Sälar, välgörenhet och the.

I går kväll tog jag en promenad till och utefter vår fina strand som ligger inte så långt bort. Efter en stund märkte jag att jag hade sällskap – av en säl. Stranden är ganska lång och den följde mig hela vägen på det behöriga avståndet av 5-10 m ut i vattnet. För en inlandsbo som jag är detta en riktigt trevlig händelse.

Denna solande säl såg vi på Mousa tillsammans med kanske 40 till. De ligger mycket på land nu eftersom de byter päls i augusti-september och då är lite tunnklädda för det kalla vattnet.

Välgörenhet, ja ni har kanske märkt att det ordet dykt upp då och då i vår blogg. Här finns massor av välgörenhetsorganisationer, allt från Röda Korset till djurskydd. Ett sätt för en del av dessa organisationer att få in pengar, är att ordna Sunday tea. En del byar med samlingsgård säljer fika på söndags eftermiddagen. Inkomsterna går, vad jag kan förstå, till olika ändamål. Kanske till samlingsgården eller byn men också till välgörenhetsorganisationer. En sådan organisation är Clan, den stöder cancersjuka med råd, boende vid behandling m.m. På söndag är det ett sådant fika för just Clan, i en by en bit bort och för att få reda på mer och lära mig om detta fenomen har även jag engagerat mig och ska baka något.

Det här med söndagsfika är mycket populärt, man går man ur huse på söndagseftermiddagarna, verkar det som.

En jämförelse, Shetland har ca 22.000 innevånare och i Lerwick bor ca 7000 av dem. I Lerwick finns fyra andrahandsaffärer som drivs av Röda Korset, Rädda Barnen, Oxfam och Clan. De verkar klara konkurrensen för de har kunder, varor och frivilliga såvitt jag kan bedöma.

Here It Has Stood…

This, the soldier of strength,
This, the gatekeeper of Mousa Sound.
This, the sentinel of Shetland
Watching over its destiny… its past.
No lime, nor cement, nor earth, sand and water.
Dry stone built, with precision and intent.

Thirteen meters of ancient architecture…
The wind still whistles around its kiln-like tower
And the rains still cut into its moss covered shell
The sun still pushes on its back, its side, its front
And it still stands as it has…for 20 centuries

The shadows who gave it birth,
Who breathed life into it,
Stone after stone after stone
Worn, heavy with sweat and anticipation
Are nearby, yet, have journeyed onwards… elsewhere.

This tower, this broch of Mousa Isle
Solid, daring, watching, remembering
So many, many lives
Once warming, once sheltering…protecting
Now tolerant, patient, reliant
Inviting in its secrets
Forever, standing guard over its waters

Shetland Has Sandy Beaches…

…that probably could make a few world-renowned vacation spots green with jealousy. Shetland has sandy, pebble and boulder beaches that can be found along some 1500 km of coastline. All depending upon your choice, there are patches of different beach to be had for that special outing and a day’s relaxation.

Just this year, four Shetland beaches have been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag Award by Keep Scotland Beautiful, a charitable organization to improve and sustain the environment of Scotland through a variety of projects. Three beaches on Shetland, Sands of Breckon on Yell, Tresta on Fetlar and West Voe are new to the awards, but a recurring award winner is the tombola-style beach at St. Ninian’s Isle. The largest in Great Britain with a length of appxm. 500 meters.

Photo: The beach at St. Ninian’s Isle stretches eastwards towards mainland Shetland

When driving to the St. Ninian’s Isle parking lot, just below the village of Bigton on the western coastline of south mainland, the beach stretches itself out towards the island with ocean waters on both sides. A tombola is a small spit of land or beach connecting an island with its mainland. St. Ninian’s beach size became even more greater and impressive as one advances towards and starts walking on the beige-white sand.

St. Ninian’s Isle itself is an archaeological object of interest. By its name, the isle has a Christian tone to it, but evidence of Neolithic graves have been found underneath and within the walls of a 12th century chapel on the island. It was this same chapel that the so-called St. Ninian Treasure, a collection of silver broaches and ornaments from Viking times, was found under a stone slab during an archaeological investigation in 1958.

Photo: Remnants of 12th century chapel at St. Ninian's Isle, Shetland

Photo: Remnants of 12th century chapel at St. Ninian's Isle, Shetland

Photo: St. Ninian’s Isle Beach stretches towards the island itself

Well worth a visit, don’t you think?

On Shetland,…

…having a good time and enjoying a bit of fun has different meanings from different areas of the islands. We’ve already learned that agricultural fairs are popular and are established forms of wholesome family outings. On the other hand, piano bashing events seem to be a new development in island entertainment.

So, it was with curious anticipation and adventuresome smiles that we accepted an invitation from our neighbors to head up north for another Shetland “happening”. As advertised in the Shetland Times, “Yis, it’s time fir all da usual onkerry” at DA BIG BANNOCK in North Roe, Northmavin. With this, How could we not pile ourselves into Jeppe for a new experience?

As a background, it was told that North Roe’s yearly Bannock was an idea born around 1998 by a small group of, at that time, young men who apparently had been partying and wanted to do something different. So, they decided to bake a large “bannock”, or type of traditional scone, and generally have fun. This idea exploded into North Roe’s traditional yearly entertainment and great fun, though the men are a little older now.

Literally busloads of people came to enjoy Da Big Bannock in North Roe, Shetland

Literally bus loads of people came to enjoy Da Big Bannock in North Roe, Shetland

On arrival, it was difficult to pin-point exactly what the Bannock was. Personally, I would describe it as a large group of people standing around waiting for something to happen. The organizers knew what they were doing. Bus loads of others were just enjoying good company and chit-chatting with a beer in their hand. Apparently, this year’s theme was “The Old West”, as organizers and some participants were dressed as cowboys or Indians. Actually, other theme costumes could be seen worn during the event. (was it my imagination, or did I see Elvis there?)

There was a kiddies tent, with games and the like as well as a locomotive ride. There were grilled styles of food, from sausage hamburgers to fried herring or scallops, available for purchase behind or inside the community building, raffles, lotteries and the commonly expected beer tent for the thirsty.

A big bannock is taken out of the oven for comsumption

A big bannock is taken out of the oven for comsumption

Butter churning contest

Butter churning contest

There were contests and games, of sorts! Two teams contended in a competition to see who could churn the most butter in the shortest time. Uh, not the most usual contest, but a heck of a lot of fun for the watching crowd. In a nearby field, there was the Grand Roto-Tiller Race (jordfräs), where contestants would race around a track fighting obstacles from the local fire department, who were hosing and soaking them down in water. Noted, too, was the halfway point on the track, where each contestant downed a large beer. Seemingly, a sort of spitting contest was to commence, but we regretfully had to return home and even missed the big tent dance later that evening.

Roto-Tiller race Nr. 1

Roto-Tiller race Nr. 1

Roto-Tiller race Nr. 2

Roto-Tiller race Nr. 2

Next year’s Big Bannock? Well, if you’re on Shetland, definitely make a point not to miss it! The bannock is an impressive example of enormous community effort, superb teamwork by volunteers. hard work and all the proceeds go to charity. Through the years, Big Bannock has raised more than £70,000 for different charities. This year, cancer charity CLAN is targeted as the recipient. Super fun with a good purpose in mind!

PS– Next weekend…The Burra Regatta!

I\'m looking forward to next year\'s Big Bannock!

I'm looking forward to next year's Big Bannock!

Shetland Weather…

…is brutally renowned for forceful North Sea winds and walls of rain showers tearing into the tiny islands and its inhabitants. Ever since we arrived, locals have made shrugging comments with slight intonations of apologies for a lesser attractive climate.

But, this year has proven this rule to be temporarily wrong. As locals speak of the damp windy weather of Shetland, their eyes can light up and add “…but May was super”! Media has commented that this last July has been the warmest since 1904 and spreading rumor is pronouncing a Shetland summer better than can ever be remembered.

Yes, we’ve had wind and rain! And, no, the temperatures haven’t hit the high twenties in Shetland. But, we’ve had many memorable sunny walks and fantastic sunny mornings and have really enjoyed the privilege of two white sandy beaches near our house and a nearby Atlantic coastline.

Perhaps normality will return as we venture closer into the fall. Perhaps we’ll experience normal Shetland weather soon or blog about how wet the days are later. But, until then, allow me to show panoramic Shetland pictures from our afternoon walk today. Enjoy!

Photo 1: WHALE WICK, where we often pass on walks

Photo 2: Almost an image of Padjelanta…RUFF LOCH.

Photo 3: More than 20 miles west of Burra Isle and often lost in the mist, FOULA shows itself to the mainland.

PS– Sorry, Anna! You’re in our thoughts!


På bilden här nedanför kan ni, om ni har förstoringsglas eller mikroskop, se en grupp mycket små vita hus längst bort i bilden. Även om ni klickar upp storleken på bilden så behövs förstoringsglas. Nåväl, det är byns samlingshus, ett “croft” hus som renoverats upp så att utsidan ser ut som för 100 år sedan medan insidan är anpassad som ett samlingshus med välutrustat kök och toalett. Husen är byggda av sten, naturligtvis, med halmtak. Till och med skorstenarna är klädda med halm. Croft kanske är att jämföra med våra torp, åtminsone är systemen släkt på långt håll.

Där träffas byns kvinnor, dom som vill alltså, varannan tisdagkväll och handarbetar, pratar och fikar. Det var mycket trevligt och jag måste erkänna att jag kände mig som hemma. Om jag bytt ut min vantstickning mot knyppeldynan så hade det nästan varit som på Östra på torsdagkvällarna… Eller i Mattis…

Bilden visar alltså Papil, byn vi nu bebor. Vårt hus syns inte, det ligger bakom och lägre än husen i bild.

Jeppe, the Jeep…

…was again feeling a little under the weather. Last Friday, Jeppe cracked his right-front brake pads and needed immediate attention. Some Jeeps can be such big babies when sick! But, when in another country, Where does one find a reliable Jeep doctor to take care of a loved vehicle?

Burra Isle, on central mainland Shetland, has a small auto service shop and filling station. So, I took Jeppe to the emergency ward at BURRA MOTOR REPAIRS and had Jim take a look at the broken pads Monday morning. Jim started right in with repairing and ordering the necessary parts. This would take a couple of days, since Jim had a Citroen, in the bed next to Jeppe, who also needed attention.

Photo: Jeppe is really happy with Burra Motor Repairs, Shetland

In the meantime, I was allowed to use a small Fiat until Jeppe was well again. This morning, I picked up Jeppe, who was very happy to see me and all anxious to head out on an adventure. The surgery went very well and both Jeppe and I are enormously pleased with Burra Motor Repairs and Jim’s capable hands and professional service. ( I never had another car service provide me with a reserve car for the price of the gas I used…and repair costs were very very reasonable comparatively)

So, if you’re driving on Shetland and your car needs care, I want to recommend Jim and Burra Motor Repairs for great personal service and competent care. Jeppe can only agree with me!

PS– The sign is missing the letter “s” in repairs


Här finns mängder av kyrkor, kyrkor som är i bruk och kyrkor som är i varierande grad ruiner. En fin liten kyrka, gammal nog att vara en ruin är dock inte det, utan är i bruk om inte varje söndag så då och då. Den heter Lunna Kirk och är i mina ögon helt fantastisk.

Interiören skiljer sig från alla andra kyrkor jag sett, man kommer upp på balkongen via en trappa utanpå kyrkan i den bakre gaveln. Klicka på bilden så ser ni kyrkans interiör i vidvinkel.

Allra sist får ni en utsikt över Papil från en av alla kullar som finns här. Man ser inte “vårt” hus, det ligger bakom och nedanför husen på bilden som ju blir större om ni klickar på den.

Small Communities…

… can easily allow for the development of new and innovating ideas more so than larger ones. Often small and unnoticed, these good ideas could be a hot tip for other communities and can be put into effect most anywhere. And, what more can be of interest to other communities than another novelty idea for diminishing carbon footprinting with plastic shopping bags?

In Shetland, at the Lerwick Co-op food store, customer alternatives to plastic shopping bags are the self-service type often found at the end of the check-out counter or “bring-your-own” bags. But, if you’ve forgotten the latter alternative, shoppers can buy (10 pence) large sturdy plastic bags at the counter. Now, this may not be news to many, but the really cool idea with these stronger plastic bags is that, when they wear out or handles break, you can return and replace the bag for a new one… at no extra cost!

At most grocery stores, selling wines and liquors off the shelves seem to be a normal expectation. Again, purchasing a few bottles of your favorite chardonnay, aged scotch or even several liters of milk cartons means carrying these in plastic bags. Well, again the local co-op provided free carrying bags specially made for bottles and/or similar cartons. These work extremely well for shoppers. For more info about U.K. Co-op and its use of plastic bags see…info

Or, there are fine examples of small local Shetland grocery stores going the whole way. They simply stop providing plastic bags altogether! Now, that was an interesting idea, wasn’t it?

So, think about these little ideas and go to the grocery or liquor store of your choice and suggest they do the same or similar. Then, as a consumer, consider your own plastic bag habits. Perhaps they need refined?


I går kväll var vi och lyssnade på Lerwicks motsvarighet till Låtar och skrönor . Det blev en trevlig kväll där tre äldre gubbar berättade skrönor och två yngre förmågor spelade shetländska låtar på fiol och gitarr. Det som slog oss då var något som vi visserligen visste men inte riktigt hade tänkt på, att den shetländska engelskan har ett stort inslag av skandinaviska ord. Ordet hus hade vi redant observerat, man säger alltså hus och inte house. Nu lade vi märke till ännu flera ord,t ex ko, besman och sluss i betydelsen dammlucka. Det finns dessutom en alldeles egen dialekt/språk här som en del shetlänningar pratar sinsemellan, särskilt de äldre. Det verkar helt omöjligt att förstå men skulle kanske bli begripligt om man fick lyssna ordentligt i stället för att bara höra brottstycken då och då.