Art in the chalets.

 

 

We’ve been brightening the chalets up recently, and have added Sarah Kay Artwork to the walls!

 

While I was a bit nervous that people would think I was pushing my art on them, I felt it was an obvious inclusion, given that the views I paint are often the ones you can see from the chalets.

 

So I hope the work is enjoyed by some of the visitors. There is absolutely no obligation to buy anything, but it’s nice to have the extra space to display the work.

 

My studio, and home, is right next door to the chalets, and next year I am planning to open the studio up to visitors, so anyone staying at the chalets will also be able to come and visit the studio and learn more about my artwork, should they wish! 

visit - www.sarahkayarts.com  to see more.

Where does the time go!

 

Easterhoull chalets: nine years on  - 

 

We are coming to the end of our 9th year owning Easterhoull Chalets, and in that time we’ve never stopped trying to improve them.

 

With expectations from customers constantly growing, it’s difficult to provide absolutely everything and cater to every taste. While we always try to, we have to  remember we’re providing a 3 star experience, and not 5!

 

Some of the major improvements we’ve undertaken include re-plumbing all 9 chalets with a new hot water system and power showers, which are excellent. I am always surprised when staying in other accommodation, sometimes paying double the price, to find very poor showers, often electric with no force on the water. There’s nothing better than a long hot shower to unwind at the end of a busy day, and you can be sure to find one in any of our chalets.

 

We also invested heavily in technology to make sure we had the best internet connection available to each individual chalet, and have included this into the nightly cost.

 

The next major investment is new outside doors, currently on order which will smarten up the appearance of each chalet.

Best price for self catering in Shetland.

Chalet Prices

 

One aspect I find difficult with running the Chalet business is the pricing!

 

Now at the end of year 9, there has not been a price increase on the weekly let for 7 years. It’s only after staying in similar accommodation elsewhere that I realised just how much we offer for the price.

 

With overhead costs increasing each year I need need to look at our pricing structure, and find something which is still good value but which reflects the excellent services we provide, and suits all potential visitors.

 

Each chalet contains 2 bedrooms, so can sleep 4, and we currently have a set price per chalet. So this is a bargain for 4 people but not so great for one person.

 

We currently offer a discount for a full week, to try and encourage people to stay a full week, but perhaps this is pointless as the majority of visitors stay any number of nights regardless.

 

Other ideas in the pipeline are a loyalty scheme, for returning customers. We certainly have lots to consider. 

A Good Yarn

 

 

A good yarn can describe a well-told story or knitting wool and both are appreciated just as much here in the Shetland Islands. It is not uncommon to see regular gatherings advertised where people can meet together to chat to each other while they work on their latest knitting projects. Multitasking at its finest, as stories are woven into the conversation like the patterns formed with coloured strands of wool. These can range from the muted, natural colours of the native sheep to a kaleidoscope of colour in every hue imaginable. Many books have been written on the subject, whether it is lace knitting or Fair Isle, and there is an abundance of ideas for all ages and abilities when it comes to choosing something suitable to create with your own hands. Knitting is also very relaxing, even on holiday.

 

This month, a group of keen knitters from the Netherlands are staying at the Chalets as a direct result of attending Shetland Wool Week last year. For the past eight years, this event has been held in September for the purpose of promoting Shetland wool and all the many ways it can be utilised. Classes and workshops are offered in spinning, dyeing, weaving and knitting involving local crafters and producers, all experts in their area of interest. Visits are also organised to various places where the wool is produced and processed into yarn. For example, just along the hill to the south of Easterhoull, is Uradale Organic Farm, where organic wool is obtained from their flock of native sheep. Wool Week has become such a popular, international event now that bookings are being made a year in advance so, if you would like to experience it for yourselves, please don’t delay and book early to avoid disappointment.

Springtime at Easterhoull

 

 

Once spring arrives, with longer hours of daylight, it soon becomes clear that there is work to be done outside. Voar, the Shetland word for springtime, was and still is a busy time for a lot of people as repairs are made after the winter gales and the ground is prepared for sowing and planting. Properties are spruced up inside and out, paint is purchased and lawnmowers are brought out and put back into service after being stowed away all winter. At Easterhoull, the Chalets were completely repainted a few years ago and the blue, white and red colour scheme fairly stands out against the green grass surrounding them. They look very picturesque, clustered together on the side of the hill overlooking the sea and the village of Scalloway.

 

This year, the plan is to renovate and replant an area of ground behind the Chalets, which is going to be a bit of a challenge as it is on a very steep slope. A retaining wall in front keeps the soil in place otherwise it would slide down the hill. Last year, a section was cleared and planted up with strawberries and chives, which the guests at the Chalets were able to pick for their own use. Hopefully, when the new planting is completed, it will provide even more growing space for pick your own produce as well as making a beautiful feature for everyone to enjoy. Next door, at Highlands, the garden is open under Scotland’s Gardens scheme to raise money for various charities and is an example of what can be achieved in a difficult location by sheer hard work, determination and a fair amount of artistic flair.

Pass it on week

 

 

Pass it on Week, Scotland’s annual initiative to promote recycling, may be over but it isn’t limited to one week in the year at Easterhoull Chalets. Re-use and recycling is all part of the Easterhoull ethos which involves recycling as much waste as possible and providing an on site compost heap to gather suitable materials for use in the garden. These are the more obvious examples but the Chalets also re-use good quality furniture, some of which is purchased from the local Social Enterprise Company, Cope Ltd. They were able to use Pass it on Week to highlight the work that they do in Shetland regarding recycling and to encourage people to bring in things that they no longer need but which may be of use to someone else.

 

Cope Ltd has been operating for a number of years now and their Shetland Home Company store is a popular place to obtain household items, including antiques, which still have a lot of life left in them yet. If you want to get a bargain then you have to be quick, as some items get snatched up as soon as they get in the door and before they have even been priced. They also provide employment opportunities and training for several young people, helping them to acquire skills and confidence in their own abilities. Easterhoull is pleased to support Cope Ltd as we share the same principles of reducing waste and encouraging re-use, something that was common practice in previous generations but is now being revived.

Da Voar Redd Up!

  Coming soon to Shetland is "da voar redd up" in its 30th Year. This annual collection of litter from our many beaches and road sides is important to keep Shetland tidy. With more than 20% of the population volunteering, many of them school children, every year tonnes of rubbish is disposed of. This is an excellent help to keep Shetlands environment and wildlife cleaner and safer for everyone to enjoy.

Shetland wook week

As our islands are predominantly covered in heather and rough grazing suitable for our hardy Shetland Ponies and Shetland sheep to eat. They produce the finest oo (wool) in return. Which is then turned into the famous Fair Isle knitted garments.

Shetland wool spinners and knitters promote a 'wool week'with a range of teaching and exhibiting of local hand knitting. 7 yearl old, this week in September has become popular around the globe, with several Dutch and American knitters visiting the islands, sharing and learning skills.

Dates for 2017 are filling up fast, with 2 chalet still available. Starting- Saturday 23rd September - 1st October.

Up Helly Aa

   Its that time of year again. Lerwicks Up Helly Aa takes place every year at the end of January, come what may rain or shine. The viking festival is a very rare event not to be missed, many hours of preparation go into making it a very colourful occasion especially for the chief Juizer Jarl and his squad of hairy vikings. 

 We have one chalet left (due to a cancellation) for any last minute visitors! The chalets are only 5 minutes drive away from Lerwick and make a excellent base for visitors, open all year round.

Welcome to Easterhoull Chalets blog!

With Christmas and New Year celebrations over for another year, the village of Scalloway (Shetlands ancient capital) looks forward to the fire festival, held in the village under the shadows of the castle, built for Earl Patrick Stewart in the late sixteenth century. Patrick was a very evil man and treated the locals very unfairly, however his evil ways was finally his undoing and he was tried, found guilty and hanged in Edinburgh!

Seal pup’s big adventure gives motorist a gluff

An adventurous seal caused quite a fright when it was spotted on a road in Bressay, miles from the water.

Gemma Tulloch, 28, said she had to look twice when she saw the hefty pup by the roadside at about 11am.

She jumped out of the car to take a quick photo of the animal which was close to their home before contacting her dad who helped rescue the seal with a tonne bag.

“It was a complete shock. I had to take a double look, it was quite unexpected,” she said.

“He seemed to be following the verge of the road…he didn’t know where he was going.

“I was in the car and I was just going in over the island and he was just opposite our house. I hadn’t got very far and I stopped and I thought I would have to do something about him becasue he clearly wasn’t meant to be there.”

After being taken over to Lerwick the seal was transported up to Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary.

Jan Bevington who runs the sanctuary with husband Pete, said the seal had belly-flopped along the road for about two miles.

“It’s a female and a decent size,” she said.

“I can’t see anything totally wrong with her but it’s just collapsed in its pen and it’s snoring near enough.

“It’s so tired I assume it’s the two-mile flop that’s done it.”

Mrs Bevington said seal pups that have moulted can go on land looking for food if they are hungry.

She believes the seal is about four to six weeks old and weighs about 30 kilos.

And other than being dehydrated the initial signs were that seal was in good health.

“If she’s ok we’ll feed her up for a week and let her go,” she said.

 

Fishermen’s photos inspire new exhibition

The latest exhibition at Shetland Museum’s Da Gadderie, At Sea and Ashore, is a showcase of four Shetland fishermen’s own photographs.

The idea for the exhibition came as a result of their photos being posted on social media sites – giving viewers a window into their world, both while they were off fishing, but also during the periods ashore.

The digital images got a huge reaction from the public, and illustrate not only the technical abilities of the self-taught amateur photographers but demonstrate their artistic ability too.

 

So who are they?

Johnny Simpson from Whalsay left school aged 16 in 1974. He got a job on the Whalsay boat Zephyr as cook and has been with her in all her incarnations ever since.

He got his first camera, a 35mm Ricoh KR10 back in the late seventies.

Now using a Nikon D4, Johnny says he was slow to embrace the change but soon saw the advantages to digital. His images of orcas taken while fishing and mirrie dancers while ashore are among his most popular.

Kevin Ritch, who has lived in both Unst and Burra, got the chance of a job on a Yell boat when he was 15.

His mother sent him off with a set of oilskins and he enjoyed the work so much it was three months before he went home.

He spent 10 years with the Madalia and then sat his ticket and got a job on the Alison Kay for 10 years.

He took a share when the new boat came along and has sailed as her second skipper for the last 15 years.

Kevin got his first camera when he was 16 and moved on to digital in 2001. His quirky, artistic images of birds and seascapes when he’s fishing and his eye for an unusual shot ashore are well appreciated on Facebook.

Ian Reid from Whalsay left school in 1990, gaining a job onboard the Korona through the government’s Youth Training Scheme.

He was on her crew for two years, followed by several years with different boats during some difficult years for the industry.

Ian says he was lucky, following the decommissioning of the Zenith in 2003, to get a job with the Resilient crew, and is still with them today.

He has always been interested in photography and after owning various cameras, bought his first digital SLR in 2005.

His favourite subjects when fishing are solans diving and his landscapes are hugely popular. He says without social media very few folk would get to see his and other people’s photos of Shetland.

The fourth set of photographs are a little bit different. They were taken by the late Leslie Williamson of Bixter, shareholder on-board the Evening Star, and were posted by his widow Marlene.

Without the benefit of social media and Facebook people would probably never have been able to share what feels like a portal back in time to the 1960s when the boat and her crew were fishing pioneers.

Looking back half a century later, much in the industry has changed and advanced, but many will recognise and appreciate the working life of the Shetland fishermen then. Thank goodness Leslie took his camera for that shift and that Marlene had the generosity to share them.

At Sea and Ashore opens to the public in Da Gadderie at 2pm on Saturday 14th January and runs until 26th February.

Photo of colossal wave goes global

The moment the wave hits the Skerry of Ashiness - Photo: Ryan Sandison

The moment the wave hits the Skerry of Ashiness - Photo: Ryan Sandison

A SHETLAND photographer who took an iconic image of Storm Conor on Boxing Day has described the attention he received from around the world as "mind blowing".

Ryan Sandison's photo of a massive wave breaking over the Skerry of Eshaness made it into most of the national newspapers and was shared more than 3,200 times online, while it has reached almost half a million users on his Facebook page.

It was also distributed internationally via London based photo agency Rex Features.

Sandison, from Hillswick, said the photo was taken from near a passing place overlooking Stenness and the rocks, which usually shelter the bay there.

"I was out going to see if there was any rough sea," he said, adding that the photo was taken from just outside his car as it wasn't a day to venture out much further.

"I was thinking 'this is a pretty good shot', but I wasn't overawed by it because we are used to seeing big seas here – I just thought 'that might not be too bad'," the 39-year old said as he recalled the moment he took the shot.

He added: "It is amazing to witness some of the seas you get around here, but sometimes you can't get a photo.

"Last year, when storm Gertrude hit the isles, the wind was so strong that the tops of the waves were being blown off.

"So it probably was even rougher that day, with the wave tops being cut off by the wind. On Boxing Day conditions were just perfect."

And there is some doubt as to the actual height of the waves that hammered the west coast of Shetland on that day.

It was widely reported that his photo captured a 46ft wave crashing into the rocks, but he believes it was much higher.

"There are two separate rocks, one is 38 metres high. That wave at its peak was double that height," Sandison said.

"This must have been thousands of tonnes of water hitting that skerry all at once. It was fascinating."

Lyall's Up Helly Aa cider set for launch

AN UP Helly Aa-themed cider is being launched later this month to celebrate Shetland’s Viking festival season.

East Lothian-based cider company Thistly Cross has teamed up with local wholesaler JW Gray to develop and distribute the 5.5 per cent drink in the isles over the coming months.

It will be formally launched at Lerwick’s Grand Hotel on the afternoon of 31 January before going on sale in local pubs and shops.

Thistly Cross sales manager Luke Fenton said the idea for the cider came via this year’s Lerwick Up Helly Aa guizer jarl Lyall Gair, who is a “big fan” of the company’s drinks and has developed a strong friendship with its staff.

“He’s been helping us out over the last three years by coming down to some shows in London, with his big beard and hair, and helping us talk to people about Thistly Cross,” he said.

“He told us all about becoming guizer jarl and he was keen, and we were too, to get involved. We’re a small company making craft cider and we love smaller events where we engage with different communities.”

Gair said the cider has been mooted since the summer when he met up with the Thistly Cross crew in London and he was given a sample of the drink to try while on his way to see the Scotland football team play before production started.

"They gave me a box of the 5.5 per cent cider to try on my way to London on a train with all my Tartan Army friends and me and all of my mates gave it the thumbs up.

"I was introduced to [Thistly Cross'] Peter Stuart at a wedding six years ago and we have kept in contact. Since then he introduced me to Luke a few years after. I keep sending them both a few photos when I find some Thistly Cross in a pub or off-licence."

The badge for the new Up Helly Aa cider.

Fenton said the cider will be available on tap in a range of pubs and hotels in Lerwick, with more premises expected to come on board soon, while it will also go on sale in five-litre boxes in shops.

He said it is a still cider, tastes a “little bit dry and not too sweet” and is suitable for vegans.

The drink will be available during the Up Helly Aa season, and if it is a success then they might make plans to follow it up with a different cider next year.