Tuesday, August 31, 2010

OK...so I show up for work after a two week vacation and find....

...well I find that I work with a snarky bunch.  This is what greeted me at the door...

You'd think I was gone for a year!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The last days in Shetland and Scotland

Our last day in Shetland was the coldest of the trip.  The wind was blowing so hard and the rain was absolutely horizontal at times.  We packed our bags, boarded the bus and drove south towards Sumburgh Head.  Along the way, we saw several brochs which are the ancient remains of old dwellings of the Pictish people who inhabited the island. 

We were treated to gorgeous sea scapes along the way...

And yet another broch ...

Sumburgh Head was gorgeous but freezing cold.  The wind was blowing so hard it was hard to walk. 

Unfortunately, all the puffins had left for the winter so we didn't see any nesting...

Another interesting thing about Sumburgh Head; to get there you have to drive across the airport runway.  They have special lights when a plane is coming in or taking off that keeps traffic off the tarmac but, when there is no air traffic, then the cars just drive right across.

We drove back up to Lerwick to catch the ferry.  Because of the wind, the seas were really rough so we all went to bed pretty early.  Trudy and I did fine and did not get sick but there were some who were a bit queasy.

The very last day in Scotland was spent in Edinburgh.  We walked through a beautiful park on the other side of the castle.

The garden was beautifully manicured with a tribute to Girl Guiding done all in small plants and flowers

The castle from the north side...

I couldn't help myself.  I had to take a picture of a red phone booth!

The flight home was long and tedious with some difficulties but we arrived safely, albeit pretty tired.

We had a wonderful trip and have many wonderful memories as well as many new friends from all over the world.  It wouldn't have been as fun if my dear sister and travelling companion extraordinaire, Trudy, wasn't with me the whole way!

Love ya, sis!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Shetland; the rest of the story

Well, I've got my sleep all caught up and have the energy to finish the Shetland blog.

After our tour of Lerwick, we had some free time to do some shopping.  One of our first stops was the Shetland Soap Company.  The owner (I don't remember her name, unfortunately) was a wonderful and warm person who took us for a tour of her operations.  She hires local handicapped people to help and we had the pleasure to meet them.

Later in the day, we went to Jamison and Smith, the Shetland wool broker who also was the main sponsor of the UK Knit Camp.  It was a bit of a walk but there were some nice sights on the way, such as some very pretty window boxes:

Jamison & Smith's was a wonderful place and was choc-a-bloc full of fleeces.  The smell was a bit overpowering at first but it mellowed to a wonderful, rich aroma after a while.  Oliver Henry, talked about the fleeces and the wool.  He really knows his stuff!

The following day, we went to a working croft (farm) which specializes in the native breeds of the
Shetland Islands.  We saw Shetland sheep, cattle, ponies and chicken.  If memory serves me, there were even Shetland ducks!  My favorite though was the farm dog, Tess; a beautiful border collie that loved her job so much that everything was herded!  She had no toys and, since there isn't any stick (there aren't any trees on the Shetland islands) she would pull up a tuft of grass when she was feeling frisky and wanted to play.

A shetland pony

A very clever roof for an old shed, don't you think?

Miriam feeding the baby sheep

Miriam, Danielle and Jude

A beautiful coastline.....

Mary, the crofter, and her wonderful border collie, Tess.  Notice Mary's fair isle sweater.  She made it long ago but it is probably one of the most beautiful sweaters I've ever seen. 

The wheel house.  I don't remember how old it was but it was very small and dark inside

My wonderful sister, Trudy

A mother and her baby..

Danielle petting a pony

The Loch "Tess" Monster! 

Everyone throughly enjoyed visiting the farm.  I could have stayed all day but is was wet and cold and we were soaked through and through by the end of our visit.

The following day, we all loaded up on a bus and went to the northern most Shetland Island; Unst.  We had to take a ferry to the island of Yell and then another ferry to the island of Unst.  It was a foggy and damp day which limited our views but did give a sense of what the weather might be for most of the year.

A house in ruins along the way.  There are actually many, many stone house ruins everywhere on the island.  This was an unusually large house it seems.

At the northern most part of Yell, right at the ferry launch point is a small cafe.  It serves as the local community center and library as well.  It was such a cosy place and I love their logo.

Inside is a board where the local kids can document the wild life they've seen around the island.  Many whales were spotted but the funniest entry (not sure it shows up well in the photo) in the entry for July 30th: The sun!

There was also a quilt hanging in the cafe that details the life on the islands...

Most of the squares have either knitting, something knitted or sheep in them.


In the corner is a library with maybe 50 books, a pile of yarn and puzzles for anyone that is bored waiting for the ferry and in need of something to do.


An old boat turned into a xylophone.  Our bus driver, Damian, is playing it for us!

That evening we were back on the main island of Shetland and had dinner at a lovely place called Eshaness.  It sit's high on a hill top overlooking the sea.  The coastline is stunning; it looks very similar to the Oregon coast with sea stacks and cliffs looming high over the water.  It was still really foggy so the pictures don't show much of the rugged majesty along the sea shore but it lends a mysterious and romantic feeling to it.


On Thursday, our group split into two with one group taking a boat tour around the island of Noss and the other taking a lace knitting class at Jamison & Smith.  Trudy and I were in the group that went on the boat in the morning.  It was a tour of the seabirds and sea mammals and was amazing!

A seal

Martina and Gislind braving the elements on the boat

It's difficult to see in the picture but in the cliffs are thousands upon thousands of birds, called gannets, on the ledges of the cliff.  This is were they nest and have their young.  The air was filled with birds and also,  ahem....the smell of bird poop.  It was a literal rain storm of bird poop.

Gisland was crowned by the boat crew with the bird splat hat...

After viewing the cliffs the boat captain took us in a huge cave where he lowered a camera deep into the water to show the wild life in the deep.  There were several video displays on the boat by which we could watch the camera.  It's amazing how so many creatures survive in such a hostile and cold environment!

Well, I thought I could finish this tonight but it's really late.   So, until tomorrow folks!