Thursday, 31 October 2013

Local for Lights

The Northern Lights can be viewed from Scotland, but some people prefer to venture father afield. Readers of this blog are invited to see what is on offer from Omega Holidays, a company specialising in flights from local airports in the UK to destinations famed for the Aurora Borealis.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes to see people and places lighten up

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Radio Free Hebrides

From next Monday there's another way of listening in to material from the Hebrides - by podcast or app. An item from the Stornoway Gazette supplies the full details and if it whets your appetite, get equipped. Here's something that claims to be ground-breaking about an ultimate in sound- and air-waves.

Scottish Islands Explorer - keen to develop new technologies as well

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Seals on Sanday

Humans and seals have certain things in common - delight in having a nap, for instance. This image by the Sanday Ranger, Roderick Thorne, is a good introduction to the webcam that is sponsored on the Orkney island by NorthLink Ferries. Click on to observe and with an infra-red camera now in use, the longer hours of darkness may not prove to be an obstacle.

Scottish Islands Explorer - observes wherever possible

Monday, 28 October 2013

Wait for Wednesday

This Orkney seal pup has a compelling look and provided a BBC cameraman with many interesting shots. To see more click onto this item and then onto the Great British Year on BBC1 at 21.00 on Wednesday 30 October or a little later on iPlayer.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also enjoys receiving a seal of approval

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Light Awareness

The first day of Greenwich Mean Time for the Autumn and Winter of 2013 means that dusk comes earlier. Compensate for this by looking at Scotland Through Light, a gallery and blog by landscape photographer, Chris Thomson. Here is his image entitled Bass Rock Dusk, taken at Seacliffe, near North Berwick, with his Mamiya 645 camera on Fuji Velvia 50 film. It was short-listed  for the Scotland Nature Photography Award 2011.

Scottish Islands Explorer - with images that attract explorers

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Two Birds on Hand

This photograph by Shetland Nature Wildlife tour guide, Brydon Thomason, was taken on Wednesday and is of the Cape May Warbler. It had been spotted in a sycamore tree in the garden of The Manse, Baltasound, Unst. Prospective observers of the diminutive green bird from America appeared - for only the second sighting of the creature in Europe. Another bird had a group of Yorkshire enthusiasts in pursuit. It was the Siberian Rubythroat making its tenth appearance in the UK and fifth on Fair Isle. Full accounts and a video are available at Shetland News. Get going!

Scottish Islands Explorer - some past editions are sought by collectors

Friday, 25 October 2013

Pumped and Primed

Your journeys to and from South Lochs and onto the Pairc, in Lewis, will be without that anxiety of whether there is sufficient in your tank. The fuel tank and pump at the Ravenspoint Centre are now available for 24-hours a day, with credit card facilities, and they have been officially opened. Pictured to the left is John Randall, Co-Chomunn na Pairc (Pairc Community Co-operative) Chairman and regular contributor to Scottish Islands Explorer; and to the right is Alasdair Allan, Member of the Scottish Parliament. Take a look for yourself via the video and sound clips of a Stornoway Gazette item. Vehicles first appeared in the area over a hundred years ago; metalled roads have been appearing ever since; now all that's needed is a garage with MoT equipment and a showroom!

Scottish Islands Explorer - Ravenspoint fuels elements of the magazine

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Be Transported

With the expansive sky-, sea- and landscape image of Luskentyre and North Harris by Peter Leeming and the intricate detail of the blackhouse window by Ruth Fairbrother, we are transported through their photography to the Outer Hebrides.

If you can transport yourself to Northallerton for their exhibition of Photographic Impressions of the English Lakes  - There whispers still ... - then you are in for a visual treat. It opens tomorrow, Friday 25 October, and continues until Saturday 23 November.

Scottish Islands Explorer -  inspired by panoramas and the prospect of security

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Oyster Opens Up ...

Tidal power, in the form of the Oyster device, is causing a stir on Orkney, in manufacturing industries, the power market and among job-seekers. It's catching on, having caught the imagination of people wanting  to harness energy off-shore. See what the BBC website item has to say.

Scottish Islands Explorer - powered by ideas

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Epic Endurance

This is not an image of a man who has missed an island boat. It is of Sean Conway who looks forward to becoming the first man to have completed the swim from Lands End to John O'Groats. He has chosen the west coast route and is currently near Handa Island (below).

He set off on 30 June and anticipates finishing this epic journey before the end of the month and before winter gales strike the Pentland Firth. The photograph below shows Sean in front of an islet in waters reminiscent of the Hebrides ... in the Summer.

Scottish Islands Explorer - in awe

Monday, 21 October 2013

Mapping Matters

As time has gone by by the Orkney authorities have become aware of their responsibilities for archaeological and marine sites. The latter deteriorate quicker and so the need for a full survey and finer detailed mapping has become apparent. Matters are in hand in relation to Scapa Flow, according to this item in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - already mapped out for 2014

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Hansel ... with Haste

'Hansel' is now an archaic or dialect word in Britain. The Old English handselen means delivery into the hand; the Old Norse handsal refers to a promise sealed with a handshake. The Shetland dialect use focuses on a gift to bring good fortune at a birth or the beginning of a new venture. A film, Reels on Wheels, made last year and screened for the first time last month is featured in this Shetland News item which supplies a link to how the 84-minute production may be viewed online now. However, you need to haste to Hansel, as this opportunity ceases at 08.00 on Monday 21 October. So here is your 24-hour window of opportunity to receive something very different at the start of a new venture.

Scottish Islands Explorer - presents windows on the west and north

Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Last Voice of St Kilda

We carried an obituary of Norman John Gillies, the last man to be born on St Kilda, earlier in the month. However, the account of his life and times which appears in the current edition of The Economist is so well written that clicking onto it is highly recommended. It ends with the words, 'And so St Kilda, hearth and home, disappeared into the grey Atlantic swell.' They describe an old woman waving to the island 'as though to a living person' at the Evacuation in 1930. In the same way, we wave farewell to this man and his memories.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of the needs of succeeding generations

Friday, 18 October 2013

Land Beneath the Waves

Here's an interesting one. Tiree looks good, especially in its empty quarter (above). However it is not (and looks as such) a broadband hub and connections can be slow. For some reason, Land Beneath the Waves - Tech Tiree Wave attracts enthusiasts (below) to the island and the next meeting is on Friday 8 November. It's described in The Oban Times as 'a shelter from the busy outside world' but then surely internet enthusiasts are setting the new agendas to create a world of busyness as well as business? To follow this convoluted matter, keep on coming back!

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes to be in the forefront, on the internet

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Beacons in the Far North

The councillors of Shetland have voted to award £250k to a university-based project to boost the creative industries in their locality. A report in Shetland News indicates something of how work, space, access and encouragement could well release considerable potential and create jobs in the future. Broadband has helped eliminate some of the constraints of working from a distance. There's much to harness by willing spirits and constructive attitudes. The Mareel in Lerwick (below) is an example of a large-scale construction that inspires creative endeavours.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of how working practices are changing

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Gaelic Signs

Road signs in Gaelic and English are increasing in numbers, although the number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland declined slightly between the census returns of 2001 and 2011. The provision of more Gaelic medium schooling has led to an increase in the number of young speakers of the language. An article in the West Highland Free Press supplies some insights.

Scottish Islands Explorer - is pleased to hear the language of the Outer Hebrides

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Home from Home for Some

The Sans Vitesse is an accommodation barge now moored at the Victoria Pier, Lerwick, in order to house workers on the Shetland Gas Plant. It's a place to live which, at least, always gets a second look.

Scottish Islands Explorer - new cover's bright, but if only this had come along!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Islands by the Score

Henry Sotheran Ltd of 2 - 5 Sackville Street, Piccadilly, London, deals in rare books and fine prints, and has recently produced a catalogue, Islands By The Score, presenting the collection of Professor R J 'Sam' Berry, a contributor and subscriber to this magazine. It has been a great success and seen around 80% of contents sold. However, do take a look at what was (and is) on offer by contacting Chris Saunders and ask him to send you a digital edition of the catalogue. Do mention this blog. You will be impressed by the variety of books and the ways they are featured.

Scottish Islands Explorer - will point out both islands and havens for their books

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Flannans Featured

The Basement Geographer refers to 'Scattershot Slices of the World' and provides interesting reading as well as effective links. Take a long look at its coverage of the Flannan Isles - with the lighthouse, chapel plus ways and means of getting from the tricky landing sites to the top with panoramic views. The disappearance of its 'keepers is featured in depth.

Scottish Islands Explorer - pleased that a Flannan blog item is incorporated

Saturday, 12 October 2013

A Loom Boom

There's a boom ahead when the Shawbost Mill, in Lewis, of Harris Tweed Hebrides invests in new looms and equipment for production purposes. IT and international marketing will also be enhanced to give this traditional cloth a new dynamic.

Scottish Islands Explorer - will be carrying an item on Harris Tweed in December

Friday, 11 October 2013

One Evening Advantage

The evenings are drawing in and the Indian Summer, enjoyed through much of the UK, has to end. However, there are compensations - and Shetland News supplies one of them with an item on the Aurora Borealis. The 'Mirrie Dancers' - photographed here late on Tuesday last - lighten the prospect of seasonal changes.

Scottish Islands Explorer -  ready to appear early next week

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Looks Large

The Small Isles include the largest of houses, on Rum, and the impressive summit of Eigg, above. They are well worth seeing ... in a BBC programme presented by Paul Murton with an appropriate title, Small is Beautiful.

Scottish Islands Explorer - for all island matters, great and small

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

83 Years On

83 years after leaving St Kilda, Norman Gillies has died in Cambridge, aged 88. He was the oldest native male resident of that island group. The details of his life and times have been in the national newspapers this week and last and this BBC item records some of his memories. He lived in a house, appropriately named St Kilda, with his wife, Ivy, near Ipswich.

Scottish Islands Explorer - often features his island home

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

More Mackerel

Scientific research reports an increase in mackerel stock in the north-east Atlantic and so there is likely to be an increase in the quotas for fishermen. The details are to be found in a BBC item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - welcomes more fish in the sea

Monday, 7 October 2013

An Outpost

There's danger throughout the landing places for the more remote Scottish islands, but there's something about Hyskeir, beyond the Small Isles, that repels rather than attracts. However, the account by Marc Calhoun of the existing lighthouse and its former installations shows that he came to terms with the place and explored its component islets thoroughly. The vessel in the distance, moored off Hyskeir, is the Hjalmar Bjorge of Northern Light Charters - which undertook two trips during 2013 to the Lighthouses of the Western Isles.

Scottish Islands Explorer - makes light of lighthouse tours

Sunday, 6 October 2013

For Warmer Waters

The MV Muirneag has been a customary sight conveying freight on the Ullapool - Stornoway crossing since 2002. Now she has been sold to a Turkish company, has left Stornoway for the last time and will undoubtedly now be spotted in the  Mediterranean rather than The Minch. A compilation of the ship's routes since the vessel was built in 1979 is featured in a Stornoway Gazette item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - remains on the Isle of Lewis

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Rainbows All Round

Consider the different lifestyles on Scalpay between the present day when funding to assist the prospective buyout is supplied from tranches of cash, as indicated by this item on the BBC website, and the former days when Mrs Christine Morrison was bringing home ... whatever ... in a basket.

Scottish Islands Explorer - alert to the past; preferences for the present

Friday, 4 October 2013

Be Independent

This is a welcome sight for walkers who have climbed to a summit from Urgha, on the Tarbert to Scalpay road, and are about to begin the descent, via a zig-zag path, to Rhenigidale. The trek is described in detail by Mark Rowe in the newspaper feature, Walk of the Month, published recently in The Independent. Many of those who take this route, called The Postman's Path, will stay at the Gatliff Hostel in the small settlement where the footpath ends and a metalled road begins. This crofthouse has provided simple accommodation for 50 years, having been the product of endeavours by the late Herbert Gatliff.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of the contributions of many to the islands

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Insular & Urban

Moncrieffe Island is deep in the heart of ... Perth. There are few settlements on both insular and urban land, although most of the activity here is on the allotments for which there is, as you can imagine, a waiting list. Take a colourful trip around some of them with this YouTube clip - possibly skipping the attention-seeking advertisements to get to the tranquil plots.

Scottish Islands Explorer - pleased to be growing interest

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Bee Sanctuary

Bees are having a bad time in Britain - with environmental threats to their welfare. The Great Yellow Bumblebee thrived at one time on the machair and coastal areas of Scotland. Even these havens are no longer as secure. Read , in the Stornoway Gazette, an item on the efforts of Harris resident, David Jones, to create the right conditions for these relatively rare creatures on his croft at Northton.

Scottish Islands Explorer - rare in some parts of Britain

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Worth Catching

The BBC Alba programme From Harris With Love is well worth catching on iPlayer. It focuses on the lives and work of several residents, including Angus Campbell of Kilda Cruises and Kate Langley who runs the Community Centre in Tarbert and is the warden of the Gatliff Hostel in her home village, Rhenigidale.

Scottish Islands Explorer - back issues of the magazine are also available