Today, for Travel Tuesday, I am continuing with my holiday diary from my first independent trip to the Shetland Islands! Once again, I apologise for the photos of photos and wikipedia photos - but the originals are still in England! Read day one here and day two here! Please click on links to follow to the source of tours, places, museums etc etc!
I'm waiting on the see shetland tour bus to get onto the ferry to Unst. Sarah's so lovely, greeted us with a manly handshake and a cheery hullo! (Note from 2013 - click on the see shetland tour link above to hear the hilarious sound a puffin makes!)
I've learned loads already. I've seen shetland ponies grazing with their foals. I know that there are 22000 people on the island and 330000 sheep. There aren't enough workers, everywhere's understaffed.
There are no trees left on the island, because they were all cut down 7000 yeas ago when man first dwelt on the island. This led to erosion and colder climates and the formation of peat bogs.
DNA testing has taught us that all shetlanders descent from vikings, because before they came there weren't very many island dwellers.
I know the words 'ting' or 'ding' indicate a place of viking settlement and place names with 'papa' come from pictish roots.
All the architecture in central Lerwick/Scalloway reflects this norse heritage. It's funny to look at the ruined buildings & imagine them as they were thousands of years ago. Imagine the tales they have to tell of the people who lived there!
We passed Voe on the way here. Stunning! A big glittering blue loch with a spattering of shetland's only trees that aren't thumb sized. We're in Yell!
Yell is made up mainly of peat, which is used for fuel. Yell, the biggest isle, in fact has only 400 inhabitants. Mid Yell has the biggest population. The reason every isand is different is due to the underlying rock.
We stopped off at a fish hatchery to see some baby fish, some dead fish, a king charles spaniel with a nervous disposition and a sheepdog as soft as Rudi! I saw a sheep and a lamb cuddling!
There is severe depopulation in the shetlands. There are a few people from the mainland, who buy all of the houses when they retire, so poor islanders have to make 'kit houses' out of wood. These are everywere.
Yell hasn't been modernised @ all, so it's easy to see what it would have looked like before.
A German cadet ship sank in 1924 off the coast of Queyen. The ship's bust, a 'white lady' was found and used as a memorial. We saw that.
I have learned that shetland sheep (funny wild, shaggy things) have a gene which allows them to shed their own fur.
We went to Bayanne House. The owner is a primary school teacher, I spoke to her extensively about ow nice it is to teach here. She also makes landscapes out of shetland wool. I bought a 'burra bear' from her made from recycled fair isle jumpers. It comes with a card to send back home to the Shetland Islands, so they kno where the bear ended up. Each bear has it's own name, identity and history.
|(Photo from website)|
I saw a bronze (400ad) settlement, right next to an iron age settlement. I also stroked a pig and some ducklings!
And we're in Unst! By the by, my bear's name is Lowrie O'Coppister. They're having people to feel the energy of Bayane House, to see if anyone can connect with spirits of the past.
Loads has happened! As Sarah said 'Unst is a little bit of all of the islands'. She showed us the stretch of road where the 'white wife' - a ghost is rumoured to appear in cars. Probably when people are drunk!
I learned that the Unst herring industry money built the Lerwick Victorian buildings. The population of Unst is also vaguely 400, when the RAF base closed, it took away the people.
I went to the Unst bus shelter which has it's own website at www.unstbusshelter.shelter.co.uk. Children find things in skips, which they place in bus shelters for reasons of comfort. One 5yo took this to it's extreme in one bus shelter, which now even has it's own guest book. The boy is now 15 and still does it. For the Queen's jubilee, the boy painted coins gold, in special decoration. As a mark of how safe it is here, no one stole a penny of it.
We drove up a hill for an outstanding view of Hermaness, Mucka Flugga Lighthouse and Ronas Hill. The clouds made funny shadows on the hilltop.
|(Photo from Wikipedia)|
Unst is very good for shetland ponies. There are 2 stud farms. I saw loads of shetland ponies. I really want one.We went to the lighthouse shore station, where we read up on birds. The puffin's call sounds like a man laughing!
We lunched at Baltasound Hotel, where I sampled the scrumptious local 'white wife' beer.
We went to the boat haven to learn about boats and fishing. We went to Unst Heritage Centre and learned about the old education system, croft houses and their layout and furniture and the lace industry. I also saw a beautiful old bibloe made by Rev John - whoever he is!
|(Photo from website)|
Finally, we went to Valhalla Brewery, where white wife & other local beers are brewed - gonna buy some for Dad/Ed/Paul.
|(Photo from website)|
The roads here are windy - apparently bcause workers were paid by he mile! We just drove past 'windy house' - derelict, no windows (no wonder it's called windy house!). It's supposed to be haunted. It looks it!
(photo from www.ghostweather.com)
Hello! Well, I didn't make it onto the Dim Riv, but I did go to somewhere even better!
I went to Isleburgh Community College. in Lerwick. It's a huge, beautiful building. They had an exhibition on showing beautiful knitwear and lace. Ladies knitted it while you were there. They had arts & crafts. They had a false croft house - a perfect replica - with authentic furniture inside, including a spinning wheel, box bed and crib, medicines and a bible.
The crowning glory was the fiddlers played old (or aulde) shetland folk music. The first fidders were 11-13 yo. One girl was hauntingly god. She played brilliantly, with a unique disdainful air. She was a pretty wee thing too. The second fiddlers were 13-20 yo. The one I picked up from this group had a hunched back, but was stunningly good on her fiddle. She was trying not to laugh, which made her laugh, it was even harder for her when she caught my eye! The fiddlers brought a tear to my eye. I'm so tired I can't be bothered to get ready for tomorrow!
The shetland ponies are lovely. Asap, I'm going to try & buy one. I love them!
(Note from 2013: I did get a shetland pony the following year, here's a picture of the little boy at a show! That dapper being in the background is yours truly!)