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September 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.

Since we last spoke…

The other day I awoke at 5.00am, the mist was rolling across the hills towards my cottage and then, within moments, the mood changed - the haar cleared and all became golden. I made myself a kick-butt coffee, got my deckchair out and Mo the cat joined me - she watched rabbits dash across the fields and I listened to the sound of the Alamooties (Storm Petrels) chattering away in the stone wall behind my home, not a breath of wind - it was a glorious way to start the day.

I've spent afternoons rambling across the moors - deep purple in hue as the heather comes into flower. Violet Self-heal decorates my garden, orange Parrot lilies grow abundantly under the ancient willow trees and haymaking has begun - the golden fields contrast beautifully with the lush green of adjacent land.

I've viewed the latest exhibition at Bonhoga Gallery: Particle - Things Unseen - an installation of sculpture, print and video exploring the microscopic word of our shores and oceans. I've been in sugary heaven watching The Great British Bake Off - James is doing Shetland proud and created a very impressive Simmer Dim cake! (Don't miss our iconic Sunday Teas - held in local halls across the islands - a must-indulge!) I have also listened to Jen Hadfield, on Radio 4, talk about her favourite place - Shetland, of course!

My favourite place…

Jen Hadfield, award-winning poet, recently spoke about 'My Favourite Place' on Woman's Hour. When asked why she moved to Shetland? Jen replied she was 'aware from quite early on of wanting to be in bigger spaces…I like those long uncluttered tracks of land...'

Listen to the wonderful interview and poetry reading of ootadaeks (outside the hill-dykes) and innadaeks (inside the township dykes) here (starts at 0:11:04). If you're considering visiting Shetland for a relocation recce - get in touch with Move To Shetland and be sure to read the interesting Case Studies on the website.

If you'd like to learn more about Shetland dialect - pop over to Shetland ForWirds. I love the Sayin o da Week. This week:Ane rises up anidder sits doon: dat's what maks da laand sae dear…Find out what this means here

Ride like the wind… Lara Dunn explores Shetland by bike

Lara Dunn discovered 'the Shetland islands are made for touring by bike' and she has written a superb article recording her island adventures in September's issue of Coast Magazine. Despite numerous offers of lifts from friendly locals, she kept on pedaling 40-odd miles up the most northwesterly point of the mainland, before returning to Lerwick and the ferry home.

Highlights of her trip included stunning Eshaness, lounging seals, cinematic sea views and dining out on the very plump and oh so moreish mussels at my favourite watering hole - Pierhead Restaurant and Bar, being wowed by very quiet roads (1000 miles of well surfaced roads, in addition to some great accessible rough tracks), enjoying the expected four seasons in one day and overcoming a new challenge - struggling to pedal downhill! Lara also managed to branch off onto a section of the North Sea Cycle Route - a 6000 km signposted trail which spans 7 countries: Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.

If you're interested in exploring Shetland by bike - there's a brilliant leaflet with handy tips and details of '20 Cycle Routes to Discover' available at the Visitor Centre, Lerwick. Get on your bike, escape everyday life and blow those cobwebs away!

September's prize: A rich tapestry of sounds

Congratulations to August's prizewinner Mrs Nancy MacMillan from Ontario - Shetland Rambles - a travelogue written by Mairi Hedderwick, is on its way to you! September's prize is from Lise Sinclair - a singer, songwriter and poet fromFair Isle. Lise's new album - A Time to Keep and other songs, has been written in collaboration with Icelandic musician and composer Ástvaldur Traustasson and recorded by a band of musicians from across the North Isles and Iceland.

The songs are tales of life, set in the elemental landscape of the Northern Isles and based on the collection of short stories of the same title, written by George Mackay Brown. Lise has written an album of songs that bring the stories out of the book and creates a new conversation with Mackay Brown's characters - connecting the past with the present and the Northern Isles with Iceland.

Listen to Lise talk about the inspiration behind her music (a visual Fair Isle feast too) and be transferred to another time and place.

Scalloway Museum is a gem (and great value for money)!

It's only £3.00 (under 16s £1.00 and free for children under 6) for a Scalloway Museum 2012 season ticket! It's a fabulous new visitor attraction and I spent a happy couple of hours reading the fascinating information boards , including the intriguing history of The Shetland Bus - the nickname of a clandestine special operations group that operated between Shetland and Norway during World War 11. I ended the self-guided tour with a pot of tea in the café, a browse in the gift shop (stunning locally made lace scarves for sale) and then a wander along the picturesque waterfront.

Top tip: follow a visit to the Museum and Scalloway Castle with lunch at the Scalloway Hotel and then pop in and say hello to Cecil at Paparwark Furniture (featured on the Craft Trail and in my next newsletter).

Whatever you decide to do - don't miss this gem. Open until 30th September 11.00am - 4.00pm and Sunday 2.00pm - 4.00pm.

Festival fever continues…

Festival fever continues and entertainment until the wee small hours is guaranteed (and plenty of stories to take home with you)!

Let's start with the Blues Festival (14th-16th September). Tickets are available from Shetland Box Office and there's stellar line-up including Danish Blues Artist of the Year 2008 -Tim Lothar, captivating Papa Mojo and local acts - Bluemelt, the Orange Whips, Deep Sea Rollers and much much more!

Screenplay (31st August - 9th September) has published its packed programme of films for audiences of all ages. Acclaimed actress Miranda Richardson and legendary director Bill Forsyth will be visiting our shores and attending a Q&A session with Screenplay curators - film critic Mark Kermode and distinguished film historian Linda Ruth Williams. Wordplay features an excellent variety of events including writing workshops, author events and book launches…

This festival runs alongside Screenplay, which begs the question - when to sleep?!

See you soon!


If you're planning to visit next month - there's great news! Loganair will be increasing Shetland services from Glasgow and Edinburgh, ahead of busy school holidays in October. Perfect timing for two popular festivals:Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival (October 11th-15th) and Wool Week celebrations (October 8th-14th). Get booking!

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