Thursday, 24 June 2010

Spot the arch...

Well there are a few to choose from so I'll narrow the location of this one down to the east side of mainland Shetland, in a place not many tourists are likely to visit...

There is a cave just on the far left of the photo. It was an unexpected visit but being egged on and liking a dip I stripped off to my pants and trainers and had a refreshing swim in the sea there. The cave was actually a tunnel. I swam along it may be 20m and it led me back out to the sea at the back of the arch.

The arch, though small was pretty impressive with a deep pool under it, so for one last splash I jumped from the rocks on the side. Great fun! A few scrapes from the rough rock, but I survived and had a good laugh to boot.

Do you get a prize if you spot the location? No, but I'll be pretty impressed!

Grr...Too damn sharp that Auld Een, I'll get you next time...

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Thar she blows!

Well I missed out big time today and I'm very jealous.

Just as I was arriving home from work and expecting Clare off the ferry from Yell I got a call from Clare. The ferry had took a detour to follow a pod of Orcas, 6 in all. As they got closer and were watching the pod the whales all seemed to be getting excited. What Clare thought looked like a smaller whale apparently was a Minke whale and the Orcas proceeded to attack and presumably eat. Well Clare said it rolled on it's side and there was plenty of blood in the water. But then, a honking horn from a van on the car deck, " Oi! I need to catch the Whaksay ferry!" so whale watching boat returned to ferry and the moment was over.

I rushed down to Mossbank with my camera and binoculars and Clare and Beren joined me. We could see the ferries back to wandering along after the whales still and the odd fin through the binoculars, but they were too far away for any photos that weren't just a black mark in the sea.

Anyway I had an added bonus of some Arctic Skuas crusing past occassionally. The terns were amazingly aggressive defending their patch, even to such a big bird. I had some photos of full on aerial dog fights with 2 and 3 terns chasing the skuas; they were pretty blurry with the super fast action though, so here's a few of the less dramatic ones of the Skuas.

I returned for a while tonight to see if there were any whakes about, taking my marine VHF to listen out for any info. but there were none to be seen. The terns, however, were out in force and it was a pleasure to sit and watch them at their aerobatic fishing manoevers.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Play it loud Daddy

While waiting for Clare to join us for a treat of fish and chips at Frankies in Brae we thought we'd have a little 'man' time with some classic Jimi Hendrix

The funny thing is Beren is going for a hearing test in the morning, is that why he kept turning it up louder and louder and head banging away in time to the music? We'll soon find out...

After the tea out we went to Mavis Grind. The idea was I would practise rolling my kayak a bit while Beren and Clare pottered about on the shore.

Well, I capsized, floundered about and swam back to the shore half a dozen times. Poor Beren was distraught thinking his Dad was drowning!

Giving rolling up as a bad job, for now, I had a little paddle out just beyond The Min; watching the terns, shags and a seal, while Clare piggy backed Beren along the shore line.

All in all an interesting way to spend the evening!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Hard at it...

Over the last few weeks a few of us where I work have been plodding away on making a couple of canoe style boats, each made from just one sheet of ply, based on The Prism

The boat needs minimum skill and equipment to make (but a bit more than we had) and we managed to blag the less than perfect 9mm plywood sheets for free. Other than the ply we used lots of gorilla glue, some fibre glass tape for the seams, scraps of wood that we found and the cheapest gloss paint we could find too.

So for less than about £25 each we had 2 boats, but would they float???

'Bob' on my car ready for it's maiden voyage

Despite leaving it for ages to dry the gloss was still very tacky and got every where, but we were desperate to have a go.

The first in the water wasn't 'Bob', it was the boat with no name, but it was water tight, if somewhat unstable. 'Bob' was next and had a little leakage we'll have to go back and fix, but nothing desperate, and was also very unstable. The low seat we'd put in to kneel on was no where near low enough. Here's me wondering how soon I'd be taking the plunge...

Soon enough though and with a different position I was able to paddle it after a fashion. It was still fairly unstable but much better. It behaved more like a coracle, spinning on the spot almost, but with a bit of careful paddling it would go fairly straight.

With a bit of egging on I tried a few times to stand up in it with the expected results of lots of refreshing splashes in the marina. Here I am reminiscing about days gone bye when my locks were, erm... present?

And on the way back to get dry...

It may just look like a good laugh, and it was, but there was a lot of hard work went into getting these boats made and there's more to be done yet. After the summer, as well as some form of decoration and official naming, we've plans for a fore and aft deck with floation, keel strip to help with tracking and stability and may be even a mast and fitting to join the two together catamaran style.

We'd better get at it quick though as the water is hardly tropical now and it won't get much warmer!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Tofts Voe

Things are a little disconbobulated at the moment with car problems which are a bit of an issue when work is the best part of 30 miles away, we work different hours, Beren has nursery and the buses are good, but non-too frequent.

Anyhow Clare finally arrived home from work after her first trip on the bus up here, and not being quite sure where it went she went past the entrance to Firth, up to the ferry terminal at Toft, only to be brought back to Firth 10 minutes later. She said it was actually really nice getting the bus (if only we didn't need cars for work) and noticed the tide was out at Tofts Voe so off we went for a little family sea shore walk.

Beren had fun building sand castles, or atleast trying. He was great filling the bucket, patting the top down and even tapping the bucket with a spade once turned over to release it. The only issue is in turning it over, most of the sand fell out! We still clapped and he was happy so that's what counts.

We mouched about the ebb line finding winkles, cockles and a few mussels, but not collecting any; a few hermit crabs too and then uncovered this beast of a shore crab. Beren wasn't quite sure what to make of it and was half delighted and half terrified as it crabbed along warding us off. After a minute or two we put it back where it had comes from under a pile of sea weed. We found a few more but this was the Daddy.

I had ideas we might see an otter down there, but with three of us and Beren the chance was always slim. We saw plenty of bird life though; herring and black backed gulls, oyster catchers, curlews, terns and just as we were heading back to the car and Artcic Skua cruised past.

Here's some Dunlins feeding on the ebb.

Oh there were sheep and rabbits too, they're more common than people where ever we go! Come to think of it most things are more common than people here. And that's suits me fine.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Buddha Recognises Buddha

Last week my memory kicked in and I finally ordered Reverend Master Daishin Morgan's book, Buddha Recognises Buddha. Available from Throssle Abbey Hole Book Shop. It arrived today.

The blurb from the back cover says...

Inspired by the works of the great Zen master Dogen, Buddha Recognizes Buddha considers how the principle of non-duality finds expression in Buddhist practice. Daishin Morgan looks at how we can understand ourselves and our relationship with others without dividing the world into opposites of right and wrong or good and bad and still find a basis for moral action. There is no place for a God or an Absolute conceived as above or outside of experience, as all things are undivided in their essential nature.

In the first part of the book Daishin looks at the role of the will, faith, hope, cause and effect, acceptance and other subjects from the perspective of non-duality. In the second part, he goes on to offer an interpretation of the main scriptures that are used regularly in Soto Zen.

This book takes seriously the teaching that enlightenment is an ever-present reality rather than a state we may realize at some future date. Reality cannot be divided into enlightened and unenlightened existence. One of the many implications of this is that Zen meditation should be understood as an expression of enlightenment rather than as a means to an end. Daishin clarifies some of the implications of this outlook and shows the profound effect it can have on how we live.

Rev.Daishin Morgan is a disciple of the late Rev.Master Jiyu-Kennett, founder of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives. He has been a Zen Buddhist monk for 36 years and abbot of Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey in Northumberland since 1982.
You may well find some of my posts being flavoured by it in the near future...

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Vidlin Regatta

Well the day started off as a pretty windy grey one with white caps on the Voe, but luckily the wind was straight down the course and did eventually die down some what as the day ran on. Alot of teams opted for the kindly offered tow out to the start early in the day, and I don't blame them.

Think this washing will soon dry...

While watching the yoals going out the Terns were on form, swooping down on some kids who must have been on gravel banks where they were nesting. Then all of a sudden I saw a Skua zooming out to see low over the water. I thought it was an Artic Skua, but looking at the badly blurred photo it could have been the long tailed one. Unsure, as the rushed photos I managed weren't too great.

First teams up were the girls under 16. We came second, to Nesting.Well done to the girl's and a great start to the day for Vidlin. 

Nesting turned out to be the team to beat on the day. As you'd expect everyone put their all into it, there's often more pride at stake than points I think in this game.

Anyway here's the Nesting girls rowing out, good form.

There's a friend on this open womens Lerwick team warming up on the way out.
Do I cheer her or Vidlin?

Vidlin open womens team working hard, just about to cross the line

And the veteran womens teams putting their all into it

Here's the veteran men heading out, Sandy all smiles

A tight race, heading to a close finish

Nearly there and he's not smiling now, urging them on,
but look at the other cox, thinks she's going to explode!

Sadly for all I took hundreds of pictures, looking after Beren at the same time, the wind and other things meant I haven't caught all the races.

I raced in the open mens and we came third, which was great and a fantastic start for me to my first ever rowing season. And boy did we pull, no one slacked on any team from anywhere and it was a great atmosphere with good old Shetland weather!

Well done to Sandy, Shiela and all the others who put the event together, and worked all day and night. Stars the lot of you.

Next is the round Trondra charity event, not a race, so they say! 7 miles and about an hours rowing. I've registered a wavering interest, better get the vaseline in just incase!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Avon skin so soft on order!

It's not as if the midges are being a problem, yet! But having to evict them from my bath is getting a bit too close for comfort, or should I say discomfort!

Here's the offending blighter; probably has his mates hidden some where.

I'm just off out to the garden to see if i can get some photos of the starlings and sparrows feeding their chicks that are in our roof and next doors air space. I may have some lumps as well as pictures when I return LOL!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Vidlin Regatta Saturday 12th June

Just had my last rowing practise tonight before the first race of the year at my clubs regatta. And a good practise it was; choppy, windy and hardwork. Wondered if I was rowing or on a roller coaster at times nearly getting bounced off my seat. Just need to do our best on saturday. I'm in the open mens at 5pm, never done this before!

If you're in Shetland and not busy come along and give us a shout and join in the fun, the committee have put a lot into it.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Monday, 7 June 2010

Wisdom of the sheep...

Open up the door
Breathe in a new day
Stay or make hay?

You'll need to click the pictures to see them properly

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Wester Wick, amazing!

It was looking a bit grey this morning, but the wind had dropped and all the forecasts suggested an improving day and good sea conditions, so we loaded up and headed off from Voe over the Alps road to Aith and on to Westerwick, near Skeld.

I'd been promised a land of stacks, arches, caves and tunnels by a friend and he wasn't wrong. It was amazing. The bird life was ace too, with loads of Shags and young almost within reach and my favourite, the Arctic Tern, busy doing what they do best. The usual suspects were also there along with some puffins.

From the parking spot at the end of the road was a grassy hillside down to the launch. Only a few hundered metres, great with a yak trolley going down. I put the thoughts of the return uphill trip to the back of my mind and soaked in the view...

Getting ready to launch I looked out into the bay...

and then we were off...

As we headed out of Wester Wick passing fantastic stacks, seemingly everywhere, the water was pretty smooth. Despite the small swell once we left the bay there were some areas to avoid where the water was surging over rock platforms at low tide. We headed out south and then began to work our way east along the coast keeping close in whilst avoiding the worst of the surges. The coast just got better and better with lots of exploring to do. Walking the coast landside would be pretty awesome too. Unfortunately, as ever, the mobile couldn't really handle the glare and salt water, but here's a few pictures of our trip...

I really couldn't tell you now what is what or where is where. We went in, through and under so many features, but the furthest point we went out to was around a couple of small islands called Clett on the map and along to Sil Wick before heading back in for lunch at one of the many shingle beaches.

After lunch we headed straight east across to the east side of Wester Wick and an island called Giltarump. But, having been out a good while now we decided we'd done enough for one day and began to work our way back to the start along the southern and eastern coast. The interesting places to investigate and wildlife spotting just continued right back to the launch point and I'm sure Clare was sick of me saying 'We'll just look... and then head straight back'.

Luckily the haul back up to the car wasn't too bad even after 3 hours out and about. Anyway we had a bonus waiting for us as we were still on time to pop in to Aith Gala for a few tasty morsels and to enjoy the entertainment there.

We'll definitely be returning to Westerwick with the kayak and probably go west out the bay next time, past Giltarump. There so much of interest in this area though, so we may go for a different spot entirely depending on the wind and sea.

Wow, what a day!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

A trip to the Giants Leg, Bressay

We dropped Clare's Mam off at Sumburgh this morning an headed back for Lerwick; busy with the Classic Car Show and Life Boat Day. Having seen the cars and steam engines about this week we decided to just go and see what was happening on Victoria Pier for the Life Boat Day. There was loads on and Beren go his first taste of gambling with the lucky ducks.

Then he had his first candy floss

But best of all was the discovery of a short boat trip on the Alluvion to The Orkney Man's Cave and Giant's Leg on Bressay. Nip to the loo and off we went...

Looking back to the Knab at Lerwick

Kirkabister Ness lighthouse, spot the arch?

Getting a bit wobbly!

Just near the entrance to The Orkney Man's Cave, where it is said a man from Orkney hid to avoid the pressgangs. Unfortunately my pictures of the cave were pretty poor. A shame as there were Shags nesting, with chicks too.

The Giants Leg. It was pretty wibbly when we stopped and none of the closer pictures worked but it is very impressive, as is the whole coast.

As we began to return to Lerwick the life boat came zooming by

Also on the way back was a birding bonanza...

Great Skua

Herring Gull

There were also gannets, guillemots, fulmars, puffins, shags and seals galore, but not having planned the trip I didn't have the best lens. Personal record today of 456 photos taken. Rather less than that kept!

Tomorrow, weather permitting, we're hoping to go for a 3 hour trip on the same boat around the nature reserve of the Ilse of Noss. If it's really nice though a kayak at Westerwick near Skeld is on the cards...