Postcards from Shetland 22/05/20

May 22, 2020

This morning I was speaking with Andy Ross from Global Yell who is currently in London.

Andy set up GlobalYell in 2006 and his charity, based in Yell, has been working in textiles education and training since then. Andy trained as a singer but he has a special interest in textiles, tweed in particular. He grew up in Zimbabwe where there is a strong textiles tradition and he comes from a family who knits, sews and creates using fabrics and yarns.

During our almost hour-long phone call we spoke about many things including present life and all the changes it brings, the news in Shetland and London, but we also delved into deeper topics such as living away from the place where you were born and the feelings connected with this phenomenon of our age. Another thing we spoke about in depth was creativity and creative blocks.

I said to Andy I would like to write more but I didn’t feel confident to share my thoughts. Also English is my second language so I always worry about making mistakes. Andy told me about his weekly blog on Saturday,  where he covers a variety of interesting topics related to textiles and creative pursuits but he also notes little things of beauty he spots throughout his week. I was really inspired when he said we all have something to say and it’s important we do because we might give someone a new perspective.

It was a great chat and I realised just how important it is to take a moment from your daily busy life, sit down and take a note of thoughts and ideas. I enjoy taking photos of things I see around me, but often they just stay on my phone or my camera memory card. Andy inspired me and gave me the encouragement to start sharing more and to enjoy my creativity. I believe we all are creative, but many of us are apprehensive to share it. Perhaps it is because we worry we will be criticised or judged. Or perhaps we simply think we’re not good enough. This reminds me of a quote I wrote down the other day: “Creative ideas happen when you stop thinking about what others will think.”

So I’m bringing you a few photos and notes from my walk this afternoon. I hope you enjoy these. I intend to make Postcards from Shetland a regular weekly feature to keep sharing my views of Shetland and some of my thoughts too. Enjoy and be creative!

When I spent my first summer in Shetland back in 2002, working at a local hotel, this was one of my favourite places to walk to when I had a free afternoon. It’s an abandoned croft house at Dales Voe.

I haven’t been here for a long time so coming back was wonderful and I spent a moment just standing in front of the house and reliving all those memories from when I used to visit Shetland before moving here. I’ve always loved this place. I was thinking about the family that would have lived here too. I remember always being fascinated by the ornate and slightly out of proportion porch. Old Shetland croft houses are fascinating.

There were so many nettles happily growing there, looking beautifully lush. I need to go back and pick some. I have mixed feelings about nettles, on one hand it is fear due to their fierce stinginess but the on the other one it is respect and love as it is a wonderful herb with many healing properties that have been forgotten.

Local herbalist Suze Walker recommends making a 12-hour infusion and drinking it for a week during this time of the year. I remember it took me a while to enjoy the taste of nettle tea but when I started making it from fresh plants or ones I dried myself I discovered it’s completely different from shop bought infusions. Much nice and cheaper too. So if you have a patch of nettles near you or even in your garden, treasure them and enjoy them. They are not weed, they are the nutritional powerhouse of the herbal world as Suze described them. I also like making nettle soup of a salad sprinkle. And they make a fantastic natural fertiliser for your plants as they are high in nitrogen, chlorophyll, and plant polyphenols – all of which support plant health and stimulate growth.

Violets are my favourite spring wildflowers. They are like little precious gems and when you find them you know the winter is definitely going away.

I love how the fresh vivid purple and green of these bluebells contrast with the faded shades of last year’s grasses. I find the contrast utterly mesmerising. I really need to plant some bluebells under the trees in our garden.

  1. Cathy Schwabe says:

    One of my favorite things in Shetland are the Croft
    houses- especially these multi part ones with the progressive rhythm of their rake end walls w/ chimneys, or not, at the peaks. They are beautiful forms set against the amazing colors of places they inhabit. I also love imagining them coming back to life as dwellings once more.
    Your writing is lovely as are the photos that capture how you see things. Thanks for taking the leap to share all of this in your blog. Here’s to your future Saturday musings.

    • Misa Hay says:

      Thank you so much Cathy, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed reading the first ‘Postcards’. I think I will really enjoy doing these, already this week I have seen so many beautiful things on my daily walks and that’s just within my area. I can’t wait until we can go for proper walks again as Shetland is truly beautiful this time of the year. The wildflowers will be at their best soon. And yes, I love croft houses too, especially how the blend with the landscape unlike a lot of modern architecture of the modern era.

  2. Yogi Mel says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. Your writing is lovely, like a friendly chat, which is something we all need,
    The pics are lovely too. I also love finding those tiny , amazing things in nature that are often overlooked; so I really appreciate seeing your pics, and imagining the amazing freshness of the air where you are
    Once again, Thank you for taking the time to share
    Please don’t stop 💜🇦🇺

    • Misa Hay says:

      Thank you so much taking time to read the ‘Postcards’ and to leave a lovely comment too, I really appreciate it. I’m glad you joined me on my little walk and I will definitely keep going. Thank you for your encouragement!

  3. Cayenne says:

    I love violets too. Thanks for sharing your walk.

  4. Martina says:

    Love your picture postcards and your writing. My Mum always tells me how good nettles are as an infusion… but still have to try it. Thank you so much for sharing

  5. Louise Jackson says:

    Beautiful thoughts from your heart. Thank you for sharing. I am so looking forward to my first, of hopefully many, tours with you.

  6. Phee says:

    Wonderful – I can see myself walking with you, chatting away! Thank you for sharing and best of luck to you and yours. Phee

  7. Nance says:

    This is lovely Misa. In looking at the photo of the bluebell, I am reminded of a springtime tradition of my childhood. I grew up in a neighborhood in Seattle called Mt Baker. In those days a city neighborhood still had empty lots and the odd neglected corner of someone’s yard. These bluebells grew in one such place. They were so thick that you couldn’t see the ground Beneath them. We would go down and pick fat fistfuls of them to take back to my mother. I suppose we were little thieves, but no one seemed to mind.

  8. Karen C says:

    Misa, this is amazing. It must be so fun to be starting a new adventure of your own! Your enthusiasm shows in everything you do. Looking forward to it all. Please don’t forget to post photos from the edge!

  9. Like!! Really appreciate you sharing this blog post.Really thank you! Keep writing.

  10. Shirley Kerluke says:

    Thank you for sharing
    > I feel like i am becoming apart of the Shetland life by what you shared with your word and beautiful pictures.
    From this appreciative Canadian; Shirley K.

  11. Pat jarvis says:

    Hello Misa….anything and everything you share about Shetland is wonderful to hear about…your passion for where you live comes through with everything you say..those of us who live elsewhere can close our eyes and pretend with your postcards…my fav thought is always to sit on a Shetland cliff, knitting in my lap, listening and watching the ocean, and having the sea birds flying help me be there..cheers pat

  12. Susan says:

    I would never have known that English was not your first language which begs the question what IS your native language.
    Thanks for brightening anyone’s day with your notes and beautiful photos. They make me want to move to Shetland (not practical for me actually). But a visit is on my bucket list.


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