Thursday, 31 March 2016

Summer Time ?

So last Sunday we official turned to Summer time, meaning lighter at night, unfortunately looking out of the window it looked liked winter- torrential rain, gale force 8 winds (70mph+)) and hill fog and it was cold.

It did easy off  and was very still by evening, even a sunset- just showing how quickly the weather changes in Shetland.

We visited friends in Mossbank the other day a short trip from Sullom Voe where two flares still seemed to be emitting dark smoke, a burn off from the gas plant. News came out that a 1/4 of the Oil workforce was surplus to requirements and would be made redundant, all down to the oil prices.

Local businesses are gearing up for the tourist season with cruise liners expected in the next few weeks. This gives a boost to the local economy, but some of the tour companies seem intent in persuading passengers to spend all their money aboard ship.

 Already we have met a few people who have come up for Easter, some just for a couple of days others for longer. I spoke to one who was up for the aurora but was disappointed to find out that he missed a great show the week before - see ( However he was more than happy at discovering the delights of Unst, Britain's most northerly isle.

                                                                                              All the above photos - Heylor

TV programs like `Island Parish ' (on Unst) and ` Shetland ' will be a big boost for the Shetland economy and also show that the weather can be very good. March for instance has been exceptional with many dry, still sunny days.

                                                         Half way House - featured on the recent Shetland drama

We are still waiting to have a new heating system installed, hopefully it will be next month.. Also we have contacted two flooring companies for quotes to replace the flooring in the kitchen and bathroom. Tiles are now breaking up so they may have to board the floor and then lay vinyl. They are both very busy so it may be June before this gets done. You do find the best companies have alot of work on the go so its all about having patience. At least the quality of work is very good here, unlike many firms down in Sheffield which seemed more intent in getting your money doing short cuts than providing value for money.

Soon the festivals will begin, already the Shetland Folk festival has been a sell out, just not enough tickets to go round, we missed out this time. We did get tickets for the Young Fiddler of the year in April and soon will have the Shetland Showcase tickets, which was a big success last year with record numbers attending.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The future

The pressure is on for the Garrison theatre in Lerwick to find support to stay open. Shetland Arts has for sometime wanted to close this down and transfer all activity to the Mareel. Rents for the Garrison  went up with a bang last year, and I inquired to run a charity concert but was priced out.

Its a really nice theatre which lends its self to plays and small concerts which just wouldn't fit in with the Mareel image, in fact to say they are run by the same company there is a complete lack of support. No advertising of the Garrison programme anywhere in the Mareel apparently. Lets hope for a change of mind on this, I for one would miss going.

Anyway last week we have been to the Mareel four nights on the trot to see the school music competitions and the young musician of the year and what excellent quality it was. In addition to this the sky has been alive with the northern lights (see

The Shetland TV Drama has now come to an end, with most people giving positive reviews. Douglas Henshall said he would like to do another series but there are no plans at present. He will be coming back to Shetland for holidays in future such is the pull of these islands. It will have certainly been good for Tourism , I just hope they include more Shetlanders in future, only two appeared in this one and people need to be able to hear the accent. It 's been good for tourism and there is hope for yet another excellent year

                                                                                                     Power station Lerwick

Now when you live on a small island the dangers of the sea are very evident. Recently the government wanted to take away the Orkney based Tug ` Herakles' when the contract expired at the end of the month , but it was given six month extension. This might not mean very much but when shipping runs into trouble the local Tug is vital to stop a disaster. You only have to look back to when no cover was on hand and to the Braer incident which ran aground on Fitful head in Shetland. A new risk assessment has been done indicating a residual risk.  Therefore they need to find solution !

                                                                                         New pier construction Lerwick

Other notable changes in Lerwick will be that the Zebra accommodation barge will be moving north in early April. This will leave an open view over Bressay sound something that hasn't been visible since it arrived back in 2013.

I was pleased to see another one of my photos in the Shetland Times, this time of the Swan which was having maintenance work done in preparation for the new season. The Swan is a 1900 sail training ship which this year is heading to St Kilda, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

                                                                                                    Lifeboat in Scalloway

We are still waiting for the new heating system to be installed and just had a quote for some new flooring in the kitchen and bathroom. The floor in these areas seem very bouncy and the tiles break up easily, so we will have the floor boarded before laying vinyl.

We received very sad news earlier today that one of our best friends for over 40 years, had passed away back in Sheffield after a long illness. John Linton Smith was always very enthusiastic about anything to do with Scotland and Shetland and we shared many happy memories and photos, we  shall miss him very much.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Alot of Nothing.

A lot of Nothing

Back in the early 1960's life in Shetland was hard, nothing like today's standard of living.

The other day I was speaking to someone who back in the 1960's moved from England to Papa Stour on the west side of Shetland. A small island of around 40 people.

When they arrived they found a lot of nothing, No ferry, no roads, no electric, no running water and no shop.

They did however have plenty of rain coming into their home, a lot of wind blowing through the gaps, but also plenty of warmth from the Shetland people. A sense of community missing in many places today. One where you didn't have to ask for help, the islanders knew the needs and met them before you could mention it.

Everyone helped each other out gathering crops , building or sharing precious food supplies and especially knowledge. Local Shetlanders would tell them when and where to go fishing, where the dangers would be and how to come through the long dark winters.


The 1960's are not so long ago really, now Papa Stour has electricity , running water, a ferry and roads, but like most islands, people have left or died and with it life becomes more difficult again. Now only 12 people live on the island. No school or church is available, its just a place where people visit for the day.

Its always interesting to find out where people go on holiday, most think of long distance travel but it may be surprising to find that many Shetland folk actually go to other locations in Shetland. We have found several people living on Mainland Shetland spending a couple of weeks either on Yell or Unst.

Other people we have spoke to have never left Shetland for any reason, some never coming off the island they were born. One lady in Unst who was 96 years young said she was totally content living on the island and never wanted to spend any time anywhere else.

Those who have had to leave Shetland for some reason always long to come back, the number of times people comment on facebook about longing for a return is enormous. People said they have the complete package here and that's what we think, we only wish we had come to Shetland earlier.