Friday, July 13, 2012

A chilly day in the far North – The Shetland Islands

The Shetland Islands are the farthest north extent of the British Isles. Beyond here the North Sea Oil rigs – which keep this part of the world busy – the largest oil and gas terminal in Europe is located here.

There are 100 or so islands that make up this archipelago with only 12 that are populated. The vista is unusual – very hilly and green. No trees. Apparently the islands are rock with a thin layer of soil only. 

Sheep – of a remarkable kind that provide the wool that is so famous. Shetland ponies – also famous – they were suffering from a contagion of some sort while here so couldn’t pet them. Beautiful islands in a severe kind of way

Archaeology of the islands tells us that they have been continuously settled since the stone age – over 3500 years ago. Today only 7000 or so live here. Since farming isn’t really an option in this climate they have survived on the sea – fishing is a phenomenal resource here because of the intersection between the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Fishing is the biggest income generator.

Important war history here – This was an important base for the Navy protecting the North Sea. Also the home base of the ‘Shetland Bus’ – this was the name given to the naval ferry of soldiers and refugees from Norway to Britain and Resistance agents back again on missions.

We sailed into the protected harbor of the largest Shetland Island – called Mainland - with the town of Lerwick. 

The people were very hospitable – signs of welcome.

…… and a lone fiddler. Reminded me a lot of Alex. Or maybe I just miss you all?

Sailboats from everywhere. How about the name of the sailboat from Goteborg ?? muggle wiggle??

The weather here was freezing (I kid you not) yet the locals were walking around with thin tops – it is after all mid-summer! Its what you get used to, I guess.

Terry (the ex-military guy from Australia from our dinner table) and I planning our strategy. He took the bus all around the island and stopped off at the museum. Had a great day also but a bit more educational

This is part of Scotland and the dialect is impenetrable – there is a fudge shop with a fairly standard sign

And advertising that makes fun of their patois.

This is downtown Lerwick early morning – rush hour?

Sign outside the Tourist Information building – it had a past. Arthur Anderson is a famous Shetland Islander – He started the P&O line and was its CEO. He and his family are buried here

Susie (from New Zealand) was a family friend of the Andersons. Here she is (unsuccessfully) trying to get a cab driver to take her to the cemetery. A kindly hotelier took her later, gave her a personal tour and went totally out of his way for her. Lovely people.

The buildings here are stone and very solidly constructed – have to be to withstand the elements.

The Town hall – Shetland Islands have their own flag – white cross on a blue background. Also a member of the Scots Parliament and a Member of the British parliament. A substantial percentage of the population are in civil service!!!

Red ‘phone boxes. But when last did you see someone using a public telephone? This lady was on the line for ages

We visited the library (o use the WiFi) it was lovely and warm inside and was very busy. 

Young patron leaving happily with a good read.

Walked past the carpark and saw this lovely little car – pinkish all over – clearly a local extrovert. Lael, check out the decal on the back window!

Fish and chips for lunch (minus the fish for me) in paper with salt and vinegar – a long line of passengers waited patiently.

There was plenty of shopping here – lots of Savation Army – style shops, general dealers, and local products – Shetland, fairisle sweaters. Didn’t really bother. Enough stuff!

We’re on our way to Iceland now. Sun is out. Optimism breaks out again

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