Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Burn O' Twa Roes; in spate

It's been a grotty few days since the thaw; dull, grey, windy and drizzly. Never the less Beren and I needed to get out and about today so we headed up through North Mavine to Sandvoe.

We had fun pottering on the beach and playing football with a net float that looked like a giant luminous golf ball. These things are actually surprisingly heavy and hard, but it made for a bit of fun.

I checked out the start of a track that goes across from North Roe to Uyea Sound, a route I hope to cycle some time in 2011 year with a friend. Then we headed back to park at Collafirth where the Altaire moors. Beren wasn't exactly keen to get out of the car again, wanting to go home, but I persuaded him to come for a short wander along the Burn O' Twa Roes just before it goes under the road and joins the sea. With all the snow we had, and all the snow that has and is still melting in the hills it was in full flow. It would have been great to get up to the proper falls further inland, but neither of us were feeling like that and the ground was totally water logged.

Anyway here's a few pictures of it doing it's thing today.

Thinking of rivers and the way they constantly change, even when you're looking at them makes me think about the impermanence of all things. I've often thought of just setting the camera in the lounge window to take to some photos every so often through the course of just one hour, never mind a day, even then I'd only see the visible changes. One can often just glance out, at the weather for instance, without appreciating the subtleties that are all around us, not necessarily in a dramatic flow of a river but the constant flow of life.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Innis and Gunn

Clare's Mam has never experienced the delights of tattie soup, bannocks and reestit mutton. So we thought we'd best give her a taste of our own before she goes mid-week.

The first we've had this winter and very nice it was too. What was even nicer for me was to have twatree bottles of a little beauty I discovered at the Co-op; Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer

Now I like a beer now and again, but my belly doesn't, so usually in an aid to conserve world wide stocks of loo roll I do without. I had intended to brave a bottle of  Shetland's own Valhalla Ale with this special tea until I saw the Innis and Gunn (of Edinburgh). A lovely drink it was to accompany the making of soup and bannocks as well as the eating;  honey smooth and nice to sup. It also aided me in a leisurely post-tea snooze and so far my bowels are loving it too!

Not totally sure if it really is a good or bad discovery so I may have to try it again just to be sure...

Saturday, 25 December 2010

A Shuttle O Soonds; Christine Da Lucca

Long before Christmas Clare told me that she'd got me the best prezzie ever. She was so excited and bubbling with joy. I felt anxious at this knowledge. How did she know it was? What if it wasn't? Did I even know what it would be? How would I convince her it was if I was really dissapointed?

Well not to worry. It was my bezzie prezzie courtesy of the wonders of Clare and the internet, from photobox to Christine Da Lucca's website. A book of some of my photos of our first year in Shetland along with Christine Da Lucca's poem 'A Shuttle o Soonds'

Click to make the book full screen and ignore the bumf-it's not for sale-although photobox deserve the plug as the book is excellent quality.

Here's the poem spoken by the author in Shetlan, along with a few recent wintery Shetland photos of mine. I can't just post mp3's so had to add the photos.

Merry Christmas

I'm known for being a bit of a Baa Humbug at Christmas. I'm not really, atleast not in a Scrooge way, the whole 'build up' just does my head in. I love the day and being with friends, family and a fine feast.

Just to prove it here's video posted by Rev Mugo under unfortunate circumstances on her blog.

Be patient and turn the sound up. I think it is beautiful in so many ways...

And Merry Christmas to all every where

Friday, 24 December 2010

In the deep dark woods where the Gruffalo lives

There was no way Clare was making it in to work today, so try as she might to work at home, and try as I might to keep our little mite from her, Beren was desperate for attention.

In a lull in the snow I thought I'd take him out somewhere. Where I wasn't sure, but over towards Brae, as I needed to get some nice bread for my version of croc monsieur. A starter I'd be told I was making for our Christmas dinner.

The roads were pretty treacherous, but as I passed Scatsta Airport - no planes there today -  I saw Voxter woods and a plan emerged. If I could get parked near there we could go on a Gruffalo hunt!

Here's the beast if you're not familiar with him

Our first and major problem wasn't the Gruffalo, it was the ....snow! After driving up the track to Voxter House I could find nowhere at all to turn round. If my brain was in gear I could have just reversed out, but no I decided to turn round and low and behold my back wheels found a bank to go over. STUCK!

How embarrasing. I tried many attempts to drive out before resigning myself to the shovel. As always hard work plus a bit of cunning paid off and after what felt like forever I managed to let the car chug away slowly in first while I pushed and rocked it from the outside. I love deisels. Peerie Trooker (the car) finally crawled away as I jumped back in her to applause from Beren (the other peerie trooker) who thought it was all great fun.

So we headed up to the deep dark woods where the Gruffalo lives

The sheep said 'no. please don't go', but on we went up through the snow

Into the wood, Bold One leading the way

Where normal bairns would fear to stray

Had he been here, leaving hair on a tree

Or down in this hole where only rabbits can see

We looked around, but he was nowhere about

Then we finally came to a ramshackle house

A swing for him and one for the bairn

And a torn tail in the snow as he'd rushed to go

We awaited around and we hid for a bit as the snow came down...

so awfully thick

But we'd scared him away with our rumbling car, by the tracks in the snow he'd geng well a wa

So what to do but return to the car. A Gruffalo may be scary, but we're more so by far!

Thankfully the car was fine where I'd left it and we left without any bother to do our few errands in Brae.

Looking towards Mavis Grind from Brae

Looking into the voe from above Delting Marina as we returned home

We managed a bit of sledging in Firth after a bit of a warm up in the house and then it was long past time for me to rest my leg. Long past it...

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Loch of Voe; winter night sky

Coming back from a brief weights session at Vidlin I stopped at the small carpark where the Vidlin road joins the A970 near Voe.

The full moon over the snowy banks was only enhanced by the streak of the odd passing car

Looking over the loch, the plough stood proud in the clear sky

Then, all change, a snow filled air accompanied me home.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Lunar eclipse

The lunar eclipse this morning was great. A struggle for me to catch it on camera, but really clear to the naked eye. So after half an hour taking photos I went to go back in only to find my darling wife had locked me out in the dark and icy morning. Much hammering on the windows later she got out the bath and let me in!

Here it is nearing full eclipse

With the light off the lit section of moon it was hard to try to get a view which showed the, still slightly visible full moon. You can see it here but the longer exposure means it's gone a bit blurry. Only the bright strip to the right was actually visible.

After that it was another beautiful cold and still winter's day. Driving into work there was freezing fog hangin over the voes and in the valleys and when I got to work the Sooth Mouth across to Bressay looked fantastic with 'smoke' drifting across the water.

Later on in the day down at Sound there were more great view to be had...

Looking over to the Knab

Across to Bressay

Finally looking out along the Ness of Sound

Last day at work tomorrow until the new year and it promises to be a fun one. Clare's Mam hopefully arrives for Christmas and I'm looking forawrd to getting out and about as much as the weather and my health will let me...

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Guess what...?


Any bets on whether the weather will close the schools again tomorrow?

Dales Voe Snow

With a brief break in the weather this morning I decided to go out. Clare and Beren weren't keen to join me, but the car could do with a run to make sure the battery was full charged after the other day and might even get a few nice photos too.

The first surprise was to discover my door lock was now working again, yippee! I could un-strap the door and get in and out with out feeling like a contorsionist.

Getting out of our car park wasn't so good, nothing new there, but even the main roads were pretty bad in parts. I reckon well be lucky to be back at school tomorrow, but fingers crossed.

When the weather is like this it's not so bad getting somewhere on the main road, but there's really no where to stop. All the lay-bys are filled with drifted or ploughed snow and most of the farm track entrances are too. Anyway I was very wary where I parked. Checking I'd be going back down on to the road and working my way in reverse off the road, reversing up and down a few times as I went so that I was pretty sure I'd get out. Shovel at the ready too!

My first stop was just above Fora Ness, an island in Dales Voe with two tombolos connecting it to the mainland, one of them being a twin tombolo.

Looking south-west up Dales Voe: The twin tombolo of South Ayre

Looking north-east towards Lunna Holm (left) at the end of Lunna Ness

Next stop was down at the start of Dales Voe at a small nature area just off the A968. A lovely area of young planted trees, picnic benches and bird feeding areas on the egde of the wetland as The Burn of Sandgarth enters the voe. I had to park a bit of a way from the normal access to it. Walking back along the road to it I noticed a lorry coming. The road was covered in slush and snow, so expecting the worst I stood in the verge, back to road, hood up, and waited to get a bit of a splattering. With a whole road and no other traffic the lorry stuck rigidly to my side of the road and I got a real good splattering of road slop. Cheers Mr Lorry Driver and happy Christmas to you too.

Looking north-east up Dales Lee from the nature area

Looking inland over the nature area, the road continues to Voe

The Burn of Sandgarth meanders through the nature area and looked beautiful, entrenched in snowy banks. I'm finding taking pictures in the snow pretty difficult, but here's a couple of close ups of one bit of the burn that took my fancy.

By now the weather was catching up with me again. I could see the next snow shower headed up the voe, so it was time to head back to the car.

As I got to the car the snow was getting really heavy. I carried on round Voe and to Brae to pick up a few bits from the Co-op before heading back home just in time to join Clare and Beren for a quick sledge. The snow had passed us by again by then!

Going forwards is too easy for some!

But it's still fun

 As is sledging with Mum

We tried all three of us on the sledge, but I think Beren's nappy must have been too big as we just couldn't all fit on for some reason!

If anyone has any tips for photographing in the snow please pass them on. I've tried all sorts of exposures etc., the instant changes from gloom to glare don't help. Also any slow exposures for flowing water just turn into a mass of glare even trying different EV settings.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Snow Day

Yet another snow day up here in Shetland. No schools open anywhere. Even if it wasn't one, after the freeze we've had the last couple of days, ice and snow, my car wasn't going anywhere. The battery was flattened, the driver door lock has broken or frozen and the hens could be freeze dried; we've had to shift drifting snow off them.

Desperate to get Beren out the house while Clare worked from home, again, I managed to get her car out of the estate after a few attempts at our 'hill'.

First stop was The Burn of Valayre on the edge of one of the beaches of Sullom Voe near Voxter House.

Looking to Voxter House from the beach

Looking towards Mavis Grind

Looking down from The Burn of Valayre

One of the falls

Beren made a new friend here, meet 'Spider' Now resident with us!

After a few moments going through ice, sliding down banks and scrambling back up Beren and Spider wanted something to eat. We carried  along to Frankie's, but I was feeling a little embarrassed to go sit in in our soggy outdoors state, so we got something to take away. I was tempted to change though when I saw that they had not only reestit mutton soup on the menu, but also Shetland tablet cheese cake. Wow tablet in a cheese cake, enough to induce a diabetic coma in even the non-diabetic surely! I resisted.

Anyway I though it'd be good to go and eat them at Mavis Grind, it was a nice sunny day, there are picnic tables there and i could be sure the chips wouldn't be too hot for Beren! So a quick stop for some jump leads at the DIY shop in Brae and then fish and chips 'al fresco' it was. And what a place to eat them too...

Beren and Spider had some fun running around in the fresh snow and then it was back home to jump the car and sort out the parking area.

A quick stop for a view of a white Ronas Hill and a tanker at Sullom Voe

Once home I got my car going while I sledded grit down to clear the car park. Once finished, shattered, lying on the sofa, begging to be drip fed cups of tea, a 4WD digger turned up and cleared the snow out of the car park and hill along with the sled loads of grit I'd just put down in minutes, no sweat, no pain!

As I type the snow is coming in bursts again against the windows, but thankfully the artic gales of yesterday have stayed away. You can see from the pictures that there's no great depth of snow, probably due to yesterdays gales blowing it away, but it's really icy just now. With wind chill yesterday they reckoned the temperature was -21c, surface temperature of -4c

More snow is forecast until Monday and the chill will continue a while, but you know forecasts...