As we move into the New Year, it’s difficult not to feel as though we’ve been short-changed. We all liked to imagine that 2021 would be like hitting the reset and bring a fresh start, a line in the sand of sorts. Yet, we are still fighting the same struggles we were in 2020, and coronavirus is still an ever-present threat to the world.
Travel looks like it may well remain hampered into 2021 as restrictions continue and nations race to get mass-vaccinations rolled out as our health systems, as ever, bear the brunt of the coronavirus fallout.
I’ve received many emails looking to book tours for 2021 and, at present, my diary remains closed as the situation continues to change and develop on almost a daily basis. That’s not to say things won’t improve as the year wears on, but for now, I believe we are best to wait, dream and plan.
I feel incredibly torn between protecting my business, which has taken a monumental battering over the past 12 months and speaking out for what I personally think is the right thing to do at this point. In all honesty, for me, I believe that planning travel at the moment is irresponsible (shoot me!) and dare I say it, selfish. I would love to have a holiday, travel somewhere, see something beyond my four walls but, I can’t just consider my needs and desires for a break. We all want one, but I, and we collectively, also have to consider the communities we are visiting and the risks we are placing on their vulnerable people and their health systems.
I know this is an unpopular view and not what a tourism provider should be saying but, let’s stick with it, stay put for now and hope that we come out the other end soon!
I appreciate that many people are still desperate to get their Shetland fix so, for that reason, I have compiled a list of ways that you can enjoy Shetland from your sofa until it’s safe to visit again.
1. Watch the Shetland tv show
Shetland is a televised crime drama series based on the popular books by author Ann Cleeves. The show, mainly shot in Shetland, has become a worldwide hit, with visitors coming to the islands from far and wide to see the landscape that inspires the story.
The show was first aired in March 2013, and the fifth series was shown on British TV in 2019. Filming for series six was due to take place over the summer of 2020, but producers were forced to postpone due to the ongoing covid-19 situation. But viewers can be assured that they have not seen the last of Shetland yet!
Nevertheless, with over 20 episodes in the archive, there is plenty of viewing to keep us all occupied throughout lockdown as we plan our next Shetland adventure. The show features Douglas Henshall who, as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez, alongside his colleagues, Tosh and Sandy, is tasked with solving many unexplained murders in the sleepy, island community of Shetland.
You can listen to an interview I did with creator Ann Cleeves, here.
2. Tune into Shetland webcams and get a feel for the weather, the wildlife and maybe even the northern lights!
You can tune in to one of several remote webcams from anywhere in the world from Shetland Webcams and experience the sights and sounds of Shetland from the warmth and comfort of your own home.
Journey across Shetland from Sumburgh Head in the south to Eshaness in Shetland’s rugged north-west. If you’re lucky, you can enjoy the ‘mirrie dancers’, or northern lights, on the aurora cam.
3. Watch Island Medics and get a sense of community in the isles
Island Medics is a tv show, based in Shetland’s only hospital, the Gilbert Bain Hospital. The show takes viewers behind the scenes in the UK’s most northerly hospital as we meet the doctors, nurses and health professionals in their working and private lives in Shetland.
You can watch the first three series’ of Island Medics on BBC iPlayer or YouTube.
4. Get lost in a book
Reading is one of the best ways to transport the mind somewhere else and, throughout lockdown, I’ve enjoyed visiting all corners of the world through the pages of a good book.
I wrote a blog about my guide to the best of Shetland fiction, which has plenty of reading suggestions to keep you busy as we wait for travel to reopen again.
5. Follow some fantastic Shetland Instagram accounts
See what the locals are up to and follow some fantastic Shetland Instagram accounts for more inspiration. NorthLink Ferries recently featured their favourite social media accounts to follow, so why not give them a follow too?
6. Have a Shetland themed cookery night and try your hand at some traditional dishes
I would recommend making Reestit Mutton Tattie Soup with bannocks or oatcakes. For something sweet, you could try a brӧnnie (a traditional boiled fruit cake).
Or you could try one of the dishes featured in this post about traditional Shetland dishes.
7. Take a knitting class
Why not sign up for a knitting class and learn a new skill for the new year? Terri Laura offers a range of fantastic online courses to suit all levels and abilities.
If you are entirely new to knitting, she has some free video tutorials online. You can watch these here.
8. Listen to a podcast
One of my favourite ways to unwind, whether at the end of the day, out on a walk or as I iron, is to listen to a podcast. Earlier this year I launched the Shetland with Laurie Podcast which ran over 12 episodes until December.
I covered a range of topics including knitting, crofting, fishing, language and folklore, and all episodes are available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or to listen to here.
Hopefully these will give you some inspiration as we pass through these continued days in lockdown!
Hopefully we'll see you all on the other side very soon :)
Hello from Laurie
Hello, and welcome to my blog. I hope that you find what you're looking for - whether you're planning that perfect holiday or maybe you're from Shetland and looking for some 'home' inspiration. Hopefully, there is something here for everyone.