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August 2013 Visit Shetland Newsletter



I'm Abby, author of Postcards from Shetland, and I'm here again with the latest Shetland happenings, information and holiday suggestions. If you are considering a visit to Shetland, please do not hesitate to contact us for holiday planning advice, using either the contact form on the website or by phoning +44 (0) 1595 98 98 98.

Since we last spoke…I've been loving Socks the Shetland Superstar and BBC One Countryfile!

You can have a big Shetland pony love-in too! Watch a 4-minute Countryfile videoof the world-famous pony (star of a 60-second commercial and over 7 million YouTube hits) moonwalking! If you'd like to find out more about the world of Socks – read about his hectic life in the summer issue of our free online magazine: 60 North.

Did you know: Before being filmed for the advert (location: Eshaness, Northmavine) Socks had to visit the hairdresser and have hair extensions. The Scalloway stylist gave him a "Rod Stewart-esque" mane! The world's most glam pony?!

The domestic arrangements of a female red-necked phalarope…

If you didn't manage to view Countryfile, no worries! I'll mention a couple of the highlights and relevant links, including Ellie's visit to the "garden of Shetland"- Fetlar. Not only did the presenter spy a very rare red-necked phalarope, she also played the ancient Viking board game Hnefatafl with Grandmaster Michael Kelly (the annual world championship is held on the island).

Unique gift idea: Why not commission a bespoke Hnefatafl board from Theresa at New Scatness Carvings. Hours of fun trying to outwit your opponent (Viking helmet optional!) .

Did you know: In the phalarope kingdom it really is a woman's world?! Once Ms Phalarope has laid her eggs she works hard to keep other females from her man. She gives them a beady-eyed stare and gives hubby a long to-do list, including, “incubate the eggs until they hatch!” Since dad brings up the kids she has time on her wings. She shakes her lush red plumage and looks around for something to amuse her: a few insects perhaps, a gentle lap on the Loch of Funzie (“the flaparazzi love me dahling”), and maybe, if the mood takes her, another besotted male?!

The good life: Burland Croft

Burland Croft was also featured on the programme – home to Mary and Tommy Isbister – champions of native Shetland breeds and crops. It was wonderful to hear how their native ducks had been saved from the brink of extinction – from 3 ducks to 1000s! This is a super place for the whole family to visit and there's an upturned boathouse too (spot them as you travel around Shetland) where the busy black and white ducks have a rest. I look forward to scooting over there and following the Croft Trail (open May to September – no need to book) and finding out more about traditional Shetland boat building and fiddle making from the über talented Tommy.

August's prize: red-carpet camping - one weeks rental of a Shetland motorhome

No wamping (wet weather camping!) for the lucky winner of this month's prize. Once again Promote Shetland is pleased to announce the 'My favourite walk' photo competition in association with Shetland Motorhome. In order to camp in style all you need to do is submit a maximum 200 words story about 'my favourite Shetland walk' and include a photo too. The prize is a week's rental of a luxury motorhome and a moreish welcome Shetland hamper. There's also a public vote prize: a delicious hamper from the Shetland Fudge Company – famous for its chocolate Puffin Poo! Recent entries can be viewed via the Promote Shetland Facebook page. The competition closing date is 30thSeptember and the winner will be announced soon after.

Did you know: Shetland has heaps of well-equipped campsites?

Handy tip: Want to get camera savvy and have a fun day out? Why not attend a workshop with professional freelance photographer Austin Taylor? Workshops are held throughout the year.

Mousa Broch: a “remember when day”

When is an escape really an escape? For me, it has to be a dusk trip to view storm petrels return, after a day feeding out at sea, to the island of Mousa and their nests in the Iron Age Broch and field walls. The air is filled with their distinctive song – a mix of whirring, churring and hiccoughing! I experienced this spectacular trip a couple of years ago and I was so happy to return with hubby (his first time) and revisit the island. We took a short boat ride across glassy waters to the RSPB Nature Reserve and on the way we spotted curious seals. The sooty-black storm petrels soon came swooping in, by the light of the moon, and flitted quickly around the Broch. We were both mesmerized. The enthused RSPB guides (thank you Newton and Helen) shared storm petrel facts, treated us to hot chocolate and melted marshmallows and led us up the internal winding staircase to the top of the 13m high tower and a magnificent view. It was one of those “remember when days”; when time stood still and we were totally present. Bliss.

Did you know: A storm petrel (known as “Alamooties” in Shetland) ringed on Mousa was found in Kruger National Park, South Africa!

Vote for: your favourite 8th Wonder via VirtualTourist Travel Guides. Hint: Mousa Broch! Voting is open until September 30th and we'd really appreciate you taking the time to award Mousa Broch the title it deserves. Thank you!

What's the buzz…?

For treasure hunters: part of the largest hoard of Viking silver to be found in Scotland will be displayed at Shetland Museum and Archives from 26thJuly 2013 to 31st January 2014. The 17th Viking Congress (4th August) offers a full day of public lectures – FREE!

For art from the heart: Visit the latest art exhibition in Da Gadderie, Shetland Museum – Ruth Brownlee: Exploring Shetland's Dramatic Seas and Coastline (until 18thAugust).

For Shetland music and crafts: the Islesburgh Shetland Showcase 2013 Happening: 5th and 12th August at 7.00pm. For a celebration of traditional Shetland music culture: Shetland Fiddle Frenzy (4-11thAugust)

For film buffs and bookworms: the annual Screenplay (31stAugust-7th September) and Wordplay Festivals. Keep an eye on this page for Screenplay updates and announcements

For when you feel like singin" the Blues:Shetland Blues Festival 13th September – 15th September

For fans of The Shetland Quartet: Visit Scotland's International Crime Writing Festival: Bloody Scotland, and raise your glasses to the recommissioning of Shetland by the BBC. Ann Cleeves, award-winning author, and friends will be bringing a flavour of the islands to the festival (14th September 8.00pm). For just £9.00 (£8.00 concession) you can enjoy a night of live music, specialty food and beverages sourced from the Auld Rock. Book online NOW!

For yarn addicts: Shetland Wool Week (7th-13thOctober) offers a range of fabulous events, including the 4-day North Atlantic Native Sheep & Wool Conference 2013 (11th October – 15thOctober). The theme of this year's Conference is sustainability. The Speakers include Ronnie Eunson. Ronnie runs Uradale Farm in Scalloway organically. He also starred in Countryfile!

A magical month exploring (and a message in a bottle!)

I have had another adventure-packed month, including a visit to the island of Papa Stour – wild swimming was great fun! I rambled the stunning Hams of Muckle Roe Circular and, on the beach, I found a message in a bottle from Jessica, a pupil at Urafirth School! I will write more about these memorable experiences in September's newsletter. I also managed to go geocaching at two Thing Sites. I was so excited when I found the "treasures" at Sandsting and Delting. The icing on the cake was also discovering, quite by chance, a blue house (at the time I was searching for the Delting geocache). Put your feet up and let me share my story…

Sandgarth - another Shetland jewel unearthed…

Just as we stopped to read the Dales Voe interpretation board a man passed us in his car. Suddenly he came to a halt, got out and approached us. He welcomed us to the area, told us about the wildlife and apologised that he couldn't stay "however" he said, as he pointed down the lane “park up and let yourself into the blue house – the key is in the door - have a good look around, and pleasedo come back and I'll give you a tour." He whizzed off and, intrigued, we followed his instructions. "What a fabulous Shetland welcome!" I said to hubby as we approached the area. He looked slightly concerned "Abby, I really don't think we should go into his house, it just wouldn't be right!" We then discovered, much to our amusement, that the blue house - 'Beth's Peerie House' - is a sweetly decorated timber building where visitors can rest awhile and read about the wonderful history of how a tree-planting scheme has been developed over the last 26 years by croft owners, Beth and Tony Gerrard (I think we met Tony!). Don't miss visiting Sandgarth – it's a breathtaking plantation situated at the head of Dales Voe (the most diverse saltmarsh in Shetland and an important feeding area for wading birds) and an idyllic area for a picnic, an easy walk and wildlife spotting. Another Shetland jewel unearthed and a great memory too!

See you soon!

PS - A well-dressed Royal baby!

Great news! Not only can we celebrate a new Royal baby, there's also a BIG woolly Woop! Woop! for Sandra Manson from Bressay. She designed and made an exquisite christening robe for Prince George and it was presented to Prince Charles last week when he was on a visit to the Borders. The robe was created using Shetland supreme one-ply worsted spun yarn, made from wool grown exclusively in Shetland. It took six weeks to plan and two weeks to make: "Thinking about what I was going to do was more difficult than knitting it. It is my interpretation of traditional and modern designs…I made it in cockleshell and patterns, instead of going round they went up, and the yoke and the sleeves were a fine lacier pattern."

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