Category: Comment

Simmer Dim

Burra rowers

Welcome to this month’s issue of Shetland Life. This is the Simmer Dim, or midsummer, and we are spoiled with daylight –  basking in it for up to 19 hours a day. This means more opportunities to get out and about. With this in mind, Shetland Life have been getting out too. This month we head to Fethaland, Hoswick Visitor Centre and Alex Garrick-Wright takes to the water to find out about competitive rowing as the season kicks off.

Having so much daylight has other implications, and demands other aspects of our time – in the garden everything is bursting into life. Shetland has a very short growing season – under 100 days – that means that most of our growing is done now. With this in mind Ali Grundon Robertson visits local producers at Turriefield in Sandness and Misa shares some of her tips for the garden this month.

And you’ll remember Fenton and Friends from last month? Yes, they’re back for more adventures this month!

Next month the schools break for the summer holidays, and we would like to help you make the most of them. We’re compiling a summer holiday bucket list for you to cut out and take on your adventures. But we need your help. Do you have a favourite place to visit, picnic or play? If so, get in touch and let us know and maybe it will be added to the list. Send your suggestions to And, whatever you’re up to, we love to hear about it, use our hashtag for the chance to be featured online or in the magazine #myshetlandlife.

Even if you’re not in Shetland, you can still keep up-to-date with all the latest. Remember you can subscribe to Shetland life online at and let us know if you have any comments or suggestions at

As ever, have a great month and enjoy Shetland Life – OUT NOW!

The birds and the bees!

Welcome to this month’s issue of Shetland Life. May is a big month here, certainly a firm favourite of mine  – everything springs to life with vigour, and here at Shetland Life we want to capture an essence of that.

This month Shetland Life are telling you all about the birds and the bees. May is a month of activity; life is bursting forth in anticipation of summer. We are celebrating Shetland’s diverse nature this month with features on some of our smallest creatures who do one of the most important jobs – pollination. And we’re celebrating the return of our very welcome summer visitors – the seabirds. With almost 1,000,000 breeding pairs, there’s a lot to shout about, and Paul Harvey is on hand to tell us more.

Elsewhere, Alex Garrick-Wright travels to Australia (or, East Burra) to the Outpost where he meets some unusual spring arrivals… We also introduce some new members to the Shetland Life team. I’ll give you a clue, they all have four legs and love an adventure! All this and more in this month’s Shetland Life, OUT NOW!

With the year galloping along, it has got us thinking about summer holiday activities here in Shetland. What are your favourite places? Where do you take your children, friends or dogs on an adventure? We would love to hear from you with any suggestions so that we can produce a helpful summer holiday ‘must do’ checklist for all the family. Send your suggestions along with a photo we can use) to And, whatever you’re up to, we love to hear about it, use our hashtag for the chance to be featured online or in the magazine #myshetlandlife.

Even if you’re not in Shetland, you can still keep up-to-date with all the latest. Remember you can subscribe to Shetland life online at and let us know if you have any comments or suggestions at

As ever, have a great month and enjoy Shetland Life –  OUT NOW!

Intergenerational working

In our April issue of Shetland Life, we feature a piece on intergenerational working and the Inspiring Purpose Project which saw Shetland scoop the top prize at an awards ceremony in Edinburgh last year. The full feature is available in the April issue (out now). The following are the stories written about the servicemen who were selected and researched as part of this fascinating project.

We have also included a piece from the Shetland Life archive which looks at the story of ‘A Shetlander who influenced the course of World War One’ (Shetland Life, August 1987).

We hope you enjoy these stories as much as we did and please give them a share on Facebook!

Insipring Purpose Stories

Christian Tait & Aimee Williams

Morag Nicolson & Vaila Thompson

Pat Christie & Elise Rendall

Sonia & James Inkster

A Shetlander who influenced the course of World War One

Magnus Nicolson Story


Welcome to this month’s issue of Shetland Life. April has come in with a bang, the clocks have changed, and we’re beginning to really feel the returning sun in the evenings.

Join Shetland Life for this April issue as we take to the seas again, but this time we’re heading underwater to discover the fate of the Spanish Armada vessel, El Gran Grifón, with Dr Colin Martin who led excavations on the wreck in the 1970s. We also hear the poignant and tragic tale of HMS E 49 which was lost in the First World War, and Laurie Goodlad takes to the water and discovers the joy of snorkelling in the first of a series where readers are invited to Challenge the Editor.

Elsewhere, Ali Grundon Robertson talks beach cleaning, and Alex Garrick-Wright meets Dirk Robertson on the eve of his exhibition at Shetland Museum & Archives. We also welcome Misa Hay to our team, and she talks us through all things gardening in Shetland. We’re delighted to have Misa with us. She has been growing from her garden in Tingwall for a number of years, producing food for her family and the table, fresh from the garden. She writes a very inspiring blog about gardening at 60 north which you can find at

There’s so much to shout about in Shetland at the moment, and with the clocks springing forward we’re now enjoying longer days, so please let us know how you spend the light nights, are you getting out into the garden or perhaps packing a picnic after work and heading to the hills? Whatever you’re up to, we love to hear about it, use our hashtag for the chance to be featured online or in the magazine #myshetlandlife.

It’s been encouraging to see so many new subscribers joining our readership and signing up to the printed magazine subscription during the first three months of 2019. Remember you can subscribe to Shetland life online at and let us know if you have any comments or suggestions at

As ever, have a great month and enjoy Shetland Life –  OUT NOW!

After dark special

The nights are fair drawing in. Luckily, Shetland abounds with opportunities to get involved in creative projects and make the most of these long dark evenings.

Our October celebrates all that nocturnal Shetland has to offer: from pub life to night classes.  Alex Garrick-Wright meets with Isleburgh Drama Group and Frankie Valente draws on an inspirational friend for some winter project ideas.

Draw the curtains, light the fire and enjoy!


Love Island

Summer’s a romantic time of year, isn’t it? Long walks on the beach, secluded picnics in the sun, and warm evenings that never seem to end. Romance is in the air, and this month Shetland Life is taking a look at love — celebrating it, reminiscing about it, and seeking it out in the first place. We’ve looked at love in Shetland from many different angles to make sure there’s something for everyone.

So whether you’re leafing through as you idly swipe away on Tinder, or you’re curled up with your sweetheart, read on and enjoy!

The girl in the photograph

Life story
If you don’t believe in fate; read on. Dale Smith recounts a real-life love story of chance that might just change your mind.

The large framed photograph, currently hanging in Isles­burgh Community Centre’s Room 9, had intrigued the staff for years. Not even the long-established employees knew who the two teenage girls pictured were. All that changed one day when Janice Drummond confirmed that one of the girls  was her auntie.

What is a Shetlander?

What is a Shetlander?

As an incomer to these islands I’ve found that this question can result in heated debate. Some folk believe that a Shetlander can be anyone who lives here; others maintain that your family needs to have been in Shetland for at least two generations before you can go making any such claims for yourself. Then of course, there are all kinds of Shetlander definitions in between these two poles.

Genevieve White, Editor

Talking Trump

A certain Mr Trump was the subject of the Althing’s February debate. Speaking for the motion “Trump: we got what we deserved” were Donald S. Murray and Thor Holt. Speaking against the motion were Jonathan Wills and Ryan Thomson.

Thor Holt and Ryan Thomson were kind enough to share their post-debate reflections and analysis with Shetland Life. You can read what Jonathan Wills and Donald S. Murray had to say in the print version of the magazine (out on February the 3rd).

Thor Holt

Having experienced the Althing for myself, I’m here to tell you that Shetlanders in general, and Althing attendees in particular, are unique. Actually, I was so gratified to have been asked to speak at Althing, which has no equal I’m aware of elsewhere in the UK, that I made the trip North just to get involved.
My argument was based on what I labelled “The Pogues Effect”.
In September 1988, my younger Brother Luke gave me a Pogues album for my fifteenth birthday. The trouble was, I instantly lost it, and while searching the house, found Mum in the Kitchen feeding the unlistened to cassette into our cooking Aga.

“Mum! What are you doing?!
“Thor, I’m sorry, but this music is evil!”

To be fair to Mum, it was called Rum Sodomy and the Lash, so her assumption of unpleasantness was perhaps not without reason. Like many folk these days, by age 15 I was an atheist, so didn’t do “evil”, “the devil” or indeed religion of any kind.
What was the result of the Pogues burning incident? You’ve guessed it. I went out and bought everything I could find by The Pogues, listened to it incessantly, often while drinking. Shane McGowan would have been proud of me.
This reaction by my loving, caring Mother, who was only trying to protect me from something she saw as unpleasant, is exactly why Trump got elected. Allow me to explain…
Three parts of US society; the old legacy media, establishment political dynasties, and the celebrity plus billionaire class had an understandable reaction against ‘The Donald’, who they perceived as unpleasant or even evil. Some of this was for good reason, some for fairly evident self-serving reasons.
However, by so doing, they built up a religious fervour which just made Trump more interesting, and voters all the more likely to listen or “buy into him”. And of course, just like an underage drinker listening to music he’s been told not to, many soon-to-be voters who’d been “ordered” not to vote Trump, didn’t tell pollsters their voting intentions either! “Evil Trump” religious fervour made that too uncomfortable.
There were of course, other crucial factors leading to The Trump win. Truly pivotal were the “speak blunt truth to power” whistleblowers, Wikileaks. The fact is, Hilary was perceived as “damaged goods” and once it was leaked that Bernie never had a fair chance, the rot really set in. Trump, with his willingness to say what many felt they are no longer allowed to, attracted worker votes, including perhaps surprisingly, three times as many Muslim Americans as had voted for Romney in 2012.
With challenges like Brexit, and the migrant crisis, many parts of Europe are becoming increasingly insulated, as individuals only engage online, and won’t select to hear opposing points of view.

Thor Holt is an executive coach, trained actor, and former TEDx speaker who believes everyone should be free to make a bigger impact. In 2011 he founded a communication training business to serve the energy, legal, higher education, and entrepreneurial sectors.

Ryan Thomson

When I was asked to speak at the Althing on the topic of Trump, I accepted without thinking twice. I was delighted to have been asked. I also thought, given I am standing for Council for the North Isles ward in May, that the opportunity to practise some public speaking wasn’t something I could pass up. Naturally, not being a Trump fan, I chose to speak against the motion, believing that we did not get what we deserved.
It was a very cleverly written motion, and much of the debate was spent picking through who “we” actually were. The UK? Shetland? The attendees of the Staney Hill Hall that evening? Mankind?
The foundation of my argument was that we could not possibly have deserved Donald Trump, simply because we were not able to vote or affect the vote in any way. We gave warnings to our cousins across the pond and the very highest politicians in the land informed the USA they would not like to see Mr Trump as President.
I gave examples of Mr Trump’s personality, providing evidence through numerous quotations as to the man’s character, touching on the fact he received 3 million less votes then Mrs Clinton thus losing the “popular vote”.
However there was nothing myself or my partner, the experienced Althinger Dr Jonathan Wills could do to persuade the attendees that evening that we did not deserve Mr Trump. Indeed, it was the excellent arguments of the equally experienced Donald Murray and his partner Thor Holt who won over the audience and eventually the debate.

Ryan Thomson is the director of Tagon Stores in Voe. In May this year he will stand as an independent candidate for the North Isles ward.