Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Up Early, Up North

The Lonely Planet Travel Guide has nominated Shetland as having some of the best sunrises in the world. The BBC Website item has the details of the top seven globally and the higher of the Northern Isles in latitude is rated as the finest location in Europe. The sunset above appears on the website of Boddam Cabs, which offers a courier service throughout Shetland. The image below comes from a blog - Travails by Geoff Christou - with the explanation: 'Arrived in Lerwick at sunrise. The low lying clouds glow. Embers in the centre of a fire.'

Scottish Islands Explorer - at least it appears on time

Monday, 29 April 2013

Here They Come

When the Norwegian cruise-ship, Fram, arrived at Lerwick on Friday, it marked the start of the tourist season. Some 40 ships will be bringing visitors to Shetland during the forthcoming months. It's a compelling sight to see people come and go and experience comparatively little of the life of this island group.

Scottish Islands Explorer - enables vicarious visiting

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Far from Orphir

This rural scene, with a boy on a bicycle about to start (or end) a journey, is of Orphir, Orkney. It was the birthplace of the formidable and resolute explorer, Dr John Rae (1813 - 93), whose work in Northern Canada and the North-West Passage brought him much acclaim. He will be recalled at, and, perhaps, commemorated after a meeting on Tuesday next when there will be talk of setting up a John Rae Society, some120 years after his death.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looks forward to hearing of the outcome

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Community Buyout?

Raasay residents are being invited by the Scottish Government to reflect on the future of their island. There is the prospect of a community buyout to be read about on a BBC website item and for the consultation to continue until 7 June. The population is just under the 200 mark and the derivation of the island's name comes from the Old Norse for either 'roe deer' or possibly 'horse'.

Scottish Islands Explorer - the consultation will be over before the next issue

Friday, 26 April 2013

Peace in Our Time

An organisation that measures the peaceful qualities of places has indicated that Orkney has the highest rating in Scotland. Read about the IEP (Institute for Economics & Peace) survey in The Orcadian. The features of this deserted bay on Hoy or the silence of the standing stones at Brodgar do look impressive. However, everything is in context and there are stormy scenes to come, certainly on the beach.

Scottish Islands Explorer - for a peaceful read

Thursday, 25 April 2013

From Hawaii to Hebrides

Yesterday's edition of The Times carried a short item on Timo Mullen, a professional surfer who will be returning from Hawaii to the Hebrides to take advantage of ideal conditions. The image above is of him off Lewis and the one below has the landmass of that island featured strongly. One could be mistaken for the Pacific; one not!

Scottish Islands Explorer - interested in islands beyond ... on occasions

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Warning to Welcome

There was a time when the major communicating feature on Westray, Orkney, was the lighthouse at Noup Head, constructed by David Stevenson in 1898 and providing a warning to shipping. The 20th Century saw the establishment of

Westray Airport, with services to Kirkwall and to the adjacent Papa Westray Airport, some 1.7 miles away. It's the world's shortest scheduled air service.

Internet connections have developed significantly in the 21st Century and, earlier this week as reported in The Orcadian, some of Westray's residents were welcomed to a session about getting on-line.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also making islands less ... insular

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Chelsea Flower Show

This year's Chelsea Flower Show will be featuring a display entitled - 'A Hebridean Weaver's Garden.' It will be the work of a Nottingham Trent University student and her colleagues studying Horticulture. The details

of this exciting product, which will also be drawing attention to Motor Neurone Disease, are to be found on the website item of Hebrides News. The flower show of the RHS is celebrating its centenary.

Scottish Islands Explorer - will endeavour to look more closely at gardens

Monday, 22 April 2013

Mull in Black & White

The work of Sam Jones focuses on the island of Mull, a centre for Wildlife Watching. She arranges workshops, conducts tours and takes photographs herself. Consider her portfolio; as well as her workshops; and take note of her forthcoming exhibition. There's much to see and do.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a centre for wildlife-watching in itself

Sunday, 21 April 2013

No Paper Profits

The Scottish Newspaper Society has claimed that it costs 'close to £6 per copy' to produce newspapers for sale in the Western Isles. That seems high and feelings are certainly running high about delivery times. There have been recent changes in the transporting of papers from the mainland - with most supplies now coming by CalMac ferry rather than by Loganair plane.  

Fuller details of these costs and complaints are available on three items in Hebrides News. It is understandable how later deliveries and delays leave retailers with stock on their hands - for out-of-date newspapers do not sell. In terms of monetary slang, the sum of £6 is known as a 'dead octopus' - derived from the verbal link with 'sick squid'. It applies here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - each issue has a shelf-life of eight weeks

Saturday, 20 April 2013

There's Work On ...

There's work available on the Silurian, the marine research vessel of the Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust, in May and September. It is, however, of a voluntary nature and requires fare-paying. Details are available here on a page full of information about the work of the Trust and the surveys conducted on the boat during its 38,000 miles of journeyings from Cape Wrath to Islay during the last ten years.

Normal employment in the Western Isles has withstood the UK's current recession better than many areas. Figures this week, appearing here also in a Stornoway Gazette item indicate that there are just 501 unemployed in the islands. In a different context, many marine creatures certainly appear to be fully occupied.

Scottish Islands Explorer - helps, in its way, to maintain employment levels

Friday, 19 April 2013

Caveat Cramond

Cramond Island has an adventurous-looking approach or

what appears to be a stimulating stroll to a somewhat

daunting destination. The walker should beware that tides change and make access to, and return from, this Firth of Forth island impassable. Some two years ago there was a rescue of a person with an appropriate name, Daniel Defoe. Just over 300 years previously his famous namesake had learnt of the rescue of Alexander Selkirk from the Juan Fernandez island group in the Pacific Ocean. This subsequently led to the concept and writing of Robinson Crusoe. Read the BBC's account of the Cramond incident.

Scottish Islands Explorer - the current issue features an article on Cramond

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Norfolk Tweed

You can see how the chimney pot on the Drinishader Hostel in Harris gives a bird's eye view. The scene attracts many people to the village

and how a craft appealed to this Norfolk builder who took up an occupation there in 2010, as featured in an item in the Eastern Daily Press. Perhaps his work is on display at a Harris Tweed Exhibition which opens in the village on Monday 22 April?

Scottish Islands Explorer - encourages East Anglians to look north

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Citizen Claim

The effects of coastal erosion are felt in many parts of Britain, but when it's a matter of archaeological sites being at risk, Orkney is particularly threatened by the sea claiming land.  An initiative has started to involve people who can claim artefacts, establish records and photograph places that are about to disappear. Read this account in The Orcadian and if it appeals, please assist.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware that records need to be kept and preserved

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Unfinished Business

A recent report, entitled Unfinished Business, again raises the proposal for creating more National Parks in Scotland. One of them would possibly be the Isle of Harris and an item on this topic appears in the West Highland Free Press. The photographs are both of Luskentyre, considered by many to be a place with one of Britain's best beaches. 2014 is the centenary year of the death of John Muir, the Scots-born conservationist, writer, explorer and advocate of the National Parks in the United States.

Scottish Islands Explorer - keen on the completion of the business

Monday, 15 April 2013

Get Hooked, Late

You will need BBC iPlayer to catch up, but it's worth going back to BBC Alba for last Friday's screening of the first of three in the series A Hooker's Journey. It traces a voyage from Connemara, above, to the Isle of Man, below,

and then on to St Kilda and from that outlier to the Western Isles, Skye and into Loch Ness. It's an exploration that takes in the old Gaelic Kingdoms. The image below could be of television-watching taking place in a well-known street.

Scottish Islands Explorer - an alternative way of watching

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Ninety Years On

This is Havera, aka South Havray, to be found to the south of Burra on Shetland Mainland. It had eight families in residence until they all decided to leave in May 1923. The ground was fertile, but lacked peat and getting supplies there was an arduous task. The island had a school, a full-time teacher and eight pupils. A conspicuous feature was a corn-grinding windmill, 26' high on the 138' summit, visible below.

You can visit, metaphorically, by looking at the Shetland News details of a new book by Laughton Johnston and also from the blog by Patricia and Laughton Johnston. They describe the settlement, include the image of it below, and refer to small children being tethered together to prevent their being blown off the cliffs. All in all, a precarious existence which ended ninety years ago next month.

Scottish Islands Explorer - delighted to have discovered Havera

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Artists in Residence

St Kilda is a dream destination for many artists. This summer, two artists will be given the chance to take up ‘residence’ on the remotest archipelago in the UK.

The National Trust for Scotland and Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre on North Uist have launched a call for artists to apply for two residency spots. Funded by the Year of Natural Scotland, the residencies are open to visual artists from all over the world, working in a variety of mediums.

St Kilda's Property Manager Susan Bain said: “The beauty, mythology and atmosphere of St Kilda have inspired many artists over the years. We hope that this opportunity attracts artists who can present a fresh take on the wild coastlines, fascinating history and unique heritage of this special place.”

The resulting works will be exhibited at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre as part of their The Fragility of Flight project in 2014. This programme commenced in 2005 and from 27 April - 27 July 27, Taigh Chearsabhagh will host an exciting exhibition of ornithological/environment-themed contemporary artwork from artists all over the world, including some from the Outer Hebrides.

For more information and to apply contact Andy Mackinnon, Arts Officer, Taigh Chearsabhagh  - arts@taigh-chearsabhagh.org/   01870 603977.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a constant resident on the islands

Friday, 12 April 2013

Morning Revival

Richard Clubley writes: 'I am just back from Colonsay. Here I was up before dawn one morning to catch the sunrise as the first rays struck the houses at Riasg Buidhe, referred to by Richard Ralls and Marc Calhoun in their comments on yesterday's item on abandoned croft-houses. The house, standing along with two rooms and two gables still upright, can be seen surrounded by early morning frost.

An 82-year-old friend of mine on the island says it had belonged to her mother-in-law. The houses were abandoned in the 1920s when the folk were moved into modern houses, closer to the road.'

Scottish Islands Explorer - continues the theme

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Time to Go

Some 30 photographs of abandoned crofthouses appear at the Deafening Echoes Exhibition at the FotoSpace Gallery at The Rothes Halls in Glenrothes, Fife. They are the work of Ian Paterson and somehow bring to life the deserted and derelict. These two examples are from Harris, with the image above reminding us that the opening hours at the Gallery are 10.00 - 17.00 on Mondays - Saturdays, until Wednesday 8 May. 'Free admission' comes to mind in connection with the room below where, despite the obvious passage of time, the former owner's choice of  colour for the stove still makes an impact.

Scottish Islands Explorer - the past to life; the present in perspective

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Take a Closer Look

These puffins, captured here by Fraser Smith, could well be talking about their return to Sumburgh Head, Shetland, which started on Monday last despite there being a dusting of snow on the cliffs. Take a look at the item in Shetland News and a scrutiny through the RSPB's Puffincam enabling you to get up close, although quite a distance away.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a full view at close quarters

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Browse Before Breeze

The schedules for the season's sailings of the Corryvreckan, out of Oban, are available here. Feel free to browse and then picture yourself in that breeze, with exciting places to visit and interesting company to enjoy.  If it has appeal in April, how will it appear in the Summer?

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to interest, perhaps, excite