January is an excellent month for taking stock and making plans. Setting aside some quiet time to consider the good, bad and the ugly of the year before, while reflecting on how to avoid the pitfalls of the past means that the new year really can be “just like starting over” as a great, (bearded) legend once sang.
2017 was certainly a great year for our magazine: we had fun putting every single issue together and we were thrilled to scoop our national award at the end of the year. We’re working really hard to make Shetland Life even better, so you’ll see a few changes coming soon. Please don’t forget to keep in touch and tell us what you think.
Anyway, welcome to our first issue of this year. We have a special Up-Helly-A’ theme, featuring an interview with Lerwick Guizer Jarl Stewart Jamieson and his family, recollections of country Up- Helly-A’s from Marsali Taylor, a beautifully evocative piece of writing from poet James Sinclair, and vintage photography from Dennis Coutts. We hope you like our stunning front cover, courtesy of the talented illustrator Alexa Fitzgibbon.
Some extensive research conducted in the latter half of 2017 revealed that, for a sizeable part of Shetland’s population, the best thing about Up-Helly-A’ is not the sight of the galley burning or the long night of revelry which follows. No, it is the prevalence of the many magnificent beards, which light up the dark days and bring warmth to the coldest part of the year. That’s why the Shetland Life team has been working tirelessly to bring you a selection of some of this island’s hirsute hunks. Whatever your facial hair preference, I think you’ll enjoy our beard feature on page 12. If you’re new to beard-growing, we also have some beard maintenance tips, kindly provided by local barbers, Just Gents.
Another plus point about this month is the numerous opportunities it affords for us to get together and enjoy some of Shetland’s finest musical talent. A Winter Shetland Showcase promises to be a brilliant night of acoustic performances, and there will also be a great programme of musical entertainment at this year’s Fiery Sessions. Read more about both events on pages 16-18.
A classic New Year’s Resolution is to cut down on alcohol consumption. If the thought of going cold turkey fills you with dread, but If you’ve had a bit too much in the way of port and whisky recently, you may wish to start the year in a more Viking spirit, with a glass (or even a drinking horn) of mead. Find out more about Alex Garrick-Wright’s visit to Viking Mead in Scalloway on page 8.
We have plenty more to inspire, inform and delight. From Cooking Challenge finalist Karen Malone’s locally sourced vegan recipes to Richard Shucksmith’s underwater photography tips and COPE’s advice on new year gardening, this issue will get your year into gear.
For those of you who have included health and fitness goals in your list of New Year’s resolutions, don’t miss our special sport-themed issue which is coming up in February and which promises to be full of motivational stories and tips. See you then!