All Counties Craft Challenge Diary – The Shetland Visit

Well, it took a lot of organizing, one heck of a ferry ride and two days of creativity but the Shetland All Counties Challenge Workshops happened!

All Counties Challenge Header

Now, you know me. A little anxious at the best of times. That’s one of the reasons that I’m doing this challenge, right?

Well, imagine an anxious person, who has a distrust of open bodies of water, deciding to pop on a ferry over to Shetland.

Looks quite close on the map doesn’t it? Well, let me tell you, it’s NOT!

In fact the ferry runs through the night and takes nearly twelve hours.

Yes, twelve hours suspended in a bit of metal over a LOT of open water.

I think that you may be able to guess that anxiety was running high.

None the less I checked in at the port and got my boarding pass …

… and took my place in the boarding queue. I had a good view of the ferry that we were to travel in. Looks ok doesn’t it?

Feeling slightly calmer, having remembered I’d been through this bit on the trip to Northern Ireland before so I headed up to the cafe for a coffee and a drink as the rest of the ferry got on with their – well, whatever they get on with.

Coffee supped and biscuits scoffed I decided to head out onto the balcony bit where you can smoke – ooo, sunny!

Even spied one of those bods that does all of the ferry stuff, doing ferry stuff.

I did wonder what the expression on his face was – quizzival, worried or happy. That would have at least given me a clue as to what was ahead.

Ah well, time to set sail, weigh anchor and all of those other stereotypical sayings.

Wasn’t long before we were sailing out of Aberdeen and out into open waters. The buildings began to receed into the horizon …

… until all we could see was a glorious sunset. So calm and peaceful. For now.

Just under and hour into the journey and we weren’t really breaking any speed records, in fact hadn’t really got very far at all. We’re the blue dot.

Thinking back to the safety announcement from when we boarded I recalled that the guy had mentioned a gale force number so I, stupidly, decided to look that up. Gale force 8 he said.

Oh dear I said.

Not long after this the ferry began to rock.

Then roll.

Then spin.

Then go over ramps.

In fact, glasses rattled, food rolled and anyone walking about was looking like a ball in a pinball machine.

To say that it was a little rough was to underestimate.

I may normally be anxious about sailing however I’m not normally sick.

On this trip I managed to change that track record in style by vomitting for about an hour.

The thuds against the bough from the waves would shake the framework and the sounds of the waves crashing over the decks was quite worrysome.

Thankfully, and after what seemed like forever, the seas did calm down and I managed to get some sleep.

On waking I decided to pop outside and see how things were going.

Still at sea. Looks like there’s the last of what had us rocking about. You can do one storm cloud.

Before long the Shetland Islands came into view.

Eeek! How exciting! Almost there!

When the call came to go to the car deck I wobbled along on my shaking legs and checked in with Maisy. I think she had a little seaweed behind her ear but overall Ok.

We trundled off the ferry and then saw this!

We’re here!!!

Ok, time for a quick exploration before we find somewhere to settle.

Our drive took us North along the A968, the main road from North to South on the island.

Worth the short drive though as we were provided with quite an epic view!

Right, my stomach needs filling after last night so it was off to Fjara, a local cafe serving rather lovely caramel cheescake. Oh go on then, I deserve it.

Unbeknownst to me, while I was in the cafe, Maisy was getting pap-snapped. Got sent this photo by a friend who has a relative on the island.

I suspect that this won’t be the first time.

Our first day on the island also gave us a taster of what the weather would be like. Changeable I think you could call it. Before the end of our first day there was sun, wind, rain and snow but not all at the same time.

Apparently there is a local saying – if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and then see what you think.

Even heard a couple of ladies coming out of a shop asking, what is the weather like now – they’d obviously gone into the shop only a few minutes earlier.

Ok, time to get the workshop set and meet the first group of lovely ladies.

Jennie, above left, was the ‘insider’ that had helped organise the visit. Jennie is involved with all sorts of creative ventures on the island from scrapbooking and crafts to the local theatre.

Jennie had suggested that we aim for something mixed media so the project that I had set was to do a mixed media clock face.

Tables up, heating on, coffees on and crafters in position and we were off.

Smashing first day all round with lots of chat about island life, TV crews, local events and – well, pretty much anything!

Time to say byeeeee to this group though – thumbs up ladies!


Hmmm, now, where were Maisy and I going to stop for the night?

Map out and we found somewhere that looked quite nice.

Despite this being a single track road, we managed to squeeze down it and park up. Quite nice. Scoffed down me tea and waited for darkness to fall.

There it is! With very little street lighting outside of the main towns, the open tundra can get seriously dark at night – especially when cloudy and rainy.

Worth it though as the morning brought a fabulously blue sky – Maisy sneaked in for a photo bomb on the scenery shot.

Right, who will be coming to day 2 I wonder?

Another fabulous and lovely group of local ladies that brought many treats!

Same challenge for this group, the clock face – go!

Quite exciting to see everyone’s creations as they each had something very different and had all created them for different reasons.

Time for me to trot off though – thank you EVERYONE!

Even had time for another little drive about … Maisy was at it again…

Out of the way please – I need scenery!

Ah, that’s better :)

Discovered a few things on the island whilst there.

First, on mainland UK you’d expect to have a train crossing – on Shetland, you have a plane crossing.

Yes, that’s right, the main road cuts through the runway for the airport. An interesting difference that I’ve never seen before.

Second, you don’t need to hunt down amazing views. Just drive down the main road and if the weather chooses to give you a view – you get a stunning one.

Finally, I had wondered why I hadn’t seen anyone with umbrellas despite all of the rain.

That’ll be because of the wind – umbrellas are just not going to cope, as you can see.

The day came when it was time to get the ferry back to the mainland.

I decided to go out and check what the sea looked like.

Nice! A tad choppy but at least very pretty.

… 15 minutes lates …

Oh. Dear.

Lol. Time to take cover until it was time to catch the ferry so one last visit to Fjara and I spotted something on the menu that I think is a local delicacy…

I wasn’t brave enough to try it. Maybe next time.

The ferry ride back was rough again however thanks to lots of tips to scoff ginger biscuits, any excuse, I did not check into the vometorium but instead managed a quite incident free journey.

Arrival back in the UK however was to throw a few things my way.

I think the ‘changeable’ weather followed me back!

At least they got some of it right – it started snowing as we headed towards Stirling.

An kept snowing and settling and sticking to the road and the cars – about an inch in 15 minutes I’d say – fast and flurious!!

Enough of this layby though, can’t hang about here – there are more workshops to do this week!

Right, that just about brings this wee blog post to a close. Not long remaining on the challenge!

Thanks for taking the time to catch up. See you again soon!

J :)

10 thoughts on “All Counties Craft Challenge Diary – The Shetland Visit

  1. What a wonderful trip this sounds like. I’m lucky in some ways with my anxiety, I have ‘safe’ people whose presence let’s me go anywhere, just with the occasional panic attack if His Lordship’s driving is too much for what I can cop’s with that day


  2. I’m glad you made it back safely. I would just like to thank you once again for a super day and the introduction to a new craft. We are still having mixed weather, some very heavy showers among the sunshine. If you ever get back to Shetland remember to get in touch.


  3. Hi John

    I’d love to see Shetland for myself one day. Great seeing a Maisie eye view of such a lovely place. The clocks look all so colourful and a lot of fun to make.

    Ginger biscuits are awesome. In my top three for sure ;)

    Well done dealing with the anxiety that crept up (you showed him!). Hope you’re feeling positive going into the last weeks of the challenge.

    Must go (shattered), big hugs and happy thoughts to you and all your followers

    T x


  4. John I so envy you your visit. Moved to Orkney. Three years ago and was hoping you would manage to get here too. It seems it is not to be. The welcome is always great and Jennie is lovely. Noticed lots of Kent faces there. So glad you got to see the beauty of Shetland too. Your travels around the country have been great reading. Your strength has been inspiring. Thank you so much for it. Missy is awesome.


  5. Well done John. Your crossing reminded me of a similar crossing to the Isles of Scilly. The end is in sight for you. You are doing a fantastic job.


  6. Hope you are considering writing a book about your adventures. I would buy it and I suspect so would many more. It looks as though you have had an amazing journey – good luck with your last couple of weeks!!


  7. Hi John I remember talking to you about this at the Kanban day. As I have never been it got me interested. Having looked into the way to travel I have booked a cruise from Edinburgh looking forward to it. PS I am using my Scan n Cut more since Hull all the best for lots more fun Sandra


  8. I would not have enjoyed this sea trip at all especially with it taking 12 hours. An hour is enough for me. Looks as if all the ladies enjoyed themselves so it was worth the visit.


  9. I do not travel due to my anxiety, but this country is so beautiful. I could find myself wanting to go, however, I think the plane may be more my speed. A ferry, in a storm no less, would have me chugging something a little stronger than hot tea. Thank you for sharing this adventure. I can’t wait to see where you and Maisy go next!


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