November 2014 Visit Shetland Newsletter
The clocks have changed and the nights are drawing in. It's a time when Shetlanders make time for their indoor hobbies. Amongst other things, I enjoy reading, listening to music and food - so I'm utterly delighted that during November I can immerse myself in all three with Wordplay, the Guitar Festival and the Food Festival.
I can also stock up on Christmas presents at the Craft Fair or at head out to Bonhoga, where they're having Peerie Christmas from 1st November. In the Lower Gallery is an exhibition of prints by Julie Dennison - a current student at the Shetland College and alongside Julie's work is WirdCraft, an exhibition of craft inspired by Shetland dialect. As part of its 10th anniversary celebrations, the Shetland Forwirds group collaborated with Shetland Arts and local craft artists in a project to demonstrate, through craft, how the Shetland dialect is still alive and how it can be utilised in a contemporary, informative and creative way.
Ooh, and remember remember the 1st of November! Lerwick's fireworks display will take place a few days before Guy Fawlks night - they're being set off from the Knab, so there'll be plenty of viewpoints for people to watch from.
There's been cause for celebration for several local companies over the past month - all well deserved. If you get a chance to stop along any of these businesses when you're visiting Shetland, you're guaranteed a fantastic experience and warm welcome.
Shetland Nature received Five Star accolade by Visit Scotland, the first company in Shetland to achieve this grade from a national tourism organisation.
Frankie's Fish & Chips has been named as the best eatery in the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards.
The Lerwick Brewery's 60° North, lager won 'Highly Commended' in the annual Highlands and Islands Food and Drink awards
The Shetland Tannery was nominated for the Diversification Award at the The British Farming awards
Festivals A Go-Go!
Oh my word, am I excited about the Food Festival!! It's on at the Clickimin Centre, along with the Craft Fair on 14th to 16th September. There's going to be so much to see, smell and sample!! There's going to be a demonstration kitchen, so you'll get to watch some of Shetland's finest chefs whip up some culinery delights. I've even been asked to compere on Saturday and Sunday, so I'll be right in the midst of the action....I'll be sure to have an empty belly when I arrive as there'll be everything from lamb to cheese to bannocks to get my teeth into.
The Shetland Guitar Festival
The Shetland Guitar Festival is on 6th to 8th November and along with some world class concerts, you'll also have the chance to be entertained by some of Shetland's best guitarists. And Shetland Arts have also just announced a very special festival fringe event: Tommy Emmanuel & Martin Taylor in Conversation on Wednesday 5 November. As well as this, you can soak up the atmosphere in the Festival Club on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in the Mareel Cafe Bar from 10pm-1am.
Shetland's annual book festival is on from 11th to 16th November. There's a great selection of writers at the festival of local, national and international reknown. I'll certainly be buying a copy of Lawrence Tulloch's Shetland Folk Tales and Shetland Food and Cooking by Marian Armitage. I'll be catching up with Marian at the Food Fair and will bring you an interview next month.
My Top 5
My Personal Top 5 Shetland Foods
Lamb - my all time favourite meal is a slow roasted leg of lamb. I buy Mousa lamb every year and not only does it taste fantastic, I can point to the island that it was farmed on. Shetland Lamb is in season now and you'll be able to sample some yourself at the many restaurants throughout Shetland.
Fish - I find it difficult to pin down a favourite though as I love haddock, tusk, monkfish, skate, mussels, scallops and whelks….the list goes on and on! I must say though, that I prefer my fish cooked simply, so that the flavour comes through. Again, you'll find a selection of what's available at local restaurants.
Shetland Cheese - to round of a meal I'm more of a cheese board fan than a pudding person.
Shetland black tatties. The perfect potato! I love when you cut through these raw and you see beautiful patterns. I'm sure each one is unique, like a snowflake.
Reestit Mutton. Normally made with tattie soup, it's a Shetland tradition and is common around the festive season. It has a unique smell and taste - one that you might not be used to! It's fairly salty, so the ideal accompaniment is a bottle of beer from one of Shetland's breweries. (It's no wonder it's so popular at New Year)
Shetland Arts and Crafts Organisation has it's annual Christmas Craft Fair at the Clicimin Centre from 14th to 16th November. The place to buy your Christmas presents - and with 98 exhibitors, it promises to be bigger and better than ever before! But if you can't make it along don't worry, a lot of the producers have websites that you can order from.
I met up with one of the organisers, Wendy Inskster to find out what was on offer this year - you can listen to the interview below.
Congratulations to Sarah Bennett from Leicestershire, who won October's competition.
This month's prize is a selection of beautifully illustrated Shetland Christmas cards by Monica Pothecary. Monica combines hand drawn images with digital techniques and the contemporary cards are professionally printed on beautiful Accent Callisto soft white 300gsm board, which provides a lovely writing surface for that special message.
That's all for this month but I'm already looking forward to next month's festive issue.....
See you soon!