Views from the Scord 03.10.08

Harbour activity

SCALLOWAY Harbour was very much in the doldrums this week with only the Ronja Settler, a few fishing vessels and the regular salmon tenders interrupting an otherwise tranquil quayside.

The only larger vessel to visit was the freight coaster Sirius, which called in on Monday. The Sirius is one of the regular coasters that deliver fish feed to Scalloway but on this occasion she merely took aboard bunker fuel and departed to continue delivering feed directly to barges on aquaculture sites.

Wednesday’s council strike saw the harbour office maintaining a skeleton staff to continue port operation but in the event no irregular or large vessels arrived. The harbour remained quiet until this Monday when the Anglian Sovereign made a routine visit.

Fish landings were modest in the week up to Friday with the Fertile, Keila, Comrades, Mizpah, Venturous and the NAFC Marine Centre vessel Atlantia landing a total of 1,211 boxes. The largest landing out of these came from the Keila with a respectable 376 boxes.

On the pierside, construction of the second of two large circular salmon cages was completed for Lakeland and the cage was launched on Tuesday for onward towage to Hoganess.

Line-caught mackerel landings from a variety of small craft totalled 85 boxes.

Bridge-End hall teas

This Sunday the Bridge-End Community hall will be open for teas. This event is to raise funds for the bairns’ Christmas party held annually in the hall.

The party is held for all children in the Bridge-End area aged from primary seven and down and has been held for over 50 years in the community. Parents and grandparents come along too and gifts are presented to all the children attending.

In keeping with this it is the parents, grandparents and parents of bairns that have outgrown the party too that voluntarily prepare teas and bakes for both events.

Historically the Christmas party was organised by the SWRI, but with the rural no longer operating in the area it fell to the locals to uphold the tradition, which they have done successfully.

Also on sale at the teas on Sunday will be the popular Burra History Group calendar, by way of a prelude to its official launch soon. The history group is opening the Easthouse centre at Duncansclett in conjunction with the teas at Bridge-End so that people in the area can drop in before or after their teas. Both venues are open from 2pm to 5pm.

Golden fishing

A group of pupils from Scalloway Junior High School took the afternoon off to go sea angling last Friday. Though this departure from school during the day may seem inappropriate they were, in fact, accompanied by two of their teachers.

The fishing trip was suggested as a “golden time” activity by one of the pupils and teachers managed to organise it in co-operation with the NAFC Marine Centre.

Golden time is a period of activities held by the school every Friday afternoon to reward pupils for hard work and good behaviour through the week. The principle of the activities is to allow pupils to try hobbies or activities that they have not tried before or have a strong interest in.

Pupils from different classes mix during these activities, which also encourages sociability within the school. At Scalloway the range of activities included sea fishing, trampolining, remote-control car racing, gardening, craft activities and guitar workshops.

In this instance the boys had a splendid time sea fishing among the isles aboard the Marine Centre vessel Moder Dy, crewed by Leslie Tait and Arthur Johnson. The pupils were accompanied by teachers Mrs Stewart and Mrs Williamson. As Leslie says: “They all had a good time and just about all managed to catch something.” The trip was enjoyed by all aboard, and the fishers took home a good catch of, mostly, mackerel.

A spokesman for Scalloway school expressed gratitude to the NAFC Marine Centre and others who have been involved in golden time activities and the school would like to hear from anyone in the community that can offer an activity, or from parents who would like to get involved.

Burra Community Council meeting

A reminder that the Burra Community Council meets on Monday, so if you have any issue you’d like raised get in touch with your community councillors or go along to the meeting.

Thomas Fraser Memorial Festival

As many people are aware by now, Thomas Fraser of Burra passed away at the untimely age of 50, leaving behind a vast collection of recorded songs he had preserved on his old reel to reel tape recorder.

These tapes have been meticulously catalogued and where possible transferred to CD for general release. This year marks the 30th anniversary of his death and in honour of this the fourth CD of his work, entitled That Far Away Land, is to be released at the now annual festival of music at the Burra Public Hall next month.

The festival has grown year upon year since its origins and this year can boast a fantastic line-up of local talent and musicians from as far removed as the USA and Italy.

Extending over three nights from the Thursday, the first concert is an all seated bar-less event followed by two further nights (with bar, supper and raffles), with variations on the line up throughout the weekend.

According to organiser and Thomas’s grandson Karl Simpson the story of the latest CD is one of good fortune and technology.

After years of sifting through the multitude of Thomas’s recordings, now exceeding 1,400 including many duplicates, Karl had previously thought that no more would come to light and those that had been transferred to CD were nearly all that were salvageable with the technology available.

However, recent advances in audio filtering software have allowed many tracks thought unusable to be re-mastered in high quality. Serendipity has led to the discovery of a number of previously lost tunes too, with some turning up from other sources and some being rediscovered among tapes previously ignored.

One fine example of this came from a discussion between Karl and Willie Robertson during which Willie asked after a memorable tune that was unknown to Karl. This prompted Karl to revisit a box of tapes he had previously dismissed and among them he found the tune. It is now on the latest CD and rated as a “really bonny tune” and among the best on it, all from a chance mention.

Karl says that from a combination of improved technology and content this CD is probably the best yet. The festival should also prove to be previously unsurpassed as it grows every year.

From the original event that Karl organised with his mother, there is now a committee of around 10 people required to organise the show.

Karl thinks his work in consolidating the old recordings of Thomas Fraser is now 90 per cent complete and there may be another CD released in a couple of years, while the legend continues to grow and knowledge of this Burra phenomenon spreads worldwide.

Mark Burgess


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