Monday, 28 January 2013

Its official, Shetland is the best place to live according to the Royal Bank of Scotland area quality of life survey. It scored very high when it came to health, life expectancy, unemployment and one of the lowest crime rates in the UK.

In addition to this the National Geographic Travel magazine placed Shetland joint third along side Lofoten Islands in Norway and Chiloi archipelago in Chile.

Obviously crime is a big concern for everyone and to move to a low crime area is going to be a big benefit especially when getting older. At present in Sheffield, the 3rd largest city in England certain areas are no go especially at night. So far in 2013, one murder has been committed, 3 other shootings and several stabbings have taken place. Gang crime is always a problem and towards the end of last year 25 incidents of gang related crime (in 2 months) occurred in just one area of Sheffield. Rival gangs opened fired on each other and on houses in the Parson Cross area. Last year in South Yorkshire  the police tackled 11,000 incidents of public disorder, 95362 offences in total, that's nearly 5 times the whole Shetland population. In the run up to christmas 99 crimes occurred at Meadowhall, 5 mobile phone are stolen in Sheffield every day and there has been a 10% increase in burglaries last year.

In contrast Shetland has a 70% detection rate, the highest in the UK, and 100% detection rate for drugs possession and supply (Shetland times). Its one of the few places where you can leave your house unlocked and keys in your car either day or night and not have a problem (outside Lerwick). We remember speaking to a police officer in the early 1990's, who was on the ferry heading south. He told us that he had only made one arrest in 15 years while on Unst, where crime is very very rare, but had now just been transferred to Liverpool !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 Normally I would be very concerned if I saw kids with these weapons in Sheffield, but not in Shetland

Ok so most of us don't get affected by this level of crime but it's there and you have to be aware. On a few occasions while photographing in Sheffield city centre I have just avoided possible incidents where i could have been mugged. Its not safe to carry an expensive DSLR camera, especially at night and you are always looking out for possible encounters, even when you are with someone else. This doesn't help when I am running night photography training courses. Also when I am out with a large telephoto lens it always draws unwanted attention and it restricts where you can go. So i am looking towards the freedom Shetland offers where photography is concerned.

                                                             Sheffield City Centre

Friday, 18 January 2013

Driving in Shetland is far more of a pleasure than driving in Sheffield, that's apart from the cost of fuel which is generally 20p per litre dearer. We came back from Diane's sisters the other night in the rush hour, it took 1 1/4 hours to travel 8 miles. When you also consider that the return journey (16 miles) had passed through 106 sets of traffic lights you can imagine the pleasure of driving along the quiet Shetland roads where you see little traffic and would only encounter a couple of lights within the whole island.

                                                       Sheffield rush hour

In addition the road surface in Shetland is vastly superior to that of Sheffield where you might encounter a  couple of hundred potholes on a short road, so we are looking forward to that side of things as well.
                                               The main road in Shetland near airport

Having settled on a solicitor we have just received the paperwork only to find we have to provide photo ID. Now that wouldn't have been a problem normally as we have a passport, but they ran out just before Christmas and not been able to apply for photo ID driving licence without a passport it looks as though we will have to apply for another passport. Typical as we have also found out the Northlink don't require any photo ID to board their ferries.

We have just finished painting various bits around the house and was hoping for a new kitchen floor to be fitted today, but we have just found out that the fitters have cancelled due to crashing in the snowy conditions. We will have to cancel the property photographer who was due Monday morning until this has been done.

Monday, 7 January 2013

We have many reasons for wanting to move to Shetland, some of these include having wide open spaces, being near the sea and far less people. During christmas over 150,000 people visited Meadowhall in Sheffield in one day, that's about 7 x more than the whole of the Shetland population.

Meadowhall is not one of our favourite places, if we have to go we aim for the shop and are straight in and out, unlike alot of people who go for the day. In Shetland the Toll clock shopping centre is a mini version which is more manageable and still has free parking.

While Shetland hasn't got a wide variety of shops it becomes more pleasurable walking around Lerwick the capital, as you can see above on a busy Saturday. Alot of the shops in Lerwick have Shetland made products which reinforces the local identity and are very popular with locals and tourists alike.

We have just had quotes back from solicitors who will deal with our house sale in Sheffield, with three hundred pound differences between the three. With Scottish law being different in that once a bid is accepted it is binding, we will have to go into rented accommodation and hope to buy a house in Shetland as soon as possible after our sale. Rather than putting a bid in for another house which is tied up with the sale of ours in England, we could be left with buying a house in Shetland before we have sold our current house.

Our estate agents, Blundels have been too quick off the mark. We had said that we wanted to do a few minor things to the house before having the photographer and the sale board go up. However the photographer contacted us in December wanting to come round and today we has to stop someone putting the for sale board up. Its never that straight forward and wires always get crossed.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Shetland Dream

Our dream of moving to Shetland started well over two years ago after planning yet another trip to the far north. Diane and I had already been visiting Shetland on a regular basis since 1987, so we know some of the benefits and disadvantages of moving to this northerly location in the UK.

I dreamed of visiting Shetland back in 1979 when I was with a group of friends touring the west coast of Scotland. We all talked about were we wanted to visit and having just read Bobby Tullock's books I was keen to explore these remote islands. They were the last wilderness of the British isles and having been interested in wildlife and photography since an early age they seemed the best place to visit to see and photograph a vast array of birds and sea mammals.

Then having met Diane we got married and money was short so we could only visited Scotland, although always keeping an eye on Shetland before taking the leap to make our first visit in May 1987. Then the St Clair only traveled up twice a week, it was a great experience and we were hooked. Now of course Shetland has a daily ferry and air service

                                                                        St Clair

So back to 2013, a new year and a new start.We had already contacted the estate agents and they had been and conducted the energy survey and completed the floor plan in late December. We had decided to go with Blundels, having previously used them twice before. With some houses in our areas remaining unsold for over a year Blundels had the best record for selling, although very expensive. As we need to complete some work on our house we have arranged for the photographer to come mid January, the sale board will be up soon after.