March 2013 Move Shetland Newsletter

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Hi, I'm Alastair and I'd like to welcome you to the March 2013 issue of our monthly newsletter.

Island events in February included more spectacular fire festivals and the very successful Shetland Jazz Festival. There was renewed evidence that the Shetland Rugby team, which beat Inverness Craig Dunain 86-0 on 16 February, has raised its game very convincingly, raising hopes of league promotion.

There were some more unusual delights, too, such as the sighting of a rare Pine Grosbeak which took up residence in the Northmavine district, which forms Shetland's north-west mainland. You can read more about the strikingly-coloured bird, which attracted battalions of birdwatchers from all over Britain, on our Visit.Shetland website.

The latter part of the month was also notable for some excellent weather, with an anticyclone producing day after day of cloudless blue skies, surprisingly warm sunshine and little if any wind, so we may hope that Spring is on the way. These flat-calm mornings are a good time to spot otters and, sure enough, there was one in the bay below my house the other morning.

Even more familiar than otters are Shetland ponies. They recently featured -wearing Shetland jumpers - in a joint promotion by VisitScotland and Promote Shetland, but now there's a new star, featuring in this television commercial for the Three network, filmed in Shetland a month or so ago.

Shetland featured in other media, too. My near neighbours, Wendy and Maurice Inkster, recently built a splendid new home by the sea and it has already been described in more than one magazine article. This feature in the Daily Express tells the Inksters' story and offers some insights into the self-build tradition in Shetland. You can read more about housing in Shetland on our main website.

Looking ahead, as I explain below, we have firm dates for the screening of the BBC's 'Shetland' drama, much anticipated in the islands. There's more jazz - this time a birthday celebration - and booking will open for the Shetland Folk Festival soon (members from 15 March, non-members from 5 April). We also have news of another treat for folk music fans, Fiddle Frenzy, which takes place in August.

Our team is always happy to help if you're thinking of a move to Shetland and our website has lots of useful information about making the move. One of the local festivals might be a good excuse to plan a 'recce' visit and we also offer an excellent range of visitor information. We hope to welcome you soon!

Screening dates for BBC 'Shetland' drama announced

The long-awaited BBC adaptation of Ann Cleeves' drama, Red Bones, is about to reach our screens.

The detective drama is to be shown on BBC1 in two parts, at 9pm on Sunday 9 March and Monday 10 March. You can see the trailer here. The mystery stars Douglas Henshall as Detective Jimmy Perez, a native Shetlander who has returned home with stepdaughter Cassie. When a young archaeologist, Hattie James, discovers a set of human remains, the island community is intrigued to know if it's an ancient or a contemporary find. Things take a much more sinister turn when crofter Mima Wilson is shot dead on the same site and Perez's subsequent murder investigation uncovers envy, greed and bitterness between two local families.

The two-parter was filmed last year and the first episode has already been seen - and well received - by a Shetland audience. There are hopes that, if this first adaptation of Ann Cleeves' Shetland work is successful, more episodes based on her novels may follow.

Ann Cleeves tops poll at the Shetland Library

Meanwhile, it's been revealed that Ann Cleeves' books - and not only here Shetland-set crime novels - have won over island readers

The Shetland library has released details of the most popular books among borrowers during 2012. In taking the top two places, Ann Cleeves has emerged as the most popular author. Third in the top ten is Silent Voices, one of her Vera Stanhope books.

Shetland readers have also taken to a debut novel, with 22 Britannia Road, by Amanda Hodgkinson, coming in at number four. It's a touching story of love and loss set in post-war Suffolk.

Shetland features in a remarkable range of fiction and non-fiction books and these, too, are popular at the library. In the CD section, Queen come top with their Absolute Greatest Hits. Norwegian is the most-favoured language learning pack and Nordic crime is also popular, particularly in the e-book format that the library now offers.

Record-breaking fish landed off Britain's northernmost coast

February was a memorable month for 38-year old James Isbister, who hit the headlines across Britain by catching a huge ling weighing in at more than 67 pounds. The fish was almost than six feet long, almost as long, in fact, as James himself! His surprising catch exceeded the previous British record by around ten pounds. You may have seen or heard him talking about it on BBC Radio 4 or on BBC television and there's more about his experience, including an interview, on the BBC Shetland website.

Despite James' modesty, it sounds as though the battle to land the ling, in the waters off the Muckle Flugga rock, was an epic one. It's fitting that, after a spell in his mum's freezer, he has decided to donate it to the national Science Museum.

Bristows strike gold in Scottish cross-country championships

Brother and sister Katie and Bobby Bristow, who live in Lerwick, pulled off a remarkable double in the recent Scottish cross-country championships. Both were awarded gold medals after excellent performances by their respective teams. Katie has been competing in these events for several years, but this was her best-ever performance and it bodes well for her next competition, which will be in Birmingham in March.

Bobby is also a keen runner and has a Shetland half-marathon title under his belt. He finished third in his team. Both brother and sister were competing in the under-20 category.

The Bristows' success underlines, once again, the strength of the Shetland sporting community, underpinned by facilities such as those at Clickimin in Lerwick, which are of a quality seldom to be found elsewhere in Britain.

App designed in Shetland takes Facebook by storm

A Facebook app created by a Shetland-based marketing firm which asks people about which music albums they own has generated an astonishing level of worldwide interest.

Andrew Irvine of CU Marketing Ltd created a website entitled 'Influential Albums', but never imagined that it would go viral in the way that it has. He began by making up a list of 100 albums and created an app where people could say which of them they owned. The original list was made up of some of his favourite albums and a few others picked up from various lists on the internet. "The only relevant website domain name I could find was www.influentialalbums.com, so I just went with it", he says.

Andrew freely admits that he's no expert when it comes to music. "For me, the whole point of doing this was to learn more about Facebook apps." He had no idea of the heated online debate that it would create. He found some of the comments on blog sites very amusing. "There was one that said the development must have taken some 'big marketing bucks' and a couple of people said that the app 'must have been created by the director of HMV to clear some old albums'. Little did they know that the total 'marketing bucks' spent was £8.14 and it was just me improving my knowledge on developing Facebook apps."

Since launching the first version of the website that's linked to the app, Andrew has added new features and, on the app's Facebook page, has invited people to suggest albums for inclusion. As a result, the list had grown (at the time of writing) to 150 from its original 100. Many contenders that hadn't made his original list have now been added and some of the original nominees have been dropped. Andrew says: "Hopefully that will appease the music experts who weren't impressed with my choice of music. I think it's turning into a good place for people to find out about music that they've not heard. It has definitely educated me on some interesting albums I hadn't heard of before."

The app has been seen on Facebook tens of millions of times and more than half a million people are using it regularly; and all this was achieved from Andrew's desk in the Shetland village of Bigton.

Skidbladner Longship Finds Permanent Base In Unst

The Viking Unst replica longship, Skidbladner, has been moved to its permanent location, completing another phase in the Viking Unst project.

Unst, Britain's most northerly island, may well have been the Vikings' first landfall in Britain. The island has a higher density of rural Viking sites than anywhere else, including Scandinavia, with the remains of upwards of 60 longhouses. The Viking Unst project was established to increase understanding of Viking Norse settlement. Three longhouses have been excavated and self guided trails allow visitors to explore the sites for themselves at any time of year.

At Haroldswick, there is a reconstruction of a Viking longhouse and the Skidbladner has now been placed alongside it. The Shetland Amenity Trust explains that the Skidbladner is a replica of the