Saturday, 31 December 2016

Time to Consider

The geography of this Posterlounge photograph is clear - Gada's Stack, Foula, in the foreground with the Noup looking as though it's a volcano in the distance. Chronology on the Shetland island is far from clear. In 1752, Britain adopted the Gregorian calendar. The Foula landlord decided differently and stuck with the Julian calendar. That put them at odds. However, although residents observed the leap year in 1800, they failed to do so in 1900. This omission put them out-of-kilter with the rest of the world, both the Gregorians and the Julians - with Christmas Day on 6 January and New Year's Day on 13 January. So do not worry about having that added second tonight at the end of 23.59 - it's nothing compared with the 'Foula Gap'.

Scottish Islands Explorer - plans to be on time throughout 2017
Digital Edition: split-second timing here

Friday, 30 December 2016

Food Miles to Smiles

Here is a part of Pierowall, Westray, Orkney where, in the settlement, a plot of land will be purchased to provide the base for a community cultivation initiative. It is to be underwritten by the Scottish Land Fund. Read on in The Orcadian about how the project aims to save 'food miles' and to create 'food smiles'.

Scottish Islands Explorer - miles reduced within each copy
Digital Edition: delivered in thousands of miles per second

Thursday, 29 December 2016

A Friday Census

Counting birds on and off St Kilda proposes a challenge, while the registering of children at the island-school was a daily occurrence. However, back in June 1764, someone chose the third of five Fridays in that month, the 15th, to conduct a census of islanders. Recently in the National Register of Archives for Scotland a researcher came across, while cataloguing, the findings of that day, 252 years ago, when 90 people were listed. Read on the BBC website about this remarkable discovery of what is now the oldest record of residents of Hirta, the island in the archipelago on which St Kildans lived and counted.

Scottish Islands Explorer - is counted on to record discoveries
Digital Edition: relays them directly worldwide

Wednesday, 28 December 2016


Boxing Day weather at Eshaness, Shetland, ranged from the vigorous to the violent. It was effectively captured by photographer, Ryan Sandison, whose work is featured on his website,

Scottish Islands Explorer - covers all conditions
Digital Edition: thwarted only by internet interruptions

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

From Lewis to Afghanistan

The Lewis-based charity, the Linda Norgrove Foundation Trust, is set to assist Afghan women who are would-be climbers. Take a look at the BBC website and at the image above of Mangersta from Lee Frost Photography.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes climbers
Digital Edition: just click and go

Monday, 26 December 2016

The Light Blue Book

It's getting brighter! Here is a press release from Luath Press about their forthcoming publication, An Leabhar Liath / The Light Blue Book - 500 years of Gaelic love poetry edited by Peter Mackay and Iain S Macpherson. It is a mixture of the gentle, erotic and bawdy from the age of Ossian to the present-day. Here, to conclude today's blog, is a Gaelic sentiment.

Scottish Islands Explorer - compiled with feeling
Digital Edition: dispatched with delight

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Brighter Times Ahead

Three images from Ruth Fairbrother Photography have seasonal appeal. The waves off Harris have that look of being stirred by Storm Barbara; the Sound of Silver, Iona, has that peaceful aftermath quality; the solo bird-flight over Iona will become multiplied and colourful in the days ahead. Go to Ruth's Gallery for a Christmas Day treat. Enjoy!

Scottish Islands Explorer - keen to promote seasonal varieties
Digital Edition: available for purchasing and  presenting today

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Still Time to Gift

There may only be hours left until the time of present-giving, but whether you are considering digital magazine versions of GQ, Vanity Fair, Wired or even, Scottish Islands Explorer, it's not too late. For a £9.99 present that stretches for a year into the future and which gives the full issue of Explorer plus links that are immediate, go to PocketMags and the option is yours.

Scottish Islands Explorer - now in its 18th year
Digital Edition: follow on as above

Friday, 23 December 2016

Two Separate Lots

Uachdar, Isle of Benbecula, and Gravir, South Lochs, Isle of Lewis, are many miles apart. However, properties in these places are for sale by auction hundreds of miles apart - the former in central London on Wednesday 1 February 2017 and the latter two days earlier in central Glasgow. Take a look at the four-bedroom residence above with a guide-price of £70k and the six-bedroom one in the area below with a guide-price of £99.95k.

Scottish Islands Explorer - copies on sale at present
Digital Edition: and copies at a discount price

Thursday, 22 December 2016

St Moluag's Staff

The late Alastair Livingstone of Bachuil, photographed by Julian Calder, holds St Moluag's Staff, a Christian relic dating from the 6th Century. It is part of the historical heritage of the island of Lismore. This month Iain Thornber has written about the safekeeping of the Staff in two newspapers. His regular column, Morvern Lines, in the Oban Times considers the matter in a fascinating historical perspective; his letter on the topic appears in the national daily, The Herald. Click on to the items, learn more and become concerned.

Scottish Islands Explorer - records island relics when required
Digital Edition: passes on knowledge with alacrity

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Time of Tension

There is sufficient tension at this time of year as the festive season looms. However, spare a thought for those travellers, keen to make it home to the islands for the holiday, confronted with the prospects of a battering by Storm Barbara and possible disruption to services on Friday and Saturday. The BBC website carries the news.

Scottish Islands Explorer - settled for the season
Digital Edition: disrupted by storms in the ether

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

A Fish Wish

It was almost 30 years ago - in 1987 - when 390,000 boxes of whitefish were set down and sold in Shetland. Since then supplies have dropped, but in 2016 the figure of 357,101 reflected the current abundant stocks. More was landed on the islands during the year than in England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined. Read about the marine cornucopia in Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - demand has led to lower stocks of the latest
Digital Edition: it's not possible to exhaust this supply

Monday, 19 December 2016

Beautiful Islands

The Stornoway Gazette runs a feature - 'Beautiful Islands' - and you are invited to submit your contributions. This image is by Eleanor Smith and captures the view of Lews Castle from the Marina in Stornoway Harbour on a frosty morning.

Scottish Islands Explorer - contains images galore
Digital Edition: take a look for a whole year for under a tenner

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Residence Rated

A Bank of Scotland survey has indicated that while Winchester is considered the 'best place to live' in the UK, Orkney takes the second slot and is regarded as the most favourable area in Scotland. Stromness is depicted above and an unnamed beach below, while the details of the survey are reported on the BBC Website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - its readers keep coming back ...
Digital Edition: ... and can do so here, right now!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

A Windfall Expected

Wind farms on Shetland - with this one at Burradale - are becoming more common. However, the community-backed one near Cullivoe, Yell, could well be special and bring 'wind-falls' of some £1 million for local projects. As was said, it 'breezed' through planning and has progressed well in the early stages of erection, benefiting from relatively fine weather. The turbines have to be up-and-running, generating income to pay off capital before local funds will be filling. It's all in Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aims to generate both income and interest
Digital Edition: turn pages on the new edition which turns heads

Friday, 16 December 2016

Making Waves

Some large waves are there to be seen and to create awe as well as fear. Some just come and go, usually undetected in mid-ocean. However, a buoy off the Outer Hebrides recorded the highest wave of its sort - at over 62'. Others have been higher and the updated compilation of information is on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - detected in shops, retail outlets and mail deliveries
Digital Edition: quietly makes its way through internet wavelengths

Thursday, 15 December 2016

The First of 2017

The January / February 2017 edition of Scottish Islands Explorer has been published, is on its way to subscribers as well as to the shops and will be available on-line from tomorrow, Friday 16 December. An Atlantic Grey Seal gives you a welcoming gesture for the New Year.

Scottish Islands Explorer - contents are on the Latest Issue menu
Digital Edition: ready from tomorrow

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Skerries Air Ferries

In recent years, Shetland's Out Skerries has had its tiny secondary school closed, its primary school mothballed and its air service to Tingwall suspended. The educational changes involved a lack of pupils; the loss of aircraft was owing to insufficient volunteers as airstrip firefighters. Now eight people have come forward for training and flights will be resumed at a future date. Read the item in Shetland News and consider, when possible, flying in. It is one of the world's shortest runways for commercial use.

Scottish Islands Explorer - never short of material, always 52-pages
Digital Edition: takes off to you quickly and lands in seconds

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Jaw-dropping Tonight

The red flags on The Cairns archaeological excavation site, South Ronaldsay, Orkney, should act as markers for tonight's television audience on BBC Four. The programme, Digging for Britain, is being screened at 21.00 and features the discovery here of a human jaw-bone from the Iron Age. Read a little more in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - discoveries also to be made in this publication
Digital Edition: of the Internet Age

Monday, 12 December 2016

New Skye Township

You may consider that each Monday marks a new start in life and the road to Tarskavaig on the Sleat peninsula in the Isle of Skye could feature in this concept. A new township in being created at Gillean with the encouragement of the Clan Donald Lands Trust. Read about the proposals in the West Highland Free Press and view some images by the agents, Bidwells.

Scottish Islands Explorer - make a new beginning with a subscription
Digital Edition: or just click on to belong

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Two and Ten

Here are two views of Shetland - a coastal walk near Scalloway and a group of sea stacks. For ten views from Shetland, take a look at a compendium of blogs that can be accessed here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - supplies numerous views ...
Digital Edition: ... downloaded in seconds

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Life Before Death

The kirk on Graemsay (population 23) has had its day as a place of worship, although now it is used as a barn and the churchyard remains open. Many aspects of life on the small Orkney island flourish including the items and images in the blog of Sian Thomas which is always worth visiting.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also attracts visitors
Digital Edition: the new one will be launched next week

Friday, 9 December 2016

Homes at Horgabost

Here are three of the six houses built at Horgabost, South Harris; here is one of the views from them; and here is an account of how the first to be occupied becomes a home.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a magazine that can be displayed in any home
Digital Edition: how traditional publications have a modern presentation

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Waterfalls and Stills

 Water flows and falls on the Isle of Raasay and will soon be part of the process of making whisky there. The news of the stills arriving for the new distillery on the island is featured in the West Highland Free Press.

R&B - Handcrafted Whiskies of Uncommon Provenance - will be producing and welcoming visitors to their distillery and centre at Borodale House, an impressive residence which was designed by Alexander Ross in 1877 as a factor's house and which became the Isle of Raasay Hotel until its closure around ten years ago.

Scottish Islands Explorer - keeps on producing vintage material
Digital Edition: brings new life into an older product

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Declining Populations

Birds may be hovering over the St Kilda archipelago in this image, but their populations are declining and the one kittiwake chick that hatched this year has died. Read how this phenomenon is occurring - on the BBC website. It mirrors the figures for human inhabitants on Hirta, the main island in the group, in the first third of the 20th Century. For a vivid film produced by the National Trust for Scotland go to Facing the Change. See how you can help by clicking on here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - sales are steady
Digital Edition: figures are beginning to fly

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Air An Lot

There are opportunities to watch two television programmes from the BBC where the topic of Air An Lot / On the Croft is screened. There is a new series of episodes on BBC Alba in which the work of Donald MacSween at his croft at Ness, Isle of Lewis, is again featured. That begins on Monday 12 December. Then the BBC Scotland two-part documentary on Fair Isle concluded last night, including the effect that living and working on Barkland Croft has on newcomers, Shaun and Rachel. So that's where iPlayer comes in.

Scottish Islands Explorer - lives and works the life ... from a distance
Digital Edition: available even in remote crofts

Monday, 5 December 2016

Mission Remission

Looking for a gift and a discount? Then go to the website of The Mission House Studio, Finsbay, South Harris, and take a look at the photography of Beka Globe (above). Until Saturday 10 December there is a 50% discount on orders of £100 or over on her work. The key to this is MHXMAS16 entered at the checkout. Go on, at least look at her range of images. You have nothing to lose.

Scottish Islands Explorer - relishes and reproduces images of this quality
Digital Edition: always an acceptable gift at £9.99 for a year-long present

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Out of My Own Light

Louise Bichan is an Orcadian musician and photographer who has an interesting story to tell and a debut album to be played. An inspiration to her is the travelling to Canada undertaken in 1950 by her grandmother, the late Margaret Tait, when she was 25 years-old. Look at the fascinating compilation by Louise, Out of My Own Light, and download her album here. The time-frames and locations of the blog-items for yesterday and today are comparable.

Scottish Islands Explorer - musical accompaniment may well occur again ...
Digital Edition: ... through this version of the magazine

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Venus Peter

This poster, in French from 1990, advertises a British film, Venus Peter, that was directed by Ian Sellar a year earlier and which re-creates a world of childlike myth and fantasy set in Orkney in the 1950s. A Blu-ray version of the original will be released tomorrow by Panamint Cinema at £14.99.

Scottish Islands Explorer - realises the potential of an island-based childhood
Digital Edition: able to bring past editions to life

Friday, 2 December 2016

Islands - Vacated / For Sale

If you fancy making your way to the Holm of Grimbister, Orkney, your starting-point is here in yesterday's entry from Hidden Europe and, above, at the commencement of the causeway. The island (below) has been home to three people and is now up for sale. Click on to the notes of Editors, Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries, with their interesting detail about the Holm and other potential off-shore homes.

Scottish Islands Explorer - some explorers do settle down here
Digital Edition: however, they usually want to be on the internet

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Peat Means Heat

The centre of the crofthouse is often the hearth and the pile of peat outside is a sign of security, its height a marker of the passage of winter. A programme on this topic was on BBC Alba and screened three days ago.  Trusadh is available on iPlayer for the next 25 days. So be ready to watch it before Christmas Day! The photograph below is by Angus Mackintosh and clearly shows the herringbone pattern of a stack created at Ness, Isle of Lewis.

Scottish Islands Explorer - created naturally and radiates information
Digital Edition: material from the ancient past is broadcast by modern methods

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Open ... for Booking

Take a look below at the waters in front of Lews Castle, Stornoway, and reflect on the ways in which this grand and historic building has been recently-renovated to provide luxurious accommodation and first-rate facilities. The delight is in the details which are to be found through Natural Retreats. Here is a natural choice for a stay from Easter 2017 onwards and bookings can be made now.

Scottish Islands Explorer - what a base for exploring the Isle of Lewis
Digital Edition: another area where the 'now' word is applicable