|"I am Shetland McPonyface. Welcome to Shetland Island"|
"Auch, you're too late," tsked the reservations
After pointing out we were on time, the clerks cleared us for the flight (I mean really!). We soon in a panic, sprinting - um... perhaps it wasn't as much sprinting as winded stumbling along the long corridors to airport security.
Post security check, we continued our race along the 20 mile long serpentine route to the final gate (I might have exaggerated the distance a bit). Arriving at the gate, I, for one, was wheezy, winded and red in the face. We climbed steps, boarding the airplane. Contentment again reigned as the little prop engine plane took off, heading north for our vacation within a vacation. Our destination - Shetland island, 100 miles north of the Scottish mainland.
|Approaching runway at Sumburgh Airport on Shetland Island|
|Sarah with some of her handiwork|
Ila found our guide by doing pre-trip homework of the sort I am generally too disorganized to do. Ila found the Shetland Island touring site on the internet and communicated with Sarah who leads tour groups and personalized tours of Shetland Island. Ila couldn't have found us a better guide.
While still in California, Sarah queried us about our interests on Shetland. We told her we wanted to see the Shetland sights in general. Plus we were both eager to see Fair Isle knitting demonstrated and for me - DUH - birds and wildlife. Sarah promised to hit all of our touring needs.
We loaded into Sarah's van, and were off. We passed a little stone-walled pasture with Shetland ponies. Shetlands were on my 'must see' list. Mind - there were loads of Shetland ponies and Shetland sheep throughout the day. But on the ponies, once upon a time the wee mites were bred for difficult & hard work in British coal mines, but these days they mostly are mostly just chubby little cuties.
Sarah drove us to the top of Sumburgh hill and once there, we got out. We skurried along a little alley in the maze of buildings, headed for the wall.
|We headed down this hilltop alley for 'the wall'|
|A sea rock covered over with Guillemots and guano|
|A little too early in the morning for some|
|The Mousa Broch Tower|
We also got a hilltop view on the eastern side of the island, down onto the largest town on the island, Scalloway.
|A view of Scalloway, the largest town on Shetland Is.|
History has it Scalloway Castle was built by a genuinely evil knob, Patrick Stewart aka 'Black Patie' earl of Shetland and Orkney isles who never captained a star ship. It is said he had his castle built by enslaved Shetland Islanders circa 1599. Guilty or not, the foul man was tried and executed in 1615. That gives one something to think on when viewing the castle ruins below.
|Steward's Evil Castle|
|The Dore Holm|
Sarah is a lady chock full of knowledge about Shetland, her home. I wish I'd taken notes or had a recorder on because I was so awed by being on Shetland and on tour of it, that little of Sarah's fascinating information actually stuck in my noggin. I can't remember and be awed, it's normally one or the other.
On the North Mavine peninsula we were high up on the western shore, where we saw the Esha Ness Lighthouse. Nicest name of any lighthouse I've ever seen.
|The auld Esha Ness Lighthouse|
|Looking from the lighthouse towards the cliffs|
|The auld cliffs beyond|
Some rocks around the lighthouse were strangely square.
Sarah stopped to take us for an early lunch at the Braewick Cafe which was stoic on the outside...
... windowed and showy on the inside.
|Over lunch we chatted & Sarah showed us archaeological pictures on her laptop|
|Lots of Shetland's world famous Fair Isle knitthandiworks were on sale and display|
|Hand Dyed Skeins of wool|
|Ila skipped off with the frameable art to the left,|
I skipped off with the frameable artwork on the right. Score!
There were loads of Fair Isle knitting in hats, caps, gloves and the like. The shop lady said no surprise, the young women on the island are less and less inclined to learn the Fair Isle knitting so it is rather an endangered art. I hope at some point a young person breathes new life into the art of Fair Isle knitting in the manner of what Mabel McCay did for California Pomo basket weaving. There was also a lot of yarn and hand dyed fiber. For me, the various spinning wheels, some old some... uh, well some older, were beautiful.
And for even older spinning there were drop spindles collected from around the world. I thought I'd never forget which were Russian, which were African, which were Bulgarian and of course, I forgot it all right quick.
A clay bottomed drop spindle
|The ladies having a lively chat|
|Fair Isle knitting belt|
Now have I yet mentioned the many Shetland Sheepies we saw in the course of our day? They're the ones supplying all the fair Isle wool
A lovely, albeit goggle-eyed Shetland sheep.
And the birds! I saw so many birds throughout the day. It was wonderful not having to drive, so I could stare out the window and watch for them. And it always seemed as though Sarah could read my mind, suddenly stopping so I could have a go at grabbing some shots photos.
|Whooper Swan looking all Elegant|
|Greyleg Geese were strewn about the island|
|As were European Oystercatchers, always paired up|
|My favorite - a solitary Northern Lapwing|
|Walking long a stone wall to Jarlshof entrance building|
|Making our way through the information packed visitor center|
|Walking alongside broch ruins, and below manor house ruins|
Ila, disappearing after Sarah, into a 'wheel house' doorway that leads down into...
|How the round or 'wheel' house looks today|
|How a wheel house would have looked in use|
|View of area where Viking Long Houses sat|
|Cutaway of how Viking Long Houses would have looked|
Here I intended to post a short video I took of adorable Puffins. But 'twix then and now I ran across videos by a young lady on Shetland who shares her island life on her YouTube channel.
Here is the girl telling how gossip goes on Shetland. I love this as gives a wee Shetland geography lesson and local names - of the island and the common folk's names - on the side.
Still on for my short vid of puffins then? Go here... Scottish Puffins.