My first 2022 trip as the educational expert for National Trust Tours is scheduled for May to the Scottish isles and the fjords of Norway. To prepare I called a friend and former colleague who has led this tour in the past. Having traveled in parts of Scotland and Scandanavia, this was going to be my first adventure to the rarely visited Inner Hebridean, the Orkney and Shetland islands, and to Norway’s majestic fjords. Traveling “in the wake of early Viking explorers, cruising into ports accessible only by small ship” as described by the brochure, I wanted to test out a couple of ideas for my lectures and find out what I should study to prepare.
Grace Gary — my friend and one of the National Trust’s most popular study tour leaders — was full of creative ideas. But one really surprised me and piqued my interest. “A good number of the travelers will have read one or more of the Shetland Island mysteries,” she said, “or seen the series on PBS. If you don’t want to be clueless,” Grace added, in her typically straightforward (some might say devil-may-care) style, “you should know what they are talking about.”
Which is how I came to read Raven Black, the first in the Shetland Island mystery series of author Ann Cleeves earlier this month. It wasn’t until the pandemic, as I watched thrillers and mysteries on PBS to while away the hours of lockdown, that I came to appreciate the genre. But I was quickly brought into the story of lonely outcast Magnus Tait, who stays home on New Year’s Eve and becomes the prime suspect when the body of a murdered teenage girl is discovered nearby the next morning. Inspector Jimmy Perez has his doubts about how quickly the community comes together to point the finger at Magnus, and in his work to unravel the true tale we find out a great deal about the Shetland Islands and this small, isolated community. The ending was certainly a surprise and Cleeves cleverly wraps up this story by pointing to future mysteries to come.
Now I’m ready to be part of the small talk sure to take place around the Shetland Island mysteries. And thanks to conversations with friends at the National Trust for Scotland and the International National Trusts Organisation, I’ll also be ready to put my preservation experience into this international context. Let’s travel!
More to come…
For other More to Come postings about past National Trust Tours I’ve been privileged to enjoy, check out the following:
- Art, Architecture, and Craft in Asheville (2021)
- Japan by sea (2019)
- A wonderful week (2013) on a tour from the coast of Portugal to Normandy beach.
- The beauty of the Dutch Antilles (2010)
While on a blogging break, I’m taking the time to share some of my favorites from the More to Come archives and post the occasional new piece around books I’m reading. This one falls into the latter category.
Image of Bergen Norway: 999Vic999, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons