Month: June 2016

Meet our new fashion writer

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Fashion – it’s a fairly subjective thing. What looks good to one person is an abomination to another; some people spend time thinking about it, other folk just Wear Clothes.
I have been tasked with writing a fashion column for Shetland Life. I’m not sure whether I’m qualified to do such a thing, or indeed how anyone would be. As the mother of a nine-month old baby, my current requirements for choosing what to wear include questions such as “Is it spew free?” and “Can I breastfeed in it?” (I realise these might not be very inclusive terms to bring to a fashion column. Perhaps a better one might be “Can I croft in it?”) Functionality definitely plays more of a part in what I choose to wear than it did before.
Perhaps that’s the case for many people and all the more so in Shetland, where the weather can be unforgiving of the latest trends. Who wants to look cool when it means bare ankles in a force 7? Perhaps you just need to adapt what is “fashionable” to your situation.
The recent trend for knitwear is a boon to the fashion-minded who live in cold climes. Fair Isle and Nordic patterned ganzies, yoked cardigans, cosy hats bought or – even better – homemade, are probably the one catwalk trend that you can easily channel in real life. You can comfortably wrap yourself in layers of oversized wool, smugly fending off the cold and looking chic at the same time.
Fashion – that is, high end, designer fashion – seems, to my untrained eye, mostly bonkers. It is an art form, however, and thus doesn’t really need to work as clothing.  In that sense, I find it brilliant. And bonkers as they seem, the trends that trickle down from the catwalks of London, New York and Paris do inform what ends up on the high street if that is where you choose to take your lead.
Street style (fashion that looks to what people are wearing to inform trends and subcultures) is arguably more influential than catwalks. Truly stylish people, it could also be argued, don’t pay attention to trends but dress in a way that flatters and is individual.
There is a presumption when it comes to fashion that it’s the preserve of city dwellers, the wealthy and the young. Being neither of the first two and creeping towards not being considered as the third, I still don’t want to be relegated to the unstylish heap.
While it’s not something I spend a lot of my time thinking about, I feel like I have found what I’m comfortable with, style wise. I navigated the awkward preteen years wearing oversized Guns N Roses t-shirts with leggings and dying my hair with food colouring: a uniform, I was misguidedly convinced, which was sure to impress and help me blend in. As a teenager, tomboy style (if you can call it that) ruled and my friends and I lived in baggy sports sweatshirts. My university years were a blur of hideous boots, increasingly low cut jeans, questionable belts and “tops”. At some point I wore more dresses than I do now. After that, it was more jeans, and jumpers. I seem to have spent my 20s in jeans. I’m not sure much has changed.
But as someone approaching their mid-30s, while I’ve found things I feel comfortable in and think look ok, I realise I don’t actually know what is fashionable. A quick Google of the latest trends reveals that slip dresses, backpacks, chunky sandals and, erm, tiaras are amongst the items to be seen in for 2016. It’ll be interesting to see how many of those I can spot on Da Street.
Jokes aside, it seems to be the case that many people won’t wear things in Shetland that they would “sooth”. This train of thought probably applies to more than just clothing, and I find it interesting that this happens: why folk feel the need to adapt their personality to their surroundings. Individuality can be smothered in a place like Shetland – perhaps folk feel self-conscious in a small community, not wanting to stand out. Or perhaps it comes back to the weather. Regardless of the snobbery that can exist about being fashionable in a rural place, there are lots of stylish people in the isles.
People choose to wear what they do for a myriad of reasons. Fashion can be a means of self-expression and for some, an important part of shaping their identity, a means of belonging. For those that don’t think about it on an aesthetic level, factors such as cost, ethics and practicality may play a part.
Dressing can also be a cathartic process. What we wear can have a big impact on how we feel – physically, but also emotionally. Besides providing warmth and protection, clothing can act as an extension of our personality; it can reaffirm our beliefs and help us make sense of the world. Wearing something smart can improve our self-esteem and make us feel ready for work; wearing something beautiful can make us feel like celebrating. Wearing something old and comfortable can make us feel secure and relaxed: much as I love a fancy new pair of shoes or a party frock, there’s nothing better than coming home and getting cosy in your pjs and smucks. But like I said, I’m mostly covered in spew, so my opinion probably doesn’t count at this point.
Writing this column has made me think more about clothes, look at what people are wearing and wonder why folk wear what they do. It’s made me think about what impact being in Shetland has on people’s approach to clothing. So if you spot me looking at you for what might seem an uncomfortable amount of time, I’m probably just admiring what you have on and pondering these thoughts.


July Issue Out Now!

July’s Shetland Life is guaranteed to put a spring in your step!IMG_1944


Perhaps Emma Williamson’s inspiring tales of outdoor swimming will encourage you to head for a refreshing dip in the crystal clear waters we are so lucky to be surrounded by.

Or maybe you’ll head along to Shetland Rollerskating for some freewheeling fun after reading Alex Garrick-Wright’s article.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to train with Shetland’s strongest man, then you need wonder no more: the intrepid Andrew Hutton has done all of the hard work, so you don’t have to.

Of course, it’s not all about what’s on the outside. That’s why we’ve asked Raw Food Chef Heather Moncrieff to give us some tips on how to eat your way to feeling fantastic. We also spoke to Mind Your Head Project Manager, Anouska Civico, who shared some of the very important work being done in Shetland to support men’s mental health.

It’s not all health and fitness though. Our fashion writer Louise Thomason goes in search of the perfect wedding dress, Vivian Ross-Smith travels to Yell to meet Shetland Tweed, Chris Cope quizzes local musicians on the tracks that give them goose bumps and Jacqui Clark interviews visual artist Roxanne Permar.

We hope you enjoy it! Please remember we love to hear your feedback. So do feel free to drop us a line, or post a comment below.

August: the festival issue!

Our August issue is well underway already. Here’s a sneak preview of what you can expect:

Fiddle Frenzy curators

Our bumper summer special has a distinctly festival theme. We celebrate Fiddle Frenzy in an interview with Claire White. Marjolein Robertson looks ahead to The Buffet and Alex Garrick-Wright goes behind the scenes at Screenplay.

We take a sneak peek inside the suitcases of some well kent Shetland folk.

Hi Res, Alex Boak

Lisa Ward by Alex Boak

Well kent musician Brian Nicholson is subjected to a grilling from two younger guitarists in our “In the Hot Seat” feature.


Photo credit: Calum Toogood

And Ryan Taylor goes for a spin in this iconic motor.


Photo credit: Calum Toogood

These are just a few of the treats we have lined up for you in August. It’s essential holiday reading, so grab one as soon as they hit the shelves?





Music Festivals in August

Fiddle Frenzy

Fiddle Frenzy curators

When? July 31 – August 7

Where? Various locations

Who? Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham, South Mainland Young Fiddlers, Shetland Fiddlers Society, Clinkin’ Fiddles, Lewie Peterson, Catriona Macdonald, Fiddle Frenzy students, Scani Sessions

Why? The popular bow-themed event sees new curators Eunice Henderson and Claire White take the helm for the first time this year, with a packed programme based in Lerwick’s Mareel. While its roots are in tuition led masterclasses, there is a regular array of fiddle-fantastic gigs for the public, with renewed duo Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham topping the Shetland Arts backed bill.

Concerts will take place in Lerwick, Sandwick and Unst, with a plethora of Shetland fiddlers ready to show why the isles are so highly regarded when it comes to traditional music.


We Came From Wolves

 When? August 13

Where? Da Wheel Bar, Lerwick

Who? We Came From Wolves, Patersani, Damn Teeth, Get It Together, Pure Grief, Black International, Brundlehorse, Forgotten Sons, The Dirty Lemons

Why? After taking a year off in 2015, rock festival Shetfest returns with a bang. Continuing its penchant for punk and alt tendencies, a host of Scottish bands will make the trip north. With Da Wheel’s cosy capacity at a premium, the atmosphere looks set to be one to savour – even if it is royally sweat-stained.

Perth alt-rockers We Came From Wolves will head to Shetland armed with praise from the likes of The Herald and nationwide music magazine Rocksound, while local trio The Dirty Lemons will be ones to watch as they keep the party rolling with punked-up merriment.

Peerie Reel

 Dakota Blonde

When? August 13

Where? Saxa Vord, Unst

Who? Jim Salestrom, James Salestrom, Livingston Taylor, Dakota Blonde and more

Why? Last year’s Reel Music festival in Unst was ambitious, sprawling across the entire Saxa Vord site and promising music across the whole weekend. In 2016 the festival has gone ‘peerie’, with a compacted line-up dedicated to one day. With a smattering of US folk and country talent set to sail over from across the pond, there will be a chilled-out vibe streaming through Britain’s most northerly music festival.

Headline act Jim Salestrom is known for playing guitar with Dolly Parton, while US folksters Dakota Blonde are heading to the isles for the first time. Many more local acts are set to be announced in due course, ensuring that festival fans will be spoilt for choice on August 13, with Shetfest scheduled for the same day.

The Buffet 2016: Shetland Rock Festival


When? August 26-27

Where? Lerwick Legion

Who? Vasa, The Amorettes, Death Watch, Ten Tonne Dozer, Quantana, Atlas : Empire, Little Hands of Silver, Semperfi and more

Why? Local podcasters turned promoters Heavy Metal Buffet have made a big name for themselves on the Shetland rock scene in the last few years with their annual festival. The latest effort juggles a host of top Scottish talent and local acts across two stages, with oodles of headbanging and moshing guaranteed.

Open to all ages – which gives the weekend a surprising family vibe – this year’s two-dayer will see the likes of instrumental progressive rock stalwarts Vasa share the bill with the jumped-up AC/DC-esque Amorettes, while local bands will be represented through the likes of the effervescent sludge purveyors Ten Tonne Dozer and polished metal outfit Quantana.







Training with Shetland’s strongest man


In July’s Shetland Life, Andrew Hutton writes about his shift “on the Factory floor”. In this special guest blog post, he lists what his session consisted of.

The warm up for the warm up. This consisted of going into the adjoining field and walking up and down it a number of times. The field walk wasn’t just a case of wandering around: each turn in the field was marked out with string on evenly spaced fence posts. No short cuts here!


Weight training. Apparently our trek through the Whiteness countryside didn’t count as a proper warm up and soon enough, some kettle bells were introduced into the mix. Starting off with a 6kg kettle bell, I was asked to swing it for six reps. I was reminded to use my hips and not my back. This emphasis on the correct posture continued throughout the session.

Leg Raisers. With the help of straps suspended from the roof, I proceeded to raise my knees to my chest for 10 reps, before extending my legs straight out in front of me for 10 reps.

A cardio session. This was something I didn’t expect to be doing when I agreed to the Factory session!  I was asked to jog for around 20 metres before sprinting all out on the way back, repeating the process six times.

More weight lifting. Nowhere in The Factory had I seen a regular set of dumbbells, so I knew I was in for something new and exciting, and I wasn’t disappointed! On my way in, I had noticed some tyres leaning against the wall. Trainer Bryan Pearson soon had one of them on the floor and showed me the technique for flipping it. A wide stance, straight back and a good grip were key. This was actually good fun and gave a good sense of achievement. Luckily for me, Bryan decided we didn’t have time for the largest tyre, one which would have looked at home on a quarry truck!


The ‘Farmers Walk’. When I think of farmers, I think of cute caddie lambs. Unfortunately, there was no caddie lambs to hand, so old gas canisters were used. Having a good grip was the key to this exercise. Twice I raced around the drive way with these canisters. My forearms felt every step!

I asked Dhanni about the symbol used for The Factory logo: three shapes intertwined. Dhanni explained that the three shapes symbolised communication, learning and activity.

It was clear from my time in The Factory that this motto is paramount. No one works alone: there is always constant encouragement and advice going back and forth between everyone.

Fancy trying a Factory work-out for yourself? Get in touch via their Facebook page.








Get glowing!

July’s Shetland Life is all about health and fitness. Here’s raw food chef Heather Moncrieff with some top tips on how to look and feel your best −not just this month, but all year round!


A delicious cheesecake made from raw ingredients

Be Balanced

Need something between meals? Go for a snack – one that includes protein, fat, and carbohydrate. I like green apple wedges with nut butter. Alternatively, spread some pumpkin seed nut butter on a slice of one of the wonderful range of raw breads which are available at Scoop. The fat and protein in the nut butter curbs my hunger and also prevents my blood sugar from dipping or spiking too much.

Get steaming

I steam my veg if I feel like something warm, as this is one of the best cooking methods for maximizing taste and colour, while retaining the maximum amount of nutrients in vegetables (and fish if you are not vegan).  Vegetables have so much flavour: simply by steaming them and finishing off with some fresh herbs, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, you can produce a healthy, satisfying and delicious dish.

Discover coconut oil

Coconut oil is a true superfood. It contains fatty acids with powerful medicinal properties. It can also prevent obesity and improve digestion. Best of all, it only takes 3 minutes to make your own, which will have none of the sugars or additives found in store bought goods.

Find out more about fermented foods

These are chock-full of “probiotics” or good bacteria. Having a healthy gut is a major factor in maintaining optimal health, as a robust immune system is your top defence system against all disease. There are lots of fermented food options out there. Kefir is a fermented milk product which tastes like a drinkable yogurt. It’s available from Scoop. Other more common fermented foods are Sauerkraut, Pickles and Miso.  They are delicious and brilliant sources of protein for any diet, especially a vegan one.

Try a colonic session

Colonics can help improve your body’s overall health and wellness, and may even reduce your risks for colon cancer.  If you wish to feel the health benefits having a colonic can bring you then please phone me at the clinic on 01595 482848, email me at hmm@shetland or contact me on my Facebook page at Shetland Colonics.

Wanted: photographers!


July’s cover shot by Sophie Whitehead

Each month, Shetland Life will showcase the work of a local photographer. Our featured photographer will be commissioned to take the front cover shot, and will also cover two or three features within the magazine. Could this be you?

We’re looking for enthusiastic photographers with some successful commissions already under their belts. You’ll be reliable, punctual and have a sense of adventure. July’s featured photographer is Sophie Whitehead. Photojournalist Calum Toogood is working on the August issue.

If you think you fit the bill, please get in touch by emailing










Submission Guidelines

We’re always delighted to receive contributions for Shetland Life. If you’d like to be published (either in the magazine or on this blog), this is what we’re looking for:


  • Articles on any subject (as long as it is Shetland related!)
  • Quizzes, reviews, interviews, photo essays, recipes, top tips, how-tos and place guides all equally welcome
  • Word count can be anything from 300 to 800 words (max 500 for the blog)
  • Please submit 3 – 4 good quality photographs with your article
  • Feel free to contact the editor beforehand to discuss your idea, or send an outline to









Sunshine and Shadow


Izabela Delnicka and Lynn McCormack (Photo: Edina Szeles)

Anyone who is in any doubt about the future of art and craft in Shetland needs to get along to the Shetland College Degree Show and End of Year Exhibition. The college has been transformed by the colourful art work which stretches along corridors, meanders in and out of classrooms and flows up and down flights of stairs. It is all testament to the great work which is being done to nurture Shetland’s artistic talent.

The Degree Show consists of the work of two artists: Lynn McCormack and Izabela Delnicka. The vibrant colours of Ms Delnicka’s scarves immediately grab the visitor’s attention; Ms McCormack’s shadowy effects are subtler, but no less powerful. The two markedly different styles complement each other perfectly: this is an exhibition of sunshine and shade.

Bold and beautiful colours

Bold and beautiful colours

Both artists cite Shetland as an inspiration. Ms Delnicka’s scarves combine her interest in cultural identity with the bold colours found in Mexican ceramics and floral patterns. She believes that the long, dark Shetland winters have made her more aware of the importance of colour in design. Ms Delnicka explains: “As we struggle to see the ‘joy’ outside in winter, the touch of vivid colours makes things look brighter and more alive”.

On this reviewer's wish-list!

On this reviewer’s wish-list!

Lynn McCormack’s knitted structures explore the world of shadows and “the idea of the seen and unseen.” She adds: “Growing up in Shetland, I’ve always been very aware of light and shade. It’s always fascinated me”.

An air conditioning fan in the corner of the room makes the sparkling, bell like pieces dance and their shadows move with them. The effect is both mesmerising and other worldly.

Lynn McCormack explores light and shade

Lynn McCormack explores light and shade

Asked why she chose to embark on the degree course, Ms McCormack says that she was brought up to be “very practical”. She adds: “This was my chance to get in touch with my creative side. I’ve had three children and I just thought it was time to do something for myself. I’m so glad I did. I’ve been really happy with this course and with the support offered by tutors”.


The End of Year Exhibition was bursting with colourful art work. There are far too many highlights to mention here. You’ll just have to go along and see it for yourself.

Martin Fullerton's "Kenny Komodo Dragon"

Martin Fullerton’s “Kenny Komodo Dragon”

The exhibitions are open Monday to Friday, from 9am to 4pm until the 17th of June. Catch it while you can – you have just one week left.

Rhea Kay's knitted garment

Rhea Kay’s knitted garment



Triumphant Dawn

I see the TR6 coming close in behind – its circular headlamps glowing bright and filling the reflection in my door mirror.

Later on I’ll be in that car, too, the wind buffeting my face and the cold March air filled with that lovely deep growl of an engine note.

Down in the engine room the six-cylinder power-house will be carrying out its duties without even a hint of fuss, helping this car surge her way along the A-roads.

Getting the TR6 going after her long hibernation has taken time, energy and a few choice words best described as post-watershed. But she is ready for the task and is eating up the miles.

For now, though, I’m with Mark Fuller in the rather pert-looking TR4A. Conditions here are … cosy – in part because we have a roof over our heads. Mark is smiling as we look over the wood-clad dashboard, once so much the in-thing for British cars, and at the road ahead which the little TR is soaking up with bags of enthusiasm.

On the Road 4 660

Still in the shed is the grand-daddy of the bunch – the little TR3. Among this trio of Triumphs, she is perhaps wearing her years a little less convincingly than the other two. But, nonetheless, she is road legal and raring to go.

In fact, all three are performing well, considering they’ve been tucked up all winter. But now, with spring just about upon us, and the days getting longer, Shetland’s rich array of classics are beginning to get noticed again. And the TRs are out in force.

It’s time to throw off the covers.

I don’t know if Mark is known as Mr Triumph, but he probably should be. His love of TRs goes back to when he was 17. He has already had an example of Triumph’s much sought-after GT, the Stag.

“Having young kids it was great, because you could go about with the kids. But the kids get to a certain age where it’s not cool to be seen with Dad, so it was my excuse to get a two-seater.”
Time for a TR6, then. But the first one in Mark’s hands was not the stylish roadster you see here. He initially bought a car brought back to the UK from California. But on later getting his TR4, he found the smaller-engined car “ran rings” round the more powerful 6. Why?

“When I bought the TR4, she’d been breathed on a little bit, tuned and what-not, and she absolutely ran rings round the TR6, which shouldn’t have been the case.

“The American cars were seriously detuned to meet their emission regulations. I went looking for an original-spec, UK car, managed to find one and took the chance to buy it.”

On the Road 3 660

And who could argue against that? The new TR6, a 1970 car, is fitted with what Triumph termed as a PI, or petrol injection, 150 bhp engine of two and a half litres.

The TR6, says Mark, does not take kindly to sitting idle for lengthy periods, which makes the long, dark winter something of an inconvenience. But that’s all the more reason to celebrate the changing of the season.

“She needs a little bit more fettling. She needs to be used, and unfortunately our climate doesn’t let us use the cars as long as they do down south. Our season is pretty much March to September. We’ve got a constant battle with moisture and salt.

“It’s great fun, I just get a huge amount of enjoyment from it.”

Mark has had plenty of enjoyment from his 1967 TR4A, as well – and has even ventured into the continent with the dashing little sports car. It has been to Le Mans twice – home of the world’s oldest endurance race, the 24 Hours Le Mans.

But there are classic events there too, and it’s the TR4A that has taken Mark out to see the entertaining spectacle. He has plans to take her again this year, even if last year’s venture brought some unwanted overheating problems, which meant having to “nurse it round” for 1,500 miles.

“We got to France, there were very high temperatures, and I managed to blow a radiator hose.
“James Hutton, my co-pilot … there’s not much room in a TR4A cabin, and he spent the entire trip very up close and personal with a 25-litre tank of water.”

Nonetheless, driving a TR on the continent will get you an awful lot of attention.

“In France people will actually stop and wave, toot horns. Traffic lights are a hoot because everybody just claps, and asks about the cars. My French is rubbish so I’ve not got a clue what they are saying, but the general feeling is understood.”

The oldest in the trio is the 1960 TR3, and a “rolling restoration”. Mark is delighted that she is roadworthy, but is unsure just how far he should go in making her look new.

“If you go too far then you’re too scared to take them out. The car needs to be driven.”

On the Road 2 660

Of course, Triumph is just one of a host of British sports car manufacturers that flourished in the post-war years. But Triumph was hopelessly mismanaged after the company was sucked into the woeful British Leyland empire, and the marque was finally laid to rest in 1984, its bow-out model a mundane Honda-based saloon.

But even under BL, Triumph showed tremendous potential, even if very little of that opportunity was ever realised. Look up the still-born Lynx project, a promising Stag successor, or Google the proposed, but never produced, Dolomite replacement, the SD2, if you want to wallow in the world of what-might-have-beens.

Nowadays, the famous marque is owned by BMW – custodians of Triumph’s one-time stablemate, Mini. Talk emerges every few years of a possible resurrection of the Triumph name, although the Bavarians have never confirmed any relaunch plans. A separate enterprise has already seen Triumph motorbikes brought back into production. Is Triumph dead? Or does a new dawn await?

Photos: Dave Donaldson