Monday, October 13, 2014

Wilmont and My Passport

Wilmont and my Passport

He had shown me parts of Shetland I would never have seen otherwise:  hidden coves where corpulent harbor seals lounged on grey rocks, blinking their black round eyes at me as I sat watching them with my chin resting on my knees…. secret seasides where the tide came in white with hundreds of swans… a strip of wide sandy beach where waves crashed on either side as I walked its length with the sound of a wild wind in my ears.  Now as he pointed towards the horizon he looked grave as he said, “Weather’s changing.  It’s gonna get bad.”.  

Tom was our tour guide, a life long Shetlander, wealthy in his knowledge of the islands, but as I squinted in the bright sunlight to follow his gaze all I saw were a few thin clouds, misty and grey, gathered together far out in the sea. They certainly seemed innocuous enough. “But… “, I said, noticing he had already left to head back down the hill.  I followed behind him at a clip.

I had not originally planned to come to the Shetland Islands.  But when a friend and fellow knitter wrote to tell me she’d booked a trip to Shetland Wool Week I found it impossible to resist.  After all, I was already in Scotland.  So The Songwriter flew home to Edward and Apple on the date we had planned, and I made my way up to Aberdeen to meet my friend.  We boarded the fourteen hour (Fourteen!) ferry to Shetland, landing early on a rainy Saturday morning, picking up a car and heading north where we took another ferry to the island of Whalsay. There we spent seven hours under the delightful tutelage of two Shetland ladies, learning the intricate techniques of fair isle knitting.  

We took a wonderful tour of the island on the day before we left, returning back to our inn with Tom’s dire weather prediction bouncing round our heads.  Sure enough, we received an email that evening from the ferry company informing us that the ship was sailing two hours early in an attempt to avoid what was coming.  “Really?”, I said, as I stuck my head out our picture window, breathing in the air of a clear, starlit night.  

The next morning dawned drizzly and cold.  We visited a couple of museums and wool shops and whenever shopkeepers heard we were leaving that afternoon, expressions fell and darkened.  “Oh, you’re in for a rough one.”, they said with concern. “Take your seasickness medicine every hour on the hour and don’t even try to sit up.” 

The feeling of foreboding was heavy in the little ferry terminal as we left.  The few passengers there were shuffled down the walkway as a stiff wind blew the rain sideways into the foggy windows.  I swallowed hard.  Once in our cabin, I stretched out on my bed, clutching Wilmont, our stuffed monkey who accompanies us on every long journey, grateful I’d decided to keep him with me instead of sending him home with The Songwriter, and I waited.  

The moment the huge ship released its grip on the dock, it started.  Violently swaying and tipping, we made our way out into the wilds of the North Sea, feeling farther than ever from home.  Two hours later I was holding onto the sides of my bed as it pitched backwards and forwards and side to side when I heard… “Due to the expected adverse weather conditions, the restaurant will close in one hour.  Passengers are requested to stay inside their cabins.  Thank you.”   
OH Lord, I thought.  It’s going to get worse.

And dear reader, worse it did get.  Items sailed off tables, doors flew open.  Occasionally there would be a sound so deafening and a jolt so violent it seemed we’d obviously run headlong into something of monstrous proportions.  The cabin would then creak and moan as though threatening to break apart completely.  Without great effort, I could see myself quite clearly, alone as I bobbed up and down in the dark North Sea, clutching the two items I felt I would need most:  Wilmont and my passport.  

Either I passed out or fell into a frightful sleep, for I woke up at four in the morning and everything was still.  Wondering for a second or two if I was indeed, dead, I peered out the window, saw a tall building and, as it possessed nothing of a heavenly quality, decided I must still reside in the land of the living.  Slowly I stood up, opened our cabin door and ventured out into the eerily silent ship.  Padding upstairs, I found the crew sitting in the bar, sipping coffee and watching the weather on their computers.  “Excuse me, “ I said in a weak voice that sounded nothing like my own.  “Where exactly are we?”

“We’re in Aberdeen”, came the proud reply.  “Made it here two hours early like we hoped.  Beat the worst of it.”

With great diplomacy, I chose not to comment on this last statement, but just said, “Thank God.  I don’t ever want to be on the sea again.”

The room filled with laughter and one man said…”Ay, what you mean, lass?  People'd pay good money at a fun fair for a ride like that ‘un.”

I left as soon as the doors were opened, 
Wilmont in one hand, my passport in the other.

Wilmont, at Holyrood Castle, Edinburgh Scotland
October 2014


  1. WOW - I had to read this aloud to the family, they were riveted. So glad you made it back safely, and is sounds like you were in capable hands... still.

  2. What a story, Pamela. What a story. Thankfully, Wilmot was with you, your good luck charm for certain. I would have D.I.E.D. over a ride like that one. We have all heard stories of the storms of the North Sea, but usually from people in the oil business, not a lady who went to learn knitting!

  3. What a fabulous ending to a great, wild vacation!

  4. OH, MG it sounds terrible. Why don`t you show us the cute Willmont?

  5. Oh, I get terribly fearful on ferries if the sea is rough. So glad you made it home in one piece.

    Jean x

  6. Oh my goodness what a journey Pamela. Glad you made it unscathed ! …… just love the photograph of Wilmot ! XXXX

  7. i dearly love the sea. but near it. not ON or IN it! the picture is a perfect image of what it was like for you.
    oh my.
    and the best part maybe... the joking of it from the wizened shipmen at their coffee the next morning.
    all in a day's ... a night's work lass! WOW.
    you took us there with you.
    i'm just so glad you made it back.
    you and wilmot and your passport! xo♥

  8. Dear Pamela,

    I am sorry not to have visited of late, if you go to my blog you will understand, I just wanted to let you know as you are a very special person.

  9. Wilmont is lovely. Thank you, Pamela.

  10. You were so BRAVE to get onboard.......I think I would have waited it OUT!

  11. Oh Pamela, how \i laughed. I am the world's worst traveller and would always fly if I ever went to Shetland as the fourteen hour crossing is notorious. The tiniest swell and I am seasick. You don't mention being sick so perhaps you just endured it - what about your friend?

  12. You wrtite so well, what an adventure.
    I have been in a storm like that it's no picnic.
    Glad you arrived alive. Try knitting on the Lawn, haha.
    Great post. yvonne

  13. Dear Pamela,
    This sounds the trip from hell. Gosh, you are brave. I would have HATED it.
    So glad you arrived safe and somewhat sound - and saved by Wilmot!
    What an adventure.

  14. Dear Pamela that was a wild and scary ride! You were very gracious and yes so glad you arrived safely!

    The Arts by Karena

  15. What a frightening adventure in the storm at sea. Good thing you had Wilmont and your passport with you, if that gave you a glimmer of comfort. Your knitting lessons on the remote island sound fascinating.

  16. Oh Pamela, feeling a tad sea-sick myself after reading this.
    So glad you and Wilmont made it back safely to tell us all the tale.
    A couple of quick things Pamela. Thank for the Outlander recommendation, I've just consumed Series One, indulging in a little "binge viewing". Can't wait for series 2!!! Secondly, we stayed at the Draycott Hotel in Chelsea back in May after seeing it here on your blog. What a place!!! We loved afternoon tea at 3p.m. and champagne at 6. We didn't go in for Hot Chocolate at 9p.m. and didn't get to the fish and chips shop you recommended but dined at a lovely French restaurant close to the hotel. Thank you for writing about your adventures and sharing all your finds. I haven't started knitting Claire's Cowl as yet as I'm still on a scarf and hat for my husband.....but I'll get round to it. Wishing you a beautiful Fall.
    Anita xx

  17. It sounded like heaven till you got to the sail part. I would have died from a heart attack on that ferry. North Sea, dark water roiling and pitching with me on a boat - my nightmare.

  18. Oh I love this story! It sounds as if you held up very well. And I love that you went to a knitting workshop. You have inspired me to get back to my knitting classes. Can't wait to hear more about your trip!

  19. Pamela,
    That sounds frightful, I would have been deathly afraid. Good thing you had Wilmont with you. I'm happy you returned home safe and sound.

  20. I am impressed you were able to fall asleep! I suspect sleeping saved your life.

  21. You tell such wonderful stories...looking forward to hearing more of the trip!

  22. Completely familiar Shetland ferry experience! My worst was when an accompanying parent on my son's school orchestra trip to Shetland. I was felled 10 minutes out of Lerwick, along with most of the passengers. But the orchestra was unaffected. My son visited my cabin every now and then to check on his prostrate mother. And to inform me he and his friends were tucking in to cheese and onion crisps. Since that day I have never been able to look at a packet of the offending items.

  23. Cá cảnh chết báo hiệu điều gì loại cá cảnh thì sao, chúng có những dấu hiệu của điềm báo nào không?
    Kawasaki z1000 giá bao nhiêu Kawasaki z1000 là dòng xe phân khối lớn, được nhiều người yêu thích, và là dòng xe bán chạy nhất trong thị trường Việt Nam ở phân khúc xe phân khối lớn hiện này
    Dưới 40 triệu nên mua xe tay ga – xe số nào Khả năng tài chính là yếu tốt rất quan trọng để bạn có thể lựa chọn cho mình một chiếc xe phù hợp.
    Hiện tượng quỷ nhập tràng là gì Hay chỉ là những lời đồn trong nhân gian là điều mà rất nhiều bạn đọc đang muốn biết đến.
    Nên mua xe tay ga nào tốt nhất hiện nay Đây là điều mà nhiều người tiêu dùng đang rất thắc mắc và quan tâm.
    Vỏ xe không ruột là gì Chắc hẳn hiện nay, không ít người có nghe đến vỏ xe không ruột


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