We popped over for our 5th visit to the islands at the beginning of May, there was the Shetland Folk Music Festival, and several people who we wanted to visit before we all get too old (actually I've no intention of getting too old for several decades yet), and anyway we just like being there. We were well pleased with the music and the production at the Mareel, in fact the comfort of the seats, important for a long sitting, the lighting, and the exceptional expertise operating the sound system made good music really exceptional. The fact that it was within a minutes walk from the rented flat was a bonus, as not taking a weatherproof jacket in Shetland is usually a mistake. The weather will often change from one extreme to another, three times in half an hour.
We also went to the Clickimin Centre where we heard a number of performances. Sadly the seats were somewhat firmer, reminding me of the aircraft we came in on. Perhaps there is a downside or backside to my weight loss, but if so, I'm prepared to put up with it. The Festival centre was at the ex-school on Harald Street where there were workshops, ad-hoc performances, and a darned good selection of real ales. Nice to see a redundant building being converted and used effectively.
One of our trips out of Lerwick was to North Roe, the north west corner of the Shetland mainland. It's very nearly another island, but a small land-bridge at Mavis Grind separates the Atlantic from the North Sea.
Our objective was the geologically important area of Eshaness which was well worth the drive, but we also discovered the Braewick cafe which overlooks the Drongs, the dramatic rocks in Braewick Bay (Top picture) and is a caravan and camping site, you can contact them at:
I was quite surprised to find that Shetland has several camping sites, I can see the attraction, but the wind means there are relatively few places that you can park a caravan, or tent, and expect to find it again the next day. This site and excellent cafe has spectacular views. I particularly recommend the locally grown hamburger. Like most meals in Shetland, it was a bit bigger than I expected, well priced and very tasty.
On the way back I nearly put the car in the ditch as I saw what appeared to be an aircraft crash. Well, I was sort of right in my evaluation, but rather late. There's a chap rebuilding a four engined 18 seat passenger plane, a Potez 480, which had, in 1981, executed a wheels up landing at Sumburgh because of the failure of the hydraulics and the manual systems to deploy the landing gear. Apparently the crew hadn't worried about problems with getting the wheels down because it had "happened before". Not, perhaps, the smartest approach to air safety.
I had thought rebuilding an Alvis TA14 was a major project, this is a whole order larger and more complicated. I do wonder what he's going to do with it when he's finished, but there again, (from the other reports on the internet of people nearly imitating a non standard 'ditching') maybe it's a way of keeping the vehicle recovery industry ticking over.
You can find out all about it if you google
F-BMCY, the registration of that aircraft.
While we were there we spotted Bonxies (Great Skua) Gannets, Cormorants, Fulmars and several more, but there seemed to be fewer cliff nesting birds than expected. Presumably a food shortage through over-fishing and fish migrating through global warming effects. We do seem to make life difficult for most other species. The Ravens seemed to be doing OK though when I went to photo what I thought was a couple of them, I got Photo-bombed by a load of sheep.
One of our excursions was to St Ninian's Isle, which, although we were unaware of it's significance during our visit, is attached to the mainland by the UK's largest active Tombolo. The photo was a bit greyed out, so now it's sharper it is also a bit bright.
I had assumed it was a natural causeway and enjoyed working out how it had occurred. Now I'll have to find out if the same wave action causes the sand bars in sea lochs (and Braewick bay).
St Ninian's was the site where some 8th Century Pictish treasure was found in 1958 , Tourists have started dropping coins in the hole that was left after the find. I suppose it could turn into another treasure trove eventually. It would certainly be classified as such if the coins were as old.
We are back again now, and Fiona is planting potatoes (10th May) that would normally have gone in in March. Spring does seem to have arrived at last. The first part of our holiday in Shetland was marked with Snow, hail wind and rain, though my private arrangement seems to be holding, and it didn't do much of that when we were outside. Mostly it was mild and even sunny, though it is always worth carrying some waterproof clothing on the isles, I wouldn't bother with an umbrella, they don't last 5 minutes there. I'm told you shouldn't fly a kite without a passport in your pocket.
I've not put any of my pictures of the Folk Festival up because none of them were good enough, and anyway it's difficult when your feets keep tapping. So I'll leave you with a U-tube sound bite and a nice picture of a derelict tractor, well, I assume it is derelict, it may have only been parked for a day. The salt in the sea 'breeze' can rust or corrode most metals in short order. Most outdoor metalwork in Shetland is severely tested, only stainless steel lasts for long.
Still, it looks a good project for restoration, and probably easier than an aircraft, as it doesn't need CAA approval. If I'd known the flight home was going to be almost empty I could have just about squeezed it in, given a bit of spanner work.
Well that's enough typing, I'm going to see if it is warm enough to put some paint on the Silver Midge. It'll be a Cardinal Red Midge soon, weather permitting.
I couldn't decide which shade of maroon to go for, as the paint charts left me somewhat confused, none of them seem to have any kind of a chromatic scale, so eventually I went for a simple red, probably with black mudguards, it should come out something like the square here, depending on your computer screen settings.