Saturday, 31 December 2011

Papil; after the gales...

We woke up yesterday to find a lovely winters day waiting for us outside. There was no wind, a light frost and sun shining through a cloudy sky. I was itching to make the most of it and get out and about, may be up to Eshaness, but we had a few jobs to do first.

By the time we'd done our jobs I wasn't feeling so good, but after putting my feet up for  little while I made the short drive out to Bannamin Beach on Papil before it got dark to watch the sea and take some photos. It was great to see the crashing seas left over from the gales contrasting with a lovely calm late afternoon and evening light.

I just had a little wander along the north side of the bay to the headland and few experiments with my new camera.

About time to be heading back now, it was getting dark and tea was beckoning.

 A lovely evening, if you call 4pm evening...

Today, New Years Eve, we're back to grey drizzling rain, but thankfully the winds that were raging again in the night have dropped off considerably.

I think it'll be another lazy day today, but hopefully we'll get out for a wander tomorrow.

Anyway, where ever you are I hope you have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

A break in the weather...

Until today we've had a pretty wild and windy time. I know we've only been here for 3 winters, but it's certainly the windiest I've experienced so far, even in sheltered Scalloway. Christmas eve, day and Boxing Day there were numerous power cuts around the isles. We only had flickering lights and very brief outages, but friends had power off for around 6 hours on Christmas Day and the toll of blown over sheds is high along with several blown off roofs, never mind merely damaged roofs. Apparently the windspeed maximum recorded was 101mph at Sellaneas on Christmas day.

So what with the wind and accompanying rain we've not been out and about much. Mainly watching films, playing with toys, including me terrorising Beren with a radio controlled helicopter, and getting to grips with my prezzie off Santee; a shiny new Nikon D3100 that I have to make sure I don't drown!

We did get out the other day for a walk around Culswick for a few hours, oddly we didn't bump in to any one else. It blew more than a few cobwebs away and we found that many versions of The Grand Old Duke of York can get Beren up most hills! We  also got up Kergord woods for some toasted marshmallows, the only 'person' we met then was the friendly local cat that came for a pet. It's been nice to be lazy for a while.

Getting used to my new camera has meant that the photos I took while we were out and about were pretty dire. I actually got sick of trying to sort them out and just deleted the lot. Don't always trust 'trusted' internet gurus for there advice on setting up your camera, or atleast take them as RAW photos so they can be adjusted.

Today was lovely and sunny, but with a biting North-Westerly wind. Beren and I went off to Papil for a walk on the beach, but in no time he was desperate to get back to the car and out the wind. My hands were nipping too and it was still pretty strong on the coast so we forsook any beach forays on the west for some thing a little more sheltered.

Eventually we ended up at the museum in Lerwick for a Santee treasure hunt. It was great fun for him to find Santee in the display cases trying out his 'summer' job as a crofter, fisherman, laird and the like. All completed to get the reward of a proudly worn Rudolf tattoo!

I managed to grab a few pictures too. My first attempt at taking RAW photos and editing them in Adobe Lightroom. I'm looking forward to getting out on my own some time when I can concentrate on taking the photos with out any rush, but I was pretty pleased with my snaps today.

'Pilot Us'  is an old trawler owned by the museum that I believe can be chartered to take groups out on trips...

'Nil Desperandum' is another trawler owned by the museum...

Here with the Mareel in the background...

And again the Mareel in the background of this picture. I've got to say it was looking pretty cool in the light today. Not the eyesore some claim it to be, to my eyes at least!

We grabbed a bag of chips to park up on the shore near Tesco and watch the sea, birds and seals doing their stuff with the low sun glinting over the water. Beren then led me on a game of 'follow my leader' over the numerous boulders or 'dangerous rocks' on the shore until we'd had enough fresh air for one day and retreated back home for a film and a cuppa. 

Coming into Scalloway the sun was low over East Voe setting the scene for a lovely but icy evening...

Friday, 23 December 2011

Happy Christmas, Kergord and Ollabery beach...

The weather's been pretty foul of late, no surprises there, things a have been busy on various fronts with Christmas only two sleeps away and for once in my life I've been feeling like I'm in a bit of a hibernation mode. Quite happy to lounge, read and potter.

We have been out for short spells though. Here with Beren's friend playing in the snow in Kergord Woods (his favourite spot). We had a great laugh with them exploring the woods and finally splodging through the burn from the top of the woods all the way down, under trees, over trees and in some cases pretty much through them! All the time keeping an eye out for Gruffalos and using their sticks to check for 'dangerous rocks' and deep bits.

Here they are giving the thumbs up as they shuffle across a chasm high above dangerous things...

And here's Beren emerging out of a culvert at the end of their venture. 

All good fun, which left them soaking and cold but happy and only a quick nip home for more play in the warmth.

Today Beren and I trundled up north to Ollaberry to go to the back beach. By way of Frankie's for a bag of chips to eat in the car before we set off from the church round the headland.

It's just short of a 2 years since we were there with Beren in his pushchair. No pushchair now, just his slightly comical 'stick that mountain men use'! Well he had more sense than me, I left my trekking poles in the car and my ankle know's it.

Doesn't he look like some old bloke stood there looking at the interpretive panel. There was a rainbow in the distance that my mobile didn't pick up, Beren did though and wanted to find the treasure at the end of it!

Heading off down the fault plane to the beach. Funny, no one else was out enjoying the intermittent sleet and persistent wind.

It didn't seem as daunting as last time, I guess not carrying a kid down and up makes life a tad easier.

The reward, a beautiful beach all to ourselves...

Beren played his usual 'King of the castle' games on any rock worth climbing...

And a new game that involved spinning round and round his pole, saying he couldn't stop, until I grabbed his hand and he fell over dizzy, after which he stood up and started all over again. It was hilarious for both of us, especially when the sea nearly got him when he was lying on the ground in his dizzy stupor!

We took shelter from the wind and hail for a while under a pile of collapsed rocks, before continuing to play and wander.

But before too long Beren had had enough and remembered the treasure he had to find at the end of the rainbow, so up we went...

With two hoods and Dad's hat he was wanting to go off in to the distance after the now vanished rainbow. Sneakily I managed to persuade him the other end had been up on the hill (in the direction of the car), pretty much where Ollaberry Shop is. That's where the treasure would be!

So we headed back to the village, the car and the shop, where we found a treasure trove of wagon wheels to eat on the way home!

Tomorrow's Christmas Eve and we're off to the pictures to see Arthur Christmas with friend's and not a lot else. Well, we are hoping that Beren goes to sleep so Santee can come and so am I as I hear he might have a new camera for me. I've been very very good Santee if you're reading!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Out west to Bousta

It's 2 years today since we drove off the North Boat and into a new life in Shetland. My wife's new job brought us up here, to live in Firth for 16 months and since then in Scalloway. We've seen a fair bit of the place, made friends and had a pretty good time of it. People have asked me if we like it and will stay. Well yes, we both love it. Will we stay? My response is usually 'Well, I'm not planning on leaving' and certainly if we were in a position to buy a property here we would, but probably 'nort' and certainly some where out of the way.

Today we had a late start. Clare had been out at a colleagues Hamefairin until the early hours and was suffering from the hours of dancing and the odd drink too. Beren and I were up, baking bread, but generally lounging about. We could only lounge so long though and once the bread was made we made a joint effort to get Clare up and headed out for a bracing picnic out west while there was still some light.

We headed out to Bousta a little spot just east of Sandness and a lovely natural harbour surrounded by a rough coast to explore. The sea had obviously been bad the last week with debris covering the shore and banks, but was pretty quiet now and seals were hauled out enjoying the recent current in the weather.

From the harbour we headed south over Muckle Bousta towards Corn Head and The Bay of Brenwell. Just a little stroll to blow the cobwebs away.

In a little cove, under the shelter of a cliff we sat for a while to savour our freshly made buns and look out over the voe.

The area is covered in humpy rocky hills giving views over the surrounding bays, round each corner is a new and lovely scene unfolds.

And it gives Beren the chance to play his favourite game of 'King of the castle', over and over again! It does give us a way to get him to run up the hills though...


Beren racing up Corn Head to be King...

To the north of the headland, across the voe

To the south of the headland, a low sun shines overThe Bay of Brenwell.

And on the hill top, you know who...

Beren racing down a head of Clare to be King of the next castle.

We pottered around about for a bit saying what a great place it would be to spend some time in the summer, but it was pretty cold and we discovered Beren had a hole in his welly and so sopping wet feet, so we headed back to the car. Beren wore my gloves on his feet as we headed back towards Sandness with a brief stop at Melby Beach for Clare to have a nosey.

Then out to the end of the road at Huxter to watch the clouds coming over the sea and releasing their rain and hail on Papa Stour. Thankfully we were spared much more than a spattering today.

The sea was a lot calmer than it has been but there were still some big waves breaking over the skerries out there.

Looking north-east across St Magnus Bay was surely Eshaness and a snow speckled Ronas Hill in the far distance.

The infamous Forvik with it's lonely 'house' with what I can only  assume to be Hillswick and the Drongs (far left) in the mid-ground and Ronas Hill in the background. I didn't see it when I took the photo.

The day was pretty grey, but not dull and as we were looking to go, after more than enough fresh air and a lack of tea, the setting sun added a bit of colour and the promise of  fine night...

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A new member of the family...

I think the winter weather is getting to me. We've got a new member of the family due to my obvious technical sewing skills and a pair of old socks...

Sadly Clare is not as enamoured with our new family member as Beren and I. In fact when she saw it she said "What the $£$"$%!!! is that evil thing, there's no way that's staying in the house. Just seeing it makes me feel ill!" She says she's seen voodoo dolls that are less scary!

I don't really see what she finds so disturbing about him though. May be she'll grow to love Funky Monkey, may be...

Anyway I think I'll take it back in to work tomorrow and do a bit more work on it with the bairns , or may be make him a friend!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Another one bites the dust...

The weather up here has suddenly realised it's December and had a lot of catching up to do, so the last couple of weeks have been gales, rain, hail cancelled ferries and even some snow (not that it stayed, it just blew away again).

Yesterday was Beren's birthday, so he's now a big boy of 4. He wanted to celebrate with a trip to Frankie's chippy in Brae and found no argument with us, who heartily tucked in to scallops and monk fish with chips.Yum!

But today was his birthday party. The first one he's really been involved in 'organising; inviting friend's from nursery and the like. so after a busy morning preparing for it I went out to blow a few cobwebs away in the gales and hail we've had lately. 

I headed south to Burra and Hamnavoe first to see what the westerlies were bringing in on the exposed coast. An awful lot was the answer. The waves out side the protective arm where the lighthouse was were enormous; the air filled with a mix of hail and spray that buffeted me about. I tried to grab some shots of the action jumping out from behind the shelter of low lying rocks, but it was hopeless. far better to sit and marvel at the raging seas.

Next stop was Meal Beach, more sheltered from the wind, but with a nice sandy bay it often gives some lovely looking waves. Well the wasn't any beach to speak of and finding shelter to watch the sea and take some photos there was a challenge too. I moved a bit further round the headland to a bit of relative shelter to get these shots of the waves coming past in. They're bigger than they appear and the ones further round off Fugla Ness were monstrous, easily 40 foot, but I didn't have the time or the inclination to battle round there into to head on rain and hail.

As it was I stayed in the sheltered spot I'd found, on the rocks just above the reach of the biggest crashing waves. I missed catching the odd thundering wave of around 20 foot, but held out for the next one, thinking I was safe as nothing had done more than splash my boots so far. Well, I judged wrong and a beast of a wave reared up dumping on the base of the rocks while I was pre-occupied and followed on to dump on me next.  I found myself dripping from head to toe in a waist deep pool of icy froth. Glancing down at my poor camera the lights faded like the TV used to do...


I got home, showered and defrosted with a cuppa ready for the party. In a vain attempt to save it the camera it is stripped out and sitting in the airing cupboard. It doesn't seem that wet, but the sea obviously got to the parts that matter. I'll give it a while and try it out, but I'm sure I'll be saving up for the January sales and something waterproof; water and electronics don't mix well, salt water and electronics just don't!

Just when I was starting to get my head round doing things in GIMP and waiting for a time to experiment with some long multiple exposures too...