There is a definite change of season in the air. There have been days of rainbows . . .


. . . and days of freezing fog


. . . and nights when the northern lights shimmered and shifted above the west highland way.


This particular wintery spell has brought sub-zero temperatures and fine dry days, ideal for walking.


Bruce is pictured here fearlessly attacking a found glove, and Tom in the familiar act of taking a photograph, as well as the less-familiar one of growing a beard. He was recently invited by our friend Chris Dyer to be part of the jarl squad for Bressay’s Up Helly Aa next February. This is a very great honour – and no boat-burning jarl should be beardless. Despite the amount of time both of us have spent in Shetland, we’ve never experienced Up Helly Aa and we are really looking forward to all aspects of the celebration!


Yesterday was one of those crisp, beautiful, hard-to-ignore afternoons, and it was a complete joy to spend it outside.


Above is Loch Arklet, looking serene in the fading light, and below is the view from the head of Loch Ard, which is a favourite among local photographers.


On a day like yesterday – with a frost-covered foreground, a fine view down the loch, and the snow-covered peak of Ben Lomond in the distance you can really see why!

But of all the images of the past few wintery days, this has to be my favourite.


Robins seem to be very active in this cold weather, and this wee one at Inversnaid was completely happy to hop about in front of Tom’s camera yesterday.

In between our winter wanderings we are hard at work here. We are getting organised for the Islay club, and the publication of the Shetland Oo book is at last imminent, and we expect to be able to put it on sale next week. You’ll hear much more about that in the next post!

52 thoughts on “wintery days

  1. Up Helly Aa is spectacular, we went about 10 years ago. It was snowing as the procession went past; smuts from the rag torches mixed with the huge flakes – truly magical. Sounds like you’ll get a token for the after party islander only entertainment in the halls. All the squads proceed around the outlying halls putting on their party piece as the locals have their celebration with party food and dancing. Little known fact – the organising committee when it was set up included folk who’d attended an early Communist international conference..


  2. Lovely peaceful views of a land so far away from mine. We have a ‘Loch Ard’ Gorge in southern Victoria, Aust. I find it so interesting to read about places that gave their names to our continent through migration. Thank you, Sam the Aussie


  3. Thank you and Tom so much for these photos! I just had to come back to look at that lovely Robin; it even looks as if s/he was posing! =) I think we readers are very lucky that Tom quit his academic job and shares his talent with us! =)


  4. OH MY! 😄 What a gift to open my email as a break from bustling about, cooking on Thanksgiving Day! I am thankful for all the supreme & sublime beauty you & Tom & Bruce & sweet furry Jesus have brought to me across the Atlantic & all the way to Seattle! Thank you! Being part of your world helps my heart swell with happiness!


  5. Thanks, Kate, for the beautiful photos of such a scenic place where you live. I am another who is homesick for a place never visited, all because of yours and Tom’s great photos. Glad to hear that Tom will be offering his work online. Congratulations to Tom, too. He will make a grand addition to the jarl squad. I watched Up Helly Aa last year online. Will the Bressay squad be there in Lerwick, or is there a separate celebration on Bressay? Will you be making his costume? Lots of questions, but like others, I am vicariously enjoying your lovely life via your blog.Thank you for sharing.


  6. Thanks for the stunning photos. So magical. What a beautiful landscape. It would be great to see them as a poster. I like the robin best. And I’m curious about the Islay Club. I signed in some days ago.


  7. From Wikipedia’s Bressay entry: The name of the island may have been recorded in 1263 as ‘Breiðoy’ (Old Norse “broad island”). In 1490 the island is referred to as “Brusoy” – “Brusi’s island”.

    Bruce’s Island!


  8. Love the photographs! I’m particularly fond of boats so I love the canoe. They’re all magical in their own way. I’m so excited for the new projects and book publishing! I will look forward to watching for all to be available, I think I want a hardbound copy! Makes for a beautiful tabletop and for conversation as guests look at the many pictures.


  9. I don’t comment here often but these pictures are just so lovely! I especially love the robin because my British aunt loved little British robins, which are so different from the American variety. Thanks for sharing these.


    1. I was unaware that there was a British robing and an American one, so I was surprised to see that beautiful little bird identified as a robin!


  10. Here in California, my dog and I saw a full-arc double rainbow on our early morning walk last week. No chance of the aurora borealis this far south, though! Thank you, and Tom, for bringing us so many beautiful pictures. Seeing your landscape and nature studies over the years has made me look more attentively at my own surroundings so that I appreciate my local scene more than ever.


  11. I’m speechless…I could stare at every photo on this post for a long time on this Thankful Day, here in the US. Thank you for making our lives more beautiful with these stunning landscape photos. I want to be there…


  12. AMAZING photos ,thank you for sharing your thoughts and pics, Your Robin is totally different from the ones we have here in the desert SW , Beautiful. G.


  13. Very nice pictures! I agree with oma Kitty. I would love a print made by Tom on my wall.
    And ” yay” : for Islay club. I can’t wait!


  14. I am getting a Wonderful education from you in all things Scottish and especially Shetlandish! Love the photos! I would love a thumb drive of them that I could plug into a picture frame. As to the date of Up Halley Aa, let my seminary background help: the traditional end of the Christmas season was the feast of the Purification of Mary on Feb 2, where worshippers would receive a candle at the end of Mass to carry the light of Christ out into the world. This gave a beautiful counter-balance to the loss of light and inward turning during Advent. After the Second Vatican Council, the season ended with Epiphany, January 6. I think this was partly done with the sensitivity that women didn’t need purifying after childbirth. But there it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Yes, Kate, the robin is my favorite and I pinned it as a color inspiration. Your robins are different from our North American robins. The novelty makes them cuter!
    Thanks for the stunning photography.


  16. Lovely photos! Seeing them I realise I live in a way too urban area. But when the kids have left the nest … Then we’ve agreed we’ll go somewhere else. Where nature is the main attraction and not being close to schools.
    I see Up Helly Aa is a celebration to mark the end of yule – but in February? We mark the end of yule at the 20th day, 13th Jan. Extending it a whole month is amazing. :-)


  17. Beautiful photos. Further south on the Suffolk/Essex border, we’re still very much in dreary, damp, grey weather with the occasional glimpse of sun. I’m waiting for proper crisp, dry winter days.


  18. Up Helly Aa!! I am so envious! I really wanted to go this year but left everything too late, I think I am probably too late for 2018 too! One day I will make it up there, as I will also make it down to Lewes for Bonfire Night. What can I say, this girl loves a fire. And yarn, she also loves yarn.

    Gorgeous photos, as always. And Aurora. So beautiful.


  19. Such beautiful pictures. We’ve had similar conditions here in the Cairngorms these past few days and it’s been impossible to decide whether to brave the -10 temperatures for a stunning walk in the hills or stay in the warm and knit!


  20. I love your pictures… they are beautiful. I thing the night sky one with all those stars is absolutely stunning. The robin is, too, and the one with the boat in the foreground. Any change of investments in a full-sized print? This is what my wall needs..



  21. Absolutely stunning photos, I love watching Mr Robin at work at this time of year, we have one who likes to conduct his daily business right outside our kitchen window, they are such cheerful cheeky fellows! Alas way down south in France, we have had terribly mild weather, 15C every day, but grey and wet, I would prefer the frost and blue skies any day!!!


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