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July 2012 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…

Lambs are frolicking in the fields, golden marsh marigolds decorate the verges and my rhubarb plant is flourishing and many a crumble has been made! This time of year is stunning and with over 19 hours of daylight it is very difficult to stop and rest awhile!

Everywhere there is wildlife activity and a certain burrow became very famous recently when fans of Puffincam viewed the birth of a puffling. If you missed the wonderful moment - you can view here. Huge awww-factor!

I have attended another sheeksin session (informal chat) at The Shetland Museum & Archives and had a fascinating tour of the boat collection, culminating in a memorable performance of 'Rowin Foula Down'! The next event is 10th July: How a Yell man mapped Jamaica. Don't miss these free events or lunch at Hay's Dock!

I viewed two new exhibitions at Bonhoga Gallery, Weisdale - 'Those who left, those who stayed' (16th June-29th July). Artist Susan Leask spoke to Shetlander's about their journeys home and abroad and shares her findings through photography, drawings and light works. In the picturesque café I enjoyed the Shetland Made showcase and a slice of yummy cake! If you'd like to meet these talented artisans - follow the Craft Trail.

Summer is a time when everyone comes together and the strong sense of community spirit makes Shetland a special place to live and visit. I can't wait for friends, arriving from New Zealand mid-July, to experience the stunning scenery and the kindness of local folk…

A treasured keepsake and Shetland Wool Week 8th-14th October 2012

I mentioned to a friend that I loved Sheep Heid - a gorgeous hat design created by internationally renowned designer Kate Davies and this year's Patron of Shetland Wool Week. Sometime later I received a call, 'I've made the hat for you!' A hand knitted gift using all 9 natural shades of Jamieson & Smith Shetland yarn is a truly treasured keepsake. Shetland has an international reputation for excellence in knitting and textiles and it's little wonder that Shetland Wool Week is a popular event and attracts visitors and designers from across the globe. I've already downloaded a brochure (hardcopy available at local outlets), put on my Sheep Heid and highlighted what I want to see and do. The following are just a few of my 'oh yes, that sounds good!' choices: attend Traditional Textile Demonstrations, visit as many open studios as possible and get vintage happy at Susan Crawford's talk - The Vintage Shetland Project. Many events are free but some require tickets and they're selling fast. Get your woolly head on now - ewe don't want to miss out!

UnstFest 2012: Carnival time!

Unstfest is happening 12th-22nd July and the carnival-like atmosphere is not to be missed! Pop over to the most northerly inhabited island in the UK and dance the night away to local bands, enjoy family picnics, fling the neep, take a boat trip to Muckle Flugga (a superb trip - I'll never forget watching hundreds of gannets dive for fish). My favourite sneaky-beaky event - Doors Open Days: visit Buness House - a listed 16th century laird's house (cream teas for afters!), learn about Unst's Renewable Energy Centre, stop off at Valhala Brewery for a tipple and a tour, be inspired by local artist Cheryl Jamieson of Glansin Glass and watch her create stunning fused glassware in her studio. Go speed-crafting, attend lively Regattas, learn traditional Shetland dances and enjoy a Peerie Night Oot. A fantastic diary of events - I may need to take my tent and camp for a few days at Gardiesfauld!

Shetland Fiddle Frenzy - a magical musical marathon!

Would you like to immerse yourself in Shetland-style fiddle music with some of the best tutors and musicians in the world? Well, get yourself over here in August and go fiddle crazy in one of the world's most highly acclaimed fiddle playing regions! Students from across the globe will come together and experience a seven-day (and night!) magical musical marathon. The sensational Harris Playfair Big Band will kick off this exciting festival on 5th August. The popular duo Bryan Gear and Violet Tulloch, award-winning Scottish group Blazin' Fiddles and the Jenna Reid Band, to name but a few, are featured on the va-va-voom programme of events. For those of you who want to get in touch with their crafty side - Jenny Bradley will be teaching knitting and Amy Fisher of Blue Sky Studio will be teaching drawing and painting. Book the full week or, if you prefer - attend individual workshops and concerts. Whatever you decide to do this is a week you won't forget! Get booking NOW!

WIN a crocodile cape!

Congratulations to June's prizewinner Mr Brian Stabler, East Yorkshire - a luxury handmade cheese hamper is on its way to you! July's prize is a crocodile cape from the fabulous Nielanell. You may recall that I purchased a raspberry rippled crocodile cape (over 30 colours to choose from) for a friend in New Zealand - she loved it! Nielanell pushes the boundaries of knitwear to create something innovative and edgy - combining artwork and fashion - described by the designer as 'artwear with attitude'. Fresh designs, in vibrant colours, are constantly being added to the collection and each colourway is a limited edition. I love how her clothes suit all ages; fit any size and are enduring in aesthetic. If you can't visit the eclectic studio in Hoswick - get in touch with Nielanell and see what's in stock - she'll send photos and help you choose a unique item of wearable art (ask about the quirky upside down jacket!)

Otterholic's paradise

Are you an otterholic?! If so, Shetland is the place to see these elusive and fascinating animals. Simon King waxes lyrical about Shetland's wildlife, in particular his otter spotting experiences featured in his documentary Simon King's Shetland Diaries. Charlie Hamilton James, wildlife photographer and cameraman, has also had a lifelong passion for otters and is a regular visitor to our shores. I watched Charlie, in a recent Springwatch programme, filming Shetland otters underwater. Incredible footage. There are numerous world-class guides to choose from, including Ian Towriess from Otter Tracks in Shetland, who is the newest member on the list. Let the experts share their knowledge and a day to remember will be guaranteed. Don't forget Shetland Nature Festival is happening 7th-15th July - there are heaps of activities planned for all ages and I highly recommend a trip to Noss. Bring your binos!

Keeping in the loop

Summer in Shetland is crazy-busy with Regattas, Eelas (fishing competitions), traditional musical evenings, festivals galore, Sundays Teas, Farmers' Markets and much much more! I was therefore really happy to discover a free pocket-sized brochure of events from June-September is available at the Visitor Information Centre, Lerwick. We're also pleased to hear that the local Visitor Information Points, typically open from May-September, are now open until October. Each visitor attraction listed here can supply a range of printed information and are staffed by extremely helpful local people who can share their invaluable local knowledge.

See you soon!

PS Shona Skinner, artist and owner of The Shetland Gallery, has been in touch and is happy to announce that The Shetland Gallery, featured in May's newsletter, has a brand new website:! View stunning works of art from Shetland's creative community in the comfort of your own home or, better still - pop over to Yell and say hello to Shona, and Andy at The Centre of Creative Industries - he's just next door! Don't forget to look out for whales on the ferry trip over!

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