You know what makes me grumpy? All the Grumpy Old Men who appeared on the BBC TV series were younger than me, that's what makes me grumpy. Mutter, mutter....

The Grumpy Old Artist

The Grumpy Old Artist
Would YOU pose for this man???

Exhibition Poster

Exhibition Poster
Catterline Event, 2011

Oil Painting by Jim Tait

Oil Painting by Jim Tait
Helford River, Cornwall

Oil Painting by Jim Tait

Oil Painting by Jim Tait
Full-riggers "Georg Stage" and "Danmark"

Other Recent Works

Other Recent Works
Fordyce Castle and Village

Hay's Dock, Lerwick

Shetland-model Boats at Burravoe, Yell

Tall Ships Seascape

The Tour Boat "Dunter III", with Gannets, off Noss

The "Karen Ann II" entering Fraserburgh harbour

Summer Evening, Boyndie Bay

1930s Lerwick Harbour

Johnshaven Harbour

"Seabourn Legend"

Greeting Cards!

Greeting Cards!
Now Available in Packs of Five or in Assorted Sets of Four

Sunday, 11 April 2010


I've always known that I should get out more, especially when it comes to getting around my native Shetland islands. What it requires is a reason combining with an opportunity, and both presented themselves yesterday, in the form of my mother enjoying a week's respite care in the Fernlea centre, and my sister Mary being available with her Volvo to provide the transport. My last visit to Whalsay took place in the dark, and under rather stressful circumstances, but yesterday even the weather was in co-operative mode. The ingredients were all there for a grand afternoon out, and so it transpired.

I had booked us on the two o'clock ferry from Laxo, which got us into Symbister around 2.30pm. The first thing that grabs the attention of a marine artist is the harbour, which was dominated, but by no means overwhelmed by the presence of the large pelagic trawlers "Antares", "Charisma" and "Zephyr". The whitefish boats "Athena" and Prevail" were also there, along with the cargo vessel "Havgull" and a good number of salmon-cage tenders, workboats and pleasure craft around the marina area. The harbour gave the impression of only being able to contain what was using it, and space seemed to be at a premium. It all gave the impression that Whalsay is doing very nicely, thank you very much.

This was also reflected in the buildings in Symbister, and the Harlsdale, Sandwick and Clate areas to the south of there. None of it really tempted me to reach for my camera, but it all reflected how well Whalsay has done from the fishing industry (with help from the oil industry, of course, as in the rest of Shetland) in the forty years since I was last here with the Bank of Scotland mobile unit. We called along the shop near the harbour, and seldom have I encountered such a range and quantity of products, ranging from food, household goods and clothing through to tools and ironmongery.

We took the road over the hill past Livister and Huxter to Isbister, and there I began to find myself reaching for my camera, as the true beauty of this prosperous island was beginning to present itself to us. I've seldom seen so many skylarks at close quarters as at Whalsay yesterday, and the wheatears were also very much in evidence in the lonely out-of-the-way places in the centre and east of the island. I didn't realise until yesterday that it's quite possible to walk for miles on this island without seeing a human habitation at all.

I liked Isbister, which has a slightly eccentric feel about it, and the old is not completely overwhelmed by the new, as it is to a large extent in the south-west of the island. Drystone dykes, which look as if they've stood for centuries, are quite conspicuous here. We took the alternative route over the hill towards Creedie-knowe. At the top, three children, who had got off their bikes to let us pass, gazed reproachfully at us for spoiling their afternoon out. We visited the second-hand store Shoard, more to satisfy my pressing requirement for a comfort break than to view what they had to offer in terms of merchandise, which was nevertheless impressive. I bought three books in there, but I could also have, if I had been so inclined, come out with a TV. a bed, a sewing machine and a large selection of household ornaments, crockery, cutlery and clothing, to mention but a few items from the range on offer.

From Shoard, we turned north-east again, driving past Challister and Veevoe (I've spelt this phonetically, not as it appears on the signage and the OS maps) on our way to Skaw, where we ran out of road at the golf clubhouse, which appears to be the most northerly inhabited building on the island. From there, we had no option but to turn south-east again, visiting the two hamlets I've already mentioned on our way back. Here, I began to use my camera in earnest, as the kind of skylines which appeal to me were presenting themselves.

Passing Creedie Knowe again, we turned right in the Brough road, and finished up on the shore, across a kind of causeway to the church and cemetery which obviously give the Kirk Ness its name. Here, disaster struck, as my camera had finally run out of battery-power and, despite good intentions in the run-up to our departure on this trip, I had forgotten to take new ones with me. I must return to this place soon.

We made our way back towards Symbister, calling at the Fernlea Care Centre to visit our mother. We were just in time to watch the Grand National on the splendid big-screen TV, which, we were told, had been a gift from the Boating Club. A P McCoy seemed very pleased to have won the big steeplechase on his 15th attempt. We found our mother looking very well and happy, and we enjoyed some of the hospitality on offer in the establishment when the staff came round with tea and home bakes, which were excellent.

Soon it was time to head for the ferry, and I was reminded why it is a bad idea for me to get comfortable in an armchair - I always have the Dickens of a job getting to my feet again! We 'd had a wonderful time in the friendly atmosphere of Da Boanie Isle, and I have unfinished business which it will be a pleasure to return to take care of soon. Oh, and the photographs I took came out beautifully.

I'll be back!

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