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…

Bodies…Or Lack of Really

Another road trip with work to the north of the island led me past the scene of an extremely important find.

Picture the scene… 12th May 1951. Two men were cutting a new peat bank and came across some human remains at a depth of 75cm or roughly 3 feet down. Police were called and thankfully it wasn’t an ‘orrible murder but something historical and very interesting indeed.

What they had come across was a burial from the 17th Century. By the time they found him there was nothing left but his finger and toe nails, some hair and a few fragments of bone. His clothing and personal effects however were pretty much intact.

His purse still held three coins (1 Dutch and 2Swedish). One of the coins had the date 1690 and his clothing was of a style typical of the 17th century.

The reconstruction of his clothing looked like this…

His grave location was marked by the men who erected a large stone…

I think it was the one above as the sign wasn’t that specific…

It was common practice up here to simply bury someone who was found up on the hill, a shallow grave was dug away from any peat workings if the body was unrecognised. This was especially the case if the body had been there a while.There are no records of this man being buried or no folk memories either so this could possibly be the case. Hypothermia or some illness could have caused him to die between townships. Was it murder, although there is no evidence on the clothing and the fact that there were coins in his purse, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t. He may have had pack ponies with him with valuable goods in… we never can tell. One theory I have heard was that he might have been out collecting rents from the various crofting communities… who knows?

It is a bit sad to think that this man one day simply disappeared, potentially leaving family and friends to wonder why he never came back.

So there you go… the Gunnister man… an extremely important archaeological and historical find.

Next time we will look at some geographical history, or potentially historical geography…

Off Gallivanting II

Today we did a recce of the WW2 town defences of Lerwick. By all accounts these are the best preserved in the UK… which is pretty cool.

We just looked at the mid area defences and not the outer ring, the inner ring has pretty much gone due to houses etc. This lot are also up for destruction as Lerwick expands up onto Staney Hill.

Now to the photos.. a view from and of one of the observation posts…

The view out of the slit is off the South end of the harbour, the land beyond the sea on the left is the island of Bressay. The green lump jutting out to the sea is where the main seaward battery sat.

Some lumps and bumps, I am not sure what this is as it has a couple of bunkers/ pits and connecting trenches. It could be a mortar pit with ammunition bunker or I could be talking bollocks… A lot of this section of defences are sitting under those houses… just below them are a pretty well preserved section of tank traps.

Random shots of trenches and bunkers next. The last faces inwards and not towards the potential attack direction, this was deliberate as enemy forces were expected to make for the gaps in the hills and there they would be caught by enfilade fire from both flanks…

In the field below the track there are a host more bunkers and trenches and one of the three spigot mortar positions we have found.

This last photo is taken from another bunker towards more tank traps

This is just scratching the surface of what is up on the hills or down towards the town. I might try and get along to the gun positions at the south end. The north end guns were knocked down and an industrial park built over them. The blue building in the distance is somewhere near where they were.

Off Galivanting

Today was the last day of our Easter Holidays…

for some reason Shetland has the school Easter holidays at a set time this means we go back on Monday, w3 are back a week then off for Easter Monday…🤨

My little boy is over the chicken pox and my good lady is over her lurgy and off work so off we went on a mini road trip, involving two ferries.

First stop was the reconstructed Viking Longhouse on the Island if Unst…

There is also a full size reconstruction of the Gockstadt longship. A bit of a long story, but basically it sailed from Norway, got as far as Shetland and never got any further…

A bit more Viking Shenanigans took place with a visit to an original Viking longhouse. This one is a bit of a do-upper. It was built before 1100ad

This appeared due to coastal erosion. Over the last 900 years the sea has worked its way inland and something that was on good farmland is now nearly in the sea.

We then went decidedly modern by visiting Muness Castle. This was built in 1598

It is more of a tower house really, but it was involved in a bit of a fracas with Earl Stewart who built Scalloway Castle (both had the same architect!)

Holes for firearms are everywhere…

The kids enjoyed exploring with the supplied torches…

All in all a good day.

On the hobby front I started printing off the dropship as well as meeting a Facebook Challenge of 30 minutes painting a day for 50 days… we will see how that pans out…

Dressy Up for Grown UPS…

Working with one of the schools on Vikings.

Had a great day, but I am knackered now. I had three one hour long groups. They were great kids who knew a fair bit before I got there. It is really funny though, how they confuse the Up Helly Aa guisers with Vikings. I was chastised by one small boy for not wearing a sheepskin and not having any furry boots 😱.

To save time getting there I drove down in my soft kit 😁

Dark Future…Motorcycle’s Finished

Managed to get these finished today…

My little boy turns 8 tomorrow but as it is a school day we had presents and birthday meal today. I am surprised I managed to do anything. Full of food and been out in the fresh air… absolutely zonked out!

I also glued the rocket launchers onto the interceptor and gave them a quick coat of blue.

My eldest made a chocolate layer birthday cake, but actually used my rotating cake stand for an actual cake. That is a first, it is normally used for airbrushing stuff!

It was an extremely yummy cake, so I might just let her off (well she did ask to use it).

This afternoon’s shenanigans were once again in glorious weather.

The woods looked amazing with the late afternoon sun coming through the trees.

And then there was a great sunset as we were driving around killing time before going to Frankie’s Fish and Chip shop (one of the best, if not the best in Scotland – well they have won so many awards now I can’t remember where they stand).

Tomorrow I will have a think about what colour asphalt to do for the bikes.


Tingaholm rising out of the mist on Tingwall loch this morning.

Tingaholm was the site of Shetland’s local parliament until the late 16th century. It was once an islet accessed by a stone causeway, by 1774 the stone seats had been ripped up to provide grazing space and in the mid 19th century the water levels in the loch were lowered, and the holm has appeared the same ever since.

Pinched from my Wife’s post on Archaeology Shetland.

Star Forts, Chips and an Annoying Fledgling

Another mooch about yesterday. Last day of my holiday and I had to be in work. As it is the holidays I had to drag the kids in too.

So instead of haring back home for sandwiches we headed further into town for Lunch. All the cafes were full so we headed for the Fort Chip Shop (the best one in Lerwick). Our normal place to eat them on a nice day is the Fort right above the chip shop so I thought I would take some photos.

This is the oldest part still standing built or rebuilt in the 1690’s. The following photo showing how thick the walls are.

Construction of Fort Charlotte began in 1665 during the second Dutch War. It wasn’t finished before the war concluded. It was rebuilt more than a century later during the War of American Independence but never fired a shot in anger. The fort is pretty much presented as it would have looked in the 1780’s

The fort is a 5 pointed star.

At the minute she is armed with 18lb cannon. These only look out over the sound of Bressay. It had in the past been armed with 32lb cannon

I always fancied starting a re-enactment group here, it would be great fun!

Anyway the Annoying Fledgling…. here he is:

He spent his time calling for food non stop while we were there. On the upside though, he kept the adults away!

Right a couple of random photos taken within… the barracks and the magazine.

And finally a view from above… pinched from a panel at the entrance!

You can just see the best chip shop in Lerwick, small white building near the two story street of shops. Oh and in the background you can see the Lerwick Town hall.

There is a great story from the 1690’s about how 3 cannon from the Spanish Armanda were found. They decided to heat them to remove the rust. ‘ Upon which they discharged balls, much to the surprisement of the onlookers!”

I think Surprisement should be returned to the English language!