As they were driving away Wise Woman #1, sitting in the front passenger seat, asked the Foolish Woman who was driving if there was enough gas in the car (you can tell Wise Woman #1 wasn't British since she used the term gas rather than petrol). The Foolish Woman assured her that she had already thought of that and had checked the gauge the day before. It was hovering just over half full, and the Foolish Woman knew she could drive a couple hundred kilometres in her vehicle at home with that much fuel.
One of the reasons the Foolish Woman was so confident was she knew that even though their Merry Trio would be driving north on Mainland, then taking a ferry to the island of Yell, driving up that island, then taking another ferry to Unst, the northern most island in Britain, the actual distance covered wouldn't be that great so they couldn't possibly need more than about a quarter of a tank.
Like all good ferry tales this one has brave friends on the path (or in the case of this picture, the ferry) to adventure.
It has hauntingly beautiful scenery,
treasure (in the form of Shetland Lace),
and, of course, a castle.
The Ferry Tale day was turning out to be every bit as wonderful as the Merry Trio had hoped. The only thing missing was a spot of adventure. No worries on that account though, since it was Foolish Woman driving the car.
They were feeling quite pleased with themselves as they got to within a few kilometres of the ferry that would take them on the first leg of the return journey. They had arrived in plenty of time to catch the next sailing, which also meant they would make it back to Burrastow House in time for one of Pierre's wonderful dinners.
Then there was a noise. It was a strange noise, and not one the Foolish Woman was familiar with. However, Wise Woman #2, sitting in the back seat, said with a note of surprise in her voice that it sounded like the alarm on her car that goes off if the petrol is low (you can tell Wise Woman #2 lives in Britain since she called it petrol and not gas). Foolish Woman felt fear rise up in her, and quickly glanced at the fuel gauge (you can tell Foolish Woman has dual citizenship since she is using a neutral term like fuel). It was at the quarter tank mark. She breathed a premature sigh of relief and headed down the final hill that approached the ferry. Halfway there the fuel light came on.
It wouldn't be a good Ferry Tale if it didn't have a bit of treachery in it, and this story is no exception. The Foolish Woman didn't mention the fact the fuel light was blazing brightly from the dashboard to her traveling companions. She let them continue to believe the sound must have been a mistake, and casually suggested they find a fuel station on the island of Yell just to be on the safe side.
Yell has a population of just under 1000 people, so even the Foolish Woman was able to deduce there couldn't possibly be that many stations on the island. And it was Sunday. The few there were might all be closed. Visions of a Not So Merry Trio stranded on a lonely road in Shetland began to take shape. The Foolish Woman drove with the sweat beading on her forehead and gripping the steering wheel fiercely as if this might somehow slow down the consumption of fuel. Wise Woman #1 and Wise Woman #2, oblivious to the fact that the fuel light was on, kept reassuring the Foolish Woman that it was fine, it wasn't her fault, they would find a station, not to worry, etc. I would like to insert that this is the only point in the story where the Foolish Woman knew more than the Wise Women.
I'm happy to say that the Merry Trio did find a petrol station. Once they got over the embarrassment of having walked into a small convenience store to ask where it was, only to be told they were parked next to it, they filled up the tank and with much happier hearts headed to the final ferry that would take them back to Mainland and their beloved Burrastow House.
This is where the story would have ended, except it was still Foolish Woman driving, and she got a bit lost. For anyone who has ever driven through the island of Yell, you might be shaking your heads in disbelief thinking such a thing isn't possible. Well, it is. There is just one main road that cuts directly through the middle of the island. When Foolish Woman turned off that main road to get petrol she couldn't seem to find her way back to it.
This meant that instead of arriving at the next ferry with loads of time to spare, the Anxious Trio arrived just as the ferry was being loaded. Not only that, because they approached from a side road they somehow ended up in the lane designated for ferry passengers who had reservations, which they did not. Foolish Woman was flustered. She lives in a place where they can throw you into prison if you attempt to sneak into the ferry reservation lane (it wouldn't be a good ferry tale without a bit of exaggeration). Wise Woman #2, showing the wisdom of her years, spoke up from the back seat. "Just go. If they say anything tell them you're an ignorant American tourist." As it turned out, nobody even asked to see their non-existent reservation. Shetlanders are very trusting. In this case, perhaps a bit more than was warranted.
And so the Trio was Merry again. They drove the rest of the way back happy with the thought that their day had been a success, and knowing that a feast awaited them upon their return. Only the Foolish Woman knew how very close they had come to disaster.
Not Quite The End
There's a reason I'm telling this cautionary tale now, more than two months after it happened. Today
Foolish Woman I will be driving onto another ferry, this time for a literary adventure.
Let's hope this ferry trip goes a bit more smoothly than the last one. And if you happen to be in the Victoria area Saturday, please stop by. I would love to see you!