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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

FAIR ISLE - Strong North Westerlies and Tea with the Minister and Thomas!

I counted 90 oystercatchers in the field opposite the shop before arriving at The Chalet at 7am for Trap round. One other visitor arrived and off we went with Jack AW, but alas nothing was caught! Although 5 Whimbrel where seen flying over the Plantation. Back at the Chalet Simon was standing there with a Lesser Black backed gull in his hand, so we watched Simon ringing this - took photo of Jack holding the bird. Walked back for breakfast.

Got a lift with Josie and Inez to the shop and posted my postcards. Bought some more oatcakes, an Album 'Ivver Entrancin Wis' Shetland poems in music by Lise Sinclair - cello, harp, viola and voice - Lise lives on Fair isle. Also bought little booklet called 'Coastal Names of Fair isle'.

Strong north westerly winds and freezing cold. Spent the morning photographing inside the The Kirk and the Methodist Chapel. Beautiful stained glass windows in both. Also photographed orchids, ragged robin and other flowers in Meadow Burn adjacent to Schoolton.

I also went to the 'George Waterston Memorial Centre which is in the Auld Skul which was built in the middle of the 19th century and was used as a school for a while and later used as a community hall until 1980. I am ashamed to say I had not been to visit this on previous visits to Fair isle. Stewart Thomson (who lives at Quoy) was manning the Memorial Centre - It was opened in 1986 - named after one time owner of the island and founder of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory. The centre is run by volunteers. The museum has attracted visitors from all over the world. Its presence has also meant that many artifacts, some of them far travelled, have now been added to the collection. The displays cover a wide range - from archaeology and social history and the production of the Fair isle patterns and knitwear; from the high incidence of ship wrecks to the skill of the carpenters who formed the resulting wreckage into useful and beautiful objects. It was wonderful to chat with Stewart Thomson as he had known Richard Richardson extremely well and had also met Geoff Want and Peter Jackson (all close friends of my fathers and sadly all now deceased) He told me his wife's sister Rona looked after Richard's dogs when he passed away. We had a very interesting conversation about all kinds of things related to Richard and other people that we knew. There were several artefacts of Richard's in the museum.

Lunch: best ever! Potato salad, nut roast, salad, cheese, rolls, hot cheese scones, cakes etc!!

Walked along the road as far as Upper Leogh and then turned right along the fence/stiles through Meadow Burn and heard the Quail calling!!! In fact I saw it too, although briefly and also got a dodgy flight shot - would not win any prizes with the photo though! Photographed more flowers and was just walking past Aesterhoull when Stuart Wilson (Minister of the Kirk and elderly gentleman) very kindly invited me into his home for an aperitif - I declined this, but said a cup of tea would be lovely! It was very sweet of him to invite me in - inside, his house was toasty warm and he said it was the warmest house on the island - it was certainly lovely to be out of the bitter winds. Stuart was born on Fair isle but left and returned again 11 years ago. He showed me his family and friends photos on the walls and also introduced me to Thomas.... Thomas was an absolutely wonderful huge, male tabby cat - a cat with enormous character.... a cat not to mess with. Thomas was brought out of 'his room' to meet me and strolled across to be stroked - he turned around and strolled back to 'his room' to continue sleeping! Stuart told me that whenever Thomas saw a dog he would chase it!


Left here and walked back to South Light and spent the rest of the time photographing oystercatchers, turnstones, ringed plovers and the oyster plants.

Dinner: first class.

Spent rest of evening sorting photos.

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