Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Watch Up Helly Aa!

Today is the day, the last Tuesday in January, of Up Helly Aa, or transvestite tuesday as some may call it due to the squads often dressing in drag for their skits. David Nicolson is this years Guiser Jarl.

Here's a photo from the past just before the galley is burnt..

And a time lapse of this years galley, Per Ardua,  being built, including making the head and tail...

The details of the day are on the official site and there is live streaming of the event here, the procession starts at 7.30pm.  Though at the time of writing you can just see people reading The Bill in at the market cross, I wonder what witty comments there are on that this year!

Beren is off with Scalloway Nursery to see the Jarl Squad and Galley on the front in Lerwick this morning along with Clare and his Buzz Lightyear camera, so expect some interesting photos from him! 

I'm at home as I've not been well over the weekend and been told to rest up for a few days, but I am hoping to get in to town briefly tonight to see the procession and take a few pics. If not I'll be watching it on-line too.

Watch this space for some photos of the day from Beren and hopefully me And here's a list of the other Up Hall Aa's in Shetland this year, some of which I hope to get to...

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Doggy School

It'll be a week tomorrow since we saw Goose was looking for a home and brought him in to our lives and it's pretty flown past.

Getting back into the rhythm of getting up and out with the dog first thing in the morning has been good, unlike the weather. Gales and rain aren't the best for walking a distracted nervous dog. Rattles, bangs, ponies, lights, workmen and machines.  Everything's new to him, so that combined with his teenage puppy energy has made being out and about a challenge at times, but Goose has been getting better on his walks each day.

It's not all hard work though. He's lovely and friendly and a pleasure to have in the house. He loves playing games inside and out, but keeps sniffing at rabbit holes and dropping his balls in them.

Last night I took him to the dog club at The Shetland Marts (at the time of writing it's 7pm on a Wednesday, bring your vaccination card and £2.50). 

That was an experience! 20 or so dogs (and people) of all ages, breeds and temperaments, in addition to a couple of people in hi-vis jackets!  He was wild with nervous excitement when we went in. I nearly burst out laughing when I was asked to fill in a form at the same time as I was hanging on to him with both hands and a prayer. Thankfully someone offered to hold him while I did it and he soon got used to the fact that there are more dogs in the world than him and they really aren't that interested in him. Still, walking to heel in a circle with halts, sits and turns with all the sniffing to be done was a massive distraction to him and had me wondering whether just to sit on the side and let him get it out his system rather than pretend I was training him to heel.

Anyway when it came to sit/stay/recall he was an absolute star for a change. I stood there willing some one to see how brilliant he was being and comment on it after the previous chaos, but unfortunately they were all too busy correcting their miscreant mutts!

My whole body was sore and aching by the time I got home. NOT how to train a dog, but good socialisation. And it paid off. This morning on his walk around various parts of Scalloway he was much less spooked and hardly blinked when a man in a hi-vis jacket went by. Despite my concerns that last nights tugs-o-war would have undone all the hard work we've been putting in with walking on the lead he even seems more settled with that too.

This evening we had a laugh to doing some clicker training in the house with sit, down, stay etc. He's really good at them but once he was 'down' he was too lazy to get back up to a sit. I tried lots of ways to motivate him to get up, some worked, eventually I remembered he had been trained to do 'High 5'. He'd have to sit up from 'down' to do that! The first couple of times he did. Good Goose! The next time he just lay on his side and lazily wagged a paw in my general direction. Lazy boy Goose time to stop LOL!!!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Northern Lights

Well I've been getting aurora alerts all day via twitter and wondering if the sky would be clear enough for me to finally see the Merrie Dancers and tonight it was. Woo Hoo!

I went out to Maa Ness pas the North Atlantic Fisheries College at Scalloway and took these photos before the cloud came in.

Looking from Maa Ness over the Point of Pund lighthouse...

Looking towards Hamnavoe, Burra, on the left...

A bit despondent that it my viewing was cut short I headed home to look at the photos only to see it clear up out the back of the house. Clare and I got a much better display out back, not really dancing, but vibrant and slowly changing intensities. Sadly with light pollution at the house the photos I took weren't the best, but hey, I've got the memories!

Now to bed zzzzzzzzzzz.........

Banaminn with Goose

I was due to go for a walk around Hillswick Ness today with a friend,  but he got a call to work, so late morning we all went down to Banaminn beach on Burra for a stroll. I'd already been out for an hour with Goose flinging balls for him on the hills, but he wouldn't complain.

It was lovely when we set off but just as we arrived there was a wintry shower; we decided to wait it out in the car. Here we are minus me; Clare I told you I needed that wide angle lens!

I don't know if Goose has ever been in the sea before, but he's certainly not a water dog. We threw balls and thing for him along the beach before wandering out on to the headland and The Lotra of Minn

There was a pretty impressive sea crashing against the Black Stacks and the Kame of Riven Noup today.

Goose posed occasionally...

And we all enjoyed dodging the waves in a little bay until the waves eventually got the better of us!

 So, wet and cold, it was time to head home as the day dulled...

We warmed up later at a friend's place in South nesting where they were having a bonfire, lovely spot with old stone otter traps on the shore. It was a beautiful evening and a shame to head home to get ready for the working week, but home we headed.

I might be out again later this evening though as the merrie dancers are supposed to be displaying tonight and it's looking pretty clear just now. I'm just not sure I've got the energy left for them!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Baby Goose

I just got this photo of baby Goose, he was tiny, even fitted in to a dressing gown pocket. He's not so small now but just as cute. 

Just in case you're wondering he got his name because when he was little his bark sounded more like a goose honking.It's a great name and is well suited to him, though I've not heard him honk yet!

Today he's had a busy day. A trip to the vet to get registered with them in our name and an appointment for the snip, ouch! He wasn't worried to be there; I'm sure he will be with tiem though. Anyway his visit was eased by a few new toys and a few other bits and bobs.

Then it was off to Da Toon. It's an understatement to say it was a bit of a culture shock for him. So many new sights, sounds and people. All in all for his first day with us and his first time on Da Street the boy did well. It was funny to see how hi-vis jackets and pelican crossings freak him out, but he was very good. We even left him in the car for half an hour and he just lay down and waited, didn't even go crazy on our return. Good Goose!

When we got back we took him up the hill behind Berry Farm for a play and walk. Using a flinger thing to launch tennis balls up the hill for him to chase and bring back. He loved it and was a champion at it. Now we know how to scrub of some of his puppy energy; just have to hope the crofter keeps the sheep off the field for a while.

The scary bit for us was leaving him for 3 hours this evening to go to a friends house warming party. Would we have a house to return to, a mess to return to, angry neighbours or a combination of all. Well he was a star. We parked and I crept up the drive listening. No noise. I opened the door, listening. No mad black demon dog raking at the door. I went in the kitchen and he was nice and calm and the house was just as we left it. Super Star Goose!

Tomorrow he'll hopefully be out for a long walk around Hillswick Ness. Fingers crossed for the weather and watch this space...

Friday, 20 January 2012

Meet Goose!

He's a very frisky 7 month old collie cross Hungarian Vizsla who's also a secret agent police dog, honest! You can tell by the way he's apprehended Winnie the Pooh here...

It would seem that part of his special forces survival training included drinking from the loo. No bed-time kisses for you tonight Goose!

Really none!

Anyway he's totally gorgeous, we're very lucky to have such a lovely dog  and I'm sure he'll keep us very busy while he whips us into shape!

Now will he sleep tonight...

Monday, 16 January 2012


Rev Master Mugo over on Jade Mountains has been twittering about sitting still-for-a-moment (#still4amo) at 5pm GMT for the next month. Everyone has 1 minute to spare in the day to just sit still don't they, even if it's not at 5pm?

Rev Mugo also posted this a link to this short video about 1 moment meditation. Give it a go you never know you might like it...

I'm sitting still4amo lots today. We're all full of lurgy and wrapped up at home with headaches, shivers and sods law it's a beautiful day outside with reports of killer whales, this time up in Bluemull Sound. Hey Ho...

Sign up for Shetland Wildlife on twitter to keep up to date with sightings.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Bressay; The Grutwick Memorial walk

After moping around the house for the morning wishing the weather was something it wasn't Clare suggested I got out anyway for some fresh air. A hop skip and a jump later and I was walking off the Bressay ferry to be picked up by my friend from Bressay and whisked off for a mystery (to me) walk.

The weather was still pretty grey and drizzly so I left my camera in the car and brought along my mobile in the of chance I might see some interesting places. As so I did.

we were off on a walk  from the Loch of Brough to the Grutwick Memorial. The memorial to a Shetland Coast Guard winch man who lost his life in 1997 after rescuing 10 people from a grounded ship. Bressay History Group erected the memorial and have produced a leaflet for the walk which you can print off.

It's over pretty reasonable ground, not too hilly and takes around 2 hours at a gentle pace. Just the thing for a stroll and a natter.

We parked in a spot along side the loch and follwed the track south past Gorie to the remains of Wadbister over looking a dramatic coast.

 The Loch of Seligeo...

These remains seemed of an archaeological nature, like the remains of a chambered cairn, but there's nothing on the map. There are other remains in the local are though. Noss is in the background.

 Here is the memorial cairn with Bressay stretching away south.

After a short break we headed north up the coast towards the Noss ferry point. The geos  on this stretch of coast are impressively deep and long.

The unmistakeable Noss visible in the gap.

This one has a main channel out to the left and a smaller channel going into the cliff in the middle of the photo. it must have been a massive cave before it collapsed.

The sky started to take on it's lovely evening colours and I wished I had brought my camera after all!

Approaching the Noss ferry crossing point; the wardens cottage on the left of Noss.

Anders Tower looks down over Noss sound.

Here's the remains of Noss Sound Broch, beyond it is the track that leads from the ferry point back up a rough track to the road and eventually back to the car. It'll be good to finally get over to Noss this summer when the warden's RIB is running, failing that a swim might be in order!

The forecast for tomorrow is pretty good just now and we're planning to go for a wander with a friend and their little one, just where we go though is undecided...

Friday, 13 January 2012

Scalloway Fire Festival

Today has been a wonderful still, cold and clear day. I had fingers crossed all day that the weather would hold for the fire festival or Up Helly Aa tonight in Scalloway and unbelievably it did; you couldn't have asked for a better night.

The festival this year fell on Friday 13th and un-coincidentally the galley was named Svart Fredag or Black friday with Guiser Jarl, Simon Mullay, representing Jarl Sigurd The Stout, Jarl of Orkney and Shetland (980-1014). Take a look at Kozetland's entry on Shetlopedia for more details of this Jarl of old.

Before the fire festival began Beren and I took a wander down to the galley which was 'moored' up next to The Scalloway Meat Company and had a chance for a few pictures before the poor boat was processed through the village cast adrift in a shower of fiery torches down at the boating club marina.

Here's Beren being a Viking...

Black Friday looking out to the site of her final demise...

Head details...

And sadly that is all I have of the spectacle that was a wonderful night of music, song and fire! But see Kozetland1 for great photos

A series of school boy errors led to my camera battery running out and the few photos I did have of the procession being useless. I'm not a happy bunny really, but it did mean that I got to fully enjoy the night rather than thinking about getting photos and video of it. Thankfully there are several Up Hell Aas over the next couple of months so I have a chance to make amends for tonight and learn a few more lessons about photographically recording the events.

Anyway Beren loved it and loved seeing his best friend's Dad in his finest Viking regalia and we had a lovely time at a friend's house in the village at a little party afterwards. The squads and die hard Up Helly Aa revellers will be up partying hard long through the night though while we are cosy in bed.

Now, what else can we get up to on what is forecast to be a lovely weekend? Battery is on charge...

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Sletts and Bressay at night...

The other night in restless hour or two I went out to The Sletts in Lerwick to mess about with some night time photography. It was a pretty nice night all in all, but a bit misty in the distance and the combination of trying to get a landscape along with streetlights isn't the best idea. Passing boats were a nuisance too,not only appearing during the 30 second exposure and leaving a white dash across the photo but then taking an age to leave the area. 

Anyhow I came away with this long exposure photo of The Sletts, The Knab and Bressay masts and Lighthouse which I quite like...

I'm hoping tomorrow night is equally as pleasant as it's Scalloway Fire Festival, the first of this year. Beren is really excited having made Viking shields and helmets at nursery and counting down the 'sleeps' until the big event. It's funny to think when he first saw a Jarl Squad at Mossbank School a couple of years ago he was, understandably, terrified. Now he can't wait to meet them tomorrow! Secretly neither can I...

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Da Lang Ayre; well worth the effort...

Well, today was to be the day I got over to Da Lang Ayre, a wonderfully isolated mile stretch of red beach on the back side of Ronas Hill. I'd been watching the weather all week, which indicated a calm dry spell on Sunday, returning to raina dn wind by around 3pm. Amazingly the forecast held true!

On my way to pick my friend up from the Bressay Ferry I just had to take this photo of the sunrise over Gulberwick. I wish I'd had more time to do it justice but my friend and adventure awaited.

As we passed Eela Water on the A970 this fantastic view appeared. Ronas Hill in her Sunday best. Oooh... I was so excited!

Looking up from Roga Field cairn to Mid Field cairn on our way up from Collarfirth Masts.

We plodded our way up to the chambered cairn on the top of Ronas Hill. Laughing to ourselves at the white mountain hairs trying to hide in the distinctly non-white landscape, well suppose there was a bit of snow. My friend's dog also gave us plenty of amusement swimming in the lochs, rolling and sliding in the snow; spaniels are just daft!

After a brief breather at the top, a nose in the 'visitors book' and adding our own names to it, it was over the top for the descent to Da Lang Ayre via Monius Burn.

Blogging buddies Muckle Ossa, Little Ossa and Fladda are in the distance beyond the mouth of Ronas Voe; the Cleiver is peeping out, bottom right, at the end of Monius Burn. The climb down was looking pretty steep and I was trying not to think about having to climb back up!



Now we could see round to Turls Head and Gruna Stack...

The last part is descended along side a waterfall with a length of nylon rope to steady you on the slippery red granites.

Looking back up the last bit from the beach, rope just visible to the left...

And out to sea and The Hog and The Cleiver...

Looking North-East towards the Turls Head and Gruna Stack...

And South-West past The Cleiver...

 The Hog in front, The Cleiver behind...

 And finally The Sabic Duck on what I assume is it's first visit to Lang Ayre and Ronas Hill, possibly Shetland too! My brother works for the company and apparently people take picture of the duck in various locations, Beren had a the duck, so I thought why not!

 We stayed on the beach for around 45 minutes before deciding we would have to bite the bullet and get back up and over Ronas Hill. All I can say is be prepared for a real slog up the burn and to the shoulder of Ronas. I thought I was going to have a coronary, really, but I'm not too good; it's still a stiff climb though.

Eventually we made enough height to start the relatively easy contouring around the summit to Mid Field and back to the car. The forecast was bang on as about 2.30pm the mist, then drizzle, then rain came in and the temperature dropped, but we didn't care we'd had a great day and were back at the car. It's about a10 miles round trip, we took it very easy with plenty of breaks and took about 5 hours in total. Another great spot for a summer camp!

Hopefully I'll be re-charged for another venture next weekend. Uyea, North-West of North Roe has had it's name on my list for a while.

In other news...
Unfortunately, being where I was I missed a spectacular display of Orcas on the South-East coast. Still, by the sounds of it it was very busy with sight seers, one day I'll get to see them...