Monday, 23 February 2015

Not here thanks

Just reading the Sheffield Star on Saturday and it was interesting that 2 People are murdered every month in South Yorkshire. We certainly don't miss this and feel very safe in Shetland. Minor incidents happen but these are normally in Lerwick and we have not seen any ourselves since moving here last April.
                                                                                                    Mareel Lerwick

I start delivering Photography courses for Shetland Adult Education next Monday and I am looking forward to meeting everyone, even got one person coming down from Unst for each session. I delivered a number of these courses for Sheffield adult Education and have spent sometime upgrading the content to include more Shetland photos.
                                                                                                    St Ninian's Isle

There are many more photo opportunities in Shetland, i love to watch the sky and light changing. Travelling up to Lerwick for work gives me plenty of opportunity to look out to sea. With virtually no traffic to contend with its more relaxing and only takes about 15 mins to travel the 12 miles. We will not be involved with the Viking wind farm as we are within the 12 mile limit for airport traffic. But its disappointing to find that approval has been given for the 475 feet, 103 turbines which will be plastered throughout the central mainland.

                                                                                                St Ninian's Isle west side

The Shetland Times ran a poll last week in which 67% of those participating voted NO to the wind farm. So the opposition will not stop here. (see more at
                                                                               Looking north towards Fitfull Head

We have recently received our Northlink ID so we can apply for family and friends discount, its worth it as people can save 30% on fares although the time limits have been reduced. This caused a problem as my Sister in law had booked a holiday from work to come mid June but the discounts only run until the 14 June.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

And there's more

Following on from the last blog, here are more photos, no words are needed. Thanks again for looking.Sorry for the delay

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Lerwick Up Helly Aa

Shetland is famous for many things but for most people outside the island Up Helly Aa is one that get some publicity. It is even a feature of the English BBC One news, even though just a brief look.
                                                                                The crowd builds up early

A couple of weeks ago we attended our first Up Helly Aa over in Scalloway, the weather was excellent and we really enjoyed the night, it was a low key affair compared to the Lerwick event.

This week has been the largest Fire celebration, the Lerwick Up Helly Aa (Tuesday) which attracts people from all over the world. All the accommodation in Lerwick has been booked for months and thankfully all the Northlink  ferries have arrived with no gales the weekend before

                                                                        The procession around the streets

Those that cannot make the trip, are able to view on a live web-link this was watched by 22,000 people from 109 countries in 2014. We have done this the past few years.

The Jarl for the year has to wait 15 years before his name comes to the top of the list, he has to start saving as he pays for his Viking costume and all the entertainment through his years' reign, sometimes £15,000 costs. Its a great honor to be chosen but not cheap.
                                                                            The Guizer Jarl 2015

Local people have been talking about this annual event for weeks. Up Helly Aa has been held most years since the early 1880's and only the two World Wars have put a stop to it. It even takes place in bad weather, nothing seems to stop the 950 torch bearers. The streets are packed early to see the fantastic procession where the lines of Vikings carrying torches which  have been dowsed in paraffin for days are lit as the street lights are dimmed to create a great atmosphere.

The smell of paraffin is blown here and there in the strong winds, the burning torches light the area while sparks fly high , then the songs start,everyone including the children know the Up Helly Aa song. The word have been sung since 1905 but the music changed in 1920.

Know one really knows why Up Helly Aa is celebrated, some say its connected to when the Viking leader/ King or some person with high connections dies and then is burnt in a Galley (Viking long boat) out at sea. Now its a great social event which starts on the Monday with a grand concert which we managed to get tickets. The evening, a four hour session is a showcase for all the bands playing at the halls after the burning.

In Lerwick the galley is processed though the streets before being taken into a park, surrounded by the torch bearers who then throw the torches into the galley which is then burnt. It would never be allowed anywhere else as the Health and Safety would stop everything.

There are no accidents despite the fact there are no barriers holding the crowd back, it is so well organised and plans for the next Up Helly Aa are already taking place. People seem to know what to do and visitors respect what Shetlanders tell them.

On Tuesday the day starts early for the Jarl Squad, starting at Islesburgh for breakfast, then they visit various venues throughout the day, its very tiring for the squad in their heavy uniforms. I was pleased that the squad visited the old folk at Royal Voluntary Service lunch club in Islesburgh.,everyone enjoyed the visit and the singing.

 The visits all nearly run to time. Then in all types of weather they start to line up  to start at 7.30 pm and finish the event around 9.00 pm. This year the forecast was for heavy rain and strong winds but in fact it was dry and mild throughout the event.

The work does not end there as the Jarl Squad then visits numerous drinking venues to celebrate the event with their supports this goes on while 8.00 am the next morning. The next morning I saw  several  Vikings staggering back home at 8.30 am, luck for them in Shetland the Wednesday is a Bank holiday so they can sleep it off.

During Wednesday the weather turned to heavy snow making the drive home very difficult, I doubt whether we would have traveled over to Lerwick if Up Helly Aa had taken place today.

More photos of the Up Helly Aa in the next blog