To many folk coming to do their weekend shopping in Lerwick, Victoria Pier, adjacent to the Small Boat Harbour, rhymes with carpark & familiar trawlers from Shetland, Banff or Peterhead most of the year.
To the explorer-yachtsman (or cruise liner)-visitor, it may feel like the starting point of some delectable adventure. This focal point, officially open in 1886 as the main landing area for fishermen and wealthy visitors traveling on steamers, hosts (during the high season) memorable events - marquis and booths, erected around Johnsmas (Summer Solstice), celebrate A Flavour of Shetland and renewed bonds with Norway through (notably) the Lerwick-Bergen Race... Victoria Pier welcomes the world to the island's pictoresque (and only) urban centre. Small cruise liners tie themselves to its bollards - tenders from much bigger cruise ships whizz through the Bressay Sound to bring their hords of passengers to our shore. Excursion coaches' drivers and Tourist Guides wait with a smile...
The "Bay of mud" turns a beehive! Visitors to Lerwick Harbour
During the winter months, STGA Accredited Green Badge Tourist Guides prepare for the next high season through an elaborate educational programme. With an ever-increasing number of cruise liners pit-stopping in our Venice of The North, a new class of guides are training for 2011, as some 58 cruise ships already line up on paper, together with The Tall Ships Races back in Lerwick... The Tall Ships Races 2011
Yesterday morning, Victoria Pier basked in generous winter sun. Saturday shoppers flocked to "Da Street" (the main commercial artery) whilst we began an adventure. Down to Sumburgh we went on our minibus! Wilson was at the wheel, Lawrence & Catriona, at the microphone, whilst our cohort of guide trainees held to clipboards and pens on their final demo tour. Deborah and I sat at the back. As we crossed the 60th Parallel, our nordic sun powered our smiles. Mr Tulloch delighted us with his expertise & experience at the mic' down to Grutness map via Fladdabister and Bigton before he handled me the device for a demo tour at Sumburgh Head.
My love for this headland and nature reserve has not waned away from my wardening time within the RSPB, au contraire - as a matter of fact, it glows like the sun. Our trainees already felt it last May in the presence of our seabirds during a first demonstration tour. Yesterday felt no different. Our winter wildlife bathed in light. Guiding is fun in all seasons!
Lunch at the Sumburgh Hotel... Early afternoon at Jarlshof.
Jarlshof, that name invented by Sir Walter Scott for the purpose of a novel, remains one of the best places in Britain to walk through time, from the Late New Stone Age to the late 17th century of our era. I never tire of its stones! Whilst Lawrence began the site tour, Deborah ended it with passion. Jarlshof
By the time we returned to our minibus, the sun glittered on Atlantic and Horse Island.
Guiding, training or mentoring rekindle taste for adventures. Yes, we are blessed to live and share this magical environment. I am eager to reach our Vernal Equinox and see how our trainees progress toward their final assessment. Our nordic garden never fails to foster our inspiration.