Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Goodbye for Now and Cheers!

I safely made it home after flying two flights from Aberdeen, Scotland to Amsterdam and then Amsterdam to Minneapolis, Minnesota.  It was a grand total of ten hours of flying and three or so hours of waiting around in airports.  Let's say I was a little on the tired side to blog right away.

There's a lot that I know about Shetland now that I didn't know two weeks ago:

1. Umbrella's don't work there.  The rain is usually horizontal because of the wind.  It would be better to have a raincoat and water proof pants (not sure of the correct name for the pants, but I will have to get some for a return visit should I go back).

2. Many people who live in Shetland are not originally from Shetland.  They've settled there from other places in Great Britain or Europe.  I met people from Scotland, England, and Austria who decided to move to Shetland.  After being there for ten days I could easily detect the native Shetlanders from those who moved there from other places in the UK.

3.  Many people from Shetland now live in New Zealand after issues with owning land and the clearances on the islands.

4.  Many people in the country live on crofts or farms, which they rent from a landlord.  Many of these crofts have sheep.  There are sheep and cows everywhere.  You will also see Shetland ponies.


5. It is okay to go through fenced crofts either by going through a gate, over a style, or any way you can respectfully do so.  As an American, I felt like I was trespassing, but slowly started to get used to it.  Most streets are only a single lane so that if two people are coming from a different direction, one has to pull over in a passing place and let the other person by.  This gets a little tricky for walking on roads in Shetland.  Even the main roads that did have two single lanes did not have a shoulder to walk upon.  You can even walk across the airport runway in Shetland.  That was an experience.

6.  The birds most frequently seen in July are Arctic Terns, Guillemots, Puffins (Sumburgh Head), Gulls, Oystercatchers, and Great Skuas.  You have to watch out for the Great Skuas, or Bonxies, as they will draw blood.

7.  The climate is cooler in Shetland for  summers.  The average high is in the 50s.  I wore jeans everyday with a combination of layers of a short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, polar fleece jacket, rain coat, hat, and mittens.  Yes, I did say mittens and I did use them.

8.  There are words used in Shetland for certain items.  You already heard Bonxie for the Great Skua.  A child is called a bairn, peerie is something that is little, and gansey is a jumper (sweater).  I knew bairn and peerie prior to the trip and it was fun learning others.  I still have more to learn.

9.  The dialect in Shetland sounds similar to Scottish with the respect that the word about is pronounced aboot, down is pronounced doon, mountain is pronounced moontain.  Words similar to Norwegian are da for the, takk for take, makk for make.  I also heard people saying yeah, yeah quite a bit.  The expression goodbye for now was a nice way to say see you later.  I also heard people say Cheers for Thanks.  I think that goodbye for now and Cheers are mostly from England.

10.  The food in Shetland is similar to Scottish cuisine.  They eat a traditional Scottish breakfast of a fried egg, hashbrowns, mushrooms, grilled tomato, bacon, sausage, toast, and black pudding (you remember what this is right? If not, read the blog labeled "Black Pudding.")  They also eat neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes), haggis, and fish and chips.  I did see oatcakes a lot on menus and documented what people had with them because I pictured them more as being a pancake, but they are often used like a bread or cracker to use with patte, cheese, or smoked salmon.  I thought I would see more people drinking tea, but most people drank coffee.  People who did drink tea usually put milk in it.

Well that is my top ten list of what I noticed about Shetland that was different from my interpretation from reading books, watching YouTube, looking at pictures on flickr, etc.  I'm sure I have a lot more to learn, but this was a pretty good start for traveling for a short period of time.  Shetlanders:  If I incorrectly portrayed any information, let me know.  I'm still learning.

I now have to start infusing what I've learned about modern day culture into my manuscript.  You will not see a daily blog anymore obviously.  Thanks to those of you who have been reading!  I will now use the blog to communicate any milestones with the manuscript.

Silke and Andrew: If you're reading this, you'll get the 1,500 word essay of how my new knowledge of Viking Shetland impacts my manuscript.  I may blog about that as well.  :)

Goodbye for Now and Cheers!


  1. Great list! So fun living vicariously through your travels. Thanks for sharing so many of your experiences along the way! Welcome home :-)

  2. It sounds like you had such a great time! And so much information and detail to work with--this is wonderful. I can't wait to hear more about it. --Heather