Isles Views 11.09.09

New family to Whalsay

One year ago the Emmetts, James and Zoe, realised that they were not only living in the thick of the rat race but living a life that they never wanted to be permanent. They were both in new high pressure, high profile jobs and they spent most of their time at work.

The stress was such that they had no time for any sort of a social life. When they sat down to take stock they were far from sure about what they wanted to do but they agreed that there had to be changes. They decided that they wanted somewhere more rural, a tighter community and to be near the sea.

A few weeks later Mrs Emmett found a vacancy for the post of deputy head at the Whalsay School and sent in an application. An interview date was arranged and the Emmetts arrived in Shetland on a stormy January day when the wind prevented any crossing to Whalsay.

The following day was bright and calm and James says that Shetland was “stunningly transformed” and a trip to Whalsay was possible. While the interview took place James toured around the island and liked what he saw, but wondered if they could live in a place this small.

Back in Lerwick the news came that Zoe had got the job and it was at that moment that the two of them cheered and knew that they had made the right choice. One month later they moved to Whalsay, lock, stock and barrel, including two dogs, and they say that the hospitality has never stopped since.

While Zoe was settling into her new job James was left wondering what was going to do with his time. He is a qualified counsellor but he assumed that there would be no demand for counselling in Shetland. Nonetheless with the encouragement of friends he set up his own practice and he has discovered that despite all the existing services there is a demand for the counselling that he can provide.

Now Mr Emmett’s goal is to make counselling available to the whole of Shetland and as well as visits to the homes of clients he can work through the telephone and email to address issues such as suicide, bereavement, depression and substance misuse and to make counselling more accessible to men. He has established his own website.

James says that Zoe and he have been welcomed with open arms in Shetland and they have already fallen in love with the people, landscape, wildlife and culture and now he would like to give something back and become a part of the community.

Time capsule

North House is the attractive two storey white washed cottage halfway up the Gutcher road in Yell. Since February it has been home to Scott and Donna Wolf and their three young children, Kimberley, Drew and Felicity. Scott is an electrician by trade but he is also a skilful builder and a keen DIY man.

While working in one of the rooms he found, behind lining, a bottle containing a message, something of a time capsule. The message was written in pencil on a scrap of wallpaper and it reads: “This hole was cut through by me to get some tools that was blocked in when lining went up. John Anderson, Dec. 13th 1950.”

Then, below, it says: “Tom Tulloch, Midbrake, also worked here and John Henderson. John Anderson.”

On the other side of the paper it says: “Relined by Edward Polson June 1993.”

The Tom Tulloch mentioned was my father and John Henderson was originally from West-A-Firth but later lived in Shylah, Cullivoe. John Anderson restored the house and lived there with his sister Katie until his death in 1960.

Scott has recorded his work on that part of the house and has put this, along with the original messages, back in a bottle and returned it to the wall.

Unst angling

Unst Angling Club held the fourth trout points competition recently. Nine anglers took part on a day when the wind was very light and with clear skies but only four anglers were able to bring fish to the scales.

The winner was Steve Palmer who had four trout that weighed 8lb 14ozs. This included the heaviest fish of the day at 3lb 13ozs. Lindsay Thomson was second; he had three fish weighing 6lbs 9ozs. Third was Davie McMillan; he too had three fish for 4lb 6ozs. David Laurenson also had three fish for 3lbs 6ozs. The final points competition of the season will be tomorrow from 2pm until 8pm.

In sea angling the combined olick and tusk competition was held last Saturday. Sydney Priest won both the Clingra Cup and the Combination Cup. He had, in total, 56lbs of fish and his olick and tusk combination weighted 14lbs 13ozs. Ginger McLeod was second with 42lbs, Bruce Thomson was third and Colin Laurenson was fourth.

The fourth and final sea angling competition still has to fished and a decision will be made at midday tomorrow as to whether is possible to hold it this weekend. In reporting a previous Unst Angling club competition I said that Sydney Priest had won the Lakeland Cup. This was wrong; the successful angler was in fact Sydney Scott. I got the wrong Sydney – sorry Mr Scott.

Burravoe fishing competition

The Burravoe fishing competition was held last Sunday after being cancelled on August 29th due to high winds. Sixteen boats left the pier at 2pm. The winner turned out to be Frank Guthrie with a catch of 37lbs. Sarah Lalla won for the heaviest fish, heaviest women’s basket and was overall joint second with Robert Odie.

George Spence won the Hamehaven Trophy donated by Margaret and Davie Towriess for the best junior with a catch of 30lbs. The organisers would like to thank everyone who helped in any way and to Zena Gray and Margaret Towriess for donating the new trophies.

Fetlar café’s finale

Fetlar café’s finale for 2009 saw over 40 people visiting for Sunday lunch. There was a good demand for the local produce and crafts, which were available in the afternoon especially the tatties, vegetables, jams and chutneys.

A lot of interest was shown in Peter Coutts’ replica whale’s teeth which were mistaken by many for the real thing, a testament to the quality of his work. Brydon Thomason, Fetlar’s well-known wildlife expert, also had a fine selection of his wildlife photos on show. The café is now closed for the year and Fetlar Development Ltd would like to thank everyone for their support.

Art, design and enterprise

A project involving the subjects of Art, Design and Enterprise has been undertaken at the Mid Yell School. S3 construction crafts class, four pupils overseen by their teacher Alistair Scott, designed and built the eight by eight foot sandpit just before the summer break. This course is very enjoyable and leads on to apprenticeships in the building trade.

In Art, a competition, was held for the infants and mid primary pupils. They had to design an exciting road map to be painted on the top. Three pupils won and their designs were combined to produce a very eye-catching map. This addition to the playground has proved to be a very popular and successful enterprise project.

Ulsta ferry terminal

Last week I wrote a piece highlighting the problems at the Ulsta ferry terminal. Ferry Services have adapted the information boards. They now give far more information and address many of the issues that were worrying travellers. They tell which lane is loaded first, the time of the next ferry and call on motorists to respect the yellow grid area. Well done Ferry Services, this should do the trick.

Robson’s jet

Young Robson Gray from Mid Yell has an errant cat called Jet. As the name suggests this feline is coal black and he suffers from the itchiest of feet; he has an incurable wanderlust that means that he spends much of his time away from home.

In fact Jet displays total contempt for the family that he lives with and only comes home when he needs something. Early on this summer he went away and he was never seen for more than three months, only to stroll in one day as if he had only been away for one hour. Robson had given him up for lost; he never thought that he would never see Jet again.

Jet proved to be entirely healthy and had every appearance of being well fed, and the absence of fleas in his ears suggested that he has not been hunting many rabbits. All this leads the Gray family to speculate about where Jet goes when he is not with them.

Does he lead a double life? Does he sometimes live with another family? Is there another household wondering where he is when he is at home? Perhaps we will never know the answers to those questions.

Lawrence Tulloch


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