Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Best move ever !!!

As the year comes to an end we have looked back to some major events. We sold our house and moved to Shetland on the 17 April moving into a house in the south mainland. We stayed there until 17 August when we managed to buy a house in Sandwick.

Life is good for both of us and we wished we had moved a lot earlier. Its a massive decision to move far away from where you were born but we fell in love with Shetland , the people and wildlife so it was easier than moving anywhere else not that we had to move anywhere.

If you are thinking of moving to Shetland then consider the following:

  • Come and visit Shetland and have a good look around. We spoke to someone who moved to Unst as house prices are very low but didn't realise that he would have to travel on two ferries to get to the Mainland and then would have to drive for 40 ins to get to Lerwick for his work. They had never been to Shetland before and although they had looked on Google earth they didn't realise that the population on Unst had reduced by 50% when the RAF left the island. They also thought that Lerwick was on Unst and that this was the mainland. They had moved all the way from New Zealand. I gather they have now left Shetland altogether. 
  • Make sure you have some accommodation to come to, there is not much about and the costs are very high
  • House prices are high around Lerwick / Scalloway and you will find a lot of people bidding.
  • Make sure you check out the Scottish way of buying a house
  • Join as many local clubs etc as you can, you will meet lots of people
  • Support local shops don't let Tesco rule
  • Make the  most of the dry, still days that come in winter
  • Make sure you car has all weather tyres for winter driving
  • There is more opportunities for work than down in England
  • Expect high costs for any building work., Expect time delays for anything you want building
  • Fuel costs are higher, Council tax includes water rates
  • Gales are frequent in winter
  • Very low crime rate
  • A very good supportive community 
  • The Shetland Times, a paper worth reading from front to back
  • Don't expect much variation in shops
  • Make the most of free postage sites such as Amazon, some companies don't deliver to Shetland
  • The food is very tasty, especially the lamb.
  • You can get discounts on ferry travel to Aberdeen if you are a resident
  • Roads are in far better condition than in England and they are empty
  • Use Skype to stay in contact
  • Take plenty of photos to show what people are missing !
  • Build up your energy levels to enjoy the long spring and summer days
  • Be inspired by the music
  • Expect to see plenty of wildlife
  • Embrace the weather, gales can be spectacular, but stay safe
We are now enjoying a better quality life in Shetland than we ever did in Sheffield, we do miss our family and friends but Skype has made things easier and we speak to some people more now than we did before we moved.

The winter nights are filled with opportunities, either seeing skies where you can actually see the stars or the aurora (something that most people want to see) going out to numerous concerts and gatherings or meeting friends.

There are plenty of opportunities to live the life you want, see superb sunsets and wildlife and to get away from the hectic way of life.

Have a great New year and 2015

Thanks for looking at this blog, hopefully we may have provided you with some information that will be useful. Preparation is vital we spent two years researching and asking people in Shetland for information. Don't be one of the people that comes to Shetland for less than a year before returning south. 
                                                                                Don't be an Alien join in !!!

Please take a look at my other blogs to gain a better overall picture of life in Shetland


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Snow arrives

Snow arrived last Saturday, a thin white covering along the road and fields. It was cold but not a cold as down in England where they also had gales. Here it was still, very still after a week of gales.

Snow usually doesn't stay long in Shetland, with the salt and the gulf stream creating mild conditions. With the gritters working only during the week it becomes essential for all weather tyres on the car, but only having a hire car without these tyres we decided not to go out to the Ness fiddle and Accordion concert over the hill at Bigton. It was disappointing as we had been going to the practice sessions at Levenwick and had really enjoyed the performances.

On Monday, we picked our new car up (with all weather tyres) and look forward to driving the Kia Rio. The one we hired proved a good drive, although this will be the first time for years we have had a petrol one. At present Petrol is £1.19 about 7p dearer than the mainland.

Also on Monday the snow returned covering the main roads and it was odd to have thunder and lightening at the same time. Some stupid drivers who decided to overtake at 60 mph + on icy roads, on a bend with on coming traffic, seem to be racing each other as well.

My tooth broke at the weekend, so i phone up to see able emergency treatment as i was not sure what qualified up here. Although in pain apparently it was not severe enough to have treatment and as we were not registered they asked us to come down. We completed all the details and they said they would contact us in about 5.5 years, might not have any teeth left at that time !!!

It was amusing to see the vending machine which usually sells chocolate and crisps actually selling toothpaste- well what else would you expect to see except books on `Patience'

                                                           All photos taken in Sandwick looking south.

Diane has been practicing a number of Christmas tunes on the keyboard

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Weather Bomb

Some interesting weather this week. On Monday we managed to get out in a brief spell of fine weather. In Shetland this is known as `Between the weather', as good weather is a rare thing here if you believe the weather forecasts.

In fact it was very cold, windy and frequent hail showers but the trip to Scatness was well worth it as i managed to get some storm photos, my best so far this winter. a large part of Scatness was covered in water which has been building up over the past few weeks.

The sea was pounding away at the cliffs with huge waves and plenty of spray, not the best for the camera. I used a telephoto to get the photos staying a safe distance from the edge. I have seen a few stupid people venture far too close to the edge to get the photo but all they are doing is putting their life in danger and getting drenched as well. Cameras don't work well when exposed salty sea spray so I tend to use a waterproof cover and a UV filter to protect the lens which works well.

The weather bomb has caused a few lightening strikes in Shetland with the power off around Toft and Mossbank, while strikes on street lighting in Cunningsburgh have also caused a few problems.The sea has also brought down the bank just near the old church at Mail, with two excavators already working to clear the beach.

A map showing lightning strikes in the UK

The sea levels have been very high with the swell at around 45 feet, not a time to be on the sea and passing through Lerwick Wednesday morning produced higher numbers of fishing boats than normal taking shelter.

Magic seaweed produced these charts for Wednesday
Magicseaweed.com swell charts

The black hole approaching Shetland, which indicates major problems. These have been affecting western Scotland throughout the day

Hail showers, some very heavy affect Shetland throughout the week, some showers covering road and pavement like snow and not pleasant to walk out in with the wind throwing them at high speed.
The route of the storm shown below as seen on twitter

This graphic showing the route of the storm has been shared on Twitter.

The weather as usual has seriously affect ferries, one of the ferries was due to bring our new car up fro Aberdeen so it will be a few days late.

Off course the weather is always big news if it affects southern England , especially London. In Shetland extreme weather is a regular feature not that it is covered in the national news.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Good & Bad news

Good news this week as Shetland was voted the best place to live in Scotland having the best quality of life, employment, school performance. We always knew this as it was one of the reasons we moved to Shetland. Also according to Police reports Shetland has the best crime rate detection in Scotland, although crime in general is very low especially outside Lerwick.
                                                                                        Shetland - best place to live in Scotland

Its been a week of reminders about Sheffield. It started a few days ago when we had pie for tea, we always like to have this with Henderson Relish, made in Sheffield. Supplies are running critically low, with one half bottle left. If you have never tasted this then you are missing out, however you will not usually find it outside Sheffield where it is made in a small factory. The company is now over 100 years old and is a big part of the Sheffield Heritage. I always remember that at a football match about 20 years ago I was talking to someone who lived in Leicester and came to see the Owls every now and again, but on every visit he stocked up on Henderson Relish, this time he had a ruck sack full, some 30 bottles that how good it that.

On  Skype we were catching up with Ron and Mavis good friends from Sheffield who reminded us that the very last meeting of the Woodhouse Wildlife Group met on Monday. Diane & I formed this group back in 1987 together with Ron and Mavis, many thought that it wouldn't last but due to the dedicated members it continued to run Feb - May then Sept to December each year. The attendance was always consistently high, a lot better than some larger wildlife groups in Sheffield. A sad day for that attended and gave talks.

The last bit of news came to us a few days ago when we found out that our old house in Sheffield had been sold in a month, it took us 18 months. The people that bought our house had to go back to India due to family reasons.

Earlier in the week I took the car in for the MOT and it failed. It would work out that the repairs needed to pass the MOT would be in excess of £1600 and other things could easily go soon resulting in more expenditure. The decision was hard but we decided to sell the car as it was and raid the piggy bank to pay for a new car. We thought of a diesel Kia Rio but it would be early January 2015 before they could deliver one so we went for a petrol model which should be around 2 weeks away and the garage would lend us a car in the meantime. Could have done without this cost what with buying the house and all the changes we have made.

Also in Sandwick, John Wishart used a metal detector to find the following items down at Broonies Taing, just down the road and a place where we stayed on holiday for many years with Beryl and Maurice Smith

(John Sorby was the brother of Thomas and hence uncle of Robert. He too was engaged in the manufacture of edge tools, joiners tools, saws, sheep shears, files in Sheffield and followed the family tradition by being appointed Master Cutler in 1806. After his retirement his two sons, John and Henry, continued the business and started to use the trade mark "I & H Sorby".)  Photo John Wishart

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Courses available

I will be running the following adult education classes in Lerwick

Introduction to Nature (Course code AL115)
Starts 19 January 2015 fr 6 weeks  9.30- 12.30

Last date for booking 10 December 2014

Digital Photography for Beginners (Course code AL116)
starts 2 March for 6 weeks f 2015 9.30-12.30 

Intermediate Digital Photography (Course Code (AL117) 
starts 27 April 2015 for 6 weeks   9.30-12.30


Digital Photography for Beginners (Course code AL119)
starts 2 March 2015 for 6 weeks 1.45- 4.45pm

Intermediate Digital Photography  (Course code AL120)
starts 27 April 2015 for 6 weeks 1.45-4.45 pm

Monday, 1 December 2014

Winter arrives in Shetland

I have said before that the food in Shetland is far tastier than when we were back in Sheffield, no doubt this is down to getting local fresh produce. At the weekend we had Lamb from Mousa, potatoes from Quendale and a local cabbage all no more than 5 miles away.

When the lamb went in the oven, Furbie our cat decided to stand guard, i am sure the he thinks this his is TV and the meows start coming thick and fast the more it cooked.

When it was finally cooked it was a bombardment of meows and other calls until he was served first, then it was a rush to get ours before he came to beg for more.

On Sunday the weather was Ok so we went up to Lerwick to see the winter festival which was well attended. It started at 1 pm in Harrison Square where the Shetland Fiddlers started the entertainment and around 3.30 the procession of Father Christmas, his helpers, the Jarl Squad and the brass band ended up at the Christmas tree to turn the lights on..

The tree is donated by the Norwegians every year but this is the first time it has been put up in Harrison square, at least it is in a sheltered spot.

We enjoyed the afternoon and are looking forward to next months Up Helly Aa in Lerwick, this will be our first live one having watched the last few on the web stream.

Great news this week for Sandwick, as the Carnegie Hall won a Lottery Grant for £47,946 which will be used to replace the kitchen, They were up against a project in Aberdeen with 212,125  people who could have voted.  It just shows the power of the 900 or so people in Sandwick that voted by telephone.

                                                                              Diane watches the prosession

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Shetland adult education classes 2015

I will be running the following Adult education classes in Lerwick (9.30- 12.30) and Sandwick School (1.45- 4.45).    

Introduction to Nature - starts 19 January for 6 weeks, course codes (AL115 Lerwick only)

Digital Photography for Beginners starts 2 March for 6 weeks, Course codes (AL116 Lerwick, AL119 Sandwick)                  

Intermediate Digital Photography starts 27 April for 6 weeks, course codes (AL117 Lerwick and AL120 Sandwick) .        

Places are limited so please book early, phone Shetland Adult Education on 01595 743888   


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Moving on

Now that the clocks have changed the nights are quickly drawing in, even more so when the weather is poor. The sunsets have been great to watch from our living room window, even though we can only see out of one half due to still having a board in place- we may get a new window in time for Christmas if we are lucky. The position of the sunset has changed since summer, now setting further south which gives us a better view.

The gales the other day ripped our new rose bushes up so I have replanted these and tied them to the fence. With the wind normally coming in from the south west it hits the bushes but these should eventually take and start to produce flowers then rose hips next year. Force 9 gales hit again last Thursday but this time the roses stayed in place , thanks to the wire holding them in place.

We found out that the ferry that set off from Lerwick on Thursday didn't arrive in Aberdeen until 22 hours later, it should only take 12 hours. Wouldn't have liked to been on that one.

You cannot help but notice that winter is here, its turned cold, become wetter and the wind is more persistent but saying that we still have calm sunny days and its great to get out and explore a new place. We went up north to Kirkabister the other day in perfect conditions and had a different view of Lunna on the opposite shore. You have to wear wellingtons now as most of the hills hold considerable water making it difficult to walk in places.

This week we have been out most days and nights. Plenty to do if you want, with the Accoridan and Fiddle club just having restarted after half term, although we don't play its great to hear young and old alike playing some great Shetland tunes. Tuesday was a bit different with a Brass Band concert in the Town hall, it was the Lerwick Brass Band's 150 year anniversary and a great event.

As you may know November 5 was bonfire day so we went down to Sandwick Social club who put on a super bonfire and firework event, followed by drinks and burgers inside.

Then on Friday night we went to a variety concert down at Dunrossness, it just shows the great talent and community spirit that Shetland offers.

I start my new job with the RVS soon  and I cannot wait .  Having applied for over 650 jobs in Sheffield before I stopped counting, it was great to apply for a job and get a reply, never mind an interview. The good thing is that in Shetland you encounter little traffic and there is no potholes. To do a 12 mile journey it takes about 20 mins, back in Sheffield in rush hour it would take at least 1.25 hours.

I did start my own Photography & Photography Training business in 2009 which was a dream come true I worked with so many great people and always enjoy taking photographs. If you would like to see more, visit my other two blogs at:


 All went well and I was offered the job, only the second job I have applied for in Shetland, the first one with the council was only really advertised to comply with procedures as it went to an internal candidate -so not a real opportunity. Most of the work in Shetland is part time and people have a couple or three jobs making life interesting.

I will also be starting to deliver courses for Shetland Adult Education on Monday's in Lerwick (morning) & Sandwick (Afternoon) in January 2015, If any one is interested in any of the following they should contact the centre at Lovers Loan:

Phone: 01595 743888

Introduction to Nature
Digital Photography for beginners
Intermediate Digital Photography

Place are limited so book early.