Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Not quite a punt on the Thames

Tomorrow night is our last club rowing night of the year and it'd forecast to be a doozy with, off shore 26+mph winds and rain. Sticking with the theme of discomfort I thought I'd just post a small selection of photos of the team I'm in in action. As you'll see by our faces yoal racing over 1km is not a gentle punt on the Thames, it is oddly fun though!

 There's not need to tell us twice when it's over. 6'ish minutes of only concentrating on the oar in front is hard enough, never mind the rowing!

Thankfully there's always plenty of oppportunity for restocking on vital fluids and fodder afterwards and the excitment of cheering on our fellow teams. It's hard work racing, but excellent fun. and a good day out.

Where in need of a few more younger men for next year so if you fancy giving it ago drop me a line. And we do have some laid back social rows too to explore the area out of race season.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Ronas Voe; an end of season row

Despite a pretty awful week weather wise it came good us for this weekend. Winds dropped and so did swell, which was lucky as I've been planning a final row out to pastures new for an intrepid bunch of us from Vidlin Rowing Club.

We set off from a little beach called The Blade at Heylor on Ronas Voe, it was sunny and breezy and looking like a great day for our little venture. We hoped to get to Lang Ayre but often the sea has other ideas and so it was today and we made our pitstop at a beach on Ketligill Head.

Here we are just leaving The Blade

The voe stretches inland another few miles behind us

We travelled down the west wall of the voe passing a myriad of stacks arches and caves. Unfortunately the north-easterly swell was still pretty strong after a week of rough weather so we couldn't risk getting to close to the rocks with the sea surging against the cliff in places. It was a wonderful row down the west side though.


By the time we got to The Stack of Sumra the wind driven swell was getting steeper and breaking in parts. Rowing with it coming on broadside was getting tricky so we decided to cut from the west and head directly into the swell across the voe to The Roodrans and Lang Ayre beyond them.

Heading across the voe

Galti Stack on the end of the west side of the voe

The trip across can best be described as a roller coaster ride, great fun, but not a good omen for being able to get round to Lang Ayre, a big storm beach. We approached the The Roodrans that were to be our entry to it, very impressive.

We edged in to the channels between the stacks looking for rocks and sussing out the sea the other side. It was rough, but the view was astounding, like a hidden world. The camera just doesn't do it justice. The cliff tops looked like the green sloping hills of Faroe.

We went around the seaward side of The Roodrans to see if we could get a better view and check out a safe passage, but before we'd even got north of them it was obvious it was the end of our trip to Lang Ayre this time. All of us agreed that we would have to get back and get round there on a better day, it was so impressive.

So, we headed in, to a beach just south of the stacks on Ketligill Head. That was fun too, a steep angled shingly beach with waves a couple of foot high dumping on it. We had one in the bow checking for submerged rocks as we edged in towards where the short surf was and then it was full speed a head to ground up the beach. The boat was fine, but we had fun trying to drag her up the beach as the surf pounded in and needless to say we all got wet, some more than others.

Here's The Orrick at rest on the beach

The Orrick in the distance as surf crashes in

We spent some time having a bite to eat and looking around the beach. There were some interesting water falls falling straight into the sea, but it was hard to get a picture of them. The rocks on Ketligill Head were most impressive though, deep red granites with large dark grey veins running through them, particularly in the centre of the picture, almost striped.

Ketligill Head

There were more great views out to The Roodrans too

 With a little trepidation we made our plan to launch from the beach, timing being everything, but with a heavy boat to get down the beach, a crew to get aboard and waves to time it was going to be interesting. We actually did a pretty good job, better than our landing and were soon out in calmer water with a gentle following sea to help us on our way.

Looking back out to the mouth of the voe as we headed home

Sorry Auld Een, we didn't get to check out any dwellings on Lang Ayre, but we will be back next summer when the conditions are right as we're all keen to visit the forbiden kingdom of Lang Ayre.

Last rowing practise is this wednesday. After that the boat will be off the water, but I'll still be trying to get out and about in the kayak or dinghy...

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Mrs Chickenses

Well we've talked about it for some time, a friend has pure breeds of hens for sale and today we finally got round to making a small hen house, enough for 3 or 4 little ladies.

Beren was really excited trying to help make the hen house, saying it was for his hens to sleep in and even managing to crawl in through the pop hole, just, to lie inside before we'd put the nest boxes and roosting poles in.

Now we've got to go and choose our Mrs Chickens but that can wait until next weekend;another little bit of fun for Beren. I've done enough for one day and my wrist is killing with all the hammering.

Here's Beren inspecting the house. It may get a lick of paint too.

No one home yet Beren!

Really no one is in yet!

Here it is with it's moveable fencing

The house is designed to fit inside our veggy beds so that the hens can feed and scrat about, manuring it as they go. We can then move it further along the bed and let them clear and manure that section next. Well that's the theory. The bed edges need a little tidying up for a good fit and I just need a bit more wire to wrap around the back of the house.

All things considered a busy and fun day. Unbelievably Beren didn't manage to hurt us or himself with his little hammer!

Now to rest! I've organised a row up Ronas Voe for tomorrow to see the amazing rock features and get across to Lang Ayre, a beach only accessible by boat. Should be fun...

Friday, 24 September 2010


Things have been rather busy of late and to be honest I'm feeling a bit fraught with one thing and another. More than a bit ruffled at times.

Looking at our recent additions of Dharma talks from Rev Master Myoho at the Place of Peace Dharma House in Wales I decided to start listening to them on the long drive to and from work. Not 'religiously' but as and when I might feel the need to centre myself.

Ironically the first CD I decided to listen to had a talk on reflection. Taking time to ask a question about an issue or some such thing and then letting the question drop as you sit, not looking or an answer or expecting one. I've been listening to that talk alot.

So I've been allowing my question to float about in and out of awareness for a while now. Being aware of this has helped me to be aware of my mental state and to rein in that monkey mind some what, not always, but the more I do it the easier it is. Over thinking is not a good thing for the tired mind, stopping is what's needed.

It's also helped me notice how easy it is to get distracted and drawn into the less positive dynamics of life, particularly in the workplace. And how some have a knack for drawing you in, feeding the fire so to speak. Of course we only really get drawn in if we want to. So the question arising in relation to that is why do I? Well I have some ideas.

In other news...

The Green Peace protesters on the Stena Carron deep sea drilling boat moored off Bressay have given in to legal threats against their occupation of one of the anchor chains after a few days hanging about in rough seas and should be removing their 'survival pod' tomorrow, weather permitting.

Not surprisingly there has not been too much support for them in a place that has a lot to be grateful to the oil industry for and also a place that has pretty much shown that oil exploration, well managed, can tread the fine line between providing the means for modern living and not destroying the environment.

I have a lot of time for supporting environmental concerns, including some of their campaigns, but quite frankly this just seems to be a pointless publicity prank off the back of the Gulf of Mexico distaster.

Ironically none of the technologies they need would exist without the products of oil and industrialisation and  the amount of fuel they must have been using to zoom in and out on their RIBs and have their support vessel The Esperanza crusing around out of distance from the authorities must be fairly phenominal. Not good for their carbon footprint.

My message to Greenpeace, think before you act and save your resources for battles that are more deserving and accurately targetted.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Shetland Slope Soaring

I woke up this morning to a lovely sunny day with a light breeze. Being me, I was desperate to get out and DO something, kayaking was top on the list. Luckily I have a sensible half called Clare who told me WE were taking it easy today.  So off I sulked for a lie down. I was soon was snoring, only to be woken by Beren jumping on me a good while later.

We decided to go for a little drive out, have a quick look at the sailing dinghy and then a picnic. Just then I remembered my old radio controlled glider I'd brought up with me. I quickly got it out the loft and checked it over; battery was a bit low, but not too bad.

It's only an old foam flying wing but the sort of thing that is great for flying when you've not done it for a long time and also good for trying out new slopes; it's fairly indestructable.

Being a westerly we headed up a road that leads over to Collafirth in Delting. The wind was only light but enough to get off and scratch about with the odd loop and roll when speed allowed.

Beren enjoyed watching the plane. With the light winds and light model I could risk flying up pretty close to, and around us, so he could almost catch it. A few times we ran out of air and he joined in retrieving the plane.

Unfortunately the battery was soon too low so we returned home and I put it on charge in case we could get out later. After tea we did return to the slope, but the wind had dropped off a lot, as it often does on an evening. We managed a few scratching flights before giving up. The good news is that it must be a worthwhile site on the right day as a paraglider pilot arrived just as we were thinking of leaving, no way was he going to fly today though, shame as it would have been great to watch in the sunset.

Here's the view from the slope in day and at sunset, lovely.

and Clare and Beren enjoying the view

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Wonderfully wild and woolly

We've had a day or so of sunny spells with belting showers at times. Showers so hard it sounds like it's hailstoning. Just after one had passed this evening Clare called me to look out the window at some spectacular passing clouds.

Wonderfully wild and woolly

I love clouds. Responding to conditions; not clinging to past or future; in the moment.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Burn of Lunklet, extreme skinny dipping

We were all pretty exhausted after yesterdays full on activities and had a lazy morning before going for a trip out to The Burn of Lunket, just off the Voe to Aith Road, as the day started to brighten up.

The falls were in full flow and looked very inviting

Having missed my refreshing dips in random places lately I decided on a bit of extreme skinny dipping, just the thing to waken you up on a sleepy day.

On my way up for a little jump in the pool. Not as deep as I'd like, but still good fun.

Splashing good fun!

I don't think my Mam was quite sure what to make of it!

On the way back to the car we passed a couple having a gentle stroll up the path not aware of the Shetland wildlife rarity they'd just missed!

Next on the agenda was the Burn of Valayre, but no swimming this time, but a wander through the culvert under the road out to the beach, followed by Sunday teas and fun at Voxter House just off the Brae to Sullom Voe road.

Phew, glad it's work tomorrow, time for a rest...

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Stanes of Stofast

After a fun morning in Lerwick, playing in the park, watching Toy Story 3, having a nice meal with my Mam and finding a pair of size 12 shoes that fit me, we left for a tour of Nesting heading towards Lunna and the Stanes of Stofast.

Parking up at Outrabister at the end of the road on Lunna Ness we set off across the moor towards the Stanes, only about 1km away.

Here's Mam enjoying the nice weather on her holiday

Beren was pretty tired but seemed to manage to perform for the camera better than he'd walk. The Stanes are in the far background.

They look quite impressive from a distance, but close up they are something else in this landscape of gentle moorland.

The view from the top is pretty cool too. Here looking out towards Whalsay

and down on Beren and Clare

Beren wasn't too happy with Dad having all the fun, so we got him up on one of the more accessable stones for him to enjoy the view.

There was a great view back over the voes from Lunna to Mossbank too.

A grand day out with some brilliant sightings of herons, including 2 flying along side the car together for close on a minute, but I had to get back home and rush out again.

I had a date with the GP14 we've got. Just an opportunity to turn her over an inspect the underside for any repairs. A few screws were replaced in the rubbing strips either side of the keel slot, but other than that there were just  some patches to sand and inspect. They turned out to be fine. I lick of paint and she'll soon be ready for a maiden voyage. Internally she needs lots of sanding and painting, but that can wait until the weather is too bad to sail her; there's nothing desperate.

I'll save any pictures for her maiden voyage.