May 11, 2023
The Shetland Islands are islands off the northern coast of Scotland. They only became part of Scotland in 1469 (just a short time ago by United Kingdom standards), and didn't adopt Scottish laws until the 1700's. So, they don't have the castles, clans and tartans that are important in other parts of Scotland.
We had an independent tour today because the Viking one we wanted was full. What good luck for us! Our tour guide, Anita, grew up in the area and she was awesome. We learned so much about the town of Lerwick, where the ship was docked, and the surrounding areas. For example, I didn't know Scotland had beaches, but they do and this one is used by the locals in the warm weather.
The house next to the beach, on the other side, which happened to belong to a cousin of our guide, really showed a lot about how people lived here in the past and now.
In this picture, if you look closely you can see a bar sticking out from above a doorway. This was used to load and unload cargo from a ship.
The two narrow, high windows had slats in them to let the wind blow through, and this is where food was kept cold and/or dried.
In this picture the blue doors were from the days of steam ships and would be used to unload and store goods off the ship.
The large rocks piled up against the wall were used as a boat landing and dock.
Like in many other towns we visited on this trip, fishing is a key economic industry in the area. Mackerel, herring, mussels, and oysters are some of the seafood harvested here. This picture is of a mussel farm, where mussels are grown for three years before harvesting.
And of course the Shetland Islands are known for Shetland Sheep, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Shetland Ponies. We were so fortunate to be able to visit a farm (Breckenlea Shetland Pony Stud) and interact with the very lovely lady, Marion who runs the family business. We learned so much, and had a fabulous time.
These sheep have been bred to be this particular blend of colors, and the fleece is very high quality and absolutely beautiful when it is spun into yarn. The little lambs we are holding are only a few weeks old, and we got to name a couple of them (Midnight and Snippet).
The Shelties were adorable! They have a sheltie named Bailey also, and he is only a year old. Interestingly, some shelties are natural herders and can move the sheep around without any training. Others, not so much.... (Bailey is a good herder!). Definitely a highlight of our trip!
The Ponies are true Shetland Ponies, and the two foals were only a few weeks old also. The thick hair on the ponies keeps them warm, and it is fascinating how long it grows over their face to protect them from the wind and cold.
Getting to know Marion and the animals was a real joy, and we definitely could have stayed for hours, but we had to move on. The next stop was a charming local restaurant with delicious fresh baked food. Yummy!
Thank you Anita for a fantastic day in Lerwick!
Back to the ship to enjoy some more great food and excellent evening entertainment.
Tonight we cruise across the North Sea (almost directly) to Bergen, Norway! We'll be there bright and early in the morning! "Good night and sweet dreams" to you all - in Scots Gaelic - oidhche mhath agus bruadar aisling.