Sunday, 31 December 2017

Years Gone By

Go to the westerly extremes of Lewis and Harris and you will find yourself, probably alone, at the former settlement of Kinlochresort. Something of its past was recalled in 1950 by the Revd Col Alexander J Mackenzie, an Army Chaplain, when he reflected on his life which started there in 1887. Hebridean Connections contains his words and is illustrated by photographs of this, the remotest of places. The image above was taken by Julian Paren in 1964. That's some 54 years ago compared with the 63 years of Mackenzie's memories.

Scottish Islands Explorer - reflects six times a year
Digital Edition: reflected to your device through the internet

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Cross a Bridge to Canna

Here is the bridge which links the Small Isles of Canna and Sanday. These islands have not been successful in attracting residents and the National Trust for Scotland has passed the responsibility to the 15 people who live there. So are you prepared to cross the metaphorical bridge and move from mainland life to island existence? Read more in The Guardian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has often featured both Canna and Sanday
Digital Edition: always ready to create the bridge to subscribers.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Ulva Issues

Sheltered waters or ready for turmoil on Ulva. A Financial Times article takes a look at the ownership issues on an island that's for sale where, in under 200 years, the population has declined from over 600 to six. Go back to the blog of 2 August 2014 when the hostel at Ardalum House was open and you could pay for a bed and, if required, access to a well-stocked freezer. 

Scottish Islands Explorer - also for sale, but by way of individual copies
Digital Edition: grown from a single user to over a thousand

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Birds on Atlantic Shores

The Editors of the Berlin-based Hidden Europe, Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries, have been staying on Barra during the festivities. They filed a report which I have called Birds of a Feather which considers a variety of species to be found along the Atlantic shorelines. The photograph is of a St Kilda Wren and comes from an organisation creating interesting voyages in these waters and to a significant number of islands, Northern Light Cruising Company.

Scottish Islands Explorer - brings islands to the surface for discovery
Digital Edition: available through the five continents and oceans

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

No Pupil is an Island

An article in The Economist draws attention to e-Sgoil (e-School in Gaelic) and how it can provide tuition to schools that are both remote and insular. The consequences are significant, although the school above at Sanday on the Small Isles has just run out of pupils.

Scottish Islands Explorer - owes much to the internet
Digital Edition: is an integral part of it

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

All-Year Sale

Time to push the boat out - from Norwick, Unst - and secure something in the Sales which now make a customary start on Boxing Day? The purchase of the Digital Edition of Scottish Islands Explorer remains at an All-Year bargain price of £9.99. It also helps a good cause, the magazine's revenue. Thanks for considering the purchase.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a sense of present ... and past
Digital Edition: a copy with you within seconds

Monday, 25 December 2017

Six Years On

Here is the entry from the blog of six years ago: 'The residents of Foula, the most remote island in the Shetland group, have since 1752 traditionally adhered to the Julian Calendar when it comes to Christmas Day and New Year's DayFoula also adhered to the older calendar by keeping 1800 as a leap year, but did not observe a leap year in 1900. As a result, the island is now one day ahead of the Julian calendar and twelve days behind the Gregorian, observing Christmas Day on 6 January Gregorian and New Year on 13 January Gregorian. At one time the Foula Post Office made a token opening for business on Christmas Day morning.  A similar resistance to the date change brought in 260 years ago is shown by the 200 or so residents of the Gwaun Valley in West Wales.'

Scottish Islands Explorer - 36 editions later
Digital Edition: a comparative new-comer

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Poetic Inspiration

Imagine living in this house overlooking a tombola. Being almost cut off could be inspirational. The image features in the Poem Blog which focuses on Mountains and Sunsets. Take them in through words and pictures.

Scottish Islands Explorer - rocks and shores are the basic ingredients
Digital Edition: the internet will focus the publication direct to your device

Saturday, 23 December 2017

An Accommodating Venture?

There were reports during the Summer of insufficient accommodation available on the Isle of Skye. Now this former care home, Coillore Farmhouse, Struan, is on the market for offers over £350k. Ten bedrooms and a self-contained apartment are included. Would it make an attractive holiday destination? Click onto SPC Scotland for details.

Scottish Islands Explorer - often provides ideas for the venturous
Digital Edition: why not try this venture for just £9.99 a year?

Friday, 22 December 2017

A Romantic Blackhouse

If you are thinking about different ways to spend the festive season, then staying on the coast of a Scottish island requires certain features. The house needs to be 'eco' and cosy, well-equipped, have wifi, be accessible, with supplies available not far away, have views and be inviting. When the attractive specifications for Grandfather's House at Northton, South Harris, are studied, it is easy to realise how the builders of the original blackhouse would now be bemused. The realistic and down-to-earth approach of those distant days contrasts with the romantic and luxurious appeal of today.

Scottish Islands Explorer - brings island attractions into your home
Digital Edition: one-off or one-year of issues

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Compare and Contrast

Svalbard or Spitsbergen was featured here yesterday. Visitors to the blog were invited to consider the Expeditionary Voyage taking place there next July. Today is the shortest day of the year and the name of the administrative centre of Svalbard is at the other extreme, Longyearbyen. It developed as a company town and some of its houses (above) were given corporate, bright colours. Tobermory has a similar corporate background and, coincidentally, the island of Mull has an identical population to that of Svalbard, at 2667. However, the former has a land mass of 338 square miles contrasting with the latter's 23,561. Some difference of population density.

Scottish Islands Explorer - relishes places to compare and contrast
Digital Edition: available on the shortest and longest of days and nights

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

High Arctic Adventure

 Here is one of those rare opportunities - to voyage in the High Arctic and to explore the wilderness of Svalbard in the company of experienced guides on the ideally-equipped MV Havsel. It is a privately-chartered, tailor-made expedition taking place in the last two full weeks of July 2018. Take your first exploratory action with a finger-movement on the keys by clicking for full details here. There are just four places left and so, at least, quickly make the initial move! 

Scottish Islands Explorer - suggesting you explore the really Far North
Digital Edition: guaranteed to get you there, to the magazine, fast

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Crowlin and Longay

When a lone kayaker broke a paddle while on the waters north of Skye at the weekend, he required lifeboat attention. His whereabouts brought the rarely-mentioned islands of Crowlin and Longay into the news, on the BBC website. The former had a population as high as 40 in the 19th Century, but has been depopulated virtually ever since. The latter was covered with trees of the Caledonian Forest which gave cover to pirate activity. However, permanent residents were unknown.

Scottish Islands Explorer - the latest edition now reaching subscribers
Digital Edition: ready to reach prospective subscribers at any time 

Monday, 18 December 2017

An Ever Ready Present

The January / February 2018 edition is currently being shipped to subscribers - and not by Viking longship - although postal delays are inevitable. Copies are safely shelved in the shops on this, the 18 December, the launch day. However, the Digital Edition will arrive as and when required. It's ever ready to go. Visit the PocketMags page featuring Scottish Islands Explorer and, if it's to be a present for someone, click on the words in orange 'Is this a Gift?' Payment - from £1.99 to £9.99 - will be requested before you give details of the recipient's name and email address.

Scottish Islands Explorer - will take you places to be enjoyed
Digital Edition: will take you to present-buying opportunities

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Hart First; Orkney Next

According to a Halifax Building Society survey, the best place to live in the UK is considered to be Hart, in Hampshire. Then comes Orkney. The image, here, of Stromness certainly does show appeal. Look into the BBC website to see the top ten.

Scottish Islands Explorer - how does it compare with other magazines?
Digital Edition: will take you there from wherever you wish

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Caithness for Shetland?

That horizon beyond Gills Bay, Caithness, could herald a new hub - for Shetland as well as its existing links to Orkney. Pentland Ferries are considering, as a commercial venture, operating a summer only service to Lerwick. It would take some six-and-a-half hours, but would be shorter than the journey from Aberdeen by NorthLink. Passengers would then also have the scenic stimuli of the road and rail routes north of Inverness. Read in Shetland News about the ideas that are being floated. The photograph below comes from a SmugMug gallery from an interesting community.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tends to look both north and west
Digital Edition: goes everywhere without hesitation or deviation

Friday, 15 December 2017

From Sky to Skye

Geologists have been studying the impact of a meteorite that smashed into Skye some 60 million years ago. In order to find the evidence they had to wade thigh-deep through a peatbog. Some of the details of their discoveries are on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to make an impact every eight weeks
Digital Edition: beats meteorites for speed and makes soft landings

Thursday, 14 December 2017

New Life in Old Manse?

The Old Manse dates from the late 1600s, is reputedly the oldest inhabited house in Lerwick, has six bedrooms, a double garage, mature garden, is right on the shore and has a guide price of under £400k. If the prospect of a new life in Shetland appeals, take a further look here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes to speculate about property
Digital Edition: takes you places regardless of location

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

IBT Books Free Postage

Here's an offer from the Islands Book Trust relating to free delivery on orders up until a week today. Time to take advantage?

Scottish Islands Explorer - delivery factored in
Digital Edition: comes at speed with pin-point direction

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Present Time

Enjoy the photography of Karen Thorburn that features as the centrefold of the new edition of Scottish Islands Explorer. Go a stage further, if you are already a digital subscriber, and use the new Digital Edition App to purchase presents of the magazine for family and friends. It's a snip (with many snaps) at under a tenner for a year. If not already a subscriber, then access below.

Scottish Islands Explorer - keen to be known
Digital Edition: the place to get started

Monday, 11 December 2017

Be Ahead

The Skidbladner is a replica Viking longship to be found at Haroldswick, Unst, Shetland - which is at the head of the country, with just three miles or so beyond to Muckle Flugga. It features on the cover of the new edition of Scottish Islands Explorer which will be in the shops a week today, on subscribers' doormats by the end of the week, but available as a Digital Edition now. Take a look and, perhaps, make a purchase.

Scottish Islands Explorer - like the longship, travels far
Digital Edition: like the longship, launched early

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Leverburgh Lifeboats

Leverburgh's old-style Mersey-class lifeboat will be replaced in the Spring of 2018 by a Shannon-class vessel currently being built at Poole, Dorset. It is powered by waterjets rather than propellers, having the flexibility of speed and shallow-water working. This makes the craft ideal for operating out of the Sound of Harris and around its distinctive coastlines. Full details are in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - rescues some readers' interests regularly
Digital Edition: operates speedily in virtually all conditions

Saturday, 9 December 2017

A Full-Day Single

The empty, secure and peaceful-looking elevated road, high above Stromness, Orkney, must have been a welcome sight for some passengers on the MV Hamnavoe which had docked at the pier yesterday morning soon after 09.00. Their arduous journey from Scrabster had started almost 24 hours earlier and involved a long extension of the usual 90-minute crossing and an overnight stay in the sheltered waters of Scapa Flow. It was a 'day single' to which many will not wish to return. Of the 750 visitors to this blog, some 600 clicked onto the item for further details,  such was the interest, sympathy and, in some cases, empathy with the passengers.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a safe way to experience the islands vicariously
Digital Edition: calmly rides the airwaves to reach you

Friday, 8 December 2017

'Not the Best Day to Sail'

Ian Fraser commented on Twitter that this was 'not the best day to sail.' His understatement is backed by the quiet tone of the report in The Orcadian. Here was a 90-minute ferry-journey that started yesterday morning at 10.05 in Scrabster, Caithness, and which will possibly end at Stromness, Orkney, within 24 hours. However, it's likely to be longer with all dependent on the winds.

Scottish Islands Explorer - not accustomed to delays
Digital Edition: internet assisted, seldom obstructed

Thursday, 7 December 2017

4G Rolls On

Earlier this week the prospective closure of the branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland at Castlebay, Barra, was announced. The ATM will be retained to dispense cash at all times. One reason given for the change is the popularity of internet banking. Yesterday the Stornoway Gazette featured an item on the ways in which 4G mobile network coverage has been rolled out over many parts of the Highlands & Islands and how more hubs will be added. So it's a matter, perhaps, of being 'cut off' in one sense and 'included' in another.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of what technology offers
Digital Edition: puts it into practice

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Caution About Caroline

The number of personnel on the Ninian South Platform, to the east of Shetland, is around 160. Some 70 of them are being helicoptered off as a precaution concerning the arrival of Storm Caroline tomorrow. So some huge seas could be experienced by the remaining 90. It's intriguing to see these figures in relative terms - for the population of Coll is about 164, but these residents live on 7,685 acres of land. Some difference. However, read more about the imminent threat to the platform, on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - subscriber distribution is also different
Digital Edition: operates above and through storms

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Love Scottish Islands

The Stones of Callanish, Isle of Lewis, and many other interesting features around the Scottish islands are likely to be promoted by Lee Allen through his fascinating website Love Scottish Islands. Take time to visit and sign up for in-depth recommendations.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looks from heights as well as being down-to-earth
Digital Edition: all conducted through the internet

Monday, 4 December 2017

Cava Caveat

There is a lighthouse on Cava in the Orkney group, but no houses fit for habitation. The recorded population fell to two in the 1991 Census, but in the new millennium reverted to its 1961 level of none. However, read the item by Amy Liptrot on uninhabited islands in the Orkney archipelago. You will soon be in the picture about the ways of depopulation.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes to see records of habitation
Digital Edition: would like many island inhabitants to log on at next-to-nothing

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Forecasts in Detail

A new radar station on the Isle of Lewis can detect the size of snowflakes and raindrops according to the BBC website. For further details of the installation, go to the Stornoway Gazette. Here is an explanation of why the crow is more significant in this location than the robin.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to get under the radar with some of its items
Digital Edition: on very much the same frequency

Saturday, 2 December 2017

No Bank Branch on Barra?

Things certainly look quiet at the Royal Bank of Scotland branch in Castlebay, Barra. There are around 1100 residents on the island and, apparently, they do not bring sufficient business - so the building could be replaced by a visiting mobile bank. The growing popularity of internet banking linked with ATMs (automated teller machines) is an international trend and there are many people throughout Brtiain who, despite having many choices, never set foot in a bank branch. However, the announcement of possible closure may lead to a surge of use here. Read more on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - closure not imminent
Digital Edition: attracting new readers worldwide

Friday, 1 December 2017

Moving up the Scales

Peter Fletcher, from Nottingham, selected the old fish processing factory at Kirkibost, Great Bernera, Lewis, for his state-of-the-art music recording studio. It officially opened two days ago and hopes to attract professional and gifted musicians as well as some create employment for those wanting to learn about the techniques of  capturing sound. The details of Black Bay Studio are in the Press and Journal.

Scottish Islands Explorer - loves new ventures, especially on coastal sites
Digital Edition: aware of the latest technologies