My latest island-based reading is Simon King’s ‘Shetland Diaries’. This is a TV tie-in book; Simon King is a wildlife cameraman and presenter probably best-known in the UK for presenting ‘Springwatch’. A couple of years ago he spent, on and off, a year with his family in Shetland for a 3 part series which documented both his family life (he has a young and very cute daughter who at the time was 2-3 and who would sometimes accompany him on his nature-watching adventures; his wife also films wildlife) (didn’t want to call her a ‘cameraman’ but couldn’t think of an alternative!) and the life of the wildlife of Shetland throughout the year.
His enthusiasm for both the place and the wildlife is unmistakeable, he clearly loves both. I really liked when he was describing the wildlife and what they were up to, whether they were puffins, otters, red-throated divers, orcas, gannets or all manner of other things, and also the background to filming them (the long hikes, abseiling over cliffs etc) – maybe because I saw two of the three programmes in the series (I unfortunately missed the first one) and also because I’ve been to a couple of the places he mentions I could picture the scene well. I think I would have liked some more pictures, but that probably says more about me than the book!
Because it was also about his family life as well as the place and its wildlife it felt both more personal but also more disjointed in parts. Having said that though I did sometimes feel very moved by his talking about his daughter’s wonder at discovering more of the world. It was also entertaining and even amusing in parts, and all in all was a nice easy read for the train!