Sunday, 25 April 2010

Gunnister Voe and Nibon

It's the end of my birthday weekend and an unusually warm wind has left it pretty hazy after the cold wet weather we've been having.

Some friends popped round this morning to say 'Hi' and present me with my first 2 bottles of Shetland beer from the Valhalla Brewery on Unst. I'll be keeping those beauties for just the right occasion. Beren fancied a peerie nip, though I managed to wrestle them off him. That's ma boy!

Amazingly the weather just got better as the day wore on and we met another friend for a trip out to Gunnister Voe and Nibon in Northmavine on the afternoon. I shouldn't be telling you about these places really should I? I am constantly amazed at the beauty of this Isle and the absence of other people in some truely spectacular landscapes. Gunnister Voe is top of the list so far!

We parked up at a jetty on Gunnister Voe looking out to a small un-named (on the O.S. map) isle and Gunnister itself in the distance inland.

The area was littered with mussle shells and on the surrounding grassy hills lay the remains of crab, sea urchins and many molluscs that I assume the gulls have been feasting on.

A couple of small dinghies were pulled up on the beach and I can promise that in the near future there'll be a kayak there too!

Looking out to sea was The Isle of Gunnister

Over the hill was the remains of a croft

An ideal place for a sit

with a great view

 and a pretty clean chimney too

Our friends dog, Glen, whole heartedly approved of the place too

Next it was off to Nibon at the end of the road. There's a holiday chalet there I'd love to stay in with views over the sound and islands. Also a ruin or two I'd love to be able to buy to live in, as they are if needs be...

South Sound with The Isle of Nibon on the right

North Sound with Isle of Nibon( left) and Isle of Gunnister (right)

I couldn't get the whole of the Isle of Nibon in shot but it looks like a great place for a little kayak round with arches, caves and other features.

Can't wait to return with the kayak

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Picking poo in my birthday suit!

Ha ha ha... I bet that got you!

Now I'm 40 and, as I've been reminded, officially part of 'da over da hill mob', I thought I'd better treat myself to a blue boiler suit from LHD, de rigeur in Shetland. Just need the yellow wellies to complete the look!

A friend was looking after Beren so that Clare and I could got out for a special treat on our own. A scrumptious meal at Busta House Hotel with great service, a great setting, but no boiler suit! We ate in the Busta Lounge and it was excellent both in quality and quantity; wish I could drink as they had a fantastic list of malts on offer.

From the garden, with big trees!

Looking up from the Voe side

Looking out over to Brae

My best birthday present enjoying the view

Friday, 23 April 2010

Strand Loch, Gott

I had the opportunity to take a few pictures with my new camera today whilst out and about. It's still snowing on and off here and I missed a great opportunity this morning whilst driving down into Lerwick; a great anvil headed cloud was coming over from Bressay with thick snow falling and blue sky around it. I could have stopped, but getting to work took priority.

Anyway here's a few pictures of Strand Loch at Gott. Black and white seemed to suit the mood. Wish I had a telephoto lens though (on the list) as a pair of swans were displaying in the distance in the loch, another missed opportunity for the camera, but not for me. I just enjoyed the moment, as with the snow cloud.

Burradale Wind Turbines are on the left hill

A pair of swans

Tingwall airstrip is near by and I managed to get a quick snap of a helicopter passing over as it circled out of the runway.

Big 4-0 birthday tomorrow with a meal booked at Busta House Hotel and with any luck a drop in the wind so we can get out on the kayak. Who know's what else the birthday bunny might leave? Not that I'm too bothered I feel like I'm pretty much in paradise right now anyway...

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Niggles and nyiggs

Tonight was my first time rowing a Shetland Yoal, The Orrick, at Vidlin Rowing Club

She's a lovely sixreen, resplendent in red...

But my first venture into Shetland rowing saw me arrive seriously injured, over enthusiastic air hockey, the well known bain of any potential rower, saw me with a very poorly forearm, it was practically hanging off, honest!

Being the brave sea-fairing, swashbuckling type that I am though I struggled on for my first trip out. Merely a flesh wound. It was great. When it went right that is. To be fair I think for a first time out I wasn't too bad, a few clashes of oars when a seal or the fantastic scenery distracted me or the big portion of carbonara and peaches with cream decided to let it's prescence be known as my stomach was vigorously massaged for the kilometer or so row out and then back LOL!

Plenty of practise needed though, timing is everything.

I must have enjoyed it as I decided to go out again for another run. I was surprised I wasn't out of breath rowing, though I'm sure my muscles will be making their prescence felt in the morning. It was first row of the season though, so may be they were taking it easy especially with a total newcomer on board.

When we got out to the turn point on the second run I was asked if I knew what a nyigg was. I voiced my concern that it might be some initiation ceremony where I got chucked in the Voe, but luckily no, rather prosaically it's a vital part of the rowing technique. On the last part of the draw you put in an extra 'oomff' before raising the oar out the water for the return stroke, particularly when racing with power strokes. Apparently this adds a great deal to the speed.

Anyway as I'm still classed as under 40 for this year looks like I'll be on the open rowing team, rather than the veterans, which I thought I'd have to row in. I'd happily row in both if there was space though. It's great, just wish I could photgraph and row at the same time!

Here's the under 21 squad on their way back in...

I returned home to a great and gratefully received surprise, my new camera had arrived. Now all I need to do is figure out how to use it. I'm sure it's photographic ability far exceeds mine!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Eruptions and ructions

Well the volcano is continuing to do what volcanoes do and flights are still cancelled with people stuck in various parts of the globe. The ferries and trains have never known it so good and the air companies must be feeling down right suicidal.

Here are some amazing photos and a photo blog of recent events in Iceland.

Here it's been cold, snowing on and off for a few days, but not staying. Clare is out in it tonight for her first meeting at Vidlin Rowing Club. My turn there tomorrow night, hope it'd a bit brighter!

For me it's end of my second day back in work. Enjoying it immensely, if not tired getting back into the routine of things what with travel, nursery arrangements and the like. I'll not be posting anything about work on here, but suffice to say it's going well and I'll be resting up this weekend to milk my 40th birthday weekend for all it's worth :O)

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Who's da momma?

No guessing who the Mum of this lovely pair of lambs is eh?

Lamb's are a lot later arriving up here but just as cute! This little bunch were out near Aith, but they seems to have appeared all over now, as if by magic. Just waiting for the ones out side our house to spring forth.

Can things only get better?

Well flights are all cancelled again today until 7pm today and sunday until tuesday now!

Here it is at 8.30am this morning (saturday). Shetland is directly under the thick of it...
click to enlarge

According to one article this could just be the start of it as Eyjafjallaj√∂kull volcano (pronounced Ay-ya-fyat-la-yo-kult) could set off a nearby larger volcano (Katla) as has happened in the past and is not uncommon with volcanoes generally. And Katla is the one they were watching with concern not Eyjafjallaj√∂kull!

Atleast my daughter and family are back in Aberdeen now after a not-so-bad ferry crossing and just waiting for the train home.

Must be worrying to be in Iceland just now...

Friday, 16 April 2010

Choose your attitude!

Going, going ,going on
Each day a new choice

We've had a couple of days of angst and decision making due to the ash explosion of the Icelandic volcano with a big name. Family were due to fly back today, but according to the nice guy at Sumburgh airport it could be days before flights for Shetland are OK'd due to the prevailing high pressure and wind directions plus the continuing ash eruptions.

All mail here is delayed too, as well as the always delayed national papers, as the mail plane is grounded and it'll have to be diverted to the freight boat. Luckily emergencies to Aberdeen hospital can still run.

So choices to be made and be made quickly; we booked 3 of the last 13 places on the ferry for the family at 8.30am this morning. Then a train to sort out from Aberdeen to Darlington, practically on the day, some how we got £127 for the three of them in First Class(no choice) at a good time, the rest were well over £300! Finally repeat dial Flybe for untold times as the phones were down due to level of calls until we get assured of a refund, when they can't say due to the amount of refunds requested! But they were very good with no pressure to re-book.

Many trains are fully booked, including Eurostar and the ferry companies are putting on extra boats too. Every (ash) cloud has a silver lining! Booking bonanza for some eh?

I recently read a book about a lady who ended up rowing the Atlantic single handed due to her husband (and rowing partner) having to pull out after a week or so. Stuck in front of her rowing seat in big clear letters was the phrase 'choose your attitude' for her to look at to remind her she had choices about how she re-acted to the challenge and each challenge within it, each and every time.

It doesn't always feel like it, but we do have choices, not always easy or nice ones, but we can choose how we re-act to situations.

In my case, a great wife and supportive family and friends also helps :O)

Seems to be a year for seismic activity round the globe. Luckily we just have annoyances of travel disruption and missed work, not death and devastation. Spare a thought for those who's choices are of a much greater magnitude around the world.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Three Jewels

Three tiny pearls!

Our cataplana for tea with mussels we picked at Walls provided a pretty unique reminder of her holiday for Robyn. That is in addition to the worry of whether she'll have a flight to catch tomorrow due to the Icelandic volcanic ash plume; according to BBC Radio 4 it's best seen at Lerwick!

Nearly eaten and nearly thrown in with the bowl of disgarded cockle and mussle shells, they some how survived. How great it that eh?

Co-incidence or irony? The three jewels of Buddhism are the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sanga.

May be there's something arising here...

Toddler ventures at the Burn of Valayre

It was windy to day so we went somewhere sheltered for a bit of adventure. We had trouble keeping Beren from flying away...

Luckily it was a bit more sheltered as we walked up the Burn of Valayre to the water falls for a bit of toddler gorge walking back down to Sullom Voe.

Big rocks make big splashes...

We clambered up and down along the burn down finding bits to interest the kids and plenty of opportunities for more stone throwing.

Some bits were more suited to bum slides

Eventually, after much fun we were at the lowest fall and nearing the road

Under the stock gate

Under the road culvert

And out into the light

We had a bit more fun on the beach before retiring to Frankie's at Brae for some well earned fish and chips,and then more fresh air over on Muckle Roe at Little Ayre. Busy busy days...

Just got to make the cataplana for tea now with yesterdays cockles and mussels and... what are iva-live-oes???

A busy week, out and about

My daughter, her partner and my grand-daughter arrived on Sunday evening, don't think we've stopped since! Out and about visiting places, eating good food and having a laugh. They're off home tomorrow, that is is the volcanic dust cloud doesn't stop them! We've got plenty more to do before then though.

Our first trip out was around north Mainland and started off pretty drizzly out at the beach at Hillswick but we had fun on the shiney sand, throwing stones in th sea, running from waves and generally messing about. Pity I'm still on moby pics though I did get some good ones from my daughter.

Here's Faith

Robyn, Beren, Faith and Adam

We then scooted off to Breiwick Cafe and the beach below where I managed to severely sprain my ankle.The beach below was great as were the views along the way and the cake and sarnies at the cafe.

The Drongs

Dore Holm

Eshaness Cliffs

We then went for a drive up along Ronas Voe

Up Collarfirth Hill, Sandsvoe Beach and then to Ibister to see the plane shed

Yesterday we were over Walls way via Kergorg and some other lovely drives. We had lunch in the play area at Walls add then went collecting some mussels to go with our cockles we'd got from Firth for a Cataplana for tea tonight. We've been trying to give them a few treats with haggis, tatties and neaps; reestit mutton and tattie soup; home made parmos last night and a visit to a few local establishments such as Osla's in Lerwick, the Pier Head Hotel in Voe and lunch at the UK's most northely chippie, Frankie's for lunch today.

Voe harbour

The big treat yesterday though was Shetland Pony Carriage driving at Thordale Carriage Driving Centre 

On the trip over the Alps road from Aith to Voe,we noticed a loo with a view just off a side road, but no telling where though for such a special WC!