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August 2008 Newsletter


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

Best Boiled Tattie, Anyone?

August and early September is the season for agricultural shows. There are usually classes for every sort of farm animal including sheep, cattle, horses, ponies, goats and sometimes pigs. A remarkable range of pets is invariably on display, so these events are very popular with children. There's always a great range of locally-grown vegetables and fruit, too. Look out for fierce (but friendly) competition across many other classes, whether it's the best plate of scones, the most succulent Victoria Sponge, the best photograph, the most skilful knitting, the prettiest collection of duck eggs or the most delicious rhubarb jam. The tea tent and the beer tent are good places to catch up on local news, or simply relax.

Shows are held in Voe (2nd), Walls (9th), Cunningsburgh (13th), Unst (30th) and Yell (6th September). These are very popular community events and make an excellent day out.

Community Garden to be re-erected in North Roe

Those who tuned into the BBC's coverage of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show earlier this summer will have seen that one of the entries was a Shetland croft house garden designed by Sue Hayward; to the delight of all concerned with the project, it won a gold medal. The person behind the garden was Martin Anderson MBE, co-founder of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, who has visited Shetland a number of times and clearly feels inspired by the islands.

After the show was over, the question arose about what to do with the replica croft house and garden, including all the authentic artefacts that formed part of the display. Initially, the croft house was advertised, but it was subsequently agreed that it could come back home to Shetland. Work has now begun on installing it in North Roe, in the north of the Shetland mainland.

On The Track Of Orcas

Shetland is well known for its marine life; we have otters, seals, sharks, porpoises and whales in our waters. This year, people around the islands have been keeping a special look-out for the unmistakeable shape of Killer Whales (orcas). A research project is under way that seeks to investigate distribution and abundance of these amazing creatures. It's become clear that one particular group of five orcas visits Shetland regularly and that another male often joins it. The individuals within Killer Whale groups are generally related.

This summer, there have been sightings from the shore and from the inter-island ferries; there have been some especially dramatic scenes as orcas have attacked seals. Some of the photographs from 2008 can be seen on the excellent Nature in Shetland website.

Programme Announced For Seventh Book Festival

Shetland's seventh annual book festival, Wordplay, runs over the weekend of 6 and 7 September 2008. It offers an exciting mix of writers: local and visiting; writers of fiction, writers of non fiction; novelists and poets; writers for adults; writers for children.

Not least of these is Will Self who is the author of six novels, including, Dorian, The Book of Dave and, most recently The Butt, six collections of short fiction, including Dr Mukhti and other Tales of Woe, and five non fiction works. He is also a prolific journalist and broadcaster who makes regular appearances on both radio and television. Will, who has a small scale reproduction of Mousa Broch in his back garden, is delighted to be returning to Shetland, where he spent his honeymoon.

Poets at the festival include Ruth Padel, John Hegley, Adrian Mitchell, Alison Flett and Christine de Luca. Novelist Alan Bisset will be reading from his work, as will diver and marine biologist Trevor Norton. Edinburgh-based, but Shetland-born, writer and poet Robert Alan Jamieson will be heading north too. Events for children will include readings and workshops by authors Vivian French and Valerie Watt, together with a new show presented by the Booster Cushion Theatre Company.

Over the same weekend, Shetland Arts will also be staging Screenplay, Shetland's annual film festival.

For more information on either event, please contact Donald Anderson at Shetland Arts on 01595 743 843 or by email:

Food Festival Plans Develop

The first-ever Shetland Food Festival, which will take place from 3 to 12 October 2008, promises to be interesting and really enjoyable. It'll include a farmers' market and there will be talks, cookery demonstrations and a foodie film night. A well-known international chef will be demonstrating what he can do with some of Shetland's outstanding ingredients. The Food Festival website will launch on Friday 22 August.

More Good Food News

As we reported last month, the good name of Shetland food is steadily becoming better known. This summer, we've already welcomed one group of Italian slow food enthusiasts and we were delighted to hear that their leader is bringing another group during August. Yet another party may be heading our way later in the year.

If you're attending this year's Edinburgh Festival, there's a chance to visit the Shetland stand at Foodies at the Festival, an event being staged in the Sheraton Hotel and the adjoining Festival Square on Lothian Road on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 August. We'll have more information about the Shetland Food Festival and we'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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