Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A little fresh air at Burgi Block House

The morning after Up Helly Aa seemed not so bad so we headed south for Scat Ness and The Ness of Burgi. A place well worth a visit if you've not been; only a short walk with great views.


The threatening skies held off on our walk...


 Sumburgh Head in the distance...


Fitful head in the distance...


For some reason Beren kept wanting to be in photo's doing the Scout salute...


A chain walk separates Scat Ness from The Ness of Burgi. it's nothing at all to worry about unless the seas are very big, but then you'd be stupid to try to cross. It's only a chain handrail but the rocks can be very slippy...




Beren, Block house and Sumburgh...

  

Burgi Block House...


It's the remains of an Iron Age fortification...


We went inside and broke out the bothy bag to sit inside for a cuppa and a biscuit before heading back...


We popped into a very busy Sumburgh Hotel for a sarnie and chips and then headed back north and home. Little did we expect to be driving into and through proper snow! Turning into the Black Gaet I really wondered whether we'd make it. Some change from when we set off! Anyway we did  and for all the snow is still lying I think we'll be very lucky for it to stay and get a snow day for sledging...

Lerwick Up Helly Aa 2015

After a pretty grotty day the evening of Lerwick Up Helly Aa 2015 was surprisingly dry and mild. We'd almost been tempted not to go after the last couple of years of torrential rain, so I'm very glad we did!

As the maroon was fired the crowds waited for the procession to get going...


And soon they arrived...


Squads of all sorts dressed up for there skits later on through the night. And we spotted Beren's beaver scout leader; I had no idea he was a Nun!


Cheers for the torch makers, cheers for the galley and cheers for the Guizer Jarl, Neil Robertson, before the torch flying began...


And then all that work went up in flames to start another year...



And here's a little video of the procession for your viewing delight (watch in HD)...


I'm hoping to get to South Mainland Up Helly Aa this time for the first time and may be a couple of the others so watch this space...

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Views from Garths Ness


In between showers I had a walk around Garths Ness, south of Quendale. Fitful Head is such an impressive and imposing headland, pity it's not readily accessible...



 Enjoying a quick blast of sun...


There are places around here where grey seals pup, but we're past that time.


 There's a nice little sheltered beach where the Burn of Garth come into the sea...


And it's a pretty burn too if you follow it upstream past ancient remains.


I came back along the side of Quendale Bay. A lovely stretch of beach, though the dune at the back have taken a hammering over the winter. I even saw some large and clear otter prints at the far end, but no otters.


Beren's also been having some fun with his first shot on the climbing wall at Clickimin...


He enjoyed it and wants to go back; I'd not say he's looking like a rock star yet. but you never know. Saying that the wall isn't exactly set up for 7 years old's to climb!


I had a quick shot on it too, but my poor old wrists were playing up so I was relegated to belaying and been a pushy Dad.

Up Helly Aa on Tuesday, hope my health doesn't have me missing this one like I missed Scalloway Fire Festival...


Thursday, 22 January 2015

Night sky from Berry Hill

After seeing that the mirrie dancers were out I was energised in to putting on enough layers to look like the Michelin Man and go for a walk through soggy parks of sheep up to the trig point on Berry Hill. I'd never gone there to look at the aurora before, but it seemed like it might be a good spot and it was...

 
The only real fly in the ointment was the yellow blaze from Sullom Voe flare stack some 20 miles north, oh and the fact that after a splodge up the hill the sky was merry , but it wasn't dancing. The Milkway was out though... 
 

Looking over Scalloway Orion was rising through the cloud...


And looking back north the plough was playing hide and seek in the drifting cloud...


To say it was fresh up there would be an understatement. Despite my layers and down jacket I danced around trying to keep warm and looked in vain for a little shelter from the wind while the camera clicked away. Next time I go I think I'll take a tarp to shelter in and stay out longer. I think there was more activity from the aurora at times in the night, but unless you just wait it out for that lucky few minutes you just never know .
 
Here's a little timelapse video of the view from the hill (watch in HD)...


Monday, 19 January 2015

Misadventure with a tarp and a bike...

The weather has been typically Shetlandic for some time now, but I had hope of a weather window at the weekend. Well if I looked around at various forecasts I hoped one of them might be right in the way I wanted it!

In the hope that it did work out I spent some time going through my camping gear for a set up that would work on the bike. Santa had brought me a couple of Alpkit items, namely a seat bag called a Koala and a top tube bag called a Fuel Pod, along with a lightweight down jacket.

Here's a video of the gear I proposed to use for my first bikepacking overnighter...



At the same time Clare decided the time was right to decorate the kitchen. I hate the smell of paint, decorating and the general upheaval, so with the faintest of hopes of less wind and rain I set off for a short ride to Trondra and a spot on the south side of the island that has a nice outlook.

It rained on and off as I cycled there and the wind had dropped considerably so it was looking promising. Unfortunately with the amount of rain, sleet and hail we've been having, combined with the naturally spongy ground up here everywhere was totally sodden. Not surprising, or unexpected, though I liked to hope for the best.

Here's camp Kev. The first of 2015...


The DD 3m tarp has the front wheel supporting it across at the back and the handle bars at the front. I put a bag under the forks to protect the brake callipers a bit...



You can see the setup better in the video below.

As it turned out I was home sooner than planned. I hadn't really felt like any tea, but ate one of the dehydrated meals and a cuppa to have something warm in me. I was only 5c, but with the very cold damp it felt a lot colder.

Sadly not long later as I lay in my sleeping bag listening to Liza Tarbuck on Radio 2 I had the urgent need to race to get shoes on and get out. Out into the now northerly wind complete with sleet to bare my bottom. It wasn't pretty. Over the next hour this was a regular event and a close race at times.

Feeling awful and no longer enjoying my trip I decide to pack up quickly and head for the comforts of home. By now the northerly wind had picked up more. Something I'd expected, but I'd also planned to be in bed when it did. Anyway as fast as I could I splodged across the moor and cycled home in the dark into icy sleet and wind with the joys of another emergency pit stop before reaching home.

Here's a video of my trip...



I'm currently feeling pretty yucky with an upset stomach still and fluy head cold yuckiness going on. I'm glad I came home; I was obviously just coming down with something when I left. Also Sunday morning was pretty grim with more sleet and snow so it would have been a long cold wet night followed by the same to get home.

Still the tarp set up was good. Very low, but stable too. The Koala seat bag worked brilliantly despite me having it over filled. On the road there was enough clearance from the wheel, off road the odd rough bump had it brushing the wheel, but not much. It also proved totally waterproof. My home made pop can stove was a little gem too along with my candle box. So for all it was no wonderful night under the stars it wasn't a total waste of time. It was a gear test essentially anyway and the gear passed!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Wild winter weather!

It's been wild! I've lost track of exactly how wild, but roofs have gone, buses and lorries have turned over as well as the odd wheely bin. I've heard Gale Force 11 and 12 mentioned but it could be any thing. It is enough to make it bloody difficult for me to walk, easy for Clare to get blown about and not worth Beren getting out the car.

We took a trip north to experience the full storm, though we mainly hid from it in the car!

The Drongs...



 Dore Holm...



Stenness...



We had planned to stop in at Frankies on the way home for a nice plate of fish and chips, but it seemed all the power was off in Brae. No problem The Fort in town would do!

 And just to re-assure you it has been as wild as a wild thing have a look at our little video of the trip north. Brrr....



Friday, 26 December 2014

Boxing (Day) Seals

On Christmas Eve I had a nasty bike accident while out with Beren on his bike. Of all places it happened on the emergency helicopter landing pad for the hospital! 

While playing chase around the helipad my chain snapped and left me dramatically head butting the floor and lying in a crumpled heap. Luckily I had my helmet on or it would have been a very different story, but as it is I've spent Christmas in a lot of pain with cracked ribs and lots of bruising and pain all down my left side not to mention feeling pretty poor in general. Just  my luck!

The metal of the chain actually split! Not good on a bike less than 1 month old and not in any sort of challenging situation...


On a positive note, my back is fine!

Anyway desperate to escape the confines of home and feeling sorry for myself for not being able to enjoy the wonderfully icy, clear, still weather of the last two days we drove over to Lerwick for a Boxing Day treat of soup and hot chocolate at the new cafe, Fjara, near Tescos.


Not a bad view...


Afterwards I gingerly wandered along the icy road to look at the seals. It was a gorgeous afternoon, but I was in enough pain walking so wasn't going to venture too far in case of a fall on the ice.

It was worth it though, seals were out sunning themselves and it was literally a breath of fresh air.



A bit of a lovers tiff going on here I think! Boxing Seals...




 It's not many places you can go shopping, have a cuppa and get so close to lounging seals!


We're off sooth tomorrow to see family. I had hopes of a couple of ventures while away. A night up the woods in the hammock at an old spot from my youth and a mountain bike ride with my brother, but it looks like an evening at the panto is as exciting as it'll get with my incapacity. Talking of which I'm going to get off here as it's bloody killing me sat at the PC.

All the best for the New Year where ever you are!