Sunday, 27 October 2013

Shetlands - still here

Diz has been and gone, we got some OK walking, but not photographing, weather.  We went into Lerwick and met a woman who even knits sleeves in the round - the most perfect fairisle I've ever seen.  She also used a knitting belt - a sort of pad that she stuck her fourth needle in to hold the weight of the knitting.  It's also supposed to keep the tension even.  They sell them at Jameison's but I didn't see them - just found them on the website.  It was the least friendly shop (the other wool shop was more like a wool shop - it sold loads of acrylic and so Diz could get herself something to knit) but had a fantastic range of Shetland wool.  Maybe they weren't so friendly because they were recovering from wool week, when they held classes in the shop every day. 
This is a pic from their blog of Oliver giving a talk on how they grade the wool.  I think it amazing how it gets from the mucky stuff  on the sheeps backs to knittable.
These are quite clean looking sheep, maybe because they are in a field, not on the moor.  Susan dubbed it the sick sheep field because there was always at least one of them lying as if it was never going to get up again.  They are in(memo to self, must photo sheep faces) the running for the title of ugliest sheep in Shetland but they do have lovely thick wool.

Diz and I also made a visit to Frankie's and I tried their steamed mussels.  They were lovely.  They also had something called saucermeat on the menu, but we didn't try it.
Then when I went into Ollaberry shop on Thursday, there it was:
And I'm now full of saucermeat stew.  It's a shetland speciality.  It tastes most like beef sausage, but not the same.  I made meatballs out of it and we - Angel and I - both enjoyed it.  We spent the morning up the tanner's track playing crofters.  She was sniffing along the sheep tracks and I was jumping streams that weren't there two days ago, but it siled it down last night.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Shetland - Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

Sunday, Double parked: This baby rabbit was sat next to Susan's car looking as if it was waiting for its photo taken, so I had to.

Then we went for a walk on Gluss Isle and got as far as the first beacon. Susan and Pete were meant to go on a boat trip so he rushed off to get dinner ready and we sauntered  and watched the traffic jam.

The boat trip  was cancelled so we went to Eshaness instead.  This is the Atlantic Ocean.  It should have been worse weather to see it at its best but I found it scary enough.

If it had been worse weather Pete would have been very wet here, he's just been photographing a blow hole.

Pete set off at 7, to sail round Whalsay and to the out  Skerries as a consolation prize for no trip yesterday.  Dr Jonathan was taking a boat out to count seals and invited him and Susan along but Susan didn't fancy 4 hours in possibly choppy seas.
It turned out so calm it was foggy here.  Pete saw a sea otter.
Susan, it turned out, saw the northern lights on one of her middle of the night ambles but wasn't confident enough to wake us!
I have no photoes for today cos I saw nothing new on our walk to the shops.

Yet another still day.  We went to Bressay and started at the lighthouse - it's flats now.  There was someone walking his lab/retriever there and he was saying how the economy on Shetland was doing so well.  The pelagic fishing - which catches shoal fish like herring and mackerel - do well.
Walking up to the South of the island, we got a view of the natural arch that reminded me of the rabbit skulls, 'leave' is a word Angel is very good at.  There were loads of lapine skeletons around, 
this one looks almost fit for the autopsy table.

From the top of the hill we could see Noss and some really changeable skies.


I've no idea what this is but it's pretty in any setting, and certainly in the middle of a moor.

 After the lighthouse it was a bit downhill, nowhere to eat and sameold, sameold on the scenery front.  A packet of chocolate digestives between us and a banana each didn't do an awful lot to redeem the situation and we were back at the ferry just in time to wait for the next one.
There were young shags in the harbour.

Then the ferry arrived.

A stay at home sort of day.  Went to the end of Gluss Isle, just me and Angel and NO camera so we could concentrate on sog-hopping, it was fun.  I'll take a camera maybe next time.

Shetland Saturday

 Susan and Pete were here in time for breakfast and we went into Lerwick to see the textiles market in the town hall.  I couldn't have a good look, 'cos though Angel was allowed in, she had to be carried but it was really all about knitting and there was a lovely range of wools as well as things that had already been knitted.
I liked this roof:


It was odd being amongst people, specially in Tesco.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Shetland Friday

Still and grey.  A day for checking out the tree plantation.
The path there was littered with goose droppings, like green cigars.  There was a good view of the walk I did on Wednesday and the stream that runs under the road.

The 'shetland tannery' van I'd seen earlier in the week was parked at the croft there and a woman was washing fleeces.  Their dog is called Ted and was very friendly.  The Shetland ponies are also theirs.
She set me on the right path and we followed it till it ran out.

I didn't realise that lapwings paddled.  Until now I thought they were inland birds,I can't remember if I've already mentioned that I saw them last in the field by the bridle path in Eckington.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Shetland Thursday

Gales - that's what was predicted for the day and it was certainly a wooly hat day.  It was also a 'going to the shop' day. Most of the way there, my right earlobe was wondering why it was left out in the cold and if it would have felt better with an ear-ring in. 
This is another try to get the bumps on the horizon.
The trouble with photos is they are too objective.  They don't focus like my brain does, making what I'm really looking at bigger.  The bullocks really wind Angel up.  They came to meet us, all snort and frollick, this morning and she finally decided that the best option was retreat.
I finally got a photo of the geese and they are, I think, white-fronted geese, The reason I'm not sure is that they are supposed to have white round their beaks, but maybe these are juveniles.  They're from Greenland, cos they've got orange beaks.

I don't know what the ducks are yet 

The wind was behind us on the way back and the afternoon was spent sat in the sunshine.
Tea time took us down to the walkway to Gluss Isle.  I saw the big black and white sea bird again, I've still no idea what it is and was too busy to get the camera out in time.
This is the view across Sullom Voe from the walkway

and this is across Gluss Voe

We got home to see the moon setting behind midfield croft which made me get my astronomy app going.  And it was clear, and so still by ten o'clock that I think I even saw the milky way, which I've never done on land before.
Still can't get the 'point your device at the sky' tool though.  Which bit do I point?

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Shetland Wednesday

Sheep day and sheepdog day.

Angel practising sitting still and not bothering them on the breakfast walk.  We saw a man and 3 collie dogs shifting sheep later and then on the walk met 3 more, or maybe the same, just hanging out.  No photo cos I was busy persuading Angel that she could/should just keep walking.
The photo of the sheep walking in crocodile.  I thought the black ones were collies at first, but they're not.  The sheep are taking themselves for a walk.
We went to South Gluss but didn't get to the end of the track cos we came to a gate tied shut with two ropes and I wasn't sure I could retie them.
 I took this one on on the way back for the bumpy skyline:
Coming back we met a woman sorting sheep, the three sheep dogs again.  Angel seemed a bit less scared to see them this time.
And then while the mud dried we sat in the sun shining, (through the window).

Then, by tea time, the wind had got up and there were waves breaking on the mudspit.
And there are the sheep again - behind the quad bike.
We saw Jean when she came to feed hers.  She said the forecast is a gale tonight but a good weekend.

Shetland Tuesday

Yet again I forgot to take my camera.  Today was going to the shop day.  I discovered that I could get a signal here and while I was at it thought to take a photo.
Despite what it looks like, the weather was dry!  I succumbed to the thought of breakfast pie and got a ham hock.  A nunoo is all very well but Angel was being so good that I thought she deserved something a little bit more rewarding to pounce on.
She let herself down on the way back.  The same sheep that she'd spotted on the breakfast walk - it had managed to escape from the field but couldn't find it's way back in and was bleating pitifully to its mam - was still wandering when we came back and managed to get itself stuck between an approaching 4 wheel drive, going very slowly, and us, Angel anxious to show her sheep dog skills and me with my eyes shut.
The driver was Jo's mum.  Jo is Jean's grandson and was 4 on Sunday.  His older sister, Holly goes to Ollaberry school, which has nine pupils - an all time low apparantly but the school roll will be doubled when Jo's year starts.

This is another view from the Bardister road.  It was here that I am pretty sure I saw Arctic Skuas and a curlew - though it might have been a whimbrel since they breed up here according to the RSPB site.  Maybe I'll have my camera next time I see them, I can't get the hang of the camera on my mobile and it doesn't seem to zoom.
I finished up the afternoon making chocolate sauce to go on what is left of the chocolate pudding.
2 cocoa:4 water:5 sugar - I measured in tablespoons
bring to boil stirring and boil for a minute.

It was very chocolaty. The other is the pea soup and the ham left from the dog's bone.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Shetland Monday

This is a snipe. I had to look it up,  Again, its a bit vague cos it was taken through the window this morning.

It was hard to tell if it was mist or cloud we were walking through today.  We took the track down to Nissetter, you can just see Midfield and Askalong above the 'ter'.  There were quite a few abandoned vehicles here too.  I suppose that it is difficult to get rid of them without paying for shipping off the island.
We spent an hour or so wandering around soggy heather
- the trouble with sheep tracks is that they soon become streams but Angel enjoyed the splashing and the sog never became bog so it was fun.

Angel caught up on her animal identification.
Cows are to walk past as quickly as possible,  sheep are good for watching run.  And rabbits?

Well, rabbits...

This is what she'd do to rabbits if she could catch them. 
If she's not practising pouncing (with her nunoo) then she's demonstrating that she doesn't need a lie down after a two hour stomp.


Monday, 7 October 2013

Shetland Sunday

I drew the curtains back this morning on rabbits. I had to draw them last night to stop Angel barking at the reflections from the room.
The local bread made up for the lack of croissants and I remembered how to make coffee in a jug, though I found a coffee making machine that I'm going to try out tomorrow.

It's been a day for birds, though nothing to attract twitchers.  I definitely saw hooded crows and think I might have seen rock buntings in among them. I found a couple of bird id websites to look them up on. It was a day for birds, some I recognised, lapwings, and others I guessed at - dunlins I think and some flying geese that were grey with a black edge to their wings.
This was on the walk to Ollaberry and, of course, I forgot to take my camera so there are no pics for that.  The wind was behind us on the way there and so against us and full of rain on the way back.  The Ollaberry shop is right by the turning for Bardister and so not half as far as the place itself.  It reminds me of the shop on Birkhill more than anywhere else.  I resisted the temptation to buy a breakfast pie cos I'm making fish pie for tea and then seeing if I can make a chocolate microwave sponge using the 1/4 cup and spoon measures I brought in case there wasn't a set of scales here - there isn't - and a conversion site.
Later, full of fish pie and successful, if a bit dry, chocolate pud, watching NCIS on the telly with an exhausted Angel curled up next to me - she didn't balk at the walking but has shown no inclination to shift since we got back.  Except to beg for fish from the pie of course.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Shetland - on the airways

Saturday was plane day.  Angel charmed her way into the hotel restaurant this morning - last night I had to rush down and take a plate of salad back to the room, she voted against being left behind by barking my way down the corridor.
She was cooler about the airport than me - I had to unpack my handluggage twice to find the liquids, beeped the detector arch and got a body scan too. By then, she was caged and in among the hold luggage.
This is the first time I've flown this century and it was in a plane discontinued in the last!  I know I have been in a propeller plane before, but I can't remember when.
The plane was full of twitchers and their gear, or seemed to be. There probably weren't over a dozen of them, but they all knew each other and it was a bit like a school trip, the flight attendant would have made a very good year 1 special needs assistant.  They were off to look at a broadbilled warbler that was busy dying thousands of miles off course between China and Thailand, cheered by the news that it was still alive at ten o'clock.

This is the closest I will get to Fair Isle - this trip anyway.


 After a sharp left turn that made the girls behind me go,"wheee" we were nearly there.
My taxidriver was waiting with a card that nearly had my name on, Angel was finally, the last, on the carousel and a bit glad to see me and the sun was shining.

I recognised that we'd arrived by the photo on Askalong's web page.  Here is the view for real from the back gate.

Shetland holiday - on the railway

We, that is Angel and me, started out at 5 past 6 on Friday morning.  I have never had such an assisted day.  From getting off the bus to getting to the hotel in Aberdeen, everytime I paused for breath, somebody helped me.  I must have been looking very feeble - I didn't feel it, I felt like Mary Kingsley, setting off on a new expedition.

Safely across the Firth of Forth ( channeling the 39 steps) and the furthest north I've ever been: