Thursday, September 26, 2013

Shetland Day-by-Day

Here I am on the doorstep in Drummond Place last Friday, about to walk up to the bus with Greek Helen. There is a fast and frequent bus service to the airport from Waverley Station and no need whatsoever that I or anyone else can see, for trams. The skirt I ordered had arrived at the last possible moment, and was perfect.

I met Kristie and Kath in the airport. They are first cousins and firm friends. They were brave to take me on for so intense an experience – not only a comparative stranger, but old to boot. It worked well. It was wonderful to have someone to talk things over with, at the end of the day – “Wasn’t it interesting, when she said…” We had always noticed the same things.

An easy flight, and time to case the joint in Lerwick on an unexpectedly mild and pleasant afternoon. We ate there, and then drove – Kristie drove – to our b&b/hotel, Burrastow House. I had been dubious about staying so far from Lerwick. It was more than a bit scary, finding it in the dark during Kristie’s first experience of driving on the left. Except that for much of the journey she didn’t have to, as we travelled on single-track roads.

Burrastow is wonderful. Vaut le voyage.

On Saturday, we got to work. First, the Shetland Museum. The staff kindly posed for us, so you could see their uniforms.

The girl on the right then took us on our tour of the textile collection -- which is, needless to say, brilliant. Kristie took a picture of me peering at a lace shawl – I trust it will turn up soon. Our guide (herself not a native) said that her husband’s sister’s husband, or else her husband’s brother’s wife, I can’t remember, was the grandson/granddaughter, as the case may be, of  Provost Jimmy Smith, “Ooie Jeemie”, who famously sent a box of Shetland knitting to Buckingham Palace.

The Prince of Wales picked out that Fair Isle pullover for himself, and played golf in it. And the rest, as they say, is history.

We went on to the Bod of Gremista, just north of Lerwick city centre. A bit less, perhaps, than I had hoped for, but interesting, none the less.

Then – Jamieson and Smith! But this was Saturday afternoon, and we missed it by ten minutes. Just as well – we needed hours there.

So we spent the rest of the afternoon shopping. I sought out a butcher, hoping for some seaweed-fed lamb. This should be the season. But he said no, that’s Orkney. (Is that true?) Instead, I bought a leg of reestit mutton. I will make a soup of some of it for our lunch today. When I got home yesterday, my husband and I tried little slices. It was both less salty, and tenderer, than I expected, and really rather tasty.

And then back to Burrastow for supper and bed. The owner, a very French Belgian, cooks. No menu. You sit down. He brings it in. Wow!


  1. I could weep that I missed travelling with you all ... the wedding that tore me from you really wasn't much fun, especially as all the way through I was thinking, I wonder what they're doing now!

    Keep the Shetland posts coming please Jean, there must be so much more to tell :)

    1. We were so sorry you weren't with us, Annie! We mentioned you multiple times, wishing you were there to experience it with us.

    2. We can only hope that life may yet surprise us with another opportunity :)

  2. Looks like a wonderful place to stay and that uniform is so much smarter and more appropriate than anything I've seen in a long time. I must say though, living in a place with trams, they are great, they run partly on disused train lines so can pick up real speed. Locally what was an unreliable bus journey of well over an hour has become a regular, reliable tram journey of 25 minutes for example. We are storing some of Edinburgh's trams down here, it's such a pity it's been so mismanaged. People weren't keen on them beforehand here but now wouldn't be without them

  3. You lucky lucky lady! What a wonderful place! It's at the top of my wishlist! Cx

  4. I think that sea-weed fed lamb is found in Orkney. I understand there is a coastal wall around North Ronaldsay and for at least part of the year the sheep stay on the outside/sea side of it munching the seaweed.