Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Landscape Textures

The landscapes of Scotland and its islands have textures that are both remarkable and captured by photographer, Simon Nicholas White (below). A trip to his Gallery will show you what's on offer, but not always detected by the human eye, at surface level. His camera lens has a way of exposing matter.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also tries to expose surface details.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Speaking Apart

The Old Man of Hoy (above) is not given to words, but were he, then undoubtedly there would be differences in his speech patterns. For where people lead lives with a degree of separation from the mainstream, then dialect quickly becomes apparent. This is explored by Tom Rendall in a series of lectures that he is giving on Orkney.
It has been pointed out that the photograph below - originally used to illustrate this item - is not the Old Man of Hoy. Can anyone identify the location of this stack, please?

 Scottish Islands Explorer - cherishes differences

Monday, 27 February 2012

Zoom onto Bass

A visit to the Bass Rock is not always possible for, although relatively close to the shore, it is not straightforward to reach. However, 24/7 access is possible through the webcams situated there and presented by the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, Take a trip, now.

Scottish Islands Explorer - getting around, effortlessly

Sunday, 26 February 2012

That Ultimate Beach

There can be few beaches in the UK with the appeal of Luskentyre on South Harris. Its sea, sand and setting are captured here by Craig Aitchison whose book - The Highlands - Light and Land  - is due out later in the Spring.

Scottish Islands Explorer - capturing island images

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Observe the Law

The work of Frances Law will be on show, in an exhibition entitled Beyond Appearance at the Park Gallery, Callendar House, Callendar Park,  Falkirk from Saturday 3 - Tuesday 20 March. The details are to be found here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also tries to get beyond appearances.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Pumping Prime Numbers

This petrol pump, on Coll, does not have the same appeal as the one at Voe on Shetland. Here there is to be a special promotion involving the lowering of prices on days chosen by lottery. The paradox of high fuel prices in places where crude oil comes ashore is being countered.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has risen in price by some 28% in the last 12 years

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Lewis Man

Clicking on this cover may not be effective, but try acquiring Peter May's The Lewis Manthe sequel to his The Blackhouse. It has won acclaim as a novel vividly conveying the authentic atmosphere and condition of island people, places and powerful forces. It was published last month and will become the middle book in a triology.  Click here, however, for an effective, vivid trailer.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looking at facts; keen on fiction

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Surf into Spring

Get ahead of the seasons by taking the season's first surf sessions on Lewis this coming Saturday, 25 February.  If you are keen on participation go to SurfLewis, if you are content with observation, just look below and wonder.

Scottish Islands Explorer - ready for Spring and actions therein.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Trees on Their Way

Rowan or mountain ash, together with sycamore, birch, pine and spruce, will be appearing shortly on ... South Uist. Oxfam is among the groups providing the funding for 20,000 saplings to be planted on this island, better known for its machair, marram and mountains. The name rowan comes from the proto-Germanic word raudnian meaning 'getting red' which, of course, refers to its foliage and berries of Autumn. The Old Norse shortened it to raun, while the Gaelic linguistic tradition developed it as caorann or rudha-an, with the latter pronounced as the English rowan.

Scottish Islands Explorer - obviously has a vested interest in trees

Monday, 20 February 2012

Lise on Tour

The work of George Mackay Brown(above) has inspired Fair Isle artiste and poet, Lise Sinclair (below), to take her work and band places. Next month's tour will be from Fair Isle to Lerwick, and then on to Edinburgh before ending in Reykjavik, Iceland. Its journey reflects the blend and traditions of Scottish and Nordic cultures as they are still lived today.

Scottish Islands Explorer - on shelves wherever Scottish interests are found

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Not the Shetland Bus

The Kyle of Durness and the moors of The Parph separate Cape Wrath from the mainland. It's now getting on for 50 years since a summer-only bus service started operating along the service road from the ferry to the lighthouse. It passes close to Keodale and the basic accommodation provided there by the Mountain Bothies Association. Thanks to Hugh Powell and Richard Evans for this image and account of the beginning of the facility for those wanting an understandably easier way of getting to the north-westerly corner of Scotland. 'Wrath' does not refer to the frequent weather with an angry element, but is derived from the Norse word - hraf - the turning point.

Scottish Islands Explorer - makes journeys easier

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Dive Bomber

If you have every been dived-bombed by a bonxie, then this image of an Arctic skua could spoil your Saturday morning. It was taken by Andrew Pennill while crossing from Lerwick to The Noss National Nature Reserve. When walking in those parts, have a hat ready, a stick at hand ... and hope for the beast ... to avoid you!

Scottish Islands Explorer - encourages people to keep their heads down, by reading

Friday, 17 February 2012

A Tale to be Finished

This story recounted in the blog Across the Minch is one that requires completion. Does anyone out there know what happened to the people involved? Thank you for looking.

Scottish Islands Explorer - searching and researching

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Interview with Editor

Yesterday saw the delivery of the latest copy of Scottish Islands Explorer to most subscribers and tomorrow should see it on the shelves of shops throughout Scotland and the far north of England. Today the Editor was interviewed by Private Island News about his views on a number of island matters.

Scottish Islands Explorer - read somewhere by someone every day

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Virtual Dwelling

The fascination that many of us have for St Kilda is certainly shared by Alice Watterson. Her account and blog give details of a remarkable piece of research culminating in the virtual re-creation of a blackhouse. The last surviving islander is still alive to relish how technology brings the past to life.

Scottish Islands Explorer - makes virtual exploring possible

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Work and Play

Even when jobs are scarce, work is available if you know where to find or create it. The authorities on Shetland have devised a highly-informative website to assist those who have concepts about employment for themselves and for others in this Northern Isle. Lerwick  (below) is one of the many places in the island group where facilities for play are easily-accessible.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a publication about pleasures that has generated work

Monday, 13 February 2012

Ultimate Unst

Here is another photograph by the late Adrian Warren (go back to the Queen of the Isles on 5 February) and it features that end-of-the-country look. Another image, below, has that end-of-existence look, created by a tin hut at Haroldswick, the largest settlement on Unst, at the top end of Shetland. It is featured in Northings - a site that attracts. If you would like a tour of the north end of this island then look no further than here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - the ultimate read

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Inaccessible Pinnacle

This scene from Seachd, a Gaelic feature film, considers The Inaccessible Pinnacle. In another context this could refer to the linguistic heights that the Gaelic language has to scale in order to return to its original strength with a range of both dialects and speakers of them.

Scottish Islands Explorer - accessible on the shelf as well as on subscription

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Going ... Going ... Gone

There are concerns about the Mallaig - Armadale ferry service across the Sound of Sleat. A public meeting is to be held to discuss the threat of downgrading the importance of this crossing. The A830 road to Fort William may have been upgraded, but it would be only part of the long haul to the Skye Bridge. The West Highland Free Press carries the story.

Scottish Islands Explorer - saves quite a distance in island journeys

Friday, 10 February 2012

From Holm to Whole World

It may be almost six months since this item appeared about Little Green Holm, but it's worth reading and then looking at its source, Vladi Private Islands News. There are insights here into islands throughout the world.

Scottish Islands Explorer - confined to UK coastal waters

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Work or Play?

There is a good choice available when visiting Sanda, Scotland's most extreme south-west island that's half-way to Northern Ireland. There's a day-trip, a menu of fine meals, various luxuriously-appointed bedrooms ... and work available. Find out more about the 25 March - 2 September 2012 season or the two jobs on offer.

Scottish Island Explorer - offering just a good read

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Giving Out The Line

The unaccompanied singing of the Gaelic Psalms is a musical experience to be savoured. The lead is given by a male precentor, a presenter adept at 'giving out the line', in Presbyterian churches throughout the Hebrides as well as in the Highlands. Those not within reach and wanting to hear, should access Ridge Records and click on their audio buttons. The presenter's lead is indicated by the primary line and the congregation follows with the psalmic litany.

Scottish Islands Explorer -  presents songs of praise about the islands

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Hey Bristow!

There are changes coming in the areas of  Search and Rescue. Bristow Helicopters will soon be taking over operations, in Stornoway and Sumburgh, from CHC. The involvement of RAF and Royal Navy helicopters will be phased out after 2016.  The lie of the land and the waters around the Western and Northern Isles are not places in which to engage in escapades.

Scottish Islands Explorer - how to venture beyond, without leaving home

Monday, 6 February 2012

The Bus Comes First

The Shetland Times has issued a list of its best-selling books. At the top of this literary league-table comes The Shetland Bus by the late David Howarth. It describes the war-time service between Shetland and Norway and has been in print for 60 years. The photograph above is of a restored vessel involved in these operations and now in the harbour at Scalloway, while the one below shows a comparable craft in the North Sea during those now distant years.

Scottish Islands Explorer - at 12 years old, it is one-fifth the age of the 'Bus'

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Queen of the Isles

Westray, which enjoys the regal title of 'The Queen of the Isles', is the second largest of the North Isles of Orkney. This aerial photograph of Pierowall, where the ferry departs for nearby Papa Westray, was taken by the late Adrian Warren. He died on 5 June 2011, aged 61, and some of his work and achievements are commemorated on the website of Last Refuge Ltd, his small company dedicated to the support of endangered environments and species through films, images and research. It also specialises in aerial photography and filming.

Scottish Islands Explorer - not, as yet, by royal appointment

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Forty Years On

Robin Hardy was directing The Wicker Man (1973) on location some 40 years ago. Now, at the age of 82, he looks forward to making another film with the working title of The Wrath of the Gods. It will feature Norse mythology and be set on Shetland. The scenes for the earlier film, though featuring the fictitious Hebridean island of Summerisle, were shot very much on the mainland - mainly in Dumfries and Galloway, with some of Culzean Castle in Ayrshire and Plockton, Ross-shire. The opening sequences were of  Skye and, in particular, Quiraing and The Old Man of Storr. Read about the new project for this veteran director, an Older Man on Shetland.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looking forward to its fortieth

Friday, 3 February 2012

Fuel for Thought

We are back on Jura, with this photo of a (perhaps 'the'?) petrol pump, at Craighouse. Costs are obviously higher on islands than on the mainland and some details of the differences are available on the BBC. So if you are having to make that ultimate 'reluctant purchase' today by filling up the tank, be grateful, if you live in Inverness or somewhere having comparable prices.

Scottish Islands Explorer - for the price of a couple of litres

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Green and Pleasant

Sailing the shorter routes on the Clyde and Hebridean waters will, in the future, have a different sensation. Hybrid vessels will be bringing eco-economies to the operation. The hills of Skye and Raasay will be the background to the first of this new member of the fleet. Read the business item on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - seeks savings where needed

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A Frequent, Far Ferry

Diurachs - the Gaelic for the inhabitants of  the Isle of Jura - have no direct link by vehicular ferry to the mainland. Their first, or on the return leg, final step must involve crossing the one kilometre of water from Feolin to Port Askaig on Islay. In bad weather the service can be prone to cancellation. However, its frequency, at approximately 30 minute intervals from 7.30 - 18.30, is high for the outlying Scottish islands. There are on the island around 200 residents, about 5000 deer, but only one designer of the magazine, Scottish Islands Explorer. Broadband links allow the swift transmission of the finished pages to its printer in Hastings. Now that's a real north-west / south-east crossing. Think of how slow all aspects of life were back in the 1740s, the time that the print (below) of the Feolin Ferry was created.

Scottish Islands Explorer - designed by a Diurach