I got back to Leicester last night with no real enthusiasm for the place. The extra 100+ days of lock down we've had here have probably been the final straw and I've been absent for a goodish bit of it after the water went off in my building for a weekend. I had to move out for a few days and saw no good reason to come back. There are still things I find convenient about living in a town, still people I care about here (although I can't see them) but I've loved the space that first the Scottish Borders, and then Shetland gave me other the last weeks. It made me feel so much better than I have in months, and I'm really going to miss it. Especially now the students are back here - they generally make the city feel safer, but right now an extra 40,000 people, half of them on my doorstep, feels overwhelming.
Meanwhile it's a long, long, time since I was in Shetland during the Autumn and so I ended up falling in love with it all over again. I was lucky with the weather. It was frequently quite windy, often quite wet, but never for very long. I wouldn't have minded a proper storm, but am grateful for the the glorious light and the change of colouring I got to see. It went from still having a hint of summer in sheltered corners, to feeling like winter was almost there on the more exposed hills.
It was also a chance to think about how I present the Shetland I see here and elsewhere on social media. I'm normally there around midsummer, and like most of us my pictures are carefully edited to show the wildest or most picturesque things I come across. It's a romantic view of a landscape which isn't exactly dishonest, but ignores the industrial reality of the place, so isn't entirely honest either. It's something that was really underlined for me when I posted a picture of an oil rig that's being decommissioned. People were ambivalent about it, but oil is a huge part of Shetland's recent history and prosperity as is fishing, salmon farming, mussel farming, and now the landscape is being torn apart for a massive windfarm.