All posts by Genevieve White

Starting over……

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 the new year can be “just like starting over”.

We have a special Up Helly A’ theme, featuring an interview with Lerwick Guizer Jarl Stewart Jamieson and his family and recollections of country Up Helly A’s too.

Starting over…….

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!

November’s issue out now!

This year’s Wordplay festival looks set to be one of the best yet. With a first-class guest list performing readings, panel discussions, children’s sessions and book signings along with several events for aspiring writers, it should be an invigorating few days. What a perfect way to lighten up what can otherwise be a dank and dreary month.

Although Wordplay may be our annual literary highlight, I think it’s fair to say that Shetland is a great place for lovers of literature to live, having year-round events for bookworms and budding writers.
Shetland Library plays a crucial role in helping to create a lively and lightsome culture around reading and books. It is a place very close to my heart. When my children were small, the library was our second home, and we were always given a warm welcome by the lovely members of staff (even being offered a lift to the Gilbert Bain when my son attempted some impromptu shelf-abseiling and split his ear open). When my toddlers were having a crabbit day, the promise of a trip to the library usually got them into a more reasonable frame of mind. Fast forward ten years, and it still has a second-home status, although the children like to make their own way there now…

Hopefully, our Shetland Library feature will give you a flavour of the warmth and liveliness of this very special place.

On arriving in Shetland, I was struck by how local writing talent was so well nurtured through writing groups and mentoring schemes. This supportive climate has allowed some exceptional talent to bloom. These islands have produced no shortage of writers, as a flick through this magazine will tell you: from the rapidly rising star of Malachy Tallack, to well-loved poets and novelists on the local literary scene, to up-and-coming writers such as Sally Huband (who speaks about her experience of winning a Scottish Book Trust New Writer award in this month’s magazine).

Of course, writing is just one type of craft at which Shetlanders do very well at. This being November (craft fair time) we have some crafty offerings of a different type too. If only the rules didn’t prevent me from entering this month’s competition! I will be seriously envious of anyone who wins the hamper of craft goodies we have up for grabs. Continuing the craft theme, we have the tracks of Wendy Inkster’s life, and a meet up with the maakers and yaakers of Anderson High school.

Of course, literature and knitting are by no means mutually exclusive, as the book Reflection apo hands so gracefully proves. It was a privilege to meet Laura Whittall and Ann Williamson to speak about the inspiration behind this project. As Ann pointed out, what could make a better stocking filler than this beautiful book? (Apart from the December Shetland Life that is).

There are loads of delights to look forward to this month: not just Wordplay, but ballet performances, theatre productions and so much more. Enjoy.

October’s issue: out on Friday the 7th!

With atmospheric conditions now at optimum level it is now time to start reading our supernatural themed issue – just in time for the lengthening nights of October and Halloween.

Local photographer Ivan Hawick is no stranger to spooky places. Autumn and winter nights often find him sitting alone in deserted spots around Shetland, patiently waiting for the perfect shot. Turn to page four for Ivan’s eerie photographs of haunted houses, and read the stories behind the images.

Readers of a nervous disposition would do very well to avoid Davy Cooper’s tale, “Lang lies Lowrie” on page seven. If, however, you enjoy the feeling of being terrified out of your wits, then go right ahead and read it. I challenge you to read a more gruesome story this month.

Social anthropologist Alexa Fitzgibbon has been studying local folklore since her arrival on these islands 11 years ago. Don’t miss her intriguing article, which thoughtfully explores the relationship between Shetland’s living and dead.

Regular contributor Alex Garrick-Wright has a keen interest in the supernatural. This issue, Alex looks into the events surrounding the Scalloway Witch Trials of 1616 and, in a separate feature, recounts some of the spooky Shetland stories collected by Victorian adventurer and artist John Thomas Reid.

The supernatural-fest continues, with tales gathered from around Shetland. With stunning photography by May Graham and illustrations by promising young artists Eilidh and Cailean Johnson, we think you’ll find this magazine scarily good.

September’s Shetland Life: out now!

This term looks set to be an exciting one for all of the staff and pupils at Anderson High School, as boxes are packed and plans made for the big move to the brand-new building at Staney Hill. It’s been interesting watching the school take shape so quickly over the last while and it will be great to see everyone settled in and enjoying their new space.

In order to commemorate this momentous move, we’ve decided to devote our September issue to education.
We get the ball rolling by meeting two Shetland teachers: one with a wealth of experience (the award-winning Irene Smith) and one new to teaching (the energetic Rhiannon Inkster). It was a privilege to speak to both of these women. Their dedication and enthusiasm to their work just shone through: with teachers like these, I’m beginning to see why my children have always seemed so excited about going to school every morning.

One of my favourite bits of this month was reading your recollections of school days: some amusing, some touching. Don’t forget to turn to page 10 to see what Christine de Luca, Jennifer Wadley and Charles Simpson (among others) have to say about their school days. The nostalgia fest continues in Dennis Coutts’ images of 1960s school days.
We all know that learning doesn’t stop at school though. Peter Tomlinson hears from two young people who are getting ready to fly the nest and study on the mainland, and we also hear inspirational success stories from local apprentices.

Jonathan Wills shares an amusing story of his part in a 1967 student demonstration and ex-teacher and writer Donald S Murray, who is currently touring schools on the mainland, shares the fruits of a recent creative collaboration.
All this and also the chance to find out about what the Taste of Shetland Food Festival has to offer, marvel at Richard Shucksmith’s tales and photographs of whale watching and delight in the winning entries to the Shetland Boat week competition.

Hope you enjoy the magazine and all the wonderful things on offer in Shetland this September.

July’s Shetland Life: out Friday the 7th!

Are you heading to UnstFest this month? If so, get set for a jam-packed few days. The programme looks incredible: with everything from Flamenco classes to guided walks, to clothes swaps and mystery tours there’s surely something for even the most jaded of festival goers. A copy of the Shetland Life makes for essential festival reading: in this issue you can find out about the island which (quite possibly) inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous novel, go behind the scenes at the UK’s most northerly tearoom and enjoy some nostalgic photographs of Unst (courtesy of Dennis Coutts).

There’s plenty of reasons to visit Yell this summer too. Apart from the obvious attractions such as West Sandwick and Breckon Beaches, Yell boats numerous cultural distractions such as The Shetland Gallery and The Old Haa museum and Heritage Centre. Now that recently opened diner L J’s is getting rave reviews, you’ll be able to factor a delicious meal into your trip too.

Although we could have found enough North Isles content to fill a year’s worth of magazines, you’ll find that other parts of Shetland are also well represented within our July issue. Look out for South Mainland legend Leonard Christie sharing the tracks of his life with Jeff Merrifield. We’re also hanging out in the Lerwick lanes with local artist Avril Thomson, spending time in the seas around Shetland (admiring jellyfish) with Richard Shucksmith and at the Hillswick Wildlife sanctuary with Katrina Williamson.

Wishing all of our readers a warm and wonderful July. Next month, we’ll be going full steam ahead for our special nautical issue.

Don’t miss it!

April’s issue: out now!

As this issue is sandwiched between two major musical events (namely the Schools’ music festival and the 37th Shetland Folk Festival) it seemed fitting to go for an all-out musical extravaganza. Whatever your musical taste, you’ll surely find something in here to make your heart sing.
This has been an easy issue to put together. Why? Well, Shetland is so ridiculously well-endowed with musical talent that you really don’t have to look very hard for interesting people and stories to feature.

So, what have we got for you this month? Chris Cope visits local music promoters Neil Riddell and Davie Gardener to find out just what this glamorous sounding job entails. Louise Johnson, Folk Festival Committee member, gives us a preview of what we can expect from this year’s Folk Festival. (Tip: it sounds stupendous – get these armbands right now if you haven’t already done so!) If you fancy winning a free Folk Festival pass, then turn straight to our competition page.

This month, you can dip into the quirky world of local band Big Time Quell, take a visual tour of Tommy Isbister’s fiddle workshop, and learn the intriguing story of Heavy Metal Buffet TV. We also go behind the scenes at the Shetland Community and Training Orchestra and hear about the BBC Ten Pieces Event from one of the young participants.

There are musical blasts from the past too – don’t miss John Coutts’ stunning musical images from the 1960s and check out our Life Story feature to hear from two local legends.

Music is the food of love, but all the tunes in the world won’t fill an empty stomach, so if you’re feeling peckish head straight for our food column on page 28. Our distinguished guest this month is Bruce Gilardi from Walls Bakery, who has kindly shared a delicious recipe for rhubarb torte. If Bruce’s bread is anything to go by, this is going to be good.

Wishing all our readers a wonderful April filled with music and merriment. Next month we’ll be courting controversy with our “Issues issue”. Looking forward to it already! See you in May.

March’s issue: out now!

This month’s magazine celebrates getting out and about in Shetland. After the long months of winter inertia, comfort eating and early nights, it’s a great time of year for enjoying all the wonders on our doorstep.
In March’s Shetland Life, Alex Garrick-Wright visits Michaelswood to find out the story behind the most recent addition to this very special place (look out for Alexa Fitzgibbon’s gorgeous accompanying photographs too). Karen MacKelvie writes about the riches to be found in rockpools and we learn about the tracks of local writer and naturalist Jill Slee Blackadder’s life. Alistair Christie-Johnson shares his favourite Yell based walk and Douglas C. Smith reminisces about a snowy March over 60 years ago, along with the dare-devilish sledging opportunities it offered he and his friends.
As anyone will tell you, if you want to experience the great outdoors in Shetland, you’ll need to be dressed for it. Luckily, Louise Thomason is on hand with some advice to help you look good while staying warm and dry.
It’s all very well getting ourselves out of the house, but what about our children? There’s plenty of food for thought in Alex Garrick’s Wright article about young Shetlanders’ growing disconnect with nature (on page 14). I’ve had the chance to ponder this issue myself recently, as I’ve stood around on windy street corners watching my son catch Pokemon on his phone (there are loads outside da Wheel Bar in case you’re interested). When you need to resort to blatant bribery to get your child over the front door, something has to change. If you’re in a similar boat, check out Alex’s helpful list of local child-friendly nature promoting organisations.
There’s lots of exciting community news too: Debra Nicolson writes about the challenges and rewards of rehearsing for the Shetland County Drama festival, Raman Mundair reflects on a recent arts project she delivered in Wastview care home, the COPE gardeners are back with news and horticultural tips, and local food producer David Poleson shares some delicious saat fish recipes.
See you in April, when (with a little bit of luck) winter should be well and truly out for the count. Wishing you all a wonderful spring time.

February Issue Out Now!

This month, Shetland Life celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit which is so apparent in Shetland.

However, if business isn’t your bag, then there’s plenty of other stuff specially selected to tickle your fancy. If this never-ending winter has sapped your joie de vivre, then take a tip from Pete Richardson and follow his directions for an uplifting walk around the Ness (while warming your lugs with the Fair-Isle headband which is this month’s Speedcrafting creation). Then, you can return home and follow Akshay Borges’ recipe for a deliciously spicy monkfish and salmon dish (take it from me, it’s amazing).

While you wait for the fish to marinate, you can read Vivian Ross-Smith’s article about the inspiration behind her current Bonhoga exhibition, Liam Anderson’s gardening tips and much more.

January Issue Out Now!

We are already being advised to brace ourselves for “Blue Monday” aka the 18th January, the day which the pundits have designated as being officially the most depressing of the year. Why? The nights will still be long, spring will seem an eternity away, our carefully made New Year resolutions will, by then, already have been broken, and our bank balances (hammered after the Christmas spendathon) will be urgently in need of a boost.
Shetland, however, is one place where the January blues don’t seem to hit quite so hard. It’s not easy to feel glum amidst all the Up-Helly-A’ cheer. If you’re directly involved in preparing for the festival, the whole month will fly past in a happy blur; even if you’re just a spectator on the night, anticipating the magnificent fiery spectacle will give you a much-needed lift. And if Up-Helly-A’ isn’t your bag, you can still admire the many fine beards on display and know that with each local UHA festival we edge ever closer to spring time.
This month’s Shetland Life has plenty to offer the Up-Helly-A’ enthusiast, but it’s not all about Up-Helly-A’ – this issue is crammed with lots of other great content. We are very pleased to announce a new bi- monthly column from the gardeners at COPE. We also have a crafting activity from Ana Arnett, Chris Percival’s reflections on winning last year’s Cooking Challenge and Chris Cope on the success of local band, The Trookers.
So, if Up-Helly-A’ isn’t enough to shake off your winter blues, Shetland Life should keep you smiling until February. See you then!