Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Snowy times in Shetland

Its been a snowy icy week difficult driving conditions and a fair number of accidents including one person knocked down in Lerwick and a large articulated lorry jack-knifed hitting a car with both ending up in the ditch.
Blue Door Scalloway

After it stopped snowing the weather settled and we had some nice sunny still days although it was still cold. This year has been the coldest in Shetland for over 20 years with -5 recorded + wind chill.

                                                                       Looking north from Sumburgh

The Gritters have been out in force and have had a further ship full of grit and salt delivered to Scalloway. Like most places the gritters have been given names including Sir saats a lot, Gritty, gritty bang, bang & Mr Plough.

                                                     Clearing snow and ice from Sumburgh runway

                                                                                  Looking towards Scatness

                                              WW2 buildings at the north end of Sumburgh airport

                                      We have been treated to some superb sunrises, this one over Mousa

                                                                                      Sweening , near Vidlin

                                                             Looking out into Sandwick from our living room window

It was surprising how quick everything cleared, it turned to rain on Sunday and the temperature increased and by Monday all the white stuff had gone.

We are all gearing up for next weeks Up Helly Aa in Lerwick, its been a few years since we have been up to watch the procession due to the bad weather, hopefully this year things will be better. We are also going to see the Up Helly Aa concert featuring Brian and Maggie on the Monday.

People thing this event is all about the tourists but this is totally wrong, Shetlanders look forward to it all year. Its a great privilege to get chosen as Jarl, often the person has to wait 15 years for his turn and he need all this time to safe up enough money to pay for everything.

This time of year is also good to see the Aurora, for more information go onto facebook and join Shetland Aurora Hunter

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Up Helly Aa Scalloway

Shetland has more than one Up Helly Aa which surprises a lot of people as they have only heard about the one in Lerwick

Scalloway is always the first one with Lerwick Up Helly Aa taking place a couple of weeks after, this year on the 30 January

Although we didn't manage to get to the procession and burning it was good to see the build up for the first time. It was very cold but this didn't deter a good turn out.

A lot of people think the whole thing is put on for tourists but this couldn't be further from the truth. Shetlanders talk about these events for months before and it is a proud moment to be chosen for the Jarl or even the squad.

months of preparation are involved in making the costumes and the galley.

                                                               Not everyone likes the cold weather

You can always tell who has been chosen for the squad as they are the ones who suddenly start growing beards 6 months before the event

It always a good occasion and the squad sets off mid morning to visit care homes and schools before the big event at 7pm when they process through Scalloway and then set light to the Galley on the sea.

Some people don't like the winter months, the long dark nights or the cold but events like this certainly warm you up and its great to talk to those involved.

I was talking to someone who was Jarl in 1956 and remembers every moment, he tells me the squad was made up of family members including his father and son and friends from near and far, two coming over from Australia.

The weather was reasonable on the night just a bit windy unlike tonight which has around 70 mph winds and torrential rain. We are looking forward to some clear night so we can get out and see either the Aurora (Shetland Aurora Hunter on Facebook) or the milky way (shetlandsky.blogspot.co.uk)

Monday, 25 December 2017

Father Christmas arrives

Hope you are all having a great Christmas, its been still and mild in Shetland which is a change.

Father Christmas gives us a pre Christmas visit just to see how many houses survived the Hurricane which struck the other week

What looks like the Christmas star over St Ninian's tombolo, in fact its the moon

A season of good will to all and i took this photo of a cheque being presented to Walter & Joan care home in Scalloway from the Shetland Women's Guild. More good will from all those who made a contribution towards fire damage to a Lerwick house which caught fire, no one injured but house a mess. Donations reached almost $12000 on Christmas eve, Shetland people never cease to amaze me.

Will be back in the New year so in the meantime have a good new year. In the meantime check out Shetland Aurora Hunter on facebook

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Storm Caroline hits

Finally managed to get my canvas and mounted prints on sale at Hoswick Visitor centre after about a years wait. The centre is open in winter Wednesday - Saturday 11.00 - 15.00pm. Do pop down for a look, the canvas prints are displayed up stairs and the mounted prints downstairs. For a bigger choice see www.amazingshetland.co.uk

At this time of year the skies can be very dramatic and the one below was taken the other afternoon in Lerwick

The first snow fell a few days ago and created quiet a nice scene in Scalloway. Lucky the roads stayed cleared, more or less.

Below the sun going down at Scatness, also a good walk and no one else around.

I have just bought a Lens sphere from America, it really does pick up the landscape very well and i hope to use this to capture more scene very shortly

The winter light may only last a few hours but the low light is excellent for photography. On a cold wet day it was only just light from 10.00- 1.30

Shetland is one of the best places for seeing rainbows, they are so vivid and often a double rainbow

Storm Caroline hit Shetland on Thursday7 December bringing winds of up to 106mph but the snow didn't arrive as expected. We did however have a power cut that lasted over 6 hours. The Hydro lads were out and solved the problems as soon as it was safe

The next day we found slates all over the place, one had hit our car and chipped the paintwork in several places. Next door had a large hole in the roof and they only found it when they returned from work in the morning. Several other houses nearby also had damaged roofs and one found their hen house upside down and no hens about.

Further away in the north of Shetland a road was blocked near Hillswick when a building collapsed. Ferries had been cancelled Thursday and Friday which means no food will be transported up until Monday- anyone moving up will have to take all this into account

After the storm came the snow and ice, not too much snow but plenty of black ice. Black Gaet is always a bad place for ice and the police closed the road after 8 vehicles had difficulties. 

Although ferry fares are to reduce next year freight fares will increase by 2.9% which will affect everything being transported to Shetland so get ready for a price rise on fuel and food

Sunday, 26 November 2017


You can tell we are in the throws of winter with frequent gales, which has affected the ferries with a couple cancelled already.  This in turn will hit Tesco and we shall see empty shelves once again.

With Shetland trying to attract tourists in winter they will have to have flexible travel arrangements.  The attraction which brings most tourists to Shetland is Up Helly Aa season which starts in January in Lerwick  and ending March.

The Aurora is another attraction and we have had some superb displays so far this season (Sept - April) - join Shetland Aurora Hunter on facebook for more information. Music has to be another with frequent sessions at lots of venues. We recently went to the Mareel to see the Shetland Mandolin Band, the sound of 26 Mandolins is something to savour.

While most people come to see the Autumn migration there is still plenty to see, not just birds but whales as well. Only last week we watched a mother and calf Humpback Whales for a good two hours and they stayed around all week before moving up to Yell. Killer whales also sighted in a few places , the most impressive was a pod of 50+ from a boat.

Now at this time of year, it wouldn't suit me to be out in rough seas but the Shetlanders are renown for their seamanship skills and are often out even in small boats.

The most interesting news this  week was that Unst may be in line to become a satellite launch site. It seems that this , one of three may be the ideal location and it would be a boost to the local economy.

The RAF recently moved back to Saxavord with a new radar base so it would be sensible to have it there. The only draw back is that many European flights go over Unst heading for America.

A few days ago I headed out to Fethaland, right up in the north mainland, a place I have wanted to go to for along time.

I picked a good day, dry and still in between gales, a good job as this is a 6 mile walk. This area was recently up for sale for £595,000, this is a large area which once had a Fishing station but was abandoned in 1906. This whole area is a SSSI and is superb not just for the scenery but the wildlife as well.

Lerwick Power Station closure has been postponed until at least 2025 which might not mean much but this was not the right way to go ahead with a proposed multi million pound cable from northern Scotland.

People are saying this could pave the way for the Viking Energy windfarm, this is over 100 wind turbines, connected to the interconnector which could import and export electricity. I think that they have found out the cost and problems associated with a cable and would want someone else to pay. The application for The Contract for Difference is available from 2019 again I would not like this to take place and ruin the Shetland Landscape.

Talking of landscapes, I will be selling Shetland landscapes and wildlife photos on canvas and as prints at Hoswick Visitors centre from next week. Hope you can get along and see them.

This week I also had a colour photo printed in the Shetland Times- this was a photo of Scatness using a LenSphere a new gadget I have acquired from America.

Shetland Aurora Hunter is one year old and has 1546 members which is a superb, good to know that so many people are interested in seeing the Aurora. Join us on Facebook

all photos from Fethaland