Isles Views 19.12.08

Wind Dog Cafe for sale

AFTER eight years of ownership partners Andy Ross and Andrew Harrison have decided to offer the Wind Dog Cafe for sale, as reported recently in The Shetland Times.

The cafe is ideally situated near the ferry terminal at Gutcher and it attracts local business as well as a lot of passing trade.

It is open long hours, especially in the summer, and it provides a welcome break for the weary traveller. As well as the food and drink offered it is a meeting place and in the evenings there are occasional music and storytelling nights. It provides internet access for the public and books; it is a branch of the Shetland Library.

The building, in its present form, started life as the Seaview Cafe in 1990. It was built by James John Jamieson and his family and, in the early days, focused mainly on coach parties touring Yell and Unst.

Before that, starting in the early 1960s, the Gutcher Cafe was to be found in our house next door. My mother and father, Eliza and Tom Tulloch, used the area of the house that had been a shop, in days gone, by as a tearoom. In those days there was a foot passenger only ferry service to Unst and Fetlar operated by the late Davy Johnston.

Tourists came in surprisingly large numbers given the limitations imposed by the transport; the main tour operators were Wallace Arnold and Midland Red working through Leasks of Lerwick. Often the cafe that could seat 50 folk at a pinch had to serve over 100 in around 40 minutes.

Margaret and I took over in 1979 when my parents retired but the cost of upgrading caused us to close down in 1989.

The summer is still the busiest time of year for the Wind Dog but, nowadays, more and more visitors have their own cars or hired cars and they come fewer at a time but far more often. There are still some coach parties, with Shearings being the most regular visitors.

One of the most frequently asked questions is: why is the Wind Dog so called?

A Wind Dog is an incomplete rainbow. In Shetland the same thing is called a sun dog or a sun gaa and to older folk especially it has a certain significance in weather forecasting, whither it was in front of the sun or behind the sun is hugely important. There is also a book of poems entitled Wind Dog.

Stormy weather

For anyone planning to do Christmas shopping in Lerwick the weather last weekend was far from helpful. The storm began on Friday evening and by bedtime it was arguably the strongest wind of this turbulent winter.

On Saturday morning, when the daylight grudgingly allowed a sighting, Bluemull Sound was something to behold. In the immediate aftermath of a full moon a very powerful south tide was going into the face of the storm force wind. There was no question of any ferry crossing.

In the afternoon the wind eased slightly and with the ebb tide conditions improved until a crossing was possible at 2pm. The darkness soon descended again and, with an increase in the wind speed, sailing was suspended for the day. The bad weather and other factors meant that, on Saturday, Unst got no mail and no papers giving the postmen and women an even harder time on Monday.

Yell Sound fared better, with crossings all day, but it was a single vessel operation. There was no Whalsay service on Saturday and Skerries was knocked out all weekend. On Sunday the wind had dropped, allowing things to return to normal. The south-east wind has deposited lots of debris on the shore – plentiful work for Da Voar Redd Up teams.

Whalsay Health Centre

Work to extend the Whalsay Health Centre is due to start in mid-January. When finished it will provide two consulting rooms and what used to be the doctor’s flat will become a dental clinic.

Some concerns have been expressed about the lack of parking space. Currently, at peak times, patients are having to park on the main road and with the addition of a dental clinic the pressure on parking spaces will increase.

Lighting gap request

Footpaths and street lights were installed at North Park in Whalsay last year, leaving a section of road, about 200 metres, unlit and with no footpath.

This dark bit, in between two well-lit areas with footpaths, is unsafe for drivers as well as pedestrians. Whalsay Community Council has asked for lights to be put in place, at least.

Schools at play

At this time of year nearly all the schools have put on a concert or a show of some sort for the enjoyment of parents, staff, pupils and teachers, for the whole community in fact.

The number and variety of ideas are impressive and, below, is a run down on a few of them.

Burravoe: The Burravoe School is doing a version of the Nativity Play called The Grumpy Innkeeper. He is grumpy because people keep waking him up in the night looking for somewhere to stay. Every one of the 14 pupils has a role in the play and it was staged in St Colman’s Kirk on Monday night.

Refreshments were served in the school afterwards and the collection will be donated to the CLAN House appeal. A slideshow of the school trip to Sullom Voe was shown.

Mid Yell: In Mid Yell Mr Scowl and Miss Holdup were among the judges as a motley crew of talented youngsters held a talent show during which they attempted to improve the reputation of the school and even the abilities of the teachers!

In this way they hoped to gain the confidence of councillors and persuade them to go ahead with the building of the new school. This is a very humorous show that was written mainly by the primary pupils and their teachers. It includes several surprises and a load of talent. Weel done bairns.

Fetlar: The world premiere of Fetlar School’s Christmas performance was held on a night of wild winter weather. Nonetheless half the island’s population turned up to see Da Three Sheep written by the pupils last June.

Da Three Sheep is a 20-minute long puppet animation show filmed against a variety of backgrounds rather like an old fashioned children’s TV programme and all of the filming took place in the North Isles.

As always the school production was a cross curriculum event with puppets and scenery being made by the pupils under the close supervision of Unst art teacher Caroline Nelson. The voices of various folk were digitally recorded and used to give the puppets character. Andy Ross of the CCI provided musical expertise.

Everyone enjoyed the antics of the three sheep as they were stolen from Fetlar by a Wicked Wife from Unst. They were eventually returned (through good luck rather than good planning) to Fetlar to enjoy Christmas. The play was more like a filmed panto than anything else.

The school also provided mince pies and held a raffle with all proceeds going to the CLAN 1,2,3, appeal. The popular Fetlar 2009 calendar sold well on the night and 10 per cent of the cover price also went to CLAN, a grand total of £270.

Skerries: Christmas celebrations and activities at the Skerries school have been, very much, a team effort.

Secondary pupils have produced a calendar; they have sourced photos, designed, printed and bound the pages. The finished article is on sale locally and in Lerwick.

Primary pupils knitted stockings and made a fireplace to hang them on. They have designed and made decorations for the canteen. They have helped decorate the Christmas tree in the porch.

Pupils have also helped make a life-size Santa, and primary pupils, together with secondary four, have dressed the science room skeleton as another Santa. Meanwhile nursery pupils have made a Santa’s workshop, in a corner of the nursery, complete with Santa letters and decorations for the tree.

There is a Christmas lunch for family members, helpers, teachers and pupils and, again, the pupils have been involved. They have helped the home economics teacher in the kitchen with the making of traffic light jelly, whipped jelly, stuffing, roast tatties, onion rings and gravy, and they have also helped with the setting of tables and serving.

There will be a children’s party in the hall on 27th December.

East Yell Cancer Shop

Shop manageress Penny Williams says that tomorrow they will be open in the afternoon from 1pm till 5pm.

All items are offered for sale at half the marked price.

The shop will then be closed until the afternoon of Saturday 17th January, again from 1pm to 5pm.

Penny would like to send her best wishes for a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year to all who have supported the shop in the past year.

Lawrence Tulloch


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