Friday, 22 August 2014

Improvements & Music

In at last and during the first few days we started to find out what improvements needed to be done. The bathroom needed several things doing and the plumber and electrician have already sorted these things out very quickly. The heating system, a solid fuel burner is due to come out next week and replaced with the Air to Air heating system although this cannot be done for another month.  We are waiting for the joiner to come back with a price for several things, all in all the tradesmen have come very quickly.

After several days of unpacking cardboard boxes we are nearly free of mountain of cardboard we just need extra storage space in the kitchen, this should be ready for collection next week. Most things have to come up from Scotland.

You will not be in Shetland long before you find that music is an important feature of daily life in the isles. You can hear music most nights either in pubs or at the many concerts held at the Marlee, Islesburgh or Garrison theatres.

Everyone seems so talented, even the very young can play the fiddle. Tom Anderson was a major force is making sure that Shetland tunes are still alive and being played today. He took his ideas into the schools and taught the schoolchildren ensuring the traditional music is still around and being now being played around the world.
                                                                                    Junior champion

We have been to a number of concerts are well as informal sessions, some traditional fiddle music , African drummers, Norwegian choir, rock bands, accordions, guitars and Blues, brass bands and classical music.
Throughout the year a number of excellent and well attended festivals take place. These attract musicians from all over the world and it’s also a time about tuition as there are various sessions throughout the week festivals to learn more about the instruments.

                                                                                 Informal sessions in pubs

Most of Shetland musicians can play more than one instrument and they often change round during informal sessions. At the Lounge in Lerwick you never know how many musicians will turn up. sometimes six other times up to twenty and if you have forgot your instrument there are plenty on the wall to borrow.

Here are a few of the even to look for.
·         Shetland Folk Festival
·         Shetland jazz festival
·         Fiddle frenzy
·         Shetland Blues Festival
·         Shetland accordion and Fiddle festival
·         Guitar festival

Tickets go very fast and some require membership before you can get a ticket.

Another set of concerts to look out for is the Shetland Showcase, these have now just finished but we are looking forward to the next set of sessions. One of our favorites was Maggie Adamson and Brian Nicholson, Maggie has been the Scottish Fiddler of the year for the past two years, while Brian is part of three groups including the famous Hom Bru, another great band that finished off the showcase

                                                                                     Maggie and Brian

One thing you must do is watch the Edinburgh Tattoo on Monday night where you will see 40 Shetland fiddlers performing, they sounded great at a concert held in the Town Hall just before they left for Edinburgh.

Friday, 15 August 2014

All settled in

It’s finally happened, we moved into our new Shetland house yesterday. A lot sooner than another couple we met back in April who have been out bid several times and are no closer to their dream. Another two months, that’s all they have given before they return to Edinburgh, with less and less property on the market towards the end of the year its going to be difficult for them..
                                                                        From Compass Hill South Mainland

We had the keys 2 weeks before the actual move and everything went through smoothly. During the past couple of weeks we have been trying to sort out a few improvements, which has involved trying to get a joiner to come to give a quote for fitting new kitchen units and fixing a couple of doors.

 After trying a number of people they all said they were busy, but after talking to a couple from Sandwick we managed to get one to come over and we await the quote. He did however come and take a window out so we were able to get the largest of the furniture in the house, without this we wouldn’t have got most of the things in the front door as it is very narrow. I could understand this of the old croft houses but ours was built in 1974. Lucky for us the weather stayed dry while the window was out. Now all we need to do is unpack boxes and boxes of our things and settle in, so I am sure we will need to relax over a glass of wine tonight

                                                                   Across Burra to Foula in the distance

We also arranged for Shetland Heatsave to come and install Air- Air heating which is far more economical than any electric storage heaters, they should be with us early September. If you get a tradesman then the other problem is getting the materials, it often takes over 2 weeks to get it up from Scotland at a premium postage rate. Taking about post, it was interesting to hear about a letter sent to someone on Yell that only had a christian name and the island on the envelope but still got delivered, what great service

With any other small things try Amazon as they don’t charge for postage to Shetland, some other companies charge around £30 postage for even little items, a complete rip off. We discovered a great little shop for 2nd hand furniture; Cope has a good range of items at great prices, it’s in the Grimista estate at the north end of Lerwick.

The football season has now kicked off and Sheffield Wednesday have two victories so far, better than last season where they went around 12 matches before a win. Will miss watching them but at least we will be able to listen on `Wednesday player’.
                                                                   Sam Hutchinson signed from Chelsea

It was also odd to find out that the winner of the European Fireball championship yacht race which took place just outside Lerwick was won by a Sheffielder, Tom Gillard. He comes from the Viking Sailing club, not sure where this is based but it may be down at Rother Valley Country Park.
                                                             European Fireball yacht championship

Talking about boats, a very expensive looking yacht, the Vive La Vie was in Lerwick recently, it is owned by a Swiss multi-millionaire who is travelling around the world

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Very soon

We received the keys to our new house on the 1 August but we won’t be moving in for a few weeks as the removal company cannot transport our belongings to Shetland until  the 14 August. Our other concern is whether or not the settee will fit in through the door as it is narrow bends just inside.

We had to take the window out before the settee would come out at our Sheffield home, at this house they are wooden frames so would need a joiner to do the job, the problem is that we cannot get one to come for a few months so we can foresee problems before we start.
                                                                              Fire Ball race just outside Lerwick

A few things need doing, like doors on the kitchen to stop our cat coming into the bedroom and to stop drafts and a new heating system, hopefully air- air.  We have been told that the criteria have changed for the new heating grant scheme and we no long qualify. No one has been told this, we only found out because we went to record our Energy Report number to the existing application form. Also there is at least a six month waiting list to get someone to undertake a Green Deal advice report; we are looking to pay for this to be done to speed things up.
                                                                          Another accommodation ship in north Lerwick

The kitchen units are also insufficient for our needs but so far we have received little help in finding any with the sales people in both shops we have visited so laid back we have come away empty handed.

Some of the outside paintwork needs to be done soon as possible, the main structure was painted earlier this year, and needs to be done every 5 years, but the window frames need doing. Altogether far less work than any other house we went to view and we are keen to get started but are concerned about the cost of the other things as they are dearer here and also have trouble getting tradesmen to come and do the smaller jobs.

Last week we had our 31st wedding anniversary and decided to go for a meal at the weekend down at Sumburgh Hotel, which as usual was excellent. We have been into Lerwick a number of times to sort things out and use the internet.

This week has been very busy with Cruise Liners and the streets of Lerwick filled with sounds of American, Dutch, German, Spanish and Scandinavian voices. Tourism is a very important part of the economy in Shetland and around 40,000 people come via cruise ships.

One ship, stood out this week when the massive 215 metre Chinese heavy transport ship, the Xiang Yun Kou arrived carrying a large Oil storage tank on board. Later in the week it lowered the rear end and floated the storage tank off the back, an amazing sight.

It’s Fiddlers Frenzy this week and we are looking forward to attending concerts throughout the festival, more to come on this.
                                                            Shetland tunes on Shetland instruments

Monday, 4 August 2014

Reason to be cheerful part 1

A lot is being said of the decision to erect 103 (reduced number) wind turbines in the go ahead with the development in the central mainland. This decision to go ahead has had a mixed reception and I certainly think that this will have a big impact on tourism and wildlife option and which will be irreversible. If it was going to happen at all, then a site in Yell may have been a better option, providing that a survey was done to assess the impact on wildlife and that it would not be near any housing.

This week we also took part in the Mori survey on the quality of life in the islands. At first it seemed strange that we had been chosen, but this goes on the house not the people. Anyhow I think it’s always good to take part in surveys as it can help determine how much you know about the subject. Shetland has the best quality of life according to several different survey’s and we both feel that we have done the right thing moving up here.

 With the lowest crime rate in the UK, good health care and transport and a better sense of community where people support each other in a number of ways it’s a great place to live. When you are 60 you are entitled to a free bus and ferry pass, not 65 as it is in Sheffield.

There are grants available to help you keep your house warm and we have already applied for this so when we move into our new house sometime in August we might be in a position to start work before the winter comes. We are looking especially at the Air to Air heating system which takes a day to install and makes a big saving on heating costs. With no gas available it’s all a lot dearer with either solid fuel (not the best to have in your old age- a way off this yet), Oil and electricity as options.

At present we can only keep in contact via mobile phones which is not cheap and with no internet in the rented cottage we have to go to the library to catch up with things. We thought of a different way to keep in contact with our friends Mavis and Ron, we decided to stand in front of a shop covered by the Shetland webcam; we arranged a time to wave and spoke on the mobile – an alternative to Skype for now.
                                                                Surprising what you can buy at the bus stop

Great news on Friday as we had the keys handed to us for our new house in Sandwick. We already know a few of the neighbours having met them at other functions and the local church.

The phone and internet, via Plus net, and Sky TV should be available when our furniture arrives around the 15 August much later than we wanted , but Specialised Movers has to  sort out ferries and also ensure they can deliver our things and get back the same night to catch the ferry. On a few days the ferry sets off at 5 pm to go via Orkney while the rest of the week they depart at 7 pm which will give them another couple of hours if they can book one of these dates.

We have tried to get a joiner to come and put a couple of internal doors on the kitchen area, but as with all tradesmen, it will be around 2- 3 months before they can do the work. Hopefully one will come this week to look at the job and give us a price. At least they all phoned back unlike some of the tradesmen in Sheffield who couldn't be bothered.

On Saturday we went down to the Sumburgh Hotel for a meal to celebrate both our 31st wedding anniversary and the fact that we now have the keys to our house.