Gun Battery

On our Wedding Anniversary my good lady and I took a stroll to the Sound Battery.

The bunkers were there to protect the South end of Lerwick harbour, sadly the North end ones are no more.

In June 1940 two 4-inch guns were emplaced and only a month later in July 1940 by two 6-inch guns. The two 4-inch guns were moved to Calback battery at Sullom Voe.

This searchlight position didn’t make it…

Hopefully no-one was in it when it went splat!

the third searchlight position is further South along the top of the cliff.

Now that is a lot of scrap iron!

The unusual thing about this battery is that the trenches were all covered…

The engine room is still standing and the foundations for the quarters of those manning the guns can still be seen.

This is the battery taken from the air,

Sadly I cannot find the one taken in 1946!

Hopefully I will find some more bits and pieces and post them at a later date.

Seaside Shenanigans, Dive Bombing and Halflings

As you might have guessed there is never really a dull moment in my household. Today we met up with my sister and family and went rock pooling and plodging in the sea…sadly no orca in sight, which probably pleased the three seals that came to say hello.

As you can imagine, with such a nice day the beach was heaving…

You can just about see my sis in the distance!

We kept getting dive bombed by a pair of arctic tern. Luckily they didn’t draw blood but it made life interesting for a while… we suddenly found the reason why!

Spot the chick!

My niece was actually stood with one foot either side of it… needles to say we took a quick photo and moved away.

We tried a bit of rock pooling, as I said. I was extremely successful…

I also managed To catch some young Pollack (I think). So we returned home and whilst we watched Fantastic Beasts I managed to get my halflings finished and onto their bases.

Tomorrow I will get them flocked up and ready to join the rest.

Sengoku Jidai..Further work

Tonight I started on the samurai infantry. Again I went for the different coloured armour. Part of me thinks they are a bit bright, but with all of the white bits showing too then they aren’t exactly looking the best. The other thing I did was paint the undercoat in for all of the flesh on the cavalry

The other thing I think is the problem is that there is a lot of solid colour without a break. Once I add weapons and flesh etc it should look better… I hope 🤞

It was a nice day today so we went just over the hill to Catfirth. The kids went for a paddle and err, as you can see it progressed a bit…

Please note, the pile of clothes, by time we remembered, they were somewhat damp and my daughter’s leggings floated away! Not a bad place to live really!

Fun Filming in the Cold

Yesterday the kids decided that they wanted to make a film. A fair bit of planning took place, with storyboards and the like being produced. When the kids were ready we headed off into the wind and rain to do our filming. When we got on site the wind chill was about -2. Luckily we weren’t out in it for too long.

The kids and my good lady did the editing this afternoon… so I now present our film.

Wild Shetland…

They have plenty more ideas up their sleeves so be prepared for more madness.

The Adventures of Betty

So with no time to get anything painted tonight I thought I would tell you all a story. Are you Sitting comfortably? Well now I shall begin.

This story starts long ago on Shetland…January 1886 to be a bit more specific. It involves and ordinary lady called Betty Mouat.

Betty was 56 years old at the time and had recently had a stroke so needed to visit a doctor in Lerwick, sell some of her knitting and visit her sister. Although a 35 minute drive now, back in 1886 it was either walk the 25 miles or take 2-3 hours travelling by Sea. Betty chose the latter. She boarded the Columbine a sailing smack with a crew of three.

By all accounts she went below with her knitting as the weather was blowing up. A short while later as the boat pitched in a heavy sea she heard shouting from the Skipper and the sound of running feet. Shortly afterwards there was a shout, more commotion and the silence. Betty stayed below for a while and then struggled up the ladder to find that she was alone on the boat – of the crew there was no sign. Unbeknownst to her the Skipper had been washed overboard, the mate and crewman had immediately launched a small boat to rescue him. Sadly he was not found in time and drowned, when they tried to return to the Columbine they found her, still under sail, too far away to have any chance of catching her.

Betty however was now alone on a boat in a storm. The boat was being carried by the wind and with no crew was at the mercy of the waves. Betty survived by hanging onto a dangling rope. Sadly her ordeal was far from over. The constant motion of the boat meant that both hands were rubbed raw. As she boarded she had brought only a couple of penny biscuits and a jar of milk. She rationed herself to a sip of milk and half biscuit waiting in the bowels of the boat. She was unable to lie down and had to keep an eye out for flying furniture. On the fourth day her food ran out, but she had been able to get hold of the skipper’s jacket and use some twine to make loops to help her poor bleeding hands.

Her Journey carried on even after the food ran out, she slept fitfully dangling from her rope and was unable to lie down. Food for the crew was stored in the Forecastle but the ladder had fallen in the storm and she was now too weak to lift it into position.

Eventually she managed, with some difficulty, to wedge a box below the hatch and could peep out, she saw a strange coastline with Snow covered mountains, however the wind and current were taking her further away, stern first. The storm returned and Betty had to endure further battering. Eventually the boat crashed against rocks, but the stout timbers held as the storm crashed her into more and more jagged teeth.

Eventually to her relief the boat at last came to a halt.

Some local boys had been watching out for their own boats and saw the Columbine strike the rocks. Fishermen from the local village rushed to her aid. A rope was strung out and poor Betty had to travel the last few yards hand over hand. She was taken to a local village and nursed by the fishermen and their families. She didn’t understand a word they were saying, for unbeknownst to her, she was now in the village of Ronstad on the island of Lepsoy, Norway!

Betty had been at sea for eight nights and nine days.

As you can imagine, back on Shetland, all hope of finding her alive were gone. All believed that she had gone down with the boat. Most fishing boats were hauled up for the winter months and although a merchantman searched over 200 miles no trace was found.

You can no doubt imagine the amazement of all involved when a newspaper article appeared speaking of the miraculous rescue of one miss Elizabeth Mouat in Norway. Luckily and Englishman was running his cod liver oil trade not far away from Ronstad and he relayed the news.

After some rehabilitation Betty was returned the England landing in Hull . She rode on her ver first train trip to Edinburgh where loads of well wishers waited for her in droves. She stayed with a Shetland family for three weeks only to have all the well to do society ladies beating a track to her door to hear her tale.

Eventually she made it back to Shetland to find a letter of congratulations from Queen Victoria as well as a donation of £20 for her.

Queen Victoria also sent Silver medals to the Norwegian fishermen and the owner of the Columbine gave them the reward he had posted for any news of the missing boat.

Betty stayed on her Croft, accepting occasional tourist who wanted to hear her Tale. She passed away at the age of 93 on the 32nd anniversary of her last night on the Columbine.

She is laid to rest in Dunrossness Graveyard.

Her home is now a camping bod down near Sumburgh.

Hopefully you found it an interesting bed time story.

8 hours to go…

Well that is the holiday over, apart from an 8 hour journey home.

Orkney has been great, but I knew I shouldn’t have mentioned I was there, it rained and the tents flooded. We had to spend £55 to get in the hostel for an evening.

Anyway some photos…

Precursor to the Churchill barrier, one if the actual barrier to the left of the photo.

Tomb of the Eagles

Ness of Brodgar, top photo shows the 4 metre wide wall, middle one shows an unusual and very large rectangular Neolithic building. The bottom shows the extent of the excavations to date, but basically based on geophysics, every bit of the grass that can be seen has a structure under it. Not bad for buildings 5000 years old.

They were importing goods from as far away as Cumbria (and beyond, I just can’t remember where else 🙄)

These are the stones of Stenness – these predate Stonehenge. A tenant farmer tried to blow these up with dynamite but was stopped by the local population! The two concrete blocks mark where another couple of stones stood. In 1906 one if the stones below that had fallen was replaced by 8 men and a wooden scaffold. For scale these are about 15 feet (5 metres high)

The ring of Brodgar, a famous Orkney land mark. These stones differ from the ones above in that they are not dug in as deep. They come from 19 different parts of Orkney and current thinking is that they are so shallow (around 30cm) as they were meant to be taken down and replaced by other stones. The ditch was cut into bed rock with Neolithic tools of antler picks!

I will be back in operation tomorrow evening.

Off Island…

Weather for the journey South is rather pleasant

Bressay just disappearing into the Haa (sea mist)

Here we are passing the end of the Shetland mainland…

I took photos of Puffins from over there.

Four hours to go before we get off!

Painting, Pufflings and Radar

Well, I managed to get some painting done over the last couple of days…

I decided to have a bash at the 10mm elves. As I had some contrast paint knocking about I decided to give it a go on a smaller scale.

Now if you remember, the last lot of these that I painted really ground me down ( ). Now I don’t know if it was the different paint, my state of mind or a combination of both, but basically I enjoyed painting these. The contrast paint really worked on them. As I only had three pots of it I painted with washes as well just to keep the momentum up. They have come along a bit since this photo was taken this evening. All that is left now is the metalwork, washes on the hair and then the bases painting.

I decided to get some new contrast paint ( the eagle eyed mathematicians amongst you would have realised that I had more than three pots in the photo above)..this was used on the 10mm stuff as well as the 28mm MI. Now to be fair I am still getting to grips with this paint, but, it does definitely seem to be helping speed things up a bit. Some of it seems to work better than others, but it could be that I haven’t shaken it up enough, or that perhaps a grey undercoat (in the case of the MI) isn’t the best.🤔

We have had a house guest since last Friday, today was his last day and he really, really wanted to see some Puffins… he had been to Sumburgh the day he arrived, but they were all out at sea. Today was a nice sunny day… 22.5 degrees which was a bit warm for us hardy northerners 😂. We took him down to see if the blasted birds had come back, luckily a good dozen or so made an appearance.

I forgot the camera so had to make do with my IPad. Here we have a phot of a pair, the one on the right is flaring into land. Then something amazing happened…

A chick (puffing) appeared, this is a lot more rare than one might expect. Bonxies (Shetland name for the Great Skua) would have him in a flash so they normally appear at night to have a bit of a wing flap (you can just see him at the entrance to his burrow).

As for the radar… Fitful head had a radar station set up during WW2. This helped foil a Luftwaffe raid on Scapa flow in Orkney. They picked up the raid and gave the AA gunners in Orkney a heads up as to direction and speed.

Being a bit exposed on the Southern point of Shetland, sometimes grumpy German gunners would vent their spleen as they flew past…. you can see the effect here…

So that is a little bit more on the out and about on Shetland Blog 🤣.

Not a bad place to live really…

Next stop…Norway

Who’s the Tourist?

Due to an Air Traffic controller strike I am still in Edinburgh… went shopping, went out for tea with a couple of colleagues, then back to the hotel for an early night as I need to be up at 04.30 to get the flight back home.

So tonight we have some touristy pictures 😱

I also made a little friend..

This was just after he scampered up my leg!

And finally… what is with the hotel carpet in the corridors?

Geographical History

Round about 6 Miles south of Gunnister is my next interesting locale, well it is if you are me 😁.

Next up is Mavis Grind. This is the narrowest point in Shetland. One one side is the Atlantic and the other is the North Sea. Why is it interesting, well, apart from the actual geography, the history of the place is pretty cool too.

As mentioned above, the Shetland Islands (never, never call it ‘The Shetland’s’ up here) sits with the North Sea to the East and North Atlantic to the West.

Atlantic to the left, North Sea to the right

As Vikings colonised this part of the world they took advantage of this narrow strip of land… rather than sailing all they way around they would drag their boats across from one side to the other. The name is from the Norse and means something along the lines of: ‘Gate of the narrow isthmus’ . This method pretty much carried on for centuries especially in the winter months when coming round either end of the islands was asking for trouble.

In times gone by the ground level was a lot lower, the main road built it up. Supposedly at the narrowest part it is something like 33m (110 feet) from high water to high water.

in the late 90’s the BBC or someone similar did a test…

They did indeed pull a boat from the sea to the ocean. Not sure why they needed to try as in the archives there are lots of pictures and testimonies of people doing just that.

Okay it isn’t as big as the one above but they did indeed do it up until relatively recently.

No models, painting or nothing tonight as I am sitting in a hotel room in Edinburgh eating salt and vinegar Pringles and drinking tea… what a rock and roll lifestyle I lead!

Back to Shetland on Friday morning…