Brian Cheung


Thoughts, photos and anecdotes from my travels through Norway, Scotland and Finland.

Hello Bressay


The trip entered into its next phase today as I caught a bus, plane, boat and van to get to my next residency at Bressay on Shetland. I went to bed last night with a slight tingling sensation - similar to how I felt the night before Christmas when I was only in my single digits. I had told countless people about this upcoming residency, but even saying 'living in a lighthouse for two months' sounds a bit ridiculous until you're actually here. 

The sky was clear and golden this morning when I left Aberdeen, and it slowly got worse as I inched towards Bressay. The flight up took less than an hour in a minuscule plane. Shetland's main airport is actually within spitting distance of the Sumburgh Head lighthouse where I will be settling into next month, so I got a good look in as we swooped past towards the runway. 

From there I caught a bus to the capital of Lerwick, which randomly reminded me a lot of Stromness in Orkney. I lingered long enough to wander the empty streets (commonplace in most parts of Scotland outside of the main cities on Sundays) and grab a pub lunch before I hopped on a 10 minute ferry to take me from Lerwick to the adjacent Bressay on the other side of a narrow strait. 

Shirley (local school bus/taxi driver) picked me up at the docks and drove me the last few miles to the bottom end of the island where the lighthouse is perched. The custodian Frank met up with me to let me and all my bags in. By this stage the rain had gone from spitting to a deluge and the wind speed accelerated as if desperate to show me what it could do. 

I'm now writing from the comforts of a cosy little flat in a cottage by the lighthouse. Unfortunately I don't actually have access to the lighthouse itself, as it's all automated. One of the cottages has been converted to a self-accommodating b&b while I get the building next to that which is separated into my flat and some studio spaces next door. It's clean and comfortable and there isn't a single person wandering around to interact with. 

I also found out when I arrived that there isn't any WiFi! Fortunately (and I'm honestly more shocked by this) the phone reception is sitting comfortably on 4G, which is something I never expected here, especially after going right across the highlands and islands and barely eking out a signal anywhere at all. I'll just buy a great big load of data and tether the mac to my phone. It'll work a treat. 

Other things I wasn't provided with was much toilet paper (2 rolls?) and any basic kitchen provisions to speak of. So tomorrow I am taking myself and an empty 70L rucksack back to the mainland via Shirley's magic school bus and attempting to buy 4 weeks worth of food at the local Tesco. Wish me luck!

The above photo was taken in between running to the laundry (the only thing I need that's outside of my building) in a delirious state trying not to get blown off the cliff. The gales were picking up, but the waves look so beautiful when they're being whipped up into a frenzy.