Jag har fem får i garderoben!

Förutom cykeln tog jag med ännu ett viktigt föremål; spinnrocken! Shetland är ju så nära himmelriket man kan komma om man gillar ull, garn och stickning. De fem fåren i garederoben är fem “fleeces” alltså ull från fem får. Ett svart, ett grått, ett vitt, ett brunt och ett ljusbrunt. För dessa fina fleeces har jag betalat ungefär 12 pund, alltså ungefär 140 kr. Säljer de till ullhandlaren får de ännu mindre betalt.

Så även här märks att ordet fleece har fått en annan innebörd när det gäller värmande plagg.

Ullen är silkesmjuk, man har avlat bort alla täckhår så kvar finns bara den mjukaste underull. Dessutom är den väldigt ren eftersom fåren går ute mest hela tiden. Av denna fina ull kan man spinna tunna, tunna trådar som så småningom kan bli Shetlands berömda schalar. Tvåtrådigt garn blir till Fair Isle tröjor, jättevackert mönsterstickade.

Så nu sitter jag vid spinnrocken, har tänkt spinna mig garn av alla de fem färgerna och sticka mig någon slags tröja så småningom.

P.S. Jag har cyklat ännu en gång, motvind och uppförsbackar hindrar inte mig. Denna gång till en strand som kallas Meal Beach. Kritvit sand som inte bara är sand utan även finmalda snäckskal. Därav ordet meal som också betyder mjöl.

Men vattnet är inte badbefrämjande, doppade bara fötterna i det svinkalla havet.

At first sight…

…this small Shetland croft would seem almost unnoticeable if it wasn’t for the sign. Since 1976, the Burland Croft Trail on Trondra, situated between Scalloway and Burra Isle, has been a working croft dedicated with developing Burland in a traditional and environmental way. And, it isn’t until one drives off the road and stops to dive into this atmosphere that one experiences a simple exhibition of Shetland heritage and unique crofting life.

Photo: Part of the Burland Croft garden area

The small but welcoming information display, found inside the barn together with ordinary farming tools and machines, readily expose the theme of the trail itself. Simplicity, care, pride and appreciation. The trail is just a walk around the place with small signs guiding you along. Nothing fancy nor loud. Everything easily accessible and taken in a gentle gait at one’s own pace.

Photo: Free-range chickens came to welcome us!

On exhibit are the geese, chickens, turkeys, ducks, lambs, sheep, ponies, cows, native grain crops and wildflowers etc. But, when looked at more closely, the croft is an exhibition of eco-friendly management in tune with nature and taken well care of by its caretakers. Organically correct, as it would be wanted, and featuring native Shetland breeds of poultry, animals and crops. And, to add more to its heritage, this croft even has historic iron-aged remains left behind by early Shetland inhabitants.

Photo: Like this barely, traditional Shetland crops are organically grown on Burland Croft

At first sight, the Burland Croft Trail may seem to be a simple type of “petting zoo” that is hardly worth the time and bother to stop. But, look again! The walk around the croft will provide an hour or two of a refreshing educational experience about crofting, ecology and Shetland heritage. And, if you have the time, ask the owners about traditional Shetland boat building. That will add another hour to your visit and a whole new world will open up to you.

Photo: Soon after this photo, these piglets attempted to visit Scalloway.

Highly recommended! Open 11 am-5 pm, Monday to Saturday during June to September. Burland Croft’s own fresh free-range eggs from an array of poultry are available for purchase. The croft and this project has been supported by the Shetland council and EU. We will return!

Photo: A Burland turkey showing his plummage

Shetland Grocery Store Shelves…

…are something that one meets almost immediately on arrival to the islands. Everyone needs food and most everyone use grocery stores. Grocery store experiences are probably very different between people, so it wasn’t just chance that made us be more aware of what was being offered on the shelves of the Co-op store in Lerwick. A mix between anxiety and anticipation. What things would we find similar? Were there new things offered? Better products? Less better products than what we were used to?

Experiences from the U.S. and Sweden have taught me to keep my eyes and mind open, read labels on products and do price comparisons. It’s something my father pointed out to his boys each time we’d accompany him to get groceries. I’ve kept these teachings through the years but added a bit of my own values and politics to grocery buying.

Photo: The Lerwick Co-op grocery store

So, it was to a degree of attention I gave some products on the shelves of the Co-op store when we first needed to fill our food supplies. The real attention grabber was the “Fair Trade” products. Another exciting eye-catcher was the free range eggs from Scotland farmers and finding most of the milk was locally produced and manufactured in Shetland. Shetland yoghurt was there, too. Really rich and creamy.

So, let the pictures add to the story. There has been some really nice surprises in food and food stores here and I’ll give this topic more attention later. It’s fun to shop for food in different countries with different values and ideas.

But, I ask, Why can’t there be more “Fair Trade” products on common Swedish grocery shelves?

PS– At this writing, the some 7000 people living in Lerwick have only one (1) grocery store available. This is the Co-op in Lerwick. Next week, the new Tesco store will open and many questions are in the air concerning the future of small village stores in rural areas, prices at Tesco and its reputation of price arrangements as well as the future of the Co-op store and its eventual expansion or decline. Should be interesting in the months to come.

PSS– We find small surprises of Scandinavian foods on the shelves here in Shetland. For example, Ryvita hard bread (knäckebröd) and Mustard Herring (Senaps Sill)

First Week in Shetland…

…and this astounding place is already making me forget my camera! I mean, when in a place like this, there are pictures to be taken to share with the world out there. But, alas, I left the digital at home as we went to Scalloway to visit an advertised event at the NAFC Marine Center (North Atlantic Fisheries College) called “The Sea Around Us”.

With the Atlantic Ocean practically at our doorstep, we felt that it would be wise to become acquainted with this new environment. Besides, after a week on Shetland and never being more than 3 English miles from a shore, it could be handy to learn about what is under the surface of an ocean.

When we first came to the designated house at NAFC, we immediately noted the sound of many people inside. Especially children. And, as we first peeked into the doorway, there were several large tanks of water that people were hanging over. Hmmm, What could be in these?

We quickly took a look. Here was a gigantic display of…fish. All kinds of different fish life that we had only seen on Discovery Channel or someplace. Now, they were there in real life.

It wasn’t the fish life found in the Little Lule River in Jokkmokk nor anywhere near our subarctic lakes. We could get close to such things as live halibut and cod, some sort of stingray and really ugly beasts with vampire teeth, which were strong enough to crush mussels and other hard-shelled crustaceans, called “Wolf Fish”.

Besides beauties like octopus and, believe me, fish that I have no idea what they were, we strolled over to the fish tank that was most popular. It was the “Touchy-Feely” fish tank. A hands-on experience for young and old.

Have you ever stuck your hand into water to pat a sea urchin? Or felt what a live Velvet Crab feels like? In this tank everyone was allowed to pick these creatures up and get a feel for them. I always wanted to know what it was like holding a starfish. And, a Sea Cucumber was a little stiff but soft. I was a kid going to a zoo for the first time again.

It was here that I realized I had left my camera at home. Sadly…sadly…but, Brita reminded me of my new mobile phone and its camera.

Great! I whipped this out and took 26 pictures of this salty experience. All I had to do was to transfer the files from the phone to my computer….uh…uh…? It didn’t work. My computer doesn’t have the correct application for transferring.

So, rule number 1? Don’t ever forget your camera. Rule 2? Don’t underestimate Shetlands potential for interesting activities where you could need a camera. Rule 3? Don’t be afraid to touch some sea animals…but not Wolf Fish!

PS- As conciliation, allow me to give a lone kayak in a big puddle of water and Shetland’s shore. Enjoy-

Det känns att jag har cyklat!

Jag har inte sett så många cyklande Shetlänningar, bara enstaka turister på cykel inne i Lerwick samt några cyklister med mycket smala cyklar. Nu vet jag varför. Cyklade nämligen in till Scalloway idag, en sträcka på ca 12 km enkel väg. Det var backe upp och backe ner – i motvind. Motvinden blev medvind på hemvägen men det var fortfarande backe upp och backe ner. Med andra ord så fick jag MYCKET motion idag.

Men det var samtidigt en fin cykeltur, utsikten är bedövande vacker, kor och får överallt och diken fulla med vackra blommor. Hittade en riktigt röd orkide, en nyckel av något slag. Rikrigt stor lyste den vackert i diket.

Nåväl, blåst och backar kommer inte att hindra mig från att cykla, dock i mindre omfattning än hemma.

Tack för hälsningen Birgitta – tänk att bli jämförd med Ostindiefararen!

För er som undrar…Ja, jag har börjat sticka. Mer om det senare.

Travel and New Countries…

…almost always give new perspectives and new knowledge. After having researched older mines in the Jokkmokk mountians for many years, I’ve collected a few enticingly interesting things that I carry around in my back pocket. Things that add to the history of older mining but don’t carry a lot of weight to justify in-depth studies.

One of these things is a small portable forge I had found in Ruotevare, northwest of Kvikkjokk. The remains were just that…remains and difficult to understand how it worked. It was a simple construction, about 1 meter in height, once having leather bellows and a deep table where wood charcoal was put and a fire lit to heat iron drills so these could be sharpened.

Photo: A 19th century portable field forge by Alldays & Onions, Birmingham found in the mining remains of the Falk-Nila Mine in Laponia/ Padjelanta Nat. Park in Jokkmokk

Interestingly enough, I stumbled over another one, thus making two, when doing an inventory of the Falk-Nila mining remains. Besides being a somewhat different model, this one presented new information. It was made by Alldays & Onions in Birmingham with probable offices in London. An archaeologist, participating in the 2006 project, learned that this odd named company still exists and it has origins from the 17th century with specialties in mining equipment.

So, it was really fun to have visited the Aberdeen Maritime Museum and find a “rivet forge” on display. Even more fun was to find the very same model of this rivet forge on display at the Shetland Museum. If I remember right, even the mining museum at LKAB has one.

Photo: A portable “rivet forge” displayed at the Aberdeen Maritime Museum being the same model found at Ruotevare

According to a museum attendant at Aberdeen Maritime Museum, the simple rivet forge was probably copied and manufactured by a big shipping company in the late 19th century. The reason being that 19th century shipping companies were powerful enough to copy and produce machinery they themselves needed…in spite of stepping on other’s patents. An interesting thought!

Now, a conclusive thought. If these portable forges are so interesting that museums outside of Sweden and that LKAB has them on display, Why is it so difficult to get anyone interested in getting, conserving and displaying the ones I’ve found in my research or even the unique cast iron stoves from latter 18th century at Silpatjåkkå? Or, is this just a Swedish thing?

PS– I want to thank everyone that have written comments to “The Great Adventure” blog!

Five Days on Shetland…

…we joined up with a guided bird watching tour near the center of Shetland’s biggest town Lerwick. This week, Shetland is experiencing its very first, and hopefully not the last, Nature Festival week and has activities centered on geology, botany and wildlife all over the islands.

Photo: Birdwatching walk through the town of Lerwick

Not only was it an interesting walk through the conservation area of Lerwick (the older part of town) but the three hour walk provided us with 25 different birds to be seen. Of these, the Arctic Tern (Arktis Tärna), Common Tern (vanlig Tärna), Arctic Skua (Fjälllab), Shag (Storskav), Herring Gull (Fiskmås), House Sparrow (Gråsparv) and Hooded Crow (Kråka) were the ones we recognized from northern Sweden. Surprisingly, birders in Great Britain have noticed a decrease in the House Sparrow population as we have observed in Sweden these last years.

Photo: New membership in the RSPB meant receiving a book and other material

The tour was so fun and our warden guides, Dennis, Lewis and Ewan, were so knowledgeable that I just had to become a member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Interestingly, membership dues were open. New members could decide themselves how much they could afford for annual fees rather than the RSPB had set membership dues! An interesting idea for Swedish organizations?

Other images from today and yesterday…

Photo: The new Shetland Museum in Lerwick

Photo: Traditional harbor house in Lerwick’s conservation area
Photo: Cruise ship The Marco Polo visits Lerwick, Shetland

PS– We’ve become dogsitters for our landlady the next two weeks. Please greet Pele and Fiffi…

Shetland- Day 3

Secret methods of Shetlanders letting off steam?

Photo: Scalloway piano bashing contest Nr. 1

Photo: Scalloway piano bashing contest Nr. 2

Photo: Scalloway piano bashing contest Nr. 3

Photo: Scalloway piano bashing contest Nr. 4

Photo: Scalloway piano bashing contest- The End

Nearby places to walk to

Photo: Village of Papil with our house. We start here… (Please use the enlarging tool for better details)

Photo: 500 meters westwards

Photo: 500 meters southwards

Photo: Seen along the way

Photo: “Oh Boy! We’re going to the beach!”

…to be continued

With the Arrival to Shetland…

…we were met with grey, wet and windy weather. Behind us were six days of traveling through Sweden, Norway and the ferries necessary to cross the sea between Scandinavia and Scotland. The trip was longer than anticipated, but the weather was neither hot nor rainy and was just perfect for a long drive. Naturally, on our way we stopped at different points of interest. The cathedral of Trondheim was impressive as well as the equally impressive “old town” of Bergen; both with roots in the middle ages.

Photo: Middle Age cathedral of Trondheim, Norway

Photo: Middle Age building in the “Old Town” of Bergen, Norway

It’s sometimes a limited choice of methods offered in getting to places. Having a car, getting from Bergen to Shetland involved using ferry services and we arrived in Scrabster, Scotland with Smyril Lines. It was fun and very comfortable with a two-berth outside cabin. But, perhaps a little too big and too impersonal of a ferry.

It was here that Jeppe (our Jeep) gave me another rise in blood pressure. Having parked him on one of the car decks, I had a problem with the electronic lock. Didn’t matter, I thought. I would look at it later. But, after the cruise when everyone rushed to get cars off the ferry and passengers were anxious to get to shore,I tried to start Jeppe but he wouldn’t start. The vehicle’s starting ability was completely dead.

There is nothing so embarrassing than to have a row of cars behind your’s on a ferry wanting to get off and your car won’t start. The battery was strong. It just didn’t want to start and some 6 crew members were frustratingly trying to help get me and Jeppe out of the way for others to drive off. What was the problem? How could this happen?

One crew member, who was a mechanic on the boat, jumped behind the wheel to steer the car as it was to be pulled off by a forklift truck. He looked down for at the peddles, noticed some wires hanging loose and asked me what all this was? Here, the night before, when I had gotten out of Jeppe, I apparently caught my foot on some cables and pulled them loose at their connector. Quckly, I put these together again and Jeppe immediately started to everyone’s relief!

Photo: Aberdeen harbor is practically in the center of the city

It was nice to return to Scotland. Beautiful country and we had a beautiful morning driving along the northern coastline, through Inverness and towards Aberdeen. Aberdeen was a big place and the Northlink ferry was in the middle of downtown. We walked around Aberdeen while we waited to leave for Shetland that evening. I would hightly recommend Northlink! It was comfortable, friendly and great personal service from the crew, which Brita and I felt immediately welcomed with a homey feeling.

Getting to Shetland was a good feeling. This place is completely and excitingly different with really friendly people and a laid-back attitude. In spite of the weather, our arrival day was spent driving to our rented house, unloading Jeppe, buying food at the grocery store in Lerwick and talking with our wonderful landlord.

Our first full day was quiet and peaceful. The morning broke apart the fog and the rain stopped. The weather turned into summer and will seem to be this way the coming 2-4 days. We continue to discover Shetland….

Photo: Relaxing outside our house- first full day on Shetland