In the summer of 2002, Mitchell set sail aboard the 30-foot yacht Foggy Dew on a voyage that took him from his home through the Western Isles to Orkney and Shetland and on to the west coast of Norway. Against the backdrop of one of the world's most spectacular coastlines, he sailed up the Nordfjord, down to Bergen, then out to Utsira, and back home via Inverness. The object of his journey was more than just to enjoy a few contemplative drams during a summer at sea. In this sequel to his much acclaimed Isles of the West (1999), Mitchell continues his investigation into official Britain's failure to administer rural Scotland for the mutual benefit of people and nature. Ian Mitchell's narrative combines authoritative background information and personal interviews with local people, many enlivened by the measured dispensation of Scotland's most famous aid to creative thought. He shows how Norway, a country outside the EU and therefore in control of its own resources, has been able to give a wide measure of freedom to the sort of communities which in Scotland are subject to debilitating control by Edinburgh, London and Brussels.
He points to many lessons which centralised, bureaucratic Britain could learn from its more democratic neighbour across the North Sea.
Ian Mitchell is the author of Isles of the North (2004) and Isles of the West. He lives in Moscow. Visit his blog at russianrambles.blogspot.
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