Many Who Travel…

…,especially those who plan on being away for a longer period of time, have sometimes thought of freighting personal items to their point of destination. Often between countries, postal services are the only alternative available and not entirely to a satisfactory result and that appeals to a tight budget.

When we started to plan our sabbatical to Shetland, we considered sending a few “boxes” ahead of time. This idea was largely to ease the costs of gasoline required for the trip as well as thinking in an environmentally way. But, having intensely searched internet and a dozen or so phone calls to shipping and freighting companies in Sweden, the trouble and search became too negative and we had to make compromises. Streamline01The Swedish excuses for this were that shipping companies didn’t know where Shetland was, they never ship things for private people only businesses (which wasn’t a problem) or they would charge colossal amounts for insurance on less than 1 cubic meter; thus giving a we-don’t-wanna-give-you-service response.

Now, when returning to Sweden and the remote rural area of the sub-arctic, we again decided to try to ship a few boxes using a local Shetland shipping and freighting company. To our wonder and amazement, we stumbled upon one of the world’s most sincere, capable, knowledgeable and service-minded professional shipper this side of the world… Streamline Shipping of Lerwick!


Our first “trial” box with Streamline got to its destination in a week’s time…door-to-door service. Today, I sent two more personal item boxes and was met with the same service enthusiasm as the first i.e. handshakes, nothing impossible, first name friendliness, yes-sirs and…”come back and we’ll treat ya t’ some ice cream”!


With my question of ever needing to freight things from the sub-arctic to Shetland in the future, there were absolutely no problems. Mike Davies, the manager of Streamline in Shetland, only needed a post number, names & addresses and Streamline would take care of the rest! It was just to contact them. I got personal help with paperwork from Ms. McDonald, office administrator, and she even followed me to the warehouse, rolled my boxes away and gave me a handshake and the invitation of ice cream.

Streamline04Streamline works with other similar companies, has a large park of trucks and a container ship and centers its business with Scotland and the U.K. But, I’m confident they can deliver anything from here to yonder.

The next time we need that all important we-care-about-you service with shipping requests, I won’t even consider Swedish shippers with the attitude I was met with. Streamline is now at the top of my list and I’ll recommend Streamline Shipping in Shetland any day!

– This is not a paid advert but comments from a satisfied customer
PSS– Jeppe is almost loaded, the flat almost clean and we’re off soon.

1 Year & 1 Month…

…after we first arrived in Shetland, our sabbatical has come to an end and it is time to return to Sweden. With mixed feelings and heavy hearts, we will be filling up Jeppe with our personal things, clean the flat, say our goodbyes and do last minute tasks the next few days. Our blog will be temporarily ignored as we will be busy with returning.

For the most part, we will be on ferries during our return. More fun to be in bunks, relaxing, than fighting traffic on freeways and roads. Safer and environmentally friendly, too

After a year we’ve discovered many things. Some things on Shetland we’ve spoken about as “a Victorian way of doing things” or “Victorian thinking”. With other things, we’ve learned some positive ideas that we will carry with us. In the broader view, Shetland’s culture is exciting, the ocean has become addictive, great friends have been made (and will be missed) and we haven’t become tired of or bored with Shetland after 1 year & 1 month.


As one of our friends once said, “you’ve gotten some roots”. I can only agree and, as we pack our bags, we have the words “We’ll Be Back” in our heads. Somehow, I think Shetland will be a bigger part of our lives in the future…only, we just don’t know when.

PS– Laplandica’s blog will return, as we will report on the trip back to Sweden and other thoughts and experiences we’ve had on the way. Right now, we’re on the move…

Cruise Ships to Shetland…

…have become more abundant these last few years and are a meaningful source of income for Lerwick. Today, one of the behemoth-styled cruise ships came into Lerwick port, or rather anchored itself in the middle of Bressey Sound, because it was too large to dock anywhere else. As we drove into town this morning, the smoke-stack on this monster was higher than the houses on Hillhead, the highest hill of central Lerwick.

CruiseShipLerwick01Photo: Cruise ship arrives in Lerwick

I’m completely convinced that this method of touring has become popular and passenger rolls have increased with each sailing. For Shetland, and especially the small town merchants of Shetland’s largest city, they provide a full till of cash that is dumped by passengers anxious to buy native wares and services. If I’m not too wrong, this season will have brought in close to 50 cruise ships of various sizes and are very important for Shetland’s commerce. This particular cruise ship, the Costa Magica, had about 2000 passengers, or about 25% of the population of Lerwick.

CruiseShipWelcoming02Photo: Each passenger is welcomed to Shetland with traditional music and a warm handshake

One intriguing event that caught my eye, as I parked Jeppe on Victoria Pier parking lot, was how Shetland welcomed these passengers onshore and to Shetland. Since the ship was so large, a series of smaller boats worked in shuttle, transporting passengers between the main vessel and Albert Wharf. As the came onshore, Shetland had arranged for local musicians to play traditional music and a local personality to shake everyone’s hand and personally welcome them to Shetland. Great PR, isn’t it?

Seaways vs Airways
Due to recent air carrier price increases, loss of creature comforts on flights, intense and almost “paranoiac” complications with check-ins and security at airports and the ever-present “what-goes-up-could-come-down-unwantingly” sensation on monster airplanes, I personally feel that it would be positive to observe an increase in ocean travel.

CruiseShipLerwick02Photo: The ferry to Bressey is drawfed by the size of a modern and impersonal “monster” cruise ship

But, does everyone really want to pay for 4 story shopping malls, outdoor swimming pools, activity leaders, casino machines, unknown stand-up comedians and entertainers, elevators to huge restaurants and having to hold a small map in hand so as not to get lost on board? Does one really enjoy a 6-9 hour marathon run to see popular points of interest in a world famous city? Why not simple cruises that give more time to explore foreign ports and harbors in exciting new countries and less time wasting on the ship?

Is it the destination or the journey to it, that’s fun? Consider a smaller cruise ship with adequate and quality cabin arrangements, a library of excitingly good reads, intimate eating arrangements allowing passengers to discover each other, chess boards, water-color tutoring and hours of just relaxing in fold-up chairs watching the sea pass by and using binoculars to count the aquatic bird life during the day. One can easily imagine themselves being an Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart, as these two hang over the railing, sharing a cigarette, a small scotch and talking about “love” on a moonlit ocean evening?

I would definitely be one of many that would choose a cruise with that theme, wouldn’t you?

SwedishYachtLerwick01Photo: An alternative method of ocean cruising from Sweden

Some Sundays…

…I take time to walk around Lerwick. I’ve done this occasionally during winter and have a routine of going by houses and gardens that I find interesting. I do my “round” and keep track on other people’s gardens and flowers.

I have never really been interested in gardening before. Lawn maintenance, yes! Garden flowers and plants, no! A portion of the latter explanation could be determined because of living in the sub-arctic for so long. Seven months of white winter and three months of green winter. The other two months are useless for growing.


But, I have been thoroughly intrigued with the skills, abilities and determination that Shetlanders put into their gardens and I have immensely appreciated being a consumer of these visual delights, that can be found all over.

Some gardens are super. Some gardens could be better. I just want to take my hat off to everyone that has a little patch of flowers near their house. Please see the new picture gallery under Images called: Lerwick Garden Work. While viewing, consider the efforts and variety of personalities behind the images.

For myself, I really get enthused by what I see and could seriously get into gardening someday. You, too, can perhaps become inspired?

Shetland Shorts-

A year has gone by and what observations can be made?

peatwork01 A. Whether working with birch firewood or heating with peat, you can always see signs of those who know what they are doing!

shetlandlairds01 B. Apparently, EU politicians really take themselves seriously and think they are one of the gang!

crispsproblems01 C. While the U.K. struggles to decrease their carbon footprint, crisp manufacturers continue with traditional packaging? (Photo: small bags of crisps inside a larger package)

shetlandyachts01 D. In bad weather, fishing boats hug Victoria Pier for shelter. In great weather, yachts hug Victoria Pier.

Conclusion- Shetland has given many thoughts this last year!

Gone Sea Anglin´…

…and do something other than having my head in dusty papers about Shetland’s mining history. The weather was begging me to get out and get some…oxygen. And, it was Midsummer and Father’s Day. Good idea!

Taking out my small collapsible spinning rod, a box of lures commonly used in northern Swedish inland waters and my expectations I stuffed these in my small day-pack (uh…not the expectations) and headed out to an adventure with Jeppe.

As I drove, my only thought was, “but how in the h… does one fish in the briny waters around Shetland…and from shore?” The challenge was well worth the taking.


    Photo: Fishing in the sea requires a whole different kind of equipment

    I found a nice little rock sticking out along the shores of the “Cliffs of Cunningsburgh”, a place I’ve been before looking for ancient holes in the ground. I took off my pack, took out my collapsible spinning rod, still with last years nylon line for Swedish fishing, and chose a 15 g “Toby” spinner. I figured the beasts in the water would find a shiny copper-colored Toby a great morsel to contend with. Tied a knot strong enough to take on familiar northern pike and threw it anxiously out into the Atlantic.

    After 20 minutes of this, I figured the fish were bored, so I smacked on a 20 g Toby. I worked with this for another 20 mintues, changed to a 28 g Toby (heck, gotta wake those fish up somehow) and another 20 minutes. The next two hours, I was throwing everything bigger than my trout flies out into the depths in front of me…and…nothing happened.

    Everything but fish was interested in what I was doing. I had Arctic Terns hover over the lures, as they wiggled through the water. A diving Puffin got fairly close once, as well as a Razorbill and a couple of Common Gulls. Then, just as I had thrown out a “day-glow” spinner, used for graylings, a gray seal popped its head up outa the water a little out from where the spinner landed.

    I thought, crap! I don’t wanna hook a seal or a Puffin! Besides, what would I do if I caught a fish that was so strange and ugly, I wouldn’t even know if it was edible? Or, maybe a Killer Whale was nearby doing his own kind of “fishing”? Or….

    So, I quit! What did I learn? Fishing in the sea is entirely different to fishing in freshwater . The two jist don’t mix! The only thing I got today was fresh-air, some sun and lots of relaxation, which is mostly why people go “sea-angling” anyways. Right?

    PS- Shetland is supposed to have great freshwater fishing; brown trout and some Arctic char. See following: Shetland Trout Fishing

Shetland’s Mining History

Skimming through pages of the Caledonian Mercury, Sept. 1790, the newspaper highlights Shetland’s early commercial mining attempts. “…the value of the Shetland Islands is only beginning to be known. There is now a number of miners sent … to work a copper and iron mine lately discovered…in the estates of Sumburgh and the iron in the estates of Quendale, both the most productive of this kind of any discovered in Britain.”


    Photo: From 1790, the Quendale Copper Mine as it looks today

Naturally, this single report can raise eyebrows and give questions about Shetland’s mining history. The unlikelihood of a small North Atlantic group of islands being given such recognition is surprising, but the story behind this fact contains elements of rivalry, power, ignorance and years of blind investments leaving scars of disappointment in its wake.

It is difficult to point out exactly when Shetland’s mining history began. As early inhabitants crossed the hills and walked the shores of Shetland, they learned about rocks and stones, where these could be found and how these could be useful. Continue reading

Many Birds on Shetland…

…are keenly interesting to behold, but few are as lovable as the Puffin! When first looking at these birds, they seem out of balance. Their colorful beaks would seem too heavy for the puffin’s body and their two bright red feet could act like kites, blowing these birds off course in the Atlantic winds.


Belonging to the Auk species, the one found on Shetland is the Fratercula arctica type. In Latin, the word Fratercula basically means “little brother” and this is a most fitting description of the puffins found here. They are small for a comparable ocean-dwelling bird (about 32 cm in height). Their wings are adapted for diving and their tight, thick growth of feathers for warmth. Continue reading

Shetland Blackbirds…

…are fascinatingly stubborn. These last few days of brilliant sunny weather with only enough breeze to keep midges away, has caused some of the more “natural” residents to become stubbornly goal orientated with spring work. Apparently, these “locals” have acquired a disregard for building permission and even a nonchalance concerning other people’s property, when confronted with their hopes and plans to combat the shortage of available homes in Shetland.

jeppebirdnest01Photo: Blackbird nest building on Jeppe’s back wheel

What I am referring to, is the strong-willed native Blackbird (Turdus Merula) of Shetland. A young and romantic couple, who obviously have been struck with Cupid’s arrows, has now gone into their fourth day of stout determination to build a love nest on the back left wheel of Jeppe. Working the night shift, Jeppe has been kept awake and, I might add, has been deeply concerned that the nest building would gain an advanced state of actually developing small Blackbird eggs, with the obvious risk of mass murder of potential baby Blackbirds.

Even tempered as Jeppe is, he has patiently put up with this intrusion of his property. Unfortunately, in his eagerness to drive off on an adventure, the Blackbird’s love nest had to be removed each morning…only to be rebuilt again that evening by these annoying, but definitely wonderful, pair of squatters. What is Jeppe to do?

It has been decided that, during the evening, Jeppe will be parked in another place, away from the scene of previously destroyed bird’s nests, and hope that this will work. Shetland Blackbirds are certainly cute but, above all, bull-headed and stubborn!