Friday, January 11, 2008

"One guy asked me the other day, 'What is it you call the fire festival?' I said simply, 'An excuse for a piss-up'." - guy on the street in Lerwick

It's January 11 and the day of the Scalloway Fire Festival. It's the kick-off event of the Viking Appreciation Festivals which run through March each year. Learning about these events is similar to trying to get your head around the US university Greek system, the Masons, and the Junior League, and perhaps a smattering of Opus Dei, at the same time. Some of the events are exclusive, some welcome everyone. Some don't allow women to participate, some do. I'm still confused about the Lerwick Up Helly Aa on the 29th, as apparently we have tickets but can't tell anyone we have tickets because we're not supposed to get tickets, as 'foreigners'. So don't tell anybody. Each event has a Jarl who is like the grand poobah, and in Lerwick this honor costs 40,000 GBP - !! The Jarl then chooses his squad and they get drunk, spend the day meandering the town visiting schools, rest homes, government offices, etc. and basically rabble-rouse until the official parade begins. It's all quite hush-hush and I'm keen to steal more information as we get closer to the Lerwick event.

Tonight's festivities include a Jarl squad parade and a 'burning of the galley' - whatever a 'galley' is. I'll know in a few hours.

Matt and I went back to the mainland for New Year and got back to Shetland on Sunday. It was nice being somewhere that had daylight after 3pm. Our flight arrived early, so we went to St. Ninians Isle for a short walk while we still had daylight. It's a cool place as the Atlantic shore is on both sides of the sand. The island itself is grassy and flat, and often splashed by huge waves. Pretty amazing place.

Every other day has been nice this week - by nice, I mean 7 degrees and sunshine. This is the Clickiman broch (a Shetland dwelling from 1000 years ago) by a loch not even 10m from the sea. Our flat is just to the right and down the road.
It's strange thinking we're almost done with our time here. The lack of stimulation means more creativity is needed, and perhaps that's how these books have been completed. I'm working on a new one now, and it's writing itself. Must be something in the air.

Happy new year to everyone. May '08 be the year it all happens!

1 comment:

Erik R. said...

Gorgeous photos, as always. Especially the last two.