexpected dappled lime light came from a gorgeous Tillia cordata, the lucious lime tree, or Linden tree in Stirling today. So green and crisp and fresh, unfurled leaves dancing in the sunlight - beautiful. Alive and well in 'alien' mainland lands far from Orkney. One of the joys of travelling from an island is that you dip into other lives (and trees) in the blink of an eye. I don't often experience dappled sunlight at home - its a luxury for places like Happy Valley or some of the wooded areas of Orkney, normally I'm under a very clear sky with vistas for miles all around. Today is very different. Today I have dappled light and its most welcome.
One of the joys of island living - rather than be at home all the time, work takes you on adventures (they call it training) and with exciting trips on airplanes, trains, cars and in no time at all, cities happen. As if by magic.
One of the things I love about where I live is that to do what many folk consider 'normal' mainland life things, including going to attend training, I have to hop on a plane and then a train. And, I see a different world. I see apple trees blushing pink in blossom and Hawthorn's flowering and the perfume of it filling a railway carriage. Hawthorns always remind me of the smell of May's in England in my childhood which grew in leafy lanes in Oxforshire and other such places of my early years. In this alien land of lush green trees,  I can indulge my face in dappled light and lime trees unfurling in the early morning spring time sunshine.
If you're in that world everyday - do you notice the changes around you? Do you see the trees unfurl into leaf, or do they just slowly change unnoticed. I wonder if in my world I see the big skies and the light getting longer each night at the moment? Or do I just take them for granted, as they drift by unnoticed? I hope where I'm surrounded by beauty I see it and revel in it daily. I know I live in a beautiful place, realitively unspoiled - do those folks in central belt enjoy their surrounding in the same way? I hope they do. Its a beautiful area with surprises like gargoles or dragons (?) on poles......
Five hours later, lots of work chatting and newly trained, my head full of exciting things I've learnt - I'm back on a train, commuting with the rest of the world, so alien to mine in so many ways. Do people talk much on the train? It would appear not today, acknowledgements are as far as it goes on this journey for me. I'm happy enough I'm watching a green lush world whizz by. Stepping off the train, I make all the usual mistakes with tickets and unyielding barriers [which I'll never get the hang of] and patient attendants help me through, wryly smiling when I can't fathom which bit of the several 'tickets' are actually tickets [why do they give you so many if they're not all tickets?]. No trains where I live I tell them jovially, patiently again, they nod to the mad lady who's nattering avidly to them. Time for a plane I think. I'm not really from this land! I don't understand trains but I do understand airplanes, time for a dash through the building commuter traffic towards the airport.
Its almost time for my normal life to return, within minutes, I've hopped in a taxi whizzing towards the airport - checked in, I rampage my way barefoot through business suits and happy travellers enroute to foriegn lands. I'm barefoot as I know I'll have to take the 'mainland' shoes off at some point and the airport floors are cool and welcome. We're polite as we all bustle through, but we're all mainly strangers, no one talks to the barefooted lady bustling through the airport queues. Rather oddly I suppose, unlike train stations, airports are not unfamiliar sights for many of us 'island commuters', we're more practised at this than railway travel. In most of our everyday life we often have our eyes down to the task of mainland 'travelling amoung strangers'.
Mostly I try and keep my eyes up and feasting on my surroundings, reading poetry on walls and people watching. Such a welcome diversity,  I love people and travelling through them. However today I'm focussed, today I've only 45 minutes until I fly, time for a quick sushi stop so bustling is required to acheive this task. Whilst I'm not much of a bustler, I can bustle with the rest of them when required you know, dining quite unnoticed by my fellow sushi lovers.
See I can do 'fast lane' now and again! Sushi indulgences leave little time, a quick dart and inbetween the folks, to run along to the other end of the airport where the gate for the isles is often situated. Purposefully, the gate is faraway from the main concourse to give us sushi munchers a quick bit of exercise I think!
Here I'm greeted by a few familiar faces (I'll only show you thier feet!) and a few unknown, as we wait to get our flight home, after all, many of us inhabit the same island, others are popping by, but we're all homeward bound. Bound to see a face or two we ken fine. A few nods hello, passing the time of day, finally a sense of familiarily, we almost feel like we're nearly home. Although it always amazes me how many folk wait at the gate and how on earth they all fit in our little plane! A lovely relaxing gaze out the window over Scottish mainland, in less than an hour we touch down in Kirkwall. 10 degrees cooler, barely any wind, no traffic, little fuss and bags popped into an unlocked, messy car, normal life resumes.
At home,  a beautiful sunset, big skies, lapwings and oyster catchers singing overhead I jump out the car to be greeted by chickens and children and hoonds. As far as worlds get they are familiar and remote all at once. Islands and cities, 50 minutes through the air from home, a whole other city bustling world left behind. I love Edinburgh and adventures on trains to places I dinnae ken so well like Stirling (which is beautiful), but I love heading home too. Back to the big skies, the birds and a distinct lack of greenery getting in the way of the vistas. I wonder if I've lived on the islands for too long, as I now see trees as wonderful, but often confusing. I like them, but they don't half get in the way of a decent view or vista when you're surrounded by them. They hide things, beautifully but you can't exactly see through them can you?
I love flying, I love travelling, I really enjoy 'commuting' but I guess that's as its as alien to me. But, I love getting out of my normal environment, giving your all senses a holiday, with unexpected delights like the smell of May blossoms in railway carriages and unfurling lime trees. Whether work or pleasure, my wanderlust is rewarded by unfamiliar sights and pleasures like dappled limes or unfamiliar trains with their confusing etiquiette, gently coaxing me forwards to desinations unknown. I guess for us islanders ferries and airplanes are more familiar than trains and commutes to cities.

The bag is again unpacked, for the now. Next adventure? Not sure if we're away before our summer holidays, but who knows. Inbetween times perhaps a ferry to a smaller Orkney island to spy puffins? Surely must be almost time for those to appear? I do like adventures with puffins and Peedies of course and Haggis has yet to meet puffins, so we'll have to organise that won't we?


  1. I live in the Fens of Cambridgeshire and miss hedges and trees by the roadside, which are common in other areas, and I really notice them when I travel a distance in other directions and love to drive down lanes with trees at either side of the road!

  2. Morgan I love hedges so dense you can't see round the next bend. Gorgeous. But, must be this island malarkey, after a while that much hedginess (which is a wor, I'm assured by Peedie), much hedigeness after a while makes me feel closed in and smothered. Guess that unconstructed island vista for you. Makes you see trees and hedges as peculiar where they are prolific!


  3. I know *exactly* what you mean. I thought I *missed* trees, but when i went south last year - after 5 years in Orkney - I spent the whole week with a weird, fluttery, almost panicky feeling in my chest. I thought it might be the cities and crowds, but had the same feeling out in the country too. When I came home to Stronsay, I suddenly realised it was because I couldn't see the horizon. On this small island I can see to the horizon, sea kissing sky, in any direction, at any time. My eyes are continually drawn to it. There is nothing in the way. It seems completely natural to me now, though I grew up at the foot of the Pennines, about as far from the sea as it is possible to be in the UK. Whod've thunk? :-)

  4. Hiya Fay,
    Know what you mean - too much vegetation can get very confusing. It's always a balance, isn't it? Think how depressed you were when your plants blew away - but you wouldn't have the big skies if they stayed there and grew.