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.

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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.

LerwickFlower

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!

Blommor igen…och tärnor

Att engelsmän gillar trädgårdar är ju ingen hemlighet och shetlänningarna är inget undantag. De kämpar i motvind kan man säga för här är vinden det största problemet. Men bakom murar och staket hittar man fantastisk blomsterprakt.

Inspirerad av tidigare generationer shetlänningars små trädgårdar byggdes en liten Croft House Garden upp i Chelsea trädgårdstävling förra året.

Den vann guld!

En Croft House Garden hör ju hemma här så nu håller man på att bygga upp en kopia av guldvinnaren i North Roe. I ofärdigt skick ser den ut så här. Man började i höstas så det är en liten bit kvar.

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I North Roe tänkte jag ta en promenad på en strand men jag insåg ganska snabbt att tärnorna inte tänkte låta mig passera deras territorium.

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Man kan inte låta bli att tro att Astrid Lindgren hade tärnorna som modeller när hon skrev om de flygande marorna vildvittrorna i Ronja Rövardotter.

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.

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    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.”

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    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.

Roots
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.

puffin05

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

Båtar, blommor och Croft House.

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Detta lilla hus är ett croft house, på vårt språk ungefär en torpar stuga. Detta  croft house är en del av Shetlands museum och jag har fått jobba där ett par dagar. Det ska visa livet i mitten av 1800-talet och när man kommer dit upphör verkligen tiden att existera.

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Stenväggarna är nästan halvmeter tjocka, stenplattor på golvet i ena rummet, jordgolv i det andra. Torvbrasa i öppen spis. Tre generationer trängdes i dessa två små rum och livet var  mycket hårt.  Men att sitta där som turistvärd är ett sant nöje och jag hoppas jag får rycka in fler gånger.

Torparna betalade sin hyra till godsägaren, the Laird, i bla fisk. Varje torparställe hade tillgång till en båt och på Unst, den nordligaste av öarna, finns ett fantastiskt båt museum, The Boat Haven.

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Här finns båtar av allehanda olika slag, inte bara shetländska utan även färöiska och tror jag norska.

Sommaren är på god väg och det blommar överallt. Trädgårdarna fylls nu av både färg och form och ute på ängarna och hedarna lyser det gult, vitt och lite blått. Denna lilla viol är bara några cm hög och man får genast en känsla av fjäll när man ser den. Hedarna är ju mycket utsatta för väder och vind så växtligheten hukar på samma sätt som i Padjelanta.

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P.S. Det finns många Croft house på Shetland, små vitmålade stenhus. Många är naturligtvis på väg tillbaka till naturen men många är bebodda.  Moderniserade och tillbyggda naturligtvis för att passa ett modernare liv.