November 2010 Move Shetland Newsletter
Here is the Move.Shetland.org newsletter from November 2010, which we hope you find of interest. If you're considering a move to Shetland, please don't hesitate to contact us for advice.
Shetland has been listed as one of the top regions in the world to visit in 2011. Lonely Planet's "Best in Travel 2011" singles out the "last untamed corner of the UK" for special praise, advising "adventurous travellers to step this way".
Lonely Planet spokesman Tom Hall commented: 'This year's picks for Lonely Planet's "Best in Travel 2011" reflect the passion for discovery that our readers have. It's no surprise, then, that we've singled out a little-known but beautiful and rewarding corner of the UK as a must-see next year. The Shetland Islands have a huge amount to offer wildlife-watchers, outdoor enthusiasts and culture buffs.'
Shetland, says Lonely Planet, is a place apart. "Orcas, otters, seals and puffins are easy to spot" and the guide highlights "Bronze Age, Viking and WWII history in abundance". Walking and off-road biking are recommended ways of exploring the islands, something that's made easy by "efficient ferries".
Lonely Planet says that Shetland is now an essential port of call for cruise ships, which in 2011 will be joined by the participants in the Tall Ships Races.
The guide draws attention to Shetland's festivals, including the fire festival of Up Helly Aa and the Shetland Folk Festival. It mentions, too, the new film and music venue, Mareel, that will open in 2011, while also noting that the islands have "the only fully-furnished bus stop in the UK". Food also features: Lonely Planet says that "Shetland produces exceptional fish and shellfish and is also noted for unusual dishes like seawater oatcakes and Shetland black potatoes". Local rhubarb with mackerel or herring is strongly recommended.
Lonely Planet add that Simon King's enthusiasm for Shetland, reflected in his "Shetland Diaries", had delighted local people, "while anyone who viewed it would have a hard time not wanting to become one".
The book, just published, includes chapters covering Lonely Planet's top country, city and region picks for 2011, ranked in order for the first time and voted for by a panel of experts including Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler. There are 17 "top travel lists" that highlight the best travel experiences and the key trends for 2011.
NHS Shetland has been warmly praised by Scottish Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, in the annual review of the service. She told the local health board that it was doing all the right things, including working hard to reduce waiting times, often by undertaking more procedures in Shetland. NHS Shetland performed particularly well on a number of measures. The number of smokers in Shetland has fallen to just 18% of the population, the lowest proportion in Scotland. Meanwhile, more babies in Shetland - almost 38% - are breast fed than anywhere else in the country.
Other successes included ensuring that all patients with suspected cancer were treated within 62 days and providing care at home for a larger percentage of older people than in most other areas. The rate of hospital-acquired infections (MRSA and C-diff) has fallen to zero. In some areas, such as waiting times for appointments with doctors and dentists, there have been marked improvements, but NHS Shetland recognises that more attention to these areas is still needed. The reduction of problem drinking is also to be tackled vigorously.
VisitScotland is to run a free event aimed at helping local businesses in the visitor sector to adopt more sustainable ways of operating. In the seminar, speakers from Shetland and Scotland will look at issues such as engaging with communities, reducing waste and using energy more efficiently. The Shetland manager for VisitScotland, Steve Mathieson, said that growth in the sector was vital. He explained: “This workshop will help equip tourism businesses across the area with the information they need to minimise the impact of their activities on the environment and community, while also contributing to economic growth".
Jim Brown, the director of "Between Weathers", a major feature film that will be shot in Shetland during 2011, has picked two bars to star in the movie. The film, which has been compared to Bill Forsyth's "Local Hero" (1983), is said to tell a "David and Goliath" story involving a small community faced with a powerful developer. Themes explored include depopulation and the power of the internet. The Shetland island that has been selected as the main shooting location is Fetlar, which lies in the north-east of the Shetland archipelago; it will stand in for the fictitious island of "Fustra".
Over recent weeks, a search has been under way for a pub to play the part of the island's "local". People in Shetland were asked to nominate likely candidates and they did so enthusiastically. From a shortlist of four, Jim Brown has settled on two bars. One is the Pierhead Bar in the attractive old village of Voe. Converted from the former village shop, the interior retains all its original character. In Lerwick, the Lounge Bar is a favourite venue for informal music sessions and has featured in countless television programmes over the years.
Thanks to the prospect of film-making, Fetlar has had a visit from Scottish Television, which produced a news feature about the island. At the time of writing, anyone able to watch the video on the STV website could see the item.
The people of Fetlar are always keen to attract more visitors and persuade new residents to settle on the island, which is at present home to around 70 people. To help them in those endeavours, a new and very attractive website has recently been launched and it can be seen at www.fetlar.org. As the site explains, Fetlar is the fourth largest of Shetland's hundred or so islands and has always been known as "the garden of Shetland". Indeed, the name is thought to stem from the Old Norse for "fat land", possibly indicating that the Vikings regarded the island as a fertile place with potential for growing crops. Fetlar is also notable for having the greater part of its area protected by nature conservation designations, in the form of a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Area of Conservation and an RSPB reserve. It's also the place where the World Hnefatafl Championship is organised, Hnefatafl being an ancient Viking board game that bears some resemblance to chess.
Other developments are in hand on the island. Work is to be undertaken to restore the A-listed Brough Lodge, which it's hoped will eventually provide high-quality accommodation for visitors interested in taking courses in traditional skills such as Shetland knitting or music, or in other pursuits, for example archaeology or photography. A website, www.broughlodge.org, has been launched to help raise funds.
One of Scotland's best-known folk bands, Blazin" Fiddles, has featured Shetland fiddler Catriona MacDonald since it was established in 1998. Catriona, who began playing fiddle in Shetland as a child and was taught by the legendary Tom Anderson, has a string of achievements to her credit. After being honoured as Young Fiddler of the Year in Shetland, she went on to win the BBC Radio 2 Young Tradition Award in 1991. In 2000, she was appointed Core Lecturer on the traditional music course at Newcastle University and was recently made Degree Programme Director for the university's Folk Degree Course; it's partly in order to concentrate on these new responsibilities, and partly to pursue other projects, that she's taken the big decision to leave Blazin" Fiddles.
Jenna Reid, who replaces Catriona MacDonald in the band, is also one of the country's leading talents. Taught by Tom Anderson and Willie Hunter, she too has won a series of awards and nominations either as a solo performer or in various bands, for example "Best Up and Coming Artist" in the 2005 Scottish Traditional Music Awards. With her sister Bethany and others in "Filska", a Shetland band, she recorded her first CD at the age of 14 and several more have followed, along with television appearances. Jenna and Bethany's most recent project, an unusual one, has concerned the wartime supply chain for the Norwegian resistance, the result being a CD entitled "Escape – The Story Of Jan Baalrud And The Shetland Bus".
Blazin" Fiddles, featuring Jenna, are on tour during November and December and will be visiting Barnsley, Kendal, Birmingham, Taunton, Cardigan, Southampton, Edinburgh, Clitheroe and Perth, bringing the year to a fiery conclusion with an appearance at the Inverness Hogmanay Party.
The Shetland Museum and Archives has chosen a Viking theme for its third annual memorial lecture, to be held on 4 November. Professor Andrew Wawn, emeritus professor of Anglo-Icelandic literature at Leeds University, will give the talk in memory of Lerwick antiquarian E. S. Reid Tait, who donated his lifelong collection of historical material to the archives.
Professor Wawn, an expert on Old Norse sagas, will explore the work of two men. He will recall the life of Icelandic philologist Þorleifur Repp (1794-1857), a friend of Sir Walter Scott. He will also throw light on the Rev. Sabine Baring Gould (1834-1924), who was “an influential folklorist and Victorian Britain's greatest and least-known Icelandic scholar,” according to Professor Wawn. Baring Gould may best be known as the author of the missionary hymn 'Onward Christian Soldiers'. Professor Wawn will also reflect on whether the spirit of Sir Walter Scott's "The Pirate" helps us to understand the achievement of this modest minister.
Another insight into Victorians" view of their world can be found in a television series currently being transmitted. Paul Murton, armed with a Victorian guidebook, travels around Scotland, reflecting on the way that the country has changed since early tourists began exploring its highways and byways two centuries ago. One of the six tours inspired by "Black's Picturesque Guide to Scotland" is to feature Shetland. The programme is to be transmitted on Wednesday 10 November at 7.30pm, with a repeat on Sunday 14 November on BBC2 Scotland. Viewers outside Scotland who are able to watch via the BBC iPlayer will also be able to see the programme.
An unusually cold snap in mid-October brought out the Shetland Islands Council's Winter Maintenance Team several weeks earlier than usual. Up to 16 gritter vehicles had to be deployed to spread salt on roads across Shetland that had been affected by light falls of snow and ice. In conditions like these, Shetland drivers can check road conditions on the internet before setting out on their journey. The Roads Service provides a free service through the Council's website to keep drivers up to speed. It monitors and provides information from six weather stations across Shetland. The data includes road temperature, road surface state, air temperature and visibility; the service can be seen in action here.
Roads Maintenance Manager Ron Beardsley said that things had gone smoothly on this occasion. “We had salt stocks in place and no technical problems with the vehicles, so I hope that bodes well for the winter ahead.”
During its first year, Shetland's Geopark has chalked up a number of achievements.
Work with schools has featured prominently. The islands" largest secondary school, the Anderson High, along with Baltasound Junior High School on the northernmost island of Unst, received John Muir Environmental Awards for their project work based on the volcanic coastline of Eshaness. On the island of Yell, the creation of a series of stone figures showing the diverse range of rocks found on the island is said to be a great example of how Geopark Shetland is linking educational projects with wider community initiatives. Another event saw around 150 primary pupils engage in two days of activities relating to geology, archaeology, natural heritage and climate change.
Meanwhile, Shetland Geotours, operated by local geologist Allen Fraser, has become the first local tour operator to be accredited by Geopark Shetland. Allen Fraser has been leading field excursions in Shetland for over 10 years for a range of local groups, academics and tourists.
Work will continue with national and international Geopark partners to develop projects and form new partnerships which, it is hoped, could lead to additional European funding for Shetland.
A Shetland business has garnered another award for a range of smoked and marinated salmon that is marketed under the name "WildWaters". Grieg Seafood Hjaltland won the new business award in the Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards. The accolade follows success in the 2009 Quality Food Awards. The judges sought businesses or organisations that could demonstrate initial market success with a product range or service that would also have longer-term potential to contribute to the local food and drink economy or further enhance the perception of Highlands and Islands food and drink. New businesses were also assessed for staff training, innovation, meeting market need, ongoing business potential and overall business identity.
"Building Scotland", a new exhibition at the Shetland Museum and Archives, explores the history of our traditional building materials, which give our towns and villages a sense of place and identity. Running until 22 November, the display includes samples of 14 different building materials, including stone, timber, iron, clay and slate. "Building Scotland" explores the stories behind each material, and shows how each has been used over time. The exhibition examines geographical variations throughout Scotland and the natural properties of the materials – factors that have shaped Scotland's, and Shetland's, built environment.
Items from collections in Shetland Museum and Archives highlight the differences between indigenous and wider building styles. Like other areas of Britain, Shetland used to rely on local resources and traditions; styles changed little over time. From the 19th century Shetland was influenced by wider British styles, and architecture mirrored changes elsewhere. The display includes rope made from plants, wooden locks, and items made from driftwood.
Our blog this month will be of interest to booklovers. Shetland has clubs and associations devoted to just about every hobby, interest or sport and one of them is the Lerwick Book Group. Its members write a regular blog - http://lerwickbookgroup.blogspot.com/ - that includes reviews of the books they've been reading, often illuminated by asides about life in the islands. The usual disclaimer applies, of course: Shetland.org isn't responsible for the content of any external link, nor does the inclusion of a link imply any endorsement.