November 2008 Newsletter

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Here is our newsletter from November 2008. To receive our monthly newsletters by email, please sign-up using the form in the left column.

A Very Busy Year Ahead In 2011

Planning is now getting under way in Shetland for an exceptionally busy 2011. As well as hosting the ten or so festivals that occur every year, Shetland will play a part in two other major events, namely the Tall Ships' Races and an Islands Year Of Culture.

The Tall Ships' Races involve around 70 beautiful sailing ships that cruise or race from port to port. They stay in each of the host ports for a few days and a wide range of entertainment is laid on for the crews. Shetland last hosted the races in 1999 and it would be fair to say that a very good time was had by all. Each evening, there was music at three venues along the waterfront, one of which was a magnificent Spiegel tent brought north for the occasion.

In July 2011, the ships will set off from Waterford in Ireland and head first to Greenock. They cruise up the west coast of Scotland to Shetland, then race across the North Sea to Stavanger. The final leg takes them from Stavanger to Halmstad in Sweden.

The Islands Year of Culture is seen as a way of nurturing and celebrating the unique culture of the islands around Scotland's western and northern coasts. Shetland Islands Council's Convener, Mr Sandy Cluness, has pointed out that the islands are at the edge of Europe and share a very special natural environment, a remarkable heritage and a strong - but extraordinarily diverse - culture. That culture is valued for its own sake; it's the key to the identity of islands and islanders. It enriches life for island residents and it attracts people who long to experience the characteristics that make island culture so special. The culture is also a repository of ideas, insights, imagination and experiences that has been built up over centuries and, as such, it can both stimulate other cultures and be stimulated by them. Mr Cluness believes that if, from time to time, the islands share and exchange cultural ideas, those ideas will be better understood and, no doubt, strengthened.

Shetland will be taking on the job of co-ordinating the year's activities.

Will Self Writes About Shetland

Leading writer Will Self lists Shetland as one of his favourite places and in this blog, written for the New York Times, he gives a very engaging description of his experiences on Foula, which lies to the west of the Shetland mainland. He was a guest at Shetland's literary festival, Wordplay.

Local Writer Honoured By The King Of Norway

A former Shetland Head teacher has been presented with the St Olav Medal in recognition of his services to Norway. Mr James W. Irvine, who recorded the experiences of people who'd served in the Norwegian forces during World War II and published them in his book, The Waves Are Free, received the award at a ceremony in Lerwick. The Norwegian Honorary Consul in Shetland, Mr John Smith, representing the King, presented the award. This arrangement was made because Mr Irvine is 91 years of age and, at this time of year, the journey to Norway is longer than during the summer months.

As we explain in the section of this site dealing with Shetland's history, links between our islands and Norway were particularly close during the war. Small Norwegian fishing boats operated a clandestine service called the Shetland Bus that was used to support the resistance movement and evacuate refugees from the Nazi occupation.

Move to Reduce Carbon

A local charity that specialises in environmental and heritage matters, the Shetland Amenity Trust, is to take steps to reduce Shetland's carbon emissions. With the help of a £92,000 grant from the Scottish Government's Climate Challenge Fund, a specially-appointed project officer will pursue cuts in CO? emissions in the home, in businesses and in transport. The distribution of low-energy light bulbs will be part of the campaign. In order to practise what he or she preaches, the Carbon Reduction Officer won't be allowed to drive to meetings in Lerwick: he or she will use a bike instead. The new post will be advertised soon.

Food Festival Hits Headlines

Last month, we reported that the first few days of the first Shetland Food Festival had gone well. The rest of the week was also successful and there has subsequently been some national coverage, in particular this piece in the Guardian by Matthew Fort. Scottish Television also carried a feature their Five Thirty Show and the Food Programme on BBC Radio 4 will feature Shetland mutton in its next edition, on Sunday 15 November at 12.30pm, repeated on Monday 16 November at 4pm. A quite unexpected, but very welcome, development was a proposal by guest chef, Jean-Christophe Novelli, to establish a branch of his Academy in Shetland. Discussions about the possibilities are continuing.

Praise for Shetland Postal Services

According to a report in the Oxford Mail, a second-class letter posted in Shetland's most northerly island, Unst, reached its destination in Oxford in just three days, whereas another letter posted in Oxford itself took a week to travel two miles across the city. The recipient of the letters, Dr Alison Redmayne, explained to the paper that the Unst letter had had to be transported on two ferries from Unst to the sorting office in Lerwick before starting its journey to Oxford. She added that mail from Shetland 'always arrives pretty promptly'.