South Mainland Notebook

Blues festival at Sandwick

Sandwick Social Club will be dancing the night away tomorrow, when The Offenders, an exciting young Edinburgh band, perform there as part of the sixth Shetland Blues Festival.

Arriving hot from the Edinburgh Fringe the band, which cut its teeth on the city’s bar circuit, offers a mix of trad and contemporary blues, along with jazz, rock and funk, in a range of registers from the coolest of cool to smoking hot. The four members possess a wealth of musical talent between them. Frontman Den Westerburgh plays harmonica and alto-sax, but also claims to be an expert on “everything that makes a sound”. Drummer Cat Myers has 15 years of performing behind her and is adept in most areas of modern drumming. Guitarist Dave Wallace is renowned for his skills as a soloist, while bass-player Mert Pearson has performed with some of the best. Together since February 2005, The Offenders have established a strong following and play to packed venues.

Performing alongside The Offenders will be The Donald Anderson Band. A singer-songwriter well known from his appearances at the Shetland Folk Festival, Donald released his debut album Waterhead Sky in 2005.

The event is free and starts at 9.30pm.

Susannah’s happy trip

Susannah Hall-Hirst, a very special young girl from West Sussex, has recently returned home after her first ever visit to Shetland.

Susannah arrived with very definite ideas about what she wanted to do during her South Mainland holiday. The plan was to go on a Shetland pony, visit a fishmonger’s shop, and make friends with as many of Shetland’s birds and animals as possible.

A ride on Nightcap at Broothom Ponies in Dunrossness fulfilled the first ambition. Calm and reassuring stable girl Hannah Budge quickly did away with any initial nervousness, and Susannah even became confident enough to enjoy a trot.

At McNab’s Kippers in Lerwick Susannah was treated to a look behind the scenes, where she saw fish being smoked and filleted. Puffins and seals caused a lot of excitement, but Susannah’s favourite animal encounter was with a collie called Lassie. The only disappointment was that there weren’t any whales at Sumburgh Head, but that just made something to come back for.

Susannah’s mother, Felicity-Ann, was immensely touched by how kind the Shetland folk were to her daughter, and it greatly contributed to her own enjoyment of a much-needed holiday. Feast of opportunities With its glorious meat, seafood and vegetables, scrumptious teas and great places to eat out, the Ness is second to none when it comes to food, and that’s something worth shouting about.

This year’s Shetland Food Festival, which takes place from Friday 2nd to Sunday, 11th October, provides an opportunity to do just that. Food producers can showcase their wares at a large market at Clickimin while restaurants and cafes which put together special menus using traditional Shetland recipes or ingredients will be included in the festival programme and on the website.

But it isn’t just food professionals who can get involved. The organisers are suggesting that hall committees put on themed food evenings. Talented amateurs might like to run cooking workshops, or lay on events that link food with art or music. Basically the sky is the limit.

Last year’s festival attracted a great deal of media interest, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to promote all things foodie. For further information contact Nicola Halcrow on (01595) 744944 or at

Films at Fair Isle

Part of Screenplay 2009, Fair Isle Film Weekend’s main screenings start today at 6.30pm with Howl’s Moving Castle, an animated love story for all ages.

Tomorrow at 7pm there is a showing of Simon Miller’s Gaelic language film entitled Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle, which is set on the Isle of Skye.

Seachd is a very Scandinavian film,” Simon says, “so it will be interesting to see the response it gets from an audience made up of people who are a mixture of Scottish and Scandinavian.

“It also tends to resonate with people who live on islands. Even if they come from places as unalike as New Zealand and Bermuda, all island-dwellers seem to have certain things in common.”

Concerned with stories, heritage and identity, Seachd is the first full-length film in Gaelic to have gained theatrical release. As such, it reflects Simon’s love of the storytelling tradition and his interest in “lost” languages, but he is adamant that it is not just an exercise in cultural preservation.

“The film got funding because of a belief in the script,” he says. “That was what came first.”

On Sunday at 3pm there is a showing of the silent film South, chronicling Ernest Shackleton’s two-year expedition to the Antarctic, and throughout the weekend there will be other archive films and shorts.

The event takes place at Fair Isle Hall and tickets are available on the door or by calling Shetland Box Office on (01595) 745555, where people can also get the special Fair Isle Weekend Deal, which includes all screenings and costs £10 or £7 concessions.

Fun weekend at Gulberwick

Gulberwick residents can look forward to a weekend packed with entertainments.

If you are a family of masterminds or a bunch of eggheads, there are cash prizes to be won at tomorrow’s quiz night in the hall at 8pm. Teams of four can test their general knowledge for an entry fee of £5.

Gulberwick beach is starting to re-form but it’s still not clear how much sand there will be for Sunday’s picnic. But rain or shine, beach or no beach, a great day is in store. The hall will be open from 2.30pm for people to bring their contributions to the “pot luck” meal, which begins at 4.30pm. Every household is asked to bring enough to share. From 3pm there will be activities on the beach or in the hall, depending on the weather.

“We’ll keep our fingers crossed that there will be sufficient sand ” says Maurice Mullay, chairman of the community group Gulberwick Together. “If not, it may be the case that the sand castle competition will be a bit restricted. But whatever happens we’ll make sure everyone has a good time.”

And with races, sports and boat rides planned, it really shouldn’t matter if sand bungalows are the order of the day, rather than the usual more regal constructions.

The Gulberwick Picnic is a family event for people who live in Gulberwick. Children under 12 should be accompanied by an adult. There will be a collection to cover expenses.

Annual meeting at mill

Anyone with an interest in the history of Dunrossness is welcome to attend the South Mainland Community History Group’s annual general meeting, which takes place at Quendale Mill at 7.30pm on Thursday.

A short meeting will be followed by an open discussion of plans for collecting local history during the winter months.

In particular the group is looking for information about people who emigrated from the district in the late 19th century, the kind of life they left behind and where they went to.

Garth, Refuge, Newfoundland and Scord are just a few of the places in proximity to Quendale Mill that people emigrated from. The information gathered will link in with next year’s Hamefarin.

Celebrating St Ninian

A Celebration of St Ninian at Bigton Hall on Sunday starts with Songs of Praise at 11.30am, followed by refreshments and a bring and share picnic.

In the afternoon there will be games in the hall for children, or a walk across the to the chapel on St Ninian’s Isle. The event is organised by St Magnus Episcopal Church and led by the Rev. Keith Henshall. All are welcome to attend. Call (01950) 422333 for further details.

Seals a success on Mousa

A ferry full of excited passengers returned to Mousa on Saturday, after a gloriously sunny day spent watching seals at play.

The event was organised by the RSPB and led by warden Helen Moncrieff. Rob Fray, who has just finished a summer’s work for the RSPB, also attended with his family. “He can’t keep away,” joked Helen.

Vision meeting at Fair Isle

The Shetland South Vision 2009 road show headed across the water to Fair Isle last Friday, accompanied by MSP Tavish Scott and South Shetland councillor Rick Nickerson.

The public meeting was very well attended and a wide range of subjects were discussed, the main topics being transport and health service facilities. The event was conducted in a positive manner and folk greatly appreciated having an opportunity to air their views.

Cathy Feeny


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