South Mainland Notebook

Exhibition at airport

The latest exhibition in the Bonhoga Gallery touring programme has now been installed at Sumburgh Airport, where it can be seen until June.

Shetland Through a Plastic Lens is a series of photographs by Shetland-based photographer Emily Sharp.

Working primarily with medium format film, her work is a reaction to the supposed “perfection” of the digital image. None of her pictures are manipulated in any way.

Inspired by Victorian and early colour photography, Emily aims to convey feelings, emotions and moods through these very evocative photos, which were taken in Bressay, Foula and Unst during 2009.

They were shot with a Diana camera, which uses 120 film and produces large negatives. Its lens is made of plastic, which gives the photographs a painterly, dream-like quality and a characteristic vignetting around the edges.

“The Diana perfectly compliments the magic of the Shetland landscape,” says Emily. “It creates an atmosphere that is both mystical and alluring.”

The Diana camera was originally made in the 1960s in Hong Kong, and soon became a cult classic among art photographers, who are attracted to them because of the unpredictable, unique, low resolution images they produce.

New club

The first session of the new club for bairns takes place at Levenwick Hall tomorrow from 10.30am to 11.30am.

Coffee will be served to the grown-ups while the children play together. Anybody who is interested is welcome to attend.

Celebrating the show Members of the Cunningsburgh Show committee and their partners will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the show tomorrow with a special meal. Those participating will include two members who have been on the committee for upwards of 50 years.

The first Cunningsburgh Show meeting was held on 19th March, 1935. There were no shows during the Second World War, and the event struggled to get going again in the post-war period, due to a lack of funds. Happily it did, however, and it has continued to grow over the years. Now it is Shetland’s largest show.

“We are always looking for volunteers to help out with the event,” says show president Kathleen Sinclair. “We need people to do general organising and erect and take down the many pens and marquees. We also need folk to do catering, and stewards for the exhibits and the car parking. At the moment we are looking for somebody to fill the post of joint secretary.

“I would like to remind people that this year’s show will be held on August 11th, one week earlier than usual. The closing date for entries is 11th July.”

For more information contact Kathleen on (01950) 460742 or speak to any committee member.

Car share

There is a high level of private car ownership in South Mainland, according to the SIC, and many local residents commute to Lerwick every day for work purposes. Sumburgh is another location that many South Mainlanders regularly commute to.

The number of miles covered is not inconsiderable. The majority of people living in Quarff and Cunningsburgh do a commute of 6-12 miles and upwards, while those from Dunrossness commute 12 miles or more.

Naturally folk have to travel to where the work is, but these statistics point up how much sense it makes to car share.

“If you share your journey with someone else you cut both their and your costs,” says Elaine Park, transport strategy officer for ZetTrans, which, in association with HITRANS, runs a free car share website.

The savings that can be made are substantial. If you drive 10 miles to and from work daily, five days a week, 45 weeks per year, you could save at least £300 annually by splitting your fuel bills with just one other person. Other savings might include parking and ferry costs.

But, as Elaine points out, the benefits to be derived from car sharing aren’t only economic. “As we all know, it is ever more pressing to keep one’s carbon footprint down,” she says. “Car sharing helps lower traffic pollution. It also reduces the mileage and the everyday wear and tear on your vehicle, and cuts down road congestion, meaning it is quicker to get to places.”

There are various different ways in which you can car share, and it is up to the participants in the scheme to find out what works best for their group.

The car sharing doesn’t have to take place on a regular basis either. “If you have a one-off journey you want to make, you can put it on the website so that anybody travelling the same route can get in touch with you,” Elaine says.

Nor do you need to own a car yourself. You can simply agree to contribute to the running costs of the vehicle.

So far the number of South Mainlanders registering to car share has been disappointing, but Elaine doesn’t see that as evidence of a lack of environmental awareness or willingness to do so.

“South Mainland folk are good at getting together,” she says, “and I am sure car sharing is already taking place informally.” Nevertheless, she believes the scheme can help to make South Mainland’s car use even more efficient.

To find out more about how car share works, and to register to join the scheme visit

Lots of frogs

About five years ago Carol and Harry Rose built a pond in their garden in Levenwick and put some frog spawn in it. Since then the number of frogs breeding in the pond has increased rapidly, and in the last fortnight it has played nursery to upwards of 75 pairs.

The croaking of the frogs is clearly audible in the vicinity of the pond. These are the males calling to attract a mate.

Many frogs return to the pond in which they were born to breed, and they tend to do so in large numbers in order to avoid predation. Although some of the young are bound to be eaten, enough spawn will survive to ensure the continuity of the species.

It is likely, too, such a vast quantity come to Carol and Harry’s pond because there are few other ponds in the area.

James Irvine, who runs the Levenwick shop, says he has encountered frogs around the door, and on occasion they have even tried to enter the shop. Whether or not with a view to making a purchase is unclear!

Funds for Haiti

Ten-year-old Fyntan Shaw, who lives in Fair Isle, came up with the idea, all on his own, of raising funds for Haiti.

After a chat with his mother and friends he decided to hold a jumble sale, scheduled to coincide with a time when the Fair Isle pupils at the Anderson High School would be back home.

The event was extremely well supported and raised a stunning £514. An additional £69 was raised by an afternoon film show.

Many congratulations to everyone involved, especially Fyntan. It is indeed impressive that one so young should show so much initiative, and achieve such a fine result.

Calling puffin fans

“What is born underground and flies underwater?” If you can answer that without a moment’s thought, you will be interested in the new Facebook group “We Love Puffins”, which has recently been started by Fair Isle resident Tommy Hyndman.

Tommy grew up in New York State, but four years ago he and his wife and son moved to Fair Isle, where Tommy works for the coastguard and as an artist and hat maker, as well as running a B&B.

“I had never seen a puffin until I came here,” Tommy says. “I think they are amazing. No other bird lives underground, and flies, and swims in the sea.

“They look comical, like sad clowns, but folk I know who ring them say that they can certainly look after themselves. They seem friendly but they have a sharp beak and claws.”

Tommy is hoping that We Love Puffins will gain extra momentum when the birds return. “I am expecting them soon,” he says. “The best time for sightings around this time of year is at dusk on a quiet night.

“I started the group with a view to attracting people who, like me are puffin lovers.”

Tommy’s paramount aim is that folk should have fun and enjoy connecting with other puffin fans. Already the idea is proving popular, with numbers increasing all the time.

Folk can share their favourite puffin photos, along with stories and information about the birds. They can also add scientific links.

“I’d like us to go global,” says Tommy, who has even made a puffin jumper for his son.


Many congratulations to everybody involved in the first South Mainland Up-Helly-A’. It was an absolute triumph.

World Book Day celebration

Having had its celebration delayed, when the bad weather prevented the books from being delivered, Sandwick School was eventually able to mark World Book Day last week, with a book fair aimed at pupils of all ages.

Ten tables of books were laid out in the school’s social area, and pupils and parents alike were encouraged to browse and buy.

“It was a very family-orientated event,” said Sandwick School librarian Marghie West. “It started at 8.30am and ended at 6.30pm. That meant that parents and grandparents picking pupils up, or dropping them off, had a chance to look at what was on offer. For me, it was a great opportunity to reach beyond the library and meet families.

“It is fun to have a particular day in the calendar on which to celebrate books and reading, and the kids appreciated having books brought to them. The primary children in particular were really excited.”

Catering to the needs of pupils aged from three to 15 means that Marghie has to stock titles for a large range of reading levels. She selected some of the ones that were on sale at the book fair for the school library. These included some picture books, some of the Horrid Henry series aimed at early readers, and a fictionalised biography of Queen Victoria.

So is reading alive and well, or has it been supplanted by other media?

“The kids read quite a bit through primary,” said Marghie, “and some continue to do so throughout their lives. When they get to secondary, though, it is easy to be distracted by the many different types of media they begin to have access to. Film and television often take over the storytelling function.

“Even if they do drift away from reading for a while, though, I think that establishing a good feeling about it early in life can mean that it is something they return to. They might be in an airport, say, wondering what to do with themselves, and suddenly think, ‘I know! I could read a book’.”

Marghie is positive, too, about the enduring pleasure that people can take in having a story read aloud to them.

“Reading out loud tends to happen within families when the children are younger,” she says, “but that often gets broken up by more social activities. Nevertheless, I do know families who listen to talking books together, and it is possible to engage even older children if you choose the right story.”

The book fair raised around £600 for the school to use to buy books for the library.

“I was worried we might be hit by the recession, but that was better than last year,” Marghie says. “There’s something touching about people bothering to spend money on a book. It does my heart good, anyway.”

Concert for Chile

Dunrossness Primary School will be giving a concert in Boddam Hall on Tuesday evening at 7.30pm, followed by teas and homebakes.

Admission is £3 for adults and £1 for children. All profits will be donated to charities working with the victims of the earthquake in Chile.

Cathy Feeny


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