Sunday, 30 January 2011

On the road again...

There's been lots of scheming, planning and puzzling going on of late and we've finally made a decision and decided to move on.

Not off Shetland though! Just down the road to a nice place in Scalloway with big gardens, a shed and 5 (yes, 5) trees. And we can keep our hens, so I'll have many more of these yummy breakfasts...

Ideally I'd be moving further from town (Muckle Flugga, I dream...), but Scalloway is a lovely village and the ancient capital of Shetland.  Great for getting out on the boat, walking, 20+ miles closer to work and near alot of friends both we and Beren have made and much more. We'll be there by the end of February so there's plenty to sort out now never mind the packing.

In other news...

Clare's discovered the joys of prescription swimming goggles. Nevermind seeing the bottom of the pool for the first time in her life I reckon she can see better with them on than with her glasses! She's now plans for prescripton snorkle mask and wetsuit, a prescription windscreen for the car will be next  !!!

A friend of ours gave us an indoor micro helicopter to play with as he couldn't fly it. Neither could I for a while, but I've been having fun learning. Beren loves it and makes me wear my big headphones when I fly it because that's what pilots wear.

Oh... and I've been getting bits and bobs for the dinghy that me and my sailing bud are renovating in time for the good weather that must come one day...

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Return of the Sun and things to come...

Lerwick's Up Helly Aa day has come round again. Depending on who you talk to it's a great community event (as are the country ones) or it's just a waste of time and money, but judging by the number of people in town today and the number of obvious tourists it's pretty popular. It's also Burns' Night da nicht too!

Whatever your feelings it means tomorrow is a day off in Shetland, so, along with the Royal Wedding this year, it is some thing that gives most people atleast some reason to celebrate.

The day started off so promising with a spectacular sun rise.

But turned steadily grey and wet as it went on. I'd hoped to get down to take some photos of the procession in town today, circumstances dictated otherwise, but I did get a few of the galley before she was burnt tonight.

Such a shame that all that hard work and craftsmanship gets burnt every year, but that's part of the fun. Here's some closer detail.

If it wasn't for the weather, and another 60 mile round trip, I'd have gone for the torch lit procession of the galley and squads tonight, which culminates in the burning of the galley. Clare has been lucky enough to get a much sought after ticket for the 'do' at Clickamin tonight with a bunch of work friends where they'll eat, drink and dance the night away until about 8am tomorrow as the Jarl Squad and the Guiser Squads take their turns to do their acts for the party goers.

While out today I was also lucky enough to get a chance to pop into the museum to see The Lewis Chessmen . 78 chess pieces carved from largely walrus ivory in the 12th century. They're up here for a while along with a display of other ancient artefact's. I only managed a few quick snaps, but I'll be back to have a better look when I have more time.

As for other things. Well I have been out and about as weather and legs allow; last weekend for a great walk out along Strom Ness and a minute or two watching an otter having fun. I did take plenty of photos, but wasn't personally happy with the results. Trying to get used to a new camera is erm... trying!

I've also been shown how to knit! There was talk at work about knitting squares to make into a big blanket. Taking it to heart, Clare taught me how to cast on and knit and pearl on Saturday night (oh we do live the high life!) After a bit of knitting induced marital disharmony, much laughing and a broken needle tip I 'frogged' it all out and started again on some big needles with a chunky wool. I now get the feeling that the work project was a joke, so here for your amusement is my work so far...

I think a Fair Isle Gansey may be several life times away, but I will finish my square to embarrass the others into doing theirs if nothing else.

Post's have been a bit thin on the ground of late, mainly due to me being shattered, but the light is improving and with a bit of luck so will I.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The Burn of Laxobigging, Graven

It's been a bit of a grim weekend up here after the lovely evening of Scalloway Fire Festival. Strong wind, dark and drizzly with heavy rain at times.

After a lazy morning we went for a swim at Brae Leisure Centre. Beren's getting really confident in the water now and even managing to get about with his doggy paddle aided by arm bands. I tried to put some elements of Total Immersion Swimming into practise and Clare had an epiphany when she realised she could swim with her face in the water without panicking.

Later I thought I'd take my new camera, the Kodak Z980 bridge camera, out in the challenging conditions to see how it fared. I've been a bit worried since I sold my Nikon D50 DSLR and bought this instead. Reviews were very mixed though it's specs suggested it should be great for my needs and it was a a massively discounted price. Low light conditions were where it wasn't supposed to do well. Well it was definitely low light this afternoon, mixed with drizzle.

I went up to a little burn I like near Graven, The Burn of Laxobiggin. It's a lovely burn running down from the hills though a narrow valley with the remains of some sort of industry along it's length and a well looked after cemetery where it crosses the road.

It being late, wet and slippy and me being tired, I just parked near the cemetery and pottered a short way up the burn, more interested in trying out the camera with burn in spate and the light fading than anything.

Along with spray off the burn there was a fair bit of drizzle in the air which got onto the lens, but I'm really pleased with the results in less than ideal conditions.

The other reason I liked the camera and the reason I wanted to ditch the DSLR for an 'all-in-one' camera was a 24x optical zoom with image stabilisation. It would have cost me far far more than the whole camera just to get a similar lens for my old Nikon. Anyway if this shot of the moon is anything to go by it's not let me down, it isn't even a close moon just now.

The days are noticeably getting longer, all we need is a spell of fair weather to get out and about and do some work in the garden!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Scalloway Fire Festival

Last night was Scalloway Fire Festival. The first of the 'Up Helly Aa' type festivals of the year. Despite a pretty grotty day it cleared to be a clear night for the procession and burning of the galley.

Now I did have some great video of it all and a few atmospheric photos, but after a nightmare of fighting with incompatible file extensions, new software and tiredness, in a fit of lunacy I deleted the lot and went for a lie down in a darkened room!

Luckily a fellow Shetland blogger has some great photos of the event on his site Kozetland1  and videos such as the ones below on his  youtube channel...

I've never knowingly met 'Kozetland1' or some of the other 'Shetland Bloggers'  but he was obviously just the other side of the slip way to me.
Anyway we had a great evening and went round to a friends house in Scalloway for an hour or two while the real revellers around the town were just getting warmed up for a full nights partying.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Our first eggs!

Christmas had hardly passed before the shops had Easter Eggs in them, but we've got the best early egg!

Our first egg from our first hens! I was gobsmacked to find it the other morning. Clare enjoyed it as a poached egg, small, but perfectly formed. Judging by the noise from Ginger our Welsummer and it's appearance she laid it and it came as a bit of a shock to her too.

We got another off her today. I assume the other two will begin laying soon and we'll have 2-3 eggs a day. Nothing nicer than real fresh eggs from your back garden...

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Grind O Da Navir; a peeire bit of fresh air

Today's the last day of the school holidays up here and we've not been out much the last few days as we've been toilet training Beren, and finally had successes!!!

Today Clare and Beren went to meet up with one of her friends and their little boy and I met up with one of my friends and his friends dog and we went for a walk to Da Grind O Da Navir up the coast from Eshaness lighthouse.

Oddly it was almost a year ago I last was up along that particular cliff top, New years Day, just over 2 weeks after we arrived here. Then it was a winter wonderland of ice and snow with onshore winds so strong that we had difficulty keeping Beren and his all terrain pushchair from blowing away. Today it was much milder, a few remnants from the recent snow and a gentle breeze.The sea wasn't so rough, but it's was still a lovely walk despite the occasional down pour.

My friend's friend's dog was a loopy young black spaniel, full of fun and so much energy. Luckily it's good with sheep, but as it tore about the cliff top we did worry it might not be so good with falls from a  high cliff as it raced around sniffing for rabbits.

We walked along, putting the world to rights, talking shop, houses, boats and the like, occasionally panicking that the dog had gone for a dive and eventually came to the Grin O Da Navir for a spot of lunch.

I'm cameraless temporarily so here's someone else's photo of the spot itself. There's no sense of scale but it really is a big wave battered place with mounds of pulverised rock inland and round about...

The whole area is pretty impressive as you walk along with enormous gyos, stacks, collapsed caves and the like, but today, for some reason, I felt a bit under-whelmed by the 'high point' of the walk. Odd to say that as it's renowned as a fantastic coastal and geological feature, but that's how I felt. May be I was just missing exploring these coasts from the seaward side or had been spoilt by less slightly accessible but, in my view, more spectacular scenes around Culswick and Westerwick in the west. Anyway I felt a bit guilty for not being as 'wowed' as I thought I should be!

The dog happily harassed the poor rabbits while we ate and then we headed back towards the light house on a slightly more inland route passing Croo Loch, the holes of Scraada and the broch remains on the Loch of Houlland.

A pleasant stroll that challenged my knee a bit by the time we were back, even with walking poles, but not at all a strenuous. Certainly one to recommend for all the family and fantastic if you get to do it on a day with a heavy sea crashing in from the Atlantic.