Tag: Yell

Summer bonanza! July issue OUT NOW

Welcome to this month’s issue of Shetland Life! Not only is this the day that your favourite monthly magazine is released, but it’s also the first day of the summer break for schools across Shetland, and all the children (and their parents and carers) will be gearing up for a summer of fun, adventure, and hopefully the odd ray of sunshine to boot. Shetland Life wants to help get your holidays off to a flying start, so the July issue contains an action-packed summer holiday bucket list for all the family. This cut-out checklist can be folded away in a jacket pocket, pinned to a fridge or snapped on a smartphone for quick reference. We want to thank all of you who got in touch with your suggestions – they have all been included in the list. Simply tick them off as you go, and remember to tag #myshetlandlife in your photos so we can see where your adventures take you.

Elsewhere we find out more about the sea-eagle in Shetland’s history with Eileen Brooke-Freeman as part of a new exhibition at Shetland Museum & Archives that traces the history and persecution of this impressive bird, now absent from our landscape.

Ali Grundon Robertson challenges the reader to go plastic-free for July, and our own editor gets challenged and put through her paces with the Tingwall barbarians as part of the Challenge the Editor series.

We have a fantastic sporting feature as Dougie Grant takes a look back over 90 years of hockey in Shetland, and Alex Garrick-Wright goes inter-galactic as he takes a look at the Shetland Space Station in Unst.

All this and more in the July issue of Shetland Life – OUT NOW!

Remember to send any comments or suggestions you may have to sleditor@shetlandtimes.co.uk. 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 https://shop.shetlandtimes.co.uk/pages/subscriptions#shetland-life and let us know if you have any comments or suggestions at sleditor@shetlandtimes.co.uk.

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

The Shedologist of Yell

Our trip to Yell for this month’s Northern Isles issue took place in less-than-sparkling weather, but this didn’t matter one bit because we happened to be visiting a real-life treasure trove and its sparkling owner, the artist and maker Jeanette Nowak.

Actually, Jeanette matter-of-factly refers to her treasure trove as a “shed”, but you can make up your own mind about which term you prefer when you read our feature “The Shedologist of Yell” on page 4 of this month’s magazine.

Huge thanks to Jeanette for her kind hospitality throughout the visit and to Charlie Inskter for the accompanying photographs.

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!

The Fabulous Baker Boy

Baker Stephen Thompson is living a dream – it’s just not quite the dream he set out to achieve.
He is the owner and master baker of Da Kitchen Bakery, based in Burravoe, Yell, supplying loaves and pies across a large part of Shetland.

Having moved to the isle from the built up northwest of England he lives in a renovated croft house and is happy to tell Shetland Life that he is content with his lot. The community, he says, is fantastic and supports his venture.

But running a bakery, something Stephen had done all his working life, was not quite the plan when he and his wife Sarah decided to take the plunge and start a new life in Yell.

They had a notion to set up a firm making cheese from the milk produced by Shetland ewes and to operate it from a newly-built house.

He says: “We originally wanted to do Shetland sheep’s cheese. They’re not a milking breed, but you can get grants if you supply off island. It would be a limited thing because the milk runs out at the end of summer.”

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Despite its limitations Stephen completed a course in cheese making and has not given up on the idea but, for now, his focus is firmly on the trade he knows best. And inspired by Shetland and its larder, he has launched several new lines recently. Chief among them is the lamb bridie – a variation on a well known theme.

He says: “Most bakers are doing a steak or beef bridie, I thought, ‘why not lamb, we are in Shetland?’. They’re going well.”

Another recent addition to his range are cream horns, using cream from Shetland Dairy. “Martin Lyth who works at the dairy drops the cream off,” says Stephen. “If you support the local businesses the money stays in Shetland, whether it’s paying their staff in wages, or paying the farmers that’s supplying the dairy it’s staying in Shetland.

“I don’t know whether people think about that, but I think you should support local where possible.”

Plus the dairy’s milk and cream is mighty fine, says Stephen , “it’s very rich”.

The cream horns seem to go down particularly well with customers at the Mossbank shop – “I think a lot of [workers] from Sella Ness pop in for their fags and they like cream buns.”

Of course, loaves and other bakery favourites like pies and buns are a stock in trade and Stephen also makes a cheese and onion pasty using Shetlandeli’s onion marmalade.

Like Shetlandeli in Skeld, Stephen’s enterprise operates out one of the network of local halls dotted across the isles. In his case it is the impressive Burravoe Hall that is home to his business.

When he first thought about launching a bakery he approached Lawrence Odie, who is a member of the Burravoe Hall Committee.

“They were pleased because although it’s used at night the hall is not used through the day. They don’t lose any bookings. I come in at 2.30am.”

It’s an arrangement that suits both parties – the hall gets additional income and Stephen gets a fully-equipped kitchen, although he did have to buy a pie blocker, pastry roller and food mixer. More recently he has also added a three-shelf bakery oven that should allow him to produce more produce, more efficiently.

With a wry smile he says: “The plan was to come in a bit later. It hasn’t materialised, I’ve just taken more work on.”

Originally from Lancashire Stephen had run several bakeries down south when he decided to seek a new challenge.

His last venture had been a shop in St Anne’s near Blackpool, which he said was “not a place I wanted to live”.

That sentiment prompted a Google search back in 2009 for “Scottish property and land for sale”. It identified a plot in Yell that was due to be auctioned and the couple “hopped on a plane”, visited the site and put in a bid that proved to be successful.

The rest, as they say, is history.

The idea was to build a house and plans were drawn up. But before that project got off the ground an “old house next door” at Cuppaster became available. It had belonged to “Old Merne”, said Stephen but needed a lot of work, meaning it was April 2011 before the couple could move in.

And the cost of renovation meant Stephen returned to the bakery business. “I wasn’t planning on doing that up here but I needed to do something after the house was done to get money in. I could do baking and thought I’ll do that for the moment. Three years on and I’m still doing it.”
Not that he has any regrets, though he has had to work out how to deal withw the logistical challenges of running a business in what is undeniably a remote location.

“Once you have got your head round the logistics and transport it’s the same [as running a bakery anywhere]. You have to make sure you don’t run low on your supplies.”

And like running a bakery anywhere you have to be prepared to get up in the middle of the night and get ready to put a hard shift in so the rest of us can enjoy our daily bread.

“You have got to enjoy your job to do it. If you didn’t enjoy it, you wouldn’t do it.”

It’s obvious that Stephen does enjoy it – and whatever the hours, it has to be easier than milking sheep.

Photos: Dave Donaldson