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Our April 2019 Diary

by Alastair Hamilton -

April’s diary is pretty full, and especially so if you’re one of the younger folk in our islands, because the first two weeks – the school holidays – are packed with all sorts of activities for children and teenagers. But there’s plenty to entertain adults, too, whether you’re planning a visit to Shetland or live here.

The Clickimin Leisure Complex in Lerwick has a wealth of events for children, with the 25m swimming pool being used for fun with inflatables and diving practice. Adults can also join in a session where everyone can try out swimming with flippers. There are soft play days for younger children, while slightly older ones can try their hand at Mini Golf.

For those aged 8 – 12, there’s a holiday camp featuring time in the pool along with athletics, football, dodgeball and more. For the more dedicated young footballers, there are Monday to Friday football camps.

Over at Mareel, the arts centre, there are workshops in musical theatre for 5 – 7 year olds, with The Greatest Showman and Chicago as the inspiration. Mareel is also presenting So You Think You Know About Dinosaurs, a live and interactive show with Dr Ben Garrod, who’ll take his audience on a prehistoric adventure that uses footage from the BBC’s Planet Dinosaur and pits the knowledge of unwitting parents against that of their all-knowing kids.

Meanwhile, the Islesburgh Community Centre is offering an Easter Holiday Yoga Camp, this time for 4 – 11 year olds. On 13 April, the centre will run a theatre workshop for those over 16, Exploring Character in Creative Storytelling, and the following day, there’s a Family Theatre Workshop, Let’s Imagine…, based around Alice in Wonderland. Later in the month, there are adult ballet classes.

The Shetland Museum and Archives has a children’s programme, too. For 3 – 5 year olds, there are sessions featuring arts, crafts, stories and toys. Younger primary children have a workshop about crofting in springtime and another where they can produce crafts based on objects in the museum. For primary 4 – 7, there’s an art workshop and a chance to make paper.

Rugby is well supported in the islands and the Shetland Rugby Club plays in the Caledonia North 3 League. There are teams for men and women, along with a junior section that caters for children from primary school age upwards. The next match is on 6 April at Clickimin in Lerwick, where the first-team men will take on Aberdeen University Medics. On 20 April, they’ll welcome Stornoway.

Also on 6 April, there’s another event in the campaign to raise £2m for an MRI scanner at the Gilbert Bain Hospital. This time, between 40 and 50 NHS staff will paddle kayaks from Bridge End in Burra Isle (a popular centre for kayaking) to Scalloway, being rewarded with homebakes at their destination.

Traditional Shetland boats will be the focus for a day at Shetland Museum and Archives on 27 April, centred on the archaeology of Shetland’s unique small, open boats. Those attending will be able to explore their origins, development and use, and the archaeology associated with them.

It’s a hands-on workshop and will include a specialist tour of the museum’s historic boat collection and a unique opportunity to examine archaeological artefacts first hand. It’ll be led by Shetland boat expert Dr Marc Chivers, archaeologist Dr Esther Renwick and museum curator, Dr Ian Tait.

Throughout April, the Bonhoga Gallery in Weisdale will be presenting another in its series of exhibitions on the theme of Shetland Made. These celebrate craft and its role in Shetland’s culture and economy. Each show features five or six local artists, designers and makers. Textiles, jewellery, pottery and woodwork, among other crafts, have featured in past shows and this one will offer another diverse collection of high-quality, locally-made items, all of which are for sale.

Each show features five or six local artists, designers and makers

These days, comedy is firmly established on Shetland entertainment scene, with Jason Manford’s visit in March going down very well indeed. He’s just the latest in a long line of well-known stars to visit the islands. However, as Alex Garrick-Wright revealed in a recent blog, we have a thriving troupe of local stand-up comedians, too, and the next gig is The Stand Up Open Mic Night at the String Café Bar on 5 April.

The month’s musical offerings are varied, as always. There are several informal music nights planned , as well as concerts. On 6 April, there’s a choice between music and dancing to the Peter Hutchison Band at the Shetland Hotel; an evening with the Adam Guest Band at the String Café Bar; and a performance of Tomas Luis de Victoria’s Requiem by the Edinburgh University Renaissance Singers in St Columba’s Church.

On 21 April, The String welcomes Scottish indie-pop in the shape of Randolph’s Leap plus Canadian duo, The Burning Hell. On 26 and 27 April, one of the year’s bigger events sees young players compete for the title of Shetland’s Young Fiddler of the Year, who'll be named following many remarkable performances.

There’s a wealth of things to enjoy on the two cinema screens at Mareel, whatever your taste in film. Younger audiences will enjoy a visit from Dumbo, can learn How To train Your Dragon and I suspect will absolutely love Three Little Pigs, a colourful and engaging production from Northern Ballet. There’s ballet for an older audience, too, with a performance of The Merry Widow recorded at the Sydney Opera House by the Australian Ballet. Another specially-filmed musical treat comes from the Apollo Theatre in London, namely Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

There’s a long list of other films on the Mareel website. Those out of the mainstream include the psychological drama starring Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, Everybody Knows, and a documentary, The Ponds, that traces a year in the lives of some of those who brave the swimming ponds on Hampstead Heath all year round.

Two films have Shetland connections. Wild Rose, a comedy-drama about a young Glasgow woman who wants to make it as a country singer, has a cameo appearance from Shetland fiddler Aly Bain and accordionist Phil Cunningham. Last Breath tells the true story of a diving accident – or rather, a diver’s fight for survival – in the North Sea; it features Shetlander Stuart Anderson.

And last but not least, there’s the return, after 40 years (can it really be…?), of a very naughty boy in that masterly satire, Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

On the last weekend in April, Da Voar Redd Up gets under way. It’s the UK’s most successful community litter pick, when over 20% of Shetland’s population – in other words, more than 4,000 people – don their gloves to clear Shetland’s beaches, coastlines and roadsides of litter and the debris washed up by winter storms. The Redd-Up has won several awards and the intensity of activity over the weekend has to be seen to be believed.

more than 4,000 people don their gloves to clear Shetland’s beaches, coastlines and roadsides

Looking just a little farther ahead, the Shetland Folk Festival runs from 2 to 5 May and promises to be as eclectic and entertaining as ever. Tickets have been selling well and, if you’re planning a visit and haven’t yet chosen your concerts, it’s best to go to the website as soon as possible and see what’s available.

Those are only some of the things planned for April; a new website has more. But apart from all these organised events, longer days and better weather mean more opportunities to get into Shetland’s great outdoors.

Whether it’s walking on the coast, taking part in the Bressay Parkrun, cycling, gardening, golfing or perhaps cheering on those fund-raising kayakers, the possibilities are many.

And, if you need a reward after all that effort, the season of Sunday Teas in local halls is well under way. Run by volunteers to raise money for good causes, they’re also guaranteed to ensure that you don’t lose weight too quickly. There will be several of these during the month, and many, many more over the months that follow.

they’re guaranteed to ensure that you don’t lose weight too quickly

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