Sunday, 29 November 2015

Winter weather

Well the winter arrived this week, with a slight snow covering last Saturday and only one degree, very cold.  You could tell this going to happen, the previous night we had been down to Dunrossness hall to watch a variety concert and on the way back hit a patch of ice and loss control just for a brief second or two.

Down in Sheffield they had alot more snow to contend with and freezing temperatures as well. This week I downloaded a weather app to my Kindle, which gives me the most accurate forecast so far in Shetland, it provides some very detailed information and even compares this year to last.

We enjoyed last Sunday, it was dry and still but cold so we headed down to Spiggie and met up with Nat Hall, Paul Bloomer and Paul Harvey all out for an afternoon birding. Later in the day it became  busy, by Shetland standards, with cars coming and going on a regular basis, many people never getting out of their cars. The light was just perfect for photography

                                                                                   Hills to west of Spiggie

From Monday on the temperature increased but it became very wet, the sheep in our field looked very miserable huddled together next to the wall which provided little in the way of comfort.

Its always good to look forward to something special during the longer dark days, for me its the thought of a clear, still night to get some night sky photography done. Its been very difficult as the weather has been against us over the past few months. Its always a bad sign when someone buys some new equipment, its guaranteed to cloud over and be wet for several weeks, so with Christmas arriving quickly it doesn't bode well.

                                                                                             Ice at Spiggie

The photography courses I am running for Shetland Adult Education are really going well, with some very good photographers, we are soon to cover Night Sky and Low Light photography, both of which interest me too. For those that are interested, the next stage of the Intermediate Photography starts on the 18 January when we cover- Wildlife, Landscapes, Close up, Urban, in Door Portraits and Urban photography. the next beginners starts next year in April.

It good to know that Shetland has now been included in the latest UNESCO Global awards for its Geopoarks. I went to a talk last week by Robina Barton who gave an excellent illustrated talk on the geology of Shetland. Must get more into this, Eshaness for instance is a volcanic site where you can still seen the cap that was blown off together with layers of volcanic dust.

This changeable weather certainly highlights the cold spots in the house. We have had a joiner round to sort out drafty windows, hopefully if the parts are in Shetland we should have this done in next few days, but if not they will have to be ordered from down south.

The air - air heating system is also inadequate as it only warms parts of the house. With no gas on Shetland (except bottled) its either electric or oil, both costly. We are looking into this to find a solution, the new electric storage heaters may be the next step, another costly exercise.

                                                    all the above Spiggie Loch
Yesterday managed to get out for an hour to photograph the Rufus Turtle Dove that turned up at Scalloway (see for photos, later heavy rain came back in. Today has been even worse with gales, hail, snow and heavy rain. Should get better later in week hopefully.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015


This week it was dominated by storms, especially on Thursday night / Friday. Storms had been predicted at Force 10 for Shetland and as a result many things were cancelled, schools and the college closed as well as the Lunch club for the elderly.

The winds really hit with a bang on Thursday night with 80+mph recorded at Sumburgh. Ferries made an early start for second time in the week while the north bound ferry only travelled as far as Orkney. The sea is not a place to be, although i did see a fishing boat battling the high waves.

Thursday night also brought over 40 lightening strikes and this resulted in over 1000 homes and business in the central mainland loosing power for a number of hours. On Friday the winds eased but many hail storms brought white roads.

Saturday brought more gales  so we went up to Eshaness, a place where i have always wanted to go in stormy weather. First stop was  to look at the Drongs, it was very difficult trying to open the car door as the strong winds smashed against it.

Over at Stenness where the sea was rushing into Dor holm, although on this occasion spray was not going over the top. Out to the west large waves crashed on rocks which was dramatic. A number of other cars came to this point for a brief look.

Next up to the cliffs at Eshaness for more spectacular scenes, more dramatic than the last with higher waves. It was difficult to stand steady as winds hit me. Again a number of cars arrived but few got out to get a better view. By this time the rain and hail came lashing down, but at least the camera was dry as i was using a protective waterproof cover.

Sunday was still, sunny and dry up to teatime before the winds and rain returned, and again Monday night. The prediction for the end of the week is for snow. I don't mind this if i am not working but driving in Shetland can be hazardous with ditches beside most roads and ice on certain stretches. We will just see what comes.

Tesco's as usual have had no veg or fruit and on Friday, good job we went early on Thursday. Even the flights got cancelled for a few days due to fog.

Monday, 9 November 2015


Its good to hear that a large number of cruise liners are booked in to visit Shetland next year. Over 51,000 visitors will come on 70 liners which include two massive ships, the Azura followed by the Celebrity Silhouette on the 14 August.

The weather is not why people come to Shetland, take this last week it has been gloomy, low thick cloud, lots of dense fog, some showers but little wind. Its been odd that the night temperature has been 1 degree warmer than the day.

                                                                                                          Sumburgh Head

These days the gloomy weather can last for weeks, well 6 days so far and the forecast is more to come. Some people suffer because of this, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), when they can see no light at the end of the tunnel and people have special indoor lights to combat this.

The fog on Thursday and Friday have affected flights in and out of Sumburgh and Scatsta with only a couple of flights leaving. People won't be too please if they had transfer to the ferry, with high seas expected

                                                                                    Looking north to Fitfull Head

The weather has not stopped us from going out and we have had some lovely walks on the beach. When we used to travel to the east coast of England it tended to be more in winter when less people were about. In Shetland its very easy to have a beach all to yourself at any time of year.

A survey taking place in Shetland aims to find out what fuel poverty is in Shetland, Scottish figures show this to be around 43% of the population, but a more accurate figure is needed. This time of year you need lights on earlier and also crank up the heating. With no gas on Shetland most people are on electricity or Oil, both more costly.


It must be very tough being a fisherman in Shetland at this time of year. Visiting Lerwick you always see trawlers going in and out of the harbour in all weathers. Shetlanders have always been the best sailors in the UK with many spending the wars in the Royal or Merchant Navy.

This week many Pelagic fishermen have been complaining that not enough is being done to stop Faroese fishing boats from coming into Shetland's 12 mile protected limit and catching Mackerel. The Faroese fishing vessels caught 10 x more mackerel in 2014 than 2009. If they are found breaking the rules they could face prosecution and fines up to £50,000 + the value of the illegal catch.
I saw what appeared to be a Faroese fishing boat very close inshore around Sumburgh Head a few days ago.

                                                                                                Lerwick Fishing Boat

On Sunday the first real winds of the winter arrived with force 9 gales, the ferry left in the morning to avoid the worst of the bad weather.

                                                                           Gales incoming. Sandwick / Hoswick

Sunday, 1 November 2015

The Owls on the move.

Last Tuesday night was a great night as Sheffield Wednesday beat Arsenal 3-0 , that makes us better than Bayern Munich who lost 2-0 to Arsenal. Many times in the past the owls always lost to Arsenal 0-1 with Ian Wright scoring (well back in the 1980's)

                                                                                              Bigton at Sunset

Although we are many miles away from Sheffield we still listen to every match on the Wednesday Player is a vital link to us. As a regular Wednesday season ticket holder since 1967 it was always going to be difficult supporting the Owls this far north, but we still keep in touch with people who go. Its also been good to find a few other Owls fans living in Shetland.

                                                                                         Lerwick fishing boat

The world has become a smaller place with all the technology but it keeps us in touch with the matches and through skype, all our family and friends. We are lucky in Sandwick to have a good internet service, it's only failed us a few times, other areas are not so lucky.


Earlier in the week I attended the Flu Fair held at Clickimin centre, not to have an injection but to help out with the RVS. Around 800 people attended this first day, they came in showed the letter had the jab and we provided the tea and biscuits. This is a far better way than everyone spending time at the Doctors. Everyone was seen very quickly.


Although we have not had a lot of rain , there was a landslide at the Kame, this is where Viking energy plan to site some turbines. News out recently that the interconnector will now cost £1 billion so let's hope it doesn't happen.

You have to laugh at the weather forecasts, only two weeks ago a number of newspapers claimed that this week we would have the heaviest snowfall for 100 years & freezing temperatures. This week in the Mirror they are indicating that it will be the warmest November in 69 years. I have still to find an accurate forecast for Shetland, it's best to look outside to see what it is doing ! I just want some clear nights to get a bit of photography done.

                                                                          Looking north from Sumburgh Head

Its good news that my Intermediate Digital Photography course for Shetland Adult Education will start next week, a full course and others waiting. The beginners is just coming to an end and several of those on this course have enrolled for the intermediate, always a good sign things are going well

                  Looking to Foula