An exceptional month for weather on Fair
Isle - Warm, Sunny and Dry
Statistics from the weather station here show that with
only 14.4 mm of rain recorded, just 28.1% of average, this was easily
the driest July since records began almost 30 years ago (the previous
driest July was 18.1 mm recorded in 1994).
It was also the
warmest July on record here with a mean daily temperature of 13.9
Celsius, 2.5 above normal, easily beating the 12.8 Celsius of 1976.
The highest temperature for the month was 19.9 Celsius recorded on
the 16th, which just failed to beat the all-time Fair Isle hottest of
20.1 Celsius of 1991.
well above average with a monthly total of 190.4 hours, 139.5% of
average and also just failing to beat the Fair Isle July record of
191.1 hours of 1995.
Birthday Celebrations at Skerryholm!
A few of the many
islanders and visitors helping celebrate Jimmy's birthday.
cakes a real give-away!!
Fair Isle posts for Fair Trade!
With World Trade rules effectively robbing poor
countries of 1.3 billion daily (14 times what they get in aid)
Stackhoull Stores - and Fair Isle - are making their voice heard
in the 'Scale up for Trade Justice' campaign sending postcards to
our MP, Alistair Carmichael, by each mailboat from now until the
World Trade Organisation meeting in Mexico in September.
Fair Isle folk at the
'Scale up for Trade Justice' stall
Jimmy Stout and Post
Mistress Fiona Mitchell
Fair Isle on the BBC Website -
for 3rd September
1954: National Trust buys remote island
National Trust for Scotland
The National Trust for Scotland website
updated . . . .
. . . . though unfortunately their map
still leaves off Fair Isle and the remainder of Shetland - but we
do get a link!
Stackhoull Garden Party
Rain arriving shortly after the start of the
Garden Party, which all Fair Isle Residents were 'commanded' by
the Lord Stackhoull to attend, did little to dampen the spirits as
everyone just moved indoors at the 'Palace' to continue the
In all their finery
The Men in Grey
and Lady Stackhoull'
Celebrating Midsummer with a Barbeque at the
Fair Isle Primary School Concert
The latest issue (July/August) of
Scottish Islands Explorer
produced on Fair Isle by Linda Grieve and
Philip Welch is
As always this bi-monthly magazine,
regular contributions, is packed with interesting articles about
the islands around Scotland.
month, as well as featuring articles about travelling by bicycle
around Coll, deer on Rum, island hopping around the Hebrides, a
whalebone arch on Lewis, Orkney's Happy Valley, Way Out West on
Rona, and the first in a series on walking on Kerrera, there is an
interesting - and often amusing - article by Times writer Jonathan
Lennie who discovers that there's more to Fair Isle than a mention
in the Shipping Forecast!
Islands Explorer contains many
excellent photographs and illustrations.
Further information about
Scottish Islands Explorer can
be found on their website at
www.scottishislandsexplorer.com, or e-mail
Best, Fair Isle boatbuilder,
at the prestigious Smithsonian Institute
in Washington DC
Ian has been commissioned by the
Institute in Washington DC to complete
the construction of a clinker-built 23' Ness Yoal, begun
earlier on Fair Isle
and shipped to America, on the National Mall
during the 37th Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival June 25-29
and July 2-6 2003.
information can be found at the
Smithsonian Institute Folklife Festival, Scotland at the
Smithsonian (boatbuilding) webpage.
Also at the
traces her Fair Isle roots back to at least
1690. She learned patterned knitting and other Fair Isle
crafts from her mother; and presently four generations of her
family are involved in indigenous craft production. Trained as
a teacher, she has researched, lectured, and published
material on Fair Isle history, folklore, culture, and dialect,
and is also an excellent singer. Here
the link is -
Anne's mother, Annie Thomson, hand-knitter
to the 2003 Smithsonian Folklife Festival
will also be able to attend
performances by many of Scotlands leading traditional artists.
Featured performers include the Battlefield Band, Phil and Johnny
Cunningham, Dougie MacLean, Brian McNeill, the Wrigley Sisters from
Orkney, Fiddlers Bid from Shetland, the Edinburgh-based ceilidh
band The Occasionals, and the famed childrens ensemble the Singing
Scotland at the
Smithsonian is produced in partnership with the Scottish
Executive, with the collaboration of and a donation from the Scottish
Arts Council, a donation from VisitScotland, contributions from
William Grant & Sons, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and
support from Shetland Island Council, Shetland Enterprise and the
Shetland Arts Trust. Additional cooperative efforts come from the
University of Aberdeen, University of Edinburgh, Lochcarron Mills, the
Gaelic Arts Agency, the General Register Office for Scotland and the
National Archives of Scotland. Major in-kind support is provided by
William Grant & Sons and Lochcarron Mills.
Since 1967, the
Smithsonian Folklife Festival has celebrated traditional cultures from
across the United States and around the world. In addition to
Scotland, the 2003 Festival will also feature Mali: From Timbuktu to
Washington and Appalachia: Harmony and Heritage. The Festival is
produced by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
and co-sponsored by the National Park Service. To learn more about the
Smithsonian Folklife Festival, visit
2003 Shetland Trek Tour'
MAY Fair Isle Hall
ALLY BAIN and PHIL CUNNINGHAM in Concert
Certainly made up for missing the eclipse
- after all, there'll be another one of those in 90 years!
30th: Young Islanders!
Fair Isle and Vatersay boast the highest
percentages of younger islanders. On
Vatersay, 32% of the population is under the age of 16 and on Fair
Isle the figure is almost 29%.
On Fair Isle, of the 16-74 year olds, approx. 8%
declare there employment as 'Agriculture', 24% as 'Transport', 18%
'Manufacturing', 10% 'Construction' and 16% 'Business Activities'!
just a few snippets from the information that
is now available on the SCOTLAND'S 2001 CENSUS
RESULTS ONLINE website
www.scrol.gov.uk/scrol/ It is worth noting
although there are 95 inhabited islands in Scotland, several of the
smaller islands have been grouped together and the SCROL website only
has details for 54 island areas (for example, the four Small Isles
have all been grouped together as Eigg).
At the time of the census, there were 95 inhabited islands (there
were 87 at the time of the 1991 census), with a total population of
99,660. Quite a healthy sounding figure, but this reveals that there
are now 10,000 fewer people living on our islands then were in 1981,
when the total figure stood at over 110,000.
The results also reveal that the most populated island in Scotland
is the land mass of Lewis and Harris with almost 20,000 residents.
However, the Western Isles as a whole have suffered the worst rates of
depopulation over the last decade losing more than 3,000 people.
Benbecula has suffered one of the worst rates of depopulation a
decrease of more than 30% since the last census.
The fastest growing island population of the last decade is Easdale
one of the Slate Islands in Argyll. Here, the population has grown
from 41 in 1991 to 58 in 2001 and increase of 41%.
Another island experiencing a healthy rate of population growth
has been Arran the population has increased by more than 600 over
the last decade and now stands at over 5,000.
33 Scottish islands had a population of
less than 100 at the time of the census.
The majority of Scottish islanders are aged between 45 and 59
(almost 25%). The islands with the oldest populations are Lismore and
Cumbrae. More than 45% of Lismore residents are aged over 60 and the
figure for Cumbrae is over 40%.
For more general information about the 2001 census, visit the
General Register Office for Scotland website at
Fair Isle business receives technology boost!
From the Highlands &
Islands Enterprise Network website -
A Fair Isle businessman is using the latest in
technology to boost sales of his traditional glass designs.
Patrick Ross-Smith's stained
glass windows are made using techniques that can be traced back to
medieval times, but the design and marketing side of his business will
now benefit from cutting edge technology thanks to a grant from the
local enterprise company.
With a client portfolio including Dornoch Cathedral,
Iona Abbey and Standard Life as well as a steady stream of orders from
the tourists who make the ferry or plane journey to the Fair Isle, Mr
Ross-Smith's secluded island location hasn't hindered his sales to
However, he was keen to build on this success and
break into new markets so approached Shetland Enterprise for
assistance. He was awarded 3475 towards computer equipment and
design software to help him expand his product range, and for a new
website to help bridge the geographical gap between his island
location and potential customers.
Commenting on the grant, Mr Ross-Smith said: "This
investment will have a real impact on my business. The design
software and image capture equipment will allow extremely detailed
working and will greatly reduce the time it takes to prepare artwork
for production. I'm quite a distance from my suppliers and customers
so any time saving that I can make will have a considerable impact on
turnover and hopefully help me make the transition to a large volume
"The website is being designed locally and should be
ready in the next few months. Entering the world of e-commerce is a
big step but is the best way to showcase my designs and reach new
audiences. My work will remain traditional with all the products
individually hand crafted, but I'm keen to take advantage of what
technology has to offer my business."
Steven Guthrie, development manager at Shetland
Enterprise, said: "The internet is an effective way for Patrick to
expand into new markets and we are pleased to offer our support. The
new equipment should make his business more efficient and hopefully
allow him more time to concentrate his efforts on the artistic side of
16th: A mega-rare on Fair isle!
Thick-billed Warbler, trapped in
Vaadal this morning - second for Fair Isle and fourth for Shetland &
Britain (previous records from Whalsay and Out Skerries)
(left) courtesy Fair Isle Bird Observatory
(link opens in new window)
some of approximately 25 people
who managed to charter transport onto
the isle today to see
the Thick-billed Warbler - this party making the
return flight all the way from Yorkshire. Loganair was also chartered from
Tingwall via Sumburgh, while Jonathan Wills brought another party
by sea from Lerwick.
11th: Adventure Canada/Fair Isle Evening of
Sunday evening saw some 150 - Isle folk outnumbered
by visitors off the cruise ship Polar Star - gathered together in
the hall for a meal and evening of musical entertainment. Half
the food had been prepared by cooks and bakers on the Isle, the other
half brought by the visitors and staff from the Polar Star.
After the meal guests and hosts
were entertained by music and song from Fridarey and the Fair Isle
band. This was followed by superb and very varied performances
by several groups from the ship's crew and passengers.
Earlier in the afternoon the
passengers had been ashore for tea and home-bakes at the Hall and seen
something of Fair Isle's varied craft industry.
Monday evening a number of children - together with some of their
teachers - arrived at Fair Isle on the Swan. The
children, from the primary schools on Papa Westray and Eday in Orkney
had been expecting to spend only a day or two on the Isle before
continuing north to Shetland. Unfortunately a poor weather
forecast resulted in a changed itinerary and an extended stay on Fair
Isle. They plan to sail back to Orkney on Friday. However,
all are in full agreement that having the extra days on Fair Isle made
up for missing the sail north.
Rare annular solar eclipse
It looks as though
there could be a busy time ahead for
Shetland as folk head north for a
rare annular solar eclipse, taking place early on Saturday
31st May. Tourist Boards are hopeful that the eclipse will
offer an ideal opportunity to offer
special deals to coincide with the event,
providing an early boost to the tourism economy. The
Shetland Astronomical Society has organised two viewing
sites for stargazers on the Shetland
islands, Unst and Fetlar. Find out more about the event on
the Shetland Tourist Board website -
Keep your fingers crossed for clear skies
otherwise stargazers will have to wait
another 90 years for the next annular eclipse.
image above links to the NASA website with information
about the eclipse
But then who wants to go on a
Come and relax on Fair Isle - where late May usually
has some of the sunniest days of the year - and hopefully enjoy a
New Shetland Mainland Air Link
A new weekend service between
Sumburgh and Inverness has been introduced
by Highland Airways. Passengers will now be able to
travel on weekend newspaper delivery
flights on Saturdays and Sundays. These new flights
are in addition to the existing weekday morning flights
that operate the same route Monday to
Thursday. Ticket prices are 95 single and 190
return, including taxes. Highland Airways is also
introducing a link between Shetland
and Glasgow that leaves Sumburgh at 2.30pm every Sunday
for 149 one way.
special day for John Best too - marking 50 years since his first
The front of the Chapel, in Betty Best's words, had a TV-type
make-over with a spectacular tapestry hanging for the pulpit
lectern. This has been made by John and Betty's niece
Christine Goddard, based on a design - by daughter Fiona Mitchell
- of a rocky island with rainbow, cross and hand holding the
world. Anne Sinclair has done a great job mounting it - as
well as renewing the pulpit curtains and table cover to blend with
FRIDAREY's debut CD
Waters' is the first CD released by Fridarey, the Fair Isle family
group comprising sisters and brothers Neil Thomson, Stewart Thomson
and Anne Sinclair, with Anne's daughter Lise and Neil's daughter
Eileen completing the line-up.
Suffice it to say that this CD -
recorded in Castlesound Studios, Edinburgh and produced by Freeland
Barbour, demonstrates well how the group has matured in the years
since they first released a tape of their music.
A local review of this
excellent CD will follow shortly.
Available from -
Tel/Fax: 01595 760244
UK 12.99 + 1.00 p&p
Europe 12.99 + 1.50 p&p
Overseas 12.99 + 2.00 p&p
please make cheques payable