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March 2014 Move Shetland Newsletter


Hi, I'm Alastair and I'd like to welcome you to the March 2014 issue of our monthly newsletter.

The daffodils in my garden look almost ready to burst into bloom and the crocuses in Lerwick's flower park make a very colourful display in the sunshine, so it looks as though Spring really has arrived. On the other hand, it's not too late to see displays of the northern lights, or aurora borealis, and we had a fantastic show on the night of 27 February; there are some pictures on the Aurora Shetland Facebook page.

On one bright afternoon recently, I re-visited Clickimin Broch in Lerwick, which sits on a green peninsula in the town's loch. The excursion was prompted by a fascinating talk given to well over 100 of us by Shetland's Archivist, Brian Smith, who has been undertaking some remarkable detective work. Brochs - of which there are well over 100 in Shetland - are stone towers whose purpose has been the subject of debate for centuries. The most complete example is on the island of Mousa in Shetland but they occur widely in the north and west of Scotland.

Brian has concluded that those who've sought to explain the site's development - and especially J R C Hamilton, in his 1968 treatise - have relied on imagination rather than on a sober examination of the evidence. According to Brian, the notion that the site saw several periods of occupation beginning in the Bronze Age has no basis in fact. It seems that some past archaeologists mistakenly attributed some parts of the structure to the Bronze or Iron Ages when they were actually the products of consolidation by the Ministry of Works, this being the first monument in Britain to be formally protected in the late 19th century.

Brian's talks are always engaging, accessible and entertaining but this one was, in archaeological terms, revolutionary. It seems that the official record is going to have to be completely re-written. It was a privilege to hear his analysis.

Apart from more such explorations in the rapidly-lengthening days, there's lots more to look forward to in Shetland during March. In addition to more new films, Mareel will be screening the National Theatre's production of War Horse around the middle of the month, and we can also look forward to lots of music, including the annual Shetland Schools' Music Festival, which always welcomes new talent, and a concert by the Shetland Community Orchestra. Our enthusiastic local drama groups will be taking part in the ever-popular Shetland Drama Festival and the season's last two Up Helly Aa festivals are on 14 and 21 March. Beyond that, the programme for May's Shetland Folk Festival, is out, and it looks terrific: but membership applications closed at the end of February and you'll have to move quickly to get any remaining tickets when general booking opens online on 5 April.

If you're thinking of joining those who've made the move to Shetland, don't forget that you can all the information you need to plan a reconnaissance visit on our Visit.Shetland website. Check out my colleague Abby's newsletter, too: it's brimming with great holiday ideas and lots more information on events.

Plans Laid For Shetland Wool Week 2014

Organisers are putting together arrangements for the fifth Shetland Wool Week, a highly successful annual event that attracts many visitors to the islands.

This year's wool week will run from 4 to 12 October. As in previous years, it'll offer a number of events, including talks, demonstrations and workshops. There will be a strong emphasis on involving local craftmakers, designers, industry suppliers, tutors and retailers, reflecting the importance of wool to Shetland's economy and heritage.

In 2013, 174 people registered attendance at the event, with visitors coming from many parts of the UK and from the USA, Germany, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands. It's expected that attendances will increase again in 2014.

The patron of Shetland Wool Week 2014 is to be Hazel Tindall, who has twice held the title of World's Fastest Knitter. Hazel grew up in Shetland and learned to knit as a child. Her knitting has been the subject of many articles and book chapters, and knitters all around the world eagerly seek her patterns. She will design a special Wool Week pattern, which will be made available prior to the event.

Emma Miller, of Shetland Amenity Trust, said: "It never ceases to amaze us how popular Wool Week is, and how keen folk are to start booking for the next one. It really goes to show the massive enthusiasm that exists for Shetland wool and knitting from a global audience. This year will be bigger than ever and it looks set to continue like that for a good while to come."

If you're thinking of a move to Shetland and are interested in textiles, the Wool Week would be an excellent hook on which to hang a reconnaissance visit. The programme is expected to be available during April and information will be added to the website,, later in the year. You can also follow Shetland Wool Week on Facebook or contact Emma Miller by email at

New Video Highlights Importance Of Shetland Fisheries

A new video that's been released by the Shetland seafood industry demonstrates the scale and range of the fisheries sector in the islands.

The video features fish catching, fish farming, shellfish farming and the processing of fish and shellfish. It also offers insights into the business side of the industry, including Shetland's highly successful electronic auction.

Fish and shellfish have been part of life in Shetland since the first settlers arrived and are as vital to the economy now as they have ever been. The Shetland industry has always been at the forefront of developments. For example, mussel farming has grown more rapidly in Shetland than anywhere else in the UK and the islands now produce most of the mussels grown in Scotland, making use of the clear, cold waters to offer a genuinely sustainable food.

Getting Around Shetland Made Easier By New Website

A new website and apps offer comprehensive travel information for users of buses, ferries and internal flights in Shetland.

Shetland is larger than weather maps might suggest, stretching more than 90 miles from north to south and around 50 miles from east to west. With 17 inhabited islands, the need for good transport links has always been recognised and there are excellent road links, reliable ferries and a bus network that, for a rural area, offers surprisingly frequent services. Internal air services are also available, particularly to the outlying islands of Fair Isle and Foula.

Recognising that full information about services is as vital as the services themselves, Zet-Trans (which co-ordinates local transport) and Promote Shetland have launched the new website, built entirely in Shetland, that brings together all local transport information. An interactive map shows all the bus and ferry routes and it's possible to search for bus, ferry or internal flight services from any point on the network.

The new site, complemented by apps for mobile devices, should make it much easier to check travel arrangements and it's hoped that those visitors to the islands who tour without a car will also find the service useful.

Primary Schools Compete In Scotland-Wide Euroquiz

Primary 6 pupils from Tingwall Primary School, which serves a rural area close to Lerwick, will represent Shetland at the national final of a Scotland-wide quiz on Europe.

The quiz included questions covering history, geography, sport, culture and the EU. This year, for the first time, the Euroquiz had a language round where pupils could test their knowledge of French, German or Spanish. Primary pupils from Sandwick and Dunrossness schools also took part in the Shetland heat, but Tingwall emerged as the winners.

The competition is organised by the award-winning Scottish European Educational Trust (SEET). Each winning school receives book tokens to use in the European Bookshop, an online resource for European literature and language, to help develop pupils" language skills.

Shetland-based Global Citizenship Officer for Shetland and Aberdeen, Lewie Peterson, said: “The Euroquiz is an annual event to encourage pupils to learn more about their place in the world and in particular, Europe. It also promotes awareness of different cultures and language on the continent and the workings of the EU. The questions are challenging but we're always impressed by how much young people know, often more than the adults!”

In May, the Tingwall team will be travelling to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, where the final is to be held. We wish them the very best of luck!

Shetland Events Mark LGBT History Month

LGBT History Month, a celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture and the diversity of all of society, has been marked by a range of events in Shetland.

The month is a feature of the calendar in many countries around the world, including the UK, every February. In the islands, the Shetland Library has had a display highlighting books and DVDs with an LGBT theme and Shetland College library is also promoting LGBT publications and electronic resources. A display in the college canteen features prominent LGBT people in popular culture as well as information about Stonewall and the LGBT Scotland Helpline.

NHS Shetland has produced a leaflet on LGBT health, available at health centres, the hospital, Shetland Library and Mareel. Shetland Arts are showing recent LGBT-themed films at Mareel, including the critically lauded Blue is the Warmest Colour and the acclaimed documentary Les Invisibles on Wednesday 5th March.

Ready For More Shetland Noir? Second Crime Series Begins

Murder mystery fans can look forward to the second series of Shetland, based on Ann Cleeves" books, which begins its six-part run on BBC One on Tuesday 11 March at 9pm.

The new series is based on Raven Black, Dead Water and Blue Lightning, each book presented in a two-part adaptation. Douglas Henshall returns as Detective Jimmy Perez alongside Steven Robertson as Sandy and Alison O'Donnell as Tosh. Joining the core cast as a new character is Julie Graham, who plays straight-talking procurator fiscal Rhona Kelly. This second series also features guest appearances from Brian Cox, Alex Norton, Nina Sosanya, David Hayman, John Lynch and Bill Paterson, among others.

In the first tale, adapted from Raven Black, old wounds are painfully reopened as DI Jimmy Perez and his team explore an earlier crime to solve the present-day murder of a young teenage girl. In episodes 3 and 4, based on Dead Water, a journalist is killed in an apparent road accident; but is the death connected with opposition to a gas pipeline? When another brutal murder shocks the islands, secrets and lies unravel.

The concluding episodes, based on Blue Lightning, see Perez return to his childhood home, Fair Isle, after the murder of a scientist. Tensions run high as a storm forces Perez to work in isolation, compelling all of the suspects to remain together under one roof.

The series has been made for the BBC by ITV Studios and Elaine Collins, Executive Producer, says she's delighted to see Shetland return. “Doing a second series has given us the opportunity to build on the pilot episodes and to explore the characters and islands in more depth. The sense of place is important to us in the show and we've focused even more on the uniqueness and isolation of Shetland, including travelling to Fair Isle to film - an island with a population of only around 65 people.

There are interviews with some of the actors at the BBC media centre website.

Ann Cleeves says that fans of the books will find that the television adaptations hold some surprises. "The TV adaptations are very often very different from the books - the scriptwriters cut some characters and add others, cut big chunks of plot and sometimes they even change the murderer! But I'm very relaxed about that. Prose and film are different forms. Besides, the book stops being mine every time someone reads it. Each reader brings their own imagination, history and prejudice to the story and each writer has to learn to let go. Adaptation just takes the process a bit further."

Much of the filming for the second series of Shetland took place in the islands but some scenes were filmed in locations across Scotland. Although the first series attracted mixed reviews, it was followed with great interest and local people are keen to see how the three new stories will play out on screen.

Jobs of the Month

Jobs on offer at NHS Shetland include nursing, clerical and administrative posts.

Vacancies with Shetland Islands Council include posts for an Interim Executive Manager in Environmental Services, Social Care Workers and Relief Teachers.

It's also a good idea to check the job sections of the Shetland Times and Shetland News.

Blog of the Month

Our blog this month comes from Dr Sally Huband, who has moved to Shetland and lives here with her young family. Her background is in nature conservation - her PhD was on the butterflies of Romanian hay meadows - and she's now exploring our very different environment and species. Sally has just been asked to blog on the BBC Wildlife Magazine website.

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