February 2015 Newsletter
Hi there, am I the only one thinking that January has been quick this year? We're into February already and that means it's next month that the clocks go back. Already, I'm noticing the days are getting longer and there'll be more opportunity to do outdoor pursuits after work. It's been a great year so far, meeting friends for woodland walks (yes, that's right - we do have a few trees here!), horseback hacks and of course the seemingly never ending round of Up Helly Aa fire festival events. I hope you managed to watch the live broadcast provided by 60North and remember, you can have a peek at what's going on in Shetland by viewing one of the Visit Shetland webcams, the airport one is particularly useful if you want to see if the dreaded fog has descended!
If you're visiting in February, you've still time to visit the Artist Rooms exhibition "Fallen" by Don McCullin, the famous war photographer - the exhibition is held at Bonhoga and the Shetland Museum and runs until 22nd February.
Food Glorious Food
There's nothing like fresh local produce to satisfy the taste buds and Shetland has some of the best in the UK. Frankie's Fish and Chip Shop has been awarded the prestigious title of Best Chip Shop in the UK, this adds to Frankie's growing collection of awards. They're based in Brae and offer the perfect stop when enjoying a trip up North. On a lovely day you can sit outside at one of the picnic tables and eat al fresco, which I think, adds to the experience. Have a look at the video they produced a couple of years ago to show you a day in the life of Frankie's Fish and Chip Shop. Although it was made a while ago, their story remains the same.
Frankie's also recently launched another film which shows a year in the life of the famous fish and chip shop, you can watch it online here.
Other local producers to watch out for are the Shetland Deli - their Muckle Flugga picccalilli was awarded second prize in the best product category at Scotland's Speciality Food Fair held in Glasgow recently.
The Lerwick Brewery is going from strength to strength, after securing another distribution deal; this means you'll see their expanding range available in more shops throughout the UK. I'm also excited to say that the Lerwick Brewery is looking to organise a beer festival in Shetland; it's at the early stages, so watch this space for an announcement. And be sure to check out the recently opened Fjara, a cafe bar offering a good selection of local produce and an oustanding sea views.
To keep up to date with all things foodie, you should add Taste of Shetland to your favourites; several writers contribute to the blog and there's always something new and exciting happening - and lots of lovely recipes to try.
Valentines Day in Shetland
Shetlanders themselves might not be the most romantic in the world (mostly due to shyness) but there's plenty of romantic ways to spend Valentines in Shetland. When I asked around most people wouldn't go on record as to how romantic they were, they did share with me some ideas on how to spend Valentines in Shetland.
1. A romantic meal for 2 (this provides a fairly safe bet, most of the restaurants lay on a special menu)
2. A stroll along a deserted beach (this might be windswept and interesting too).
3. A romantic weekend break at Busta House Hotel, always works a charm (and is a popular wedding venue too, for those of you who are "serious")
4. Say it with chocolates! The Shetland Fudge Company offers a fantastic selection.
5. Buy something pretty from one of Shetland's jewellers. I love the "peerie smoorikins'range from Shetland Jewellery (peerie smoorikins means little kisses).
6. Propose! There's so many scenic places in Shetland to pop the question from Ronas Hill, to St Ninians Isle.
Camping, Glamping and Caravanning.
If you're in the process of sprucing up your caravan or thinking it's time to get work done on your motorhome to prepare for the summer season, we've got plenty to tempt you to our beautiful islands. Taking your own caravan or motorhome is easy on the overnight ferry fom Aberdeen to Shetland - if you don't own your own, or prefer to fly to Shetland there are companies in Shetland that offer rental deals on caravans and motorhomes. Having the ability to drive somewhere and simply decide to stop for a night is such a luxury. There's a good network of campsites for caravans and motorhomes throughout Shetland and new campsite at the Aithsvoe Marina in Cunningsburgh. It offers 6 touring pitches with all the usual facilities of electric hook up, showers, toilets and cooking areas. It's worth nothing that once you get off the main artery roads in Shetland, you can find yourself on winding single track roads - but these are fun to explore and take you off the beaten track. And please note that not all of the inter-island ferries (such as Fair Isle) can accommodate motorhomes, so best to plan ahead.
Shetland also offers some great opportunities for "wild" camping - I must be old, because this used to be just called camping when I was growing up. If you're going to set up camp somewhere remember to ask permission from the landowner and abide by the Outdoors Access Code.
Glamping - there's two sites offering comfortable accommodation in wooden wigwams, both are situated in the North mainland. Burravoe Wigwams have two to choose from and are nestled in amongst a willow plantation in Brae and the other is further north, at Eshaness campsite. If you're in a larger group, you may want to go to Eshaness, divide yourselves into smaller groups and take turns at sleeping in a caravan, tent or wigwam.
When you think of island hopping you quite often think of Greek Islands, but Shetland with its white sandy beaches and clear seas is a great place to hop around - with over 100 to choose from you'll not be spoilt for choice! Each of the 10 populated islands (that includes the "mainland) offers something unique for visitors to experience. You can work your way from the most southerly Fair Isle (world reknowned for knitting, birds and stunning scenery) to the most northerly where you can stop off at the Unst Boat Haven, stay at an ex-RAF base, and have your photo taken at the world famous bus shelter. You can head West to Foula, often referred to as the Edge of the World after Michael Powell's film was shot there. The dramatic scenery is worth the long ferry journey, or head East, to Out Skerries, which is only two miles square.
You can choose to travel by ferry to Bressay, Fair Isle, Fetlar, Foula, Out Skerries, Papa Stour, Unst, Whalsay and Yell or by Airtask operate an eight seater plane to Foula, Fair Isle, Papa Stour and Out Skerries. You don't have to book a return trip with either mode of transport, so you could take the ferry in and experience life on the ocean waves and opt to fly back out again, or vice versa. Personally, I love flying into the isles - it's an amazing experience being on such a small plane and landing on an airstrip. It's like getting a taxi with wings, and the pilot is sure to chat away with you after taking you through the safety briefing (there's no air stewart on-board!). As well as providing a quick way to get to outlying islands, it's a great way to see Shetland from a different angle - although you have to be quick, the flight to Papa Stour only takes 10 minutes!
Then there's the unihabited islands, which don't have ferry services. Mousa, famous for its broch can be visited during summer months via the Mousa Boat, and you can explore other islands by contacting one of the local boat charter companies. Hildasay, Oxna and Havra are some of my personal favourites to visit and are accessible from Scalloway.
Congratulations to Liz Marriott from London, who won January's competition.
This month's prize is a heritage themed puzzle. The 672 piece jigsaw is made up of Shetland Knitting images from the Shetland Museum and Archives photograph collection.
See you soon!
PS Remember to book your Folk Festival memberships, they're available to buy 1st - 28th February!