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Wednesday 31 January 2024


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Iceland Gull at Loch of Spiggie. Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gulls x 2 at Lerwick Harbour. Black-throated Diver at Skaw Voe, Whalsay.
I felt so tired and had a lovely sleep in. This little house may not be insulated, but my goodness its sound proof. I awoke to almost silence. I couldn't hear the 70mph gales?! Got up and went to look out of the window and yes it looked very windy, but I could hardly hear a thing!

Used the hob on the oven today, which Alastair said some of their guests had found difficult to operate, well being as I love gadgets, I didn't luckily! Never had a built in oven before, very posh!

Did a WhatsApp with Vivien who had gone to visit Lucy, so it was lovely to see them both together. Lucy STILL has toothache and this has been going on for weeks – she finally agreed to go for a check up and has to have a tooth extraction and three fillings. I seriously hope she gets all this done before I return in March, otherwise it won't be a fun week at all.

Unpacked most of the boxes in the kitchen and its all looking good – the only room that is currently! At work tomorrow and then my usual three days off. My Skoda was picked up to take back to the mainland to assess yesterday and then I have to wait to see what my insurance company will offer me – its not going to buy me the same lovely car I had and now I will have the headache of trying to buy another car. Several people here have advised me to buy on the mainland, as its much cheaper than buying cars here. Someone recommended Arnold Clark in Aberdeen.

The wind has been relentless all day and later in the afternoon there was a heavy hailstorm. I love all the severe weather here. As Jane OT said once, "Shetland has proper weather" – it certainly does! Hoping to get my bird feeders set up at the weekend.

Tuesday 30 January 2024

Up Helly Aa Viking Fire Festival 2024!

My first "Up Helly Aa" !!!


With no car currently, I might have missed this, but Jill and Rob very kindly offered to take me home after Up Helly Aa. So, when I finished work, I stayed there and had a little doze, as there was no point in standing around on a very chilly evening before I needed to. I then headed off at around 6.15pm to join thousands of others jostling for a good viewing spot of the Viking Galley burning site. Managed to find Jill and her daughter Roanna, so spent the evening in their company – Rob had stayed in their car and viewed from there.

It was extremely chilly, even for me, but then I didn't really dress properly, as only had my work coats on etc, but I had thrown in a pair of mittens into my work bag this morning, before I caught the bus, but was minus a much needed hat. It is simply amazing that 1000+ torches are carried by 'Vikings' without any serious incidents! Mind you, the sparks from torches were flying everywhere and you really had to be on the ball, with brushing them off your clothes quickly!

A unique experience and thank you to all involved in making this a spectacular event. I did apply for tickets to go to one of the halls via the Tourist Information Centre on 8th December, but there was already a huge waiting list. As is usual with large crowds, I wish I had been born taller, very difficult to get pictures of everything I wanted to, but what an amazing experience!

After Jill and Rob dropped me home, I was overjoyed to find that the turquoise colour I had chosen for the window surrounds in my office/craft room looked far better than I thought! Steve the builder, had been at my house today painting the second coat of white paint on the walls, first coat of satinwood and other little jobs. I'm not sure when he is returning again, I doubt it will be tomorrow with the 70mph winds!

More pictures and videos to come from me, but meanwhile, someone quick off the mark has produced incredible footage on Youtube of tonight's events.

Incredible footage here on Youtube of an amazing evening


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Black-bellied Dipper still at Burn of Lunklet, NE of Aith. Hawfinch at Brae. Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull at Shetland Catch, Gremista, Lerwick.
Public Holiday here tomorrow – basically, for party goers to recover from Up Helly Aa! For me this will mean unpacking more boxes. 70mph winds and sleet tomorrow!

RBA Weekly Round-Up 23rd to 29th January!

By Jon Dunn

Monday 29 January 2024


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
White-billed Diver at South Nesting Bay. Glaucous Gull at Shetland Catch, Gremista, Lerwick.

Sunday 28 January 2024


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 

Glaucous Gulls x 2 at Pool of Virkie. Iceland Gull at Boddam. Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull at Shetland Catch, Gremista, Lerwick.
I woke up at 12.30pm and have been incapable of doing a thing. Went for a short walk to wake myself up and discovered that I have bought a house in a VERY sheltered spot thank goodness. At the bottom of my road along the harbour, it was an entirely different world! The wind was SO strong, I felt like I was going to be whisked away – I'm not exaggerating at all! It was almost hilarious to be honest, I have never experienced wind like it! If there are any 'locals' reading this and thinking "this is normal for Shetland Penny", it shows its quite rare to have gusts that strong, as several of the locals here were saying how severe it was and an elderly gentlemen remarked it was like a 'wind tunnel' in one part of the street and he seemed concerned about reaching his home after I heard him chatting to a lady in a shop.
Had a lovely time browsing in the Scalloway Butchers and Stores and bought a few food items – there is an excellent selection of goods here, including DIY, house items and greetings cards upstairs and then another exciting room selling Shetland crafts by various artists. After struggling to open the shop door, I was then carried by the wind, back up to my house on the hill! Did a WhatsApp video call with Vivien and Ray to show them the views from the house of the harbour and castle and outside in the garden – three Collared Doves were in the sycamores opposite my house. I've not had the energy to arrange plants or put bird feeders up yet, hopefully next weekend.

I still can't believe I'm living in this unique and gorgeous little house and in such a stunning location. Very sad that my little green Skoda is not sitting in the drive, but nothing I can do about that now. The last couple of weeks has been absolute hell, but hopefully that will all fade over time.
Scalloway Harbour this afternoon

Saturday 27 January 2024


Birthday and New Home cards
Thank you very much to everyone, who so kindly sent me a card πŸ’–


Its been a busy and rainy birthday!

Margaret and Alastair (previous owners) very kindly popped up with a very pretty "New Home" card, a beautiful bunch of flowers and some of Margaret's scrumptious sweet oatcakes! They have to be the best oatcakes you'll ever have, I need to get the recipe from her. They are such a lovely couple – Alastair remarked in a calm voice "you have a lot of stuff" πŸ˜‚

John F. sent a birthday card via email which was all very strange, as he had only sent the same card as Vivien and Ray (first card on left in top picture)!!! Along with a very touching poem in relation to the Ivory Gull at Holme and a copy of my mother's article "Ivory Gull Wanderer From The High Arctic", thank you so much John.

I ran down the hill to catch the 10.38am bus, but missed the stop and flagged the bus down on route to the next stop. In Lerwick I headed straight to "A One Flooring" and spent ages choosing the only two carpets I liked, to find that they are more than probably discontinued, but the owner said he would find this out and get back to me on Monday. Went to A C Paintshop and bought some satin wood paint in "Brilliant White" and "Tropic Lagoon"

Had a lovely lunch at The Olive Tree cafe by myself until a lovely couple joined me at my table, Charles and Diana (seriously!) from Bigton – it was so lovely chatting with them and made my lunch more birthday like. I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping. I couldn't find any black coat hooks anywhere or a large and sturdy outside mat – its good to buy local, but I may have to buy on-line now. I ended up at Frank Williamsons shop, where I bumped into Rebecca Nason, who offered me a lift home, rather than catching the bus, which was very kind of her indeed. Back at mine, I gave Rebecca a quick tour of the house before she headed for home. Rebecca listed some of the birds she had seen close by to my house including Rufous Turtle Dove, Bonelli's Warbler and Long-eared Owls etc!

Marilyn and Margaret's flowers together in new vase!


Chatted with Vivien, Ray and Lucy this evening. I had a very unexpected surprise of a parcel, which was the third and final cup in a set of gorgeous Dunoon cups, which Vivien and Ray had bought and sent to me via Amazon as a Home Warming present, thank you both πŸ’ xx. They had already bought me the first two for my birthday. Too tired to do anything much. Tomorrow will be the first morning I don't have to set the alarm – I can't wait! Good night!


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Glaucous Gulls x 2 at Pool of Virkie. Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gulls x 3 at Mairs Quay, Gremista, Lerwick. Iceland Gulls x 4 at Westing, Unst. Kumlien's Gull, Iceland Gull at Uyeasound, Unst.

Friday 26 January 2024


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 

Iceland Gull at Dalsetter, Boddam. Glaucous Gull at Mairs Quay, Gremista, Lerwick. Glaucous Gull at Loch of Melby. Kumlien's Gull, Iceland Gulls x 5, Glaucous Gull at Uyeasound, Unst. Black-throated Diver at Gutcher, Yell

I could have slept all day, but I had builders and an electrician coming over at 8.30am, two to start doing some work for me straight away and one to give me a quote – all very exciting! The new office/store room has a first coat of paint already, rubber seal replaced at front door (where water was coming in), one of the shed doors that didn't lock now does, washing machine plumbed in, plus a few odd jobs. Second coat and gloss being done next week, coat hooks being put up in front porch and hallway and shelves being put in the small wardrobe in office/store room. This is all weird to me as I have never paid anyone to do any jobs for me in my entire life, the most I've done is pay someone to put in and dismantle an oven and a washing machine!

Jill and Rob popped in to visit me afternoon, as Rob had not seen my little house yet, it was lovely having my first guests here! Jill had a good long chuckle, which amused me, when she saw how much of my stuff was filling up the dining room area – there is a lot to sort out! Whilst we were chatting over coffee, post arrived and I had tear jerking surprise! Marilyn F. who used to live in Holme and was very good friends with my parents and has continued to keep in contact with me and has been for supportive and kind, sent me some magenta pink orchids from "Bunches" as a home warming gift!!! I was overwhelmed, this is only the second time I have ever been posted flowers, it was so lovely and so very kind of her – Marilyn also sent me a birthday card and New Home card. Also received Pete S.'s birthday card too, I'm doing well this year! Also had one of John F.'s best EVER poems sent and in MP3 format to listen to!

Orchids very kindly sent from Marilyn

Tomorrow (on my birthday) I have to catch the bus to Lerwick to choose and buy the gloss paint for window surrounds and skirting – I'm going for a beach theme! The office/store room is the only room in the cottage that I am creating a modern look to – the rest has to stay with the cottage look and in any case I like to have a different story in every room, which doesn't follow the rules, but I don't like to follow rules that I don't have to! I need to get a sand coloured carpet chosen and ordered, get some coat hooks etc. I expect I will be having birthday lunch out somewhere too! πŸŽ‰

Thursday 25 January 2024


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
 Beluga Whale  still off West Ayre, Hillswick. White-billed Diver, Black-throated Diver at South Nesting Bay. Iceland Gull at Dalsetter, Boddam. Glaucous Gull at Mairs Quay, Gremista, Lerwick. Mealy Redpolls x 3 at Valyie, Norwick, Unst.

This morning's walk along the harbour wall to the bus stop was much more pleasant than yesterday morning. Phoned the builder and electrician after work to find out what time they are coming. I thought that builder was coming to give me a quote, but he's actually coming to do the work, so I have to clear the room that will be my office by 8.30am!

Walked to Tescos and bought the biggest food shop ever, lots of frozen goods and then paid for a taxi back to Scalloway. Busy evening trying to unpack a few boxes. Very, very tired.

Wednesday 24 January 2024


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
 Beluga Whale  still off West Ayre, Hillswick. Iceland Gull at Uyeasound, Northern Bullfinch male at Baltasound, Unst.

I didn't sleep particularly well and my limbs ached so much from all the carrying stuff up and down steps yesterday. Caught the 8.18am bus from Scalloway and got to work 15 minutes before my start time of 9am. Later after work I went straight to my NHS house to clean it. Then packed up my fridge and freezer foods from the small NHS undercounter fridge to take back to my new house, to put in my tall fridge freezer, which I would be turning on as soon as I got home, now its had its 24 hour rest before being switched on. I then dropped my house keys off to the main hospital reception desk as requested.

I knew I wouldn't make the 5.15pm bus back to Scalloway, so after being told that they go every hour, I presumed (wrongly) that the next one would be 6.15pm. I waited until 6.40pm and became increasingly frustrated and fed-up, seriously fed-up and cold. After checking the Shetland Travel App, I discovered there was a 2 hour gap before the next one at 7.15pm and that was not from the stop where I was standing either. It was very painful carrying my two heavy bags to the correct bus stop. I eventually got home at around 7.30pm and struggled up the steep hill to my house. Made a hot drink and enjoyed a salad and egg sandwiches from Tescos.

Its utter chaos with boxes and stuff in this house, but my first feelings are that its definately the right move – it feels so right here and I love it. But its going to take a good while to get over my car accident, the rude and unreasonable neighbour near my old house, the 48 hours I was up and the very stressful move yesterday. Ian Reid had delivered all my plants this morning whilst I was at work and I'm going to enjoy arranging them at the weekend and putting some bird feeders up. I will NEVER be moving again, that's it!

As many of you know, I have been with TalkTalk for many, many years, but they don't operate in Scalloway. This evening I plugged in my new Plusnet Router and within a couple of minutes, I was up and running, I couldn't believe how quick this was, very impressed! Mind you, my desk and computer stuff is temporarily in the living room, which is only a couple of yards from where the router is in the kitchen, I may have to get the main socket moved (expensive) if it doesn't work when I've finished completing my office/studio in the second bedroom, which is considerably further away from the main socket.

I have not done this yet as been unbelievably stressed this week, but will pay TalkTalk £50 to keep my emails for the next year after cancelling their internet service.

Huge thank you to Eddie, Anne & Lewis and Malcom who sent me lovely home moving cards and been sent some birthday cards. 21 again this Saturday. Nice to have lovely post in my new home.

I also received a lovely surprise at work today from Norman Greatholder from Staffordshire who has so kindly posted me a copy of "A History and Guide to Holme Bird Observatory, which my late father wrote in 1975 with an explantory note, with fond memories from as he put it "Happy Days" Thank you so much Norman!

RBA Weekly Round-up 16th to 22nd January!

By Jon Dunn

Tuesday 23 January 2024


After packing, I had a shower and washed my hair and sat watching out of my bedroom window with a coffee in hand, for anyone potentially intending to park in the area the lorry needed to be. At just before 8am, two kind neighbours who I had previously asked, moved their cars and now the 45ft was available for the lorry. I flew outside to stand in this area to try and save this space for the lorry. I was freezing cold standing here as not dressed properly for the cold start to the day. I suddenly noticed that all my polite and reasonably worded notices had mysteriously been removed and thrown into my NHS communual garden, I wonder who that was?! A small vehicle turned up at 8.30 with two of Ian Reid's staff, apologising that the lorry would not start and they needed to send another one out and this would take about half an hour. This stressed me out further as I knew I to stay outside to try and keep the space there. Whilst waiting, a couple of the moving team loaded all my plants in pots into their small white van. The main articulated lorry turned up and they started packing at 9.30am. Because they were now an hour and a half behind and I knew they three moves in total today, Jill and I both ended up helping, which didn't do either of us any good with aches and pains the following day. I lost count of how many times we walked up and downstairs in my house and up and down the 10+ concrete steps to the pavement level to get to the lorry. We had four removal men to begin with and then two left to start doing the second job. The weather was fairly good and only a little wind, but by the time we were packing the last things it started to lightly rain and the weather looked turbulent!

Jill and I went in her car with my camera gear and important paper work stuff etc and followed the lorry to Scalloway. On the way there the rain quickly turned torrential and the wind picked up. The lorry had a real job backing up the steep hill and into the driveway in the wet conditions. Jill and I got drenched taking all the stuff out of her car and then Jill left to go and pick up one of her cats from the vets, I am so grateful for all Jill's hard work, but more than that her support and just being there at a very difficult time. I couldn't lift another thing, I was done in completely. The removal team of four had to empty the lorry in torrential rain, which was awful for them and everything came into the house wet. I directed as to which rooms all the boxes went and it was all done by just before 6pm. Ian Reid's team had to catch a certain ferry back to Unst where they are based and were unable to unload my big plant collection, so my plants had to go on a little trip to Unst!!! They said they would deliver them tomorrow when I was at work. When they left I collapsed on the sofa.

There are far more boxes than I imagined it would look like in this 2 bed cottage, but I know that everything will fit in when its all unpacked. I know exactly what I am doing with the house and which order, so it will be ok in the end. It felt good to finally be here. I was completely and utterly exhausted. I had to push myself massively to get the bed made up and also managed to have a shower. I had to be up early in the morning to catch the bus to work.


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
 Beluga Whale  still off West Ayre, Hillswick. Black-throated Diver at Hamars Ness, Fetlar. Black-throated Diver at Gutcher, Yell. Iceland Gulls x 4, Glaucous Gull at Uyeasound, Unst. Glaucous Gull at Burrafirth.

Monday 22 January 2024


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Iceland Gulls x 5, Glaucous Gulls x 3 at Loch of Spiggie. Russian White-fronted Goose at Ringasta. Dead Bittern at power station, Lerwick. Glaucous Gull at Grimista, Lerwick. Kumlien's Gull, Iceland Gulls x 2, Glaucous Gull at Uyeasound, Unst. Common Redpolls x 3 at at Norwick, Unst.

Very, very traumatic and upsetting day yesterday, more about that another time (now updated) and needed today off because of it and I'm not looking for any sympathy, because it was all my own fault.

Moving tomorrow, Ian Reid coming at 8am. Put traffic cones out ready this evening, as they need 45ft to park and load up. Got shouted at by a lady neighbour to take them in as its illegal – yes it is, so I've taken them in and if there is no parking for the massive lorry, they will have to fill the road with the articulated lorry for three plus hours, its one or the other! And before someone says, a lorry can only do that for 20 minutes, yes I know that, but they have to move me somehow!!! I'm mentally exhausted to the max and just want to hide under a duvet for a week. I didn't eat until this evening and now at 22.10, I'm going to finish packing, no point in going to bed, oh well.

My internet went live at the new house today, but the router is still sitting in its box. There may be a blog post tomorrow night, but don't be surprised if there isn't or the day after that and so on if it doesn't work!

Full update about the traffic cone situation

The lady in question sent me a private message this evening and said I didn't tell the whole story as if I was hiding it, I certainly wasn't, but didn't feel I had the time or energy to write the full story and didn't feel I needed to, so now, just to explain further to the lady I will. The lady who spoke to me (if I remember correctly) also asked why hadn't I asked people in the street instead of putting notices up, well in fact I did if you ask around, I knocked on all the doors (the day before) close by, some did answer and some were out, I didn't knock on your door as you would not have been affected at all with your two cars and trailer. The reason I put up what I thought were very polite and nicely written notices, were for anyone else parking in the road that didn't live there.

I was lent 5 traffic cones from the hospital for Ian Reid to park and Ian Reid had asked me themselves if I could put them out the night before. 3 of the cones where heavy duty and 2 were so light, they would have blown away in the strong wind, so I had to have a think about how to secure them. I suddenly noticed there was a big pile of concrete chunks in what I genuinely thought was part of the property (no one living there currently) at the end of the block of four NHS houses and communual garden that I live in, so I took 6 pieces to put 3 around each cone on the road. I returned to my house and was upstairs when I heard a car horn beeping and some raised voices, so stuck my head out of the window.... I could hear something about illegal cones and concrete, but couldn't hear properly with the wind, so said I would come outside to chat about it, but when I got outside there was no one there. Some of the cones had been moved. Not wanting to walk away from whatever the problem was I knocked on one of the doors I had not been to and a couple answered the door and acused me of stealing their concrete. I was shocked and apologised several times, as I had seriously 100% thought that odd little bit of garden belonged to the end house – that's how it looked in the dark to me anyway. I apologised more than once, but my apology wasn't accepted. They obviously didn't believe me. I have never and would never steal anything from someone's elses property, it was a genuine mistake. I thought it belonged to the end, currently empty house and I was going to put the concrete back in the morning, I was completely wrong and I apologised.

So if the lady wants me to tell the full story, I will carry on. I felt very upset at this point as I don't EVER like to upset anyone and I said I'm feeling very traumatised about an accident I've just had and written my car off and she said "I don't care Penny" and then "I really don't care" in an unfriendly tone. I was asked to put all the concrete back and remove the cones, which I did and then returned to the house and the husband (presumed) answered the door and I said I had returned all the concrete and removed the cones and apologised again and said I would never want to upset anyone and would never take things from someone's else's garden. Its just simply not a part of who or what I am. I said how much I loved Shetland and the people here and that was one of the many reasons I had moved here and that I wouldn't ever want to upset anyone. How many times do you have to apologise for a genuine mistake! I just thought she was over the top with her reactions, I can totally understand why though, if she believed I had stolen her concrete. I apologise if this caused you distress, but it was a genuine mistake, but I thought it quite unneighbourly to ask me to remove the cones, when long standing Shetland firm Ian Reid had asked me to put them out the night before. After all, it was a one off move, I wasn't asking for the world and the cones would not of affected your personal parking situation and was minimal disruption for other neighbours I thought – the worst case scenario would be that someone had to park in the next street, which most of us have had to do at times and walk back to the house with heavy shopping. I also missed out in my brief summary yesterday that I was seriously sobbing when walking back to my house and for the next hour plus and then had to gather my thoughts and carrying on packing. So, there is the entire and full story in every detail that I can remember.

It is now some bizarre time in the morning, but I will get to work on time and do the job that I love and adore and the wonderful Shetland team who I work with at the Gilbert Bain and equally adore all the lovely patients I see, bond with and assist with their recovery. Shetland is how my birth county of Norfolk used to be, but far better and I feel very lucky to be here, so I'm not going to let this put a dent in all the wonderful positives here. The local Shetland people here are so lovely, its actually made me happier than I've ever been.

I will never return to Norfolk where there is no community any more, where there are few local people left and most of the coast is half a million plus massive second homes standing empty for most of the Winter months, that only the super rich can buy, forcing working class families to live in the less desirable areas. The huge increase in people, traffic and thousands of dogs off lead, whereas in Shetland you rarely seen a dog off a lead, as they are not allowed to menace the sheep and livestock here, which is how it should be and in turn you feel safer too. Its terrifying when a big dog is charging you with bared teeth – this hasn't happend here once (yet) since my arrival in May – in that same period of time this would have happened several times in Norfolk. I couldn't stand the boiling hot and crazy weather either. I much prefer the Shetland crazy, colder weather! πŸ˜† I'm not leaving, as this is the first time I felt like a place is mean't to be, I only wish I had been lucky enough to have been born here.

Good night or should I say good morning!

Sunday 21 January 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS, Beluga Whale and A Near Death Experience!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
 Beluga Whale  still off West Ayre, Hillswick. Glaucous Gull at Pool of Virkie. Glaucous Gull at Sumburgh. Hen Harrier at Sumburgh Farm. Kumlien's Gull, Iceland Gulls x 3 at Uyeasound, Unst.

Moving on Tuesday instead now.

I couldn't write what happened today on the day, so will update briefly now on 24th January.

I drove to Hillswick and with others, had the most incredible and amazing views of my first distant Beluga Whale in very cold weather, but stunning blue skies and sunshine. Just wow! Got some record shots, but nothing more, will add them to this post at some point.

On the way home I had my first ever serious car accident and ended up going through a fence and down hill into a ditch. It was one of the most terrifying moments of my life and as I saw the ditch coming, I thought that was it. Luckily it wasn't and nobody else was involved at all. I got out of the car, completely unscathed, but was in serious shock at what had happened. Loads of very kind people rushed to the scene, which I thank you for and especially to a lovely young couple. Ambulance and police arrived etc.

The airbags didn't go off and no windows in the car were smashed or cracked that I could see, but nearly all panels were affected in some way or other and headlights and grill smashed at the front. The car had landed on a large drain pipe on the left hand side, so it wasn't going to look pretty underneath. I knew this was the end of the car. 

The police very kindly helped me to empty the car, which at this point, involved us walking down to the ditch with torches in complete darkness and trying to empty a car slightly on its side – it took ages with my camera gear and other stuff I had started to pack for the move. Something I didn't feel like doing at this moment in time, but it had to be done. The police kindly took me home and dropped off my stuff and I just sat on the sofa and didn't move for several hours. I couldn't believe what had just happened.

I had asked Norma at Ian Reid Removals the day before, if there was any chance of doing my move on Tuesday instead of Monday as the high winds and rain looked atrocious for moving. Unbeknown to me earlier in the afternoon before my accident, she had emailed back to agree to moving me Tuesday. I saw this when I returned home and the relief was enormous, not because of the weather, but because I had lots more packing to do, which I would have finished by now if it were not for my accident and there was no way mentally, I could move tomorrow after what had just happened.

So in summary, my lovely Rallye Green Skoda (just a box of metal at the end of the day) has gone forever, but no one else was hurt and nor was I. I've had that car since new and the money that I will be offered from the insurance will not buy me anywhere near a quality car as this was. I just wanted to hide under a duvet for a week, but I had no choice but to re-focus. I was moving in one day. The lovely Jill Wilson was extremely supportive and said she would come over and help me on move day, which was very kind of her indeed.

Saturday 20 January 2024

My New Forever Home In Scalloway, Shetland!

Built by a local fisherman in 1900


The sale completed of my new home in Scalloway on Thursday 18th January and after being snowed in for days, the big thaw commenced today and I was finally able to get the car out and arranged to pick the keys up from Alastair and Margaret and read the metres at 4pm. Can't believe I now own a property in Shetland, I'm so excited!

Its a two bedroom, one level property with a large living/dining room. There is a patio area at the back and two sheds. Its a really quirky place and I love it! Can't wait to get the bird feeders up!

Scalloway Harbour is at the bottom of the hill where Orca are sometimes seen. Several shops, GP surgery, chemist, restaurant, cafe, chinese take away, swimming pool, museum and a vets for when I get my cat!. Everything I need and only 5.6 miles from Lerwick for work!

I'm supposed to be moving in on Monday and Ian Reid said they would confirm this along with a time either today or Sunday – I have not heard from them yet. The weather is atrocious on Monday with gales and heavy rain, not ideal for transporting all your wordly goods!

Front Garden

Gallows Hill behind my house!


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
 Beluga Whale  still off West Ayre, Hillswick. Waxwing at Pool of Virkie. Kumlien's Gull, Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gulls x 2 at Uyeasound, Unst.

The snow melted enough for me to get my car out!!!

Friday 19 January 2024


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
 Beluga Whale  still off West Ayre, Hillswick.

I was the only one at work today as Catherine had annual leave and Jen couldn't get in because of the snow. First time I have been at work on a Friday, had a productive and positive day and it was so nice to have chocolate pudding and custard in the canteen for a change. πŸ˜‹ I have almost run out of food now and yes I could walk to Tescos quite easily, but being as I'm potentially moving on Monday, I might go to the hospital canteen for lunch at the weekend, might as well, closest place to me and cheapest!

I kept my coat on when I got home, it felt colder in the house than it normally does. Fell asleep on sofa with mental exhaustion from yesterday and later discovered why it felt so cold – the large (old and rusty) storage heater in the hallway was stone cold and not working! This is the second one to stop working in a matter of weeks. Good job I have my late parent's Dimplex heaters for emergencies! The estates team won't be able to come out to fix that until Monday at least.

The snow novelty has worn off now. Snowing for most of the day again. Still can’t get keys to my new house and to read metres. My car and others still stuck in drifts of snow in my uncleared road! Many abandoned cars throughout Shetland reported by news sources and many people still stuck at home and unable to get out. Fingers crossed for the forecast heavy rain and big thaw over the weekend!

Thursday 18 January 2024

House Sale Complete, After A Very Fraught & Stressful Day!

I didn't sleep very well at all last night, worrying about today from what I was told yesterday. The lovely estates team from the hospital came to unplumb my washing machine, so that's ready to go. Last night I took everything out of my fridge freezer and turned it off. I managed to put what food I had left into the tiny NHS undercounter fridge.

Ian Reid emailed me this morning, to let me know that they can't move me tomorrow, which I expected as the snow is even worse this morning, but they will try and move me on Monday. Therefore I have to go to work tomorrow, in order to have Monday off, which one of my seniors gave me kind permission to do. Obviously the weather is dictacting the move, but this is not ideal, especially when Ian Reid have to move someone else local the same day too, which they hadn't planned and now are having to squeeze me in as well, as they have no other available days next week, so they will be very busy. Also this means, its going to be shattering, having to return to Lerwick to empty this house of the belongings I don't want going in the van and then cleaning the entire house out, return to Scalloway and be at work the next day! I can't see me doing that, so will probably have to clean the house on Tuesday evening after work and hand the keys in on Wednesday. This is exactly why I had planned to move on a Friday, so I had the weekend to sort stuff. There is of course, also the risk that the weather will still be too dangerous to move on Monday, which means I have no idea when I will get moved after that!

Today has been very, very stressful and I ended up in tears this afternoon. I can't remember the last time I got so upset. Harper Macleod solicitors at the Glasgow office are totally unprofessional and that is the most polite way of saying it on my blog. So, this is how the day went, I had annual leave booked for Completion Day and so that I could drive (ha ha) to pick the keys up and read the metres, which is what everyone usually does when a sale completes. My solicitor told me that completion usually happens around lunch time, but it can in fact be any time, both earlier or later and right up to the close of business, which in Harper Macleod's case is 5pm. You can see where this is going!

Basically because of Harper Macleod's incompetency and very poor service, right since the beginning of the sale, but particularly since yesterday, they lost me a day's annual leave and caused me alot of stress. My solicitor contacted me this morning to say that she couldn't get hold of Harper Macleod to find out what was going on, but she was prioritising the situation and would ring them every hour – she had left an urgent voice mail for them. Anyway, eventually they made contact and basically said they were not going to be able to complete today, because of certain something (can't go into it as not appropriate) that was still on the Title Deed! My solicitor was fuming as was I, especially when H. M. had had that title deed (my solicitor told me) since the 17th November! They left it until the day before completion to highlight this issue, which was THEIR fault! They needed proof of something (in relation to the sellers) and said they had this proof themselves, but it was in their archives, which they couldn't get to because of the snow! As my solicitor said, its no excuse at all, as they would have known about this since November. Lots more phone calls, lots more emails and I didn't feel able to do a single thing until this was sorted, it was all very stressful. I was thinking about the fact that nothing would be insured in this house and all the other stuff that would have to be sorted if I didn't move, plus new tenants are moving into my house here soon!

I couldn't take it any more, I flipped big time. I phoned up Harper Macleod in Glasgow and asked to speak to whoever was in charge of all the solicitors. I was asked what it was about..... was put on hold and as expected, was not allowed to speak to anyone, so threw an absolutely wobbly at the receptionist (I apologised afterwards and explained it wasn't directed at her) about the terrible unprofessional service and pointed out that they couldn't do this half a day before completion and listed all the things I would have to do if we didn't complete because of their mistake and ended with saying "tell the solicitor to get it sorted before 5pm"!!!

I don't know what my solicitor Charlotte had said to them during the day, but between us it worked! If they had not completed by 5pm, they would have been in breach of the contract. This story is far longer than I have typed, but not got the mental energy to talk about it much more. I received an email from my solicitor at 16.54 with 6 minutes to the deadline that we had completed! I normally finish work at 4.30pm so I might as well have been at work today, what a waste of valuable annual leave. I should have felt excited but I didn't, I felt angry, exhausted, fed-up and very low in spirits. This isn't how I should have been feeling when I had just bought a house in Shetland, I should have been jumping up and down with excitement.

I don't like owning a house and not having the keys in my hand, but I can't get out of the road, so until I can, I will have to wait to pick the keys up from the now previous owners and then read the metres. I did enquire about a taxi, but they were going to charge me £18 each way, plus waiting time, I'm not doing that! I'm sure I will feel more excited once I move into the house, but Harper Macleod have taken the shine of the entire experience of buying this house.

However, I can't recommend my solicitor Charlotte Torrance at Andersonbain in Aberdeen enough. This solicitors was recommended to me by a local man and his girlfriend, who I met in Sandwick whilst viewing their house a while back, they said that Andersonbain were quick and professional and far cheaper than any of the Shetland solicitors. They were totally right, Charlotte responded to all my emails almost straight away and it was very rare I couldn't get hold of her on the phone. She was very unimpressed with Harper Macleod's service, which actually started at the branch in Lerwick, but for some unknown reason got moved to a different solicitor at the Glasgow branch, where the service spiralled into an even worse service than it already was.
I really hope I can get my car out soon and especially by Monday, mind you, if I can't get out then, the removal van won't be coming either! I will try and write a more unbeat post about the house tomorrow!!! The experience of buying property here has been far more difficult and stressful than my move from Norfolk, far more stressful, but after persevering I have eventually got there!


 Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
 Beluga Whale  still off West Ayre, Hillswick. Hen Harriers x 2 at Sandgarth, north of Voe. Northern Bullfinches x 2 at Lerwick.

Most of Shetland is still gridlocked and strong winds are blowing snow drifts onto already impassable roads with extremely poor visibility. Many people are stuck at home unable to go to work, food shopping or anything. Some of the videos I have seen of the roads on a "Shetland Road Conditions" FB page are pretty scary! My car and others in the road are still snowed in. It seems to be getting worse. No sign of snow melting yet and no chance of getting out yet.

Police advise not to travel unless absolutely necessary:

Wednesday 17 January 2024


 Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
 Beluga Whale  off West Ayre, Hillswick. Tundra Bean Goose at Pool of Virkie. Bittern flew over Tronda, towards Scalloway.

Further snow overnight, not a chance of getting my car out of the road. Swept all the snow off the car this afternoon, which simply made the 2ft+ snow around it approximately 3ft, don't why I bothered!! Understandably, the gritting lorries have not got the time to do side roads at the moment.

Completion day tomorrow, but seller's solicitors are even trying to cock that up with something they have found with less than half a day to go – something THEY should have picked up on weeks ago, not suddenly find this with only a few hours to completion. Harper Macleod in Glasgow really are utterly pants. Emailed my solicitor this evening and asked her to sort them out asap. Even if tomorrow does happen, I can't get out to go and pick up the keys and read the metres anyway!!!

Ian Reid told me they will check out the route tomorrow from my door to new house, but they think it is unlikely they will be able to move me on Friday, but they will update me tomorrow morning and if they can't, they are thinking about moving me on Monday, which means I will now have work on my normal day off (Friday) in order to have a day off to move next week! The weather on Monday looks just as bad!

Alot of frustrated people in Shetland today, not seeing the Beluga Whale up north at Hillswick, as most of us can't get out and roads too dangerous anyway! Never seen one of these, how awesome that would be! Hope it enjoys itself here and hangs around until the snow has gone!!!  Very, very cold here this evening.


WOW! TODAY in Shetland – a Beluga Whale!

Most people here couldn't go to see it, as its still treacherous conditions and snowed up roads here. Hope it stays around and the roads clear!

Richard Shucksmith took this incredible drone footage today:

Tuesday 16 January 2024


 Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull at Pool of Virkie.

The deepest snow I have seen for many, many years!

From my window this morning!
My car!

Steps down to my communual garden and NHS block of four houses
All my plants – hope they survive!
The concrete bird bath is under there somewhere, wish I had removed the water before it iced up!

I had a message from Ian Reid to say they could not move me on Thursday, but will on Friday "if weather permits". Ferries cancelled, schools cancelled, public transport cancelled and many people in Shetland snowed in! Personally, the extreme weather doesn't bother me in the slightest, except for the fact I'm supposed to be moving.

I don't think Ian Reid will be able to get into my street and all the cars here are blocked in with snow, so they are not going to be able to move or want to anyway and not for an articulated lorry to park up! The road I'm moving to is extremely narrow and Ian Reid has to back their lorry up this narrow road in order to get to my house. This road is seriously steep, I just can't see it happening! Oh well, I'll get moved at some point! Its still snowing now and getting worse at 22.45. ⛄

Fabulous pictures of Shetland today:



Our closest family friend since we were all youngsters

Lovely to catch up with you this evening!

Best Wishes Penny xx

πŸ¦‹ 🦎 🐞 πŸ“· πŸ› 🐚 🐝

RBA Weekly Round-Up 9th to 15th January!

By Jon Dunn

Monday 15 January 2024


 Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Glaucous Gull at Loch of Spiggie. Blue Fulmar at Scousburgh Sands, Loch of Spiggie. Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull at Westing, Unst.

As yesterday, but whiter!!! Snowing and strong winds! I couldn't actually see out of the windows from the top floor of the hospital, it was snowing that much! Schools and airport closed and most bus services. My little green Skoda is currently camouflaged! ⛄πŸ˜‚ Right now, I can't see any of the snowed cars in my road, able to or wanting to move for my large moving lorry on Friday (don't think it will be Thursday now). Insane time to move, but then nothing I ever do is straight forward and simple!!!

All living room, office stuff and kitchen packed up. Clothes, shoes and bedroom stuff to pack tomorrow night and then I'm more or less done 'ish'! Shouldn't take that long, as I have been living out of packing zipped bags anyway for lots of things. Looks miserable and sad in my little house now with boxes and nothing else. My TV doesn't work either, not a single channel on there! Must be something to do with the following: Note: my TV belonged to my parents and its pretty old – someone said that a Firestick might help?!

I've really enjoyed living in this house, apart from the no parking situation and I'm extremely grateful for the NHS for allowing me to be here longer than they really wanted me to be. I was going to say that I will be glad to not be paying any more rent, but I'm sure that entire fee with be going to Octopus for the electric!

Sunday 14 January 2024


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Glaucous Gulls x 3 at Sumburgh Head. Glaucous Gull at Sandsayre, Leebitten, north of Sandwick. Iceland Gull at Westing, Unst. Glaucous Gull at Norwick, Unst.

Its a white out today! Snowing and strong winds! Oven sold and then had to message 12 other people that it had been collected – early bird catches the worm and all that jazz.

Forecast for tomorrow: Strong winds and HEAVY snow etc. The way things are going the removal firm won't be moving me Thursday or Friday! A very silly time of year to move here, but that's just how its worked out! Northlink ferries cancelled today.

Packing ongoing!

Saturday 13 January 2024


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Glaucous Gull, Little Gull at Sandsayre, Leebitten, north of Sandwick. Glaucous Gull at marina, Lerwick. Black-bellied Dipper still at Burn of Lunklet, NE of Aith. Blue Fulmars x 4 flew past Skaw, Unst.

Friday still looks like the better day to move?! Someone coming over from Unst to potentially buy my oven tomorrow and eleven other people waiting to hear if its sold or not! Sleet Showers here and wind building up for a run of extra windy weather and more sleet!

Friday 12 January 2024


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
White-fronted Geese x 2 at Baltasound, Unst.

I have been very busy, but not packed a single thing yet. Transferred the funds over to my solicitor for my new house which was scary to do. My bank funds are looking very sorry for themselves now, but I now have my forever home in Shetland!!! The sellers are just as busy as me, as they are emptying the house of everything that they and I don't want – it was a self-catering property.

As my previous post, got the insurance sorted at last! Made essential phone calls and jobs in relation to my move. Did a ton of washing, before the washing machine gets unplumbed. The BBC forecast is totally rubbish – its now switched and Friday 19th is now potentially better to move than Thursday 18th!!! Highlighted this to my moving firm and decided to let them choose which day is best!

I would have loved to have gone to Scalloway's Fire Festival and Torchlit Procession this evening, especially being as this is where I will be living, but I simply didn't have the time. I'll be there next year!

Lin Pateman Saves The Day! Insurance Sorted!

After the Insurance brokers didn't phone me back last night, I phoned them again this morning and they couldn't find an insurers to meet my needs.

Norfolk birder Lin Pateman contacted me on Twitter (X) recently to recommend getting my insurance with the Halifax. Why did I not ring them straight away?!

So I decided to ring the Halifax to check if they did and then do the quote on line!!! You can specify items up to £25,00 for away cover, as long as they are out of sight in the boot!!! Items over £2,000 have be listed and obviously this makes the fee higher.

Massive thanks to Lin, as I'm now sorted!!! House buildings, contents and photography gear now all covered wherever I go! I took out their "Silver" policy and yes its not cheap, but much cheaper than taking out a seperate specialist photography insurance. ONE HAPPY BUNNY! πŸ‡πŸ˜Š

I owe Lyn a cup of tea and cake at the Cley VC when I return in March! πŸ’–

Thursday 11 January 2024


I didn't really have time to sort this with my imminent move, but I have annual leave I have to take before the end of March, otherwise I lose it and I had been planning to return to Norfolk to visit my sisters and friends, so decided I better sort something quickly. When I logged into Loganair last night, the flights from Sumburgh to Aberdeen + Aberdeen to Norwich, were the cheapest I have seen for a while. Each flight can be up around £350+ and the entire trip with islander discount came out at £409! Sounds alot, but trust me this is far less than it normally is! The closer you get to the dates, the more expensive and less choice there is. I have had some very kind offers of lovely people saying I could stay with them, but decided to be independent and found fairly cheap accommodation in the Market Place in King's Lynn – not somewhere I would choose to stay at all, but I will be within walking distance of Lucy's, if I decide not to hire a car, which I haven't yet. Meeting up with Vivien, Ray and Lucy the next day for lunch – can't wait!

I don't really want to take the ferry and drive for nine hours at this time of the year, even with my sparkly new Winter tyres. I don't want to give dates away on my public blog, but I have booked 11 days in March. Anyone that needs to know dates will know when! I have already arranged a meet up with my lovely ex work colleagues – any of you reading this, just ask Hilary Palmer for date, time and place – all welcome from West Raynham Ward and Rehab etc!

I might decide to book a car for a few days or the entire 11 days, don't know yet. If not I will be taking the Coastliner bus to visit close family friend Malcolm, my lovely ex neighbours Anne and Lewis, to visit HBO and pay my respect to parents, Titchwell RSPB and Cley, Salthouse and John's hill πŸ˜‰. Looking forward to meeting up with my favourite birding friends – you know who you are: E, J, and P and others of course! 😊 πŸ’– The majority of my trip will obviously be spent with my sisters though. I will fine tune my trip after I have moved next week.


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Black Redstart at West Voe, Sumburgh. Black-bellied Dipper still at Burn of Lunklet, NE of Aith. Iceland Gull on beach at Quendale. Hen Harrier at North Gluss. Iceland Gull at Cullivoe Pier, Yell. Black-throated Diver at South Nesting Bay.

I would be off to see the Black-bellied Dipper at first light tomorrow – if only I had the time! 😞 I've seen a few before in Norfolk, but you can never tire of watching these fascinating birds.

An Insurance broker had arranged to ring me at 4.45pm – they didn't! Still not sorted!!!

Wednesday 10 January 2024


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 

Black-bellied Dipper at Burn of Lunklet, NE of Aith. Black-throated Diver at South Nesting Bay.

Another failed attempt at sorting the insurance tonight. On a positive note I have contacted an insurance broker, who is calling me back as soon as I get home from work tomorrow night, to go through a quote and hopefully find someone to cover my unusual roof and photographic gear!

Ian Reid MAY be able to move me on Thursday, depends on if their moving crew are back on the island from a job on Wednesday?! Won't know until Tuesday and will also depend on what time the house completes. This move seems more stressful than my big move from Norfolk!

Anyone reading this from Shetland who is looking for a new oven – have a look on all the Shetland Classified Facebooks groups, as selling my Zanussi Oven, which needs to be sold and removed before end of the weekend!

Tuesday 9 January 2024


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 

Little Auks x 4, Black-throated Diver off Sumburgh Head. Iceland Gull at Loch of Spiggie. Black-throated Diver at Skelder Voe, Easter Skeld. Iceland Gull at Leebitten, Sandwick. Glaucous Gull at Gremista.

I was told by Ian Reid removals, that they potentially will have to cancel if the weather is bad, I was told a few weeks ago. This evening I noticed the weather is a terrible forecast of strong winds and sleet for the 19th, so I emailed them this evening to ask if they can move me on Thursday 18th, completion day instead, fingers crossed!

Not sorted house insurance yet as had another night of no sleep and crashed and burned this evening! I HAVE to resolve this tomorrow evening, no more time to mess about. Three days to pack at weekend.😟

RBA Weekly Round-Up 2nd to 8th January!

By Jon Dunn

Monday 8 January 2024


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Little Auks x 8 off Sumburgh Head. Glaucous Gull at South Nesting Bay. Iceland Gulls x 2 at Cullivoe, Yell.

Exhausting evening. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry! 🀣😭

I decided to go with a home insurance provider (got quote for yesterday) for buildings only, as this provider covered my new type of roof, but not the photography gear and then to go back to Sheila's Wheels to continue with contents only, to cover the photography gear.

Phoned Sheila's Wheels, which took almost an hour in a queue (who I just cancelled a few days ago, as they won't cover my new type of roof) to ask them if I could uncancel, to continue with the contents cover, which they wouldn't do and said I had to apply on line, fair enough, I cancelled it! So, I applied on line, but there was a statement on their website saying:

Looking for a new quote?

We’re working on creating a great new online experience for our customers at the moment, which unfortunately means you can’t currently get a quote from us. Please do pop back the next time you’re looking for home insurance.

????!!!!! So I phoned them back to point this out and they apologised and said they can't do the quote over the phone currently and the only way I could do this was to input my details into a comparison site😬😫😠

So, I did, which took forever to do with listing all my camera gear etc and did Sheila's Wheels come up in the list? NO!!!!!


I then phoned Churchill on recommendation of my friend Malcolm and they would have covered the roof, but would only pay out £2,000 in total for photography gear in the back of a boot of an unattended car.

Will have a re-think tomorrow evening after work!

Sorted electric provider, well I think I have, but I can tell that's not going to be easy, as its with OVO (currently in property) having a Economy 10 metre and Octopus (who I am going with) only do a Economy 7 metre. There are only three readings on the metres I was told, but Octopus said there are four! 🀣 and other stuff I don't have the energy to go in to!

Will I ever be moving house again? NO

Sunday 7 January 2024


Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Black-throated Divers x 2 at West Voe, Sumburgh. Little Auks x 5 at Skaw, Unst. Greenland Redpolls x 4 at Uyeasound, Unst. Iceland Gull at Burrafirth, Unst. Red Kite at Scatness.

Lovely day here today, but did not have time to leave the house. Sadly though some of my precious time was wasted this afternoon, after I googled and had what I didn't realise at the time, was a spoof virus message come up, which almost forced me into joining McAfee to get rid of the virus. Be warned! Mind you, it frightened me enough to download a cheaper virus protection programme, which I found myself, paid for and ran a scan, which took forever and no viruses or trojens were found!!!

Under two weeks to move and I've not really started packing yet, oh dear! Have done all utilities that I can do, apart from house insurance and electricity though. Frustrating that you can't do some before you move, such as TV Licence, Tax Office, DVLA etc, as they only allow you to put today's date in on-line. Busy, busy 🐝