Monday 26 September 2022

Museum of Rural Life

On Sunday, we went into East Kilbride to visit the Museum of Rural Life. My mother's father was a dairyman and mum and her many siblings were raised on various farms between the Borders and Lanarkshire. I love social history museums because they provide "a window into the life of..." in a way we might not otherwise have. 

I know the stories of life on the farm, but can't really visualize the ins and outs. So seeing some of the milking equipment in the display case, the set up of the living area of the house, and the photos of the various chores helped to deepen my understanding. 

One of the things I particularly liked, was the museum advertising its "store" They openly acknowledge that they can't display everything, but are happy for you to contact them and ask to see something that might be of interest to your own family.

For instance, when I return in April, I will make an appointment to go and visit some of the specifics in the store to do with dairy farming and/or domestic service. 

Sunday 25 September 2022

A Day Oot

Saturday was a fab wee day out. We started at the Stirling Old Jail. A fantastic experience. Our tour guide, David, was an actor and gave us a brilliant overview of the history of jails in Stirling as well as a view of life within the prison. 

From Stirling, we drove to Doune Castle, most famously known now for being the site of Castle Leoch from Outlander. 

Then we were off to Callandar for a wee wander up one side and doon the other. 

Our goal for the day was a meal at the Drover's Inn. The inn is from 1705 and was originally used as a stopping off point for the cattle drovers on their trip from the highlands to market. 

After our meal, we made a couple of stops along Loch Lomond. The views were stunning. 

Friday 23 September 2022

Shetland Ponies!

Yesterday morning was definitely the highlight of my time in Shetland. I booked a Shetland Pony Experience. What a great time!

The farm is located in Papil, outside of Burra. The hour is broken into three sections. The first was an introduction to the pony followed by a walk around an obstacle course. 

Then it was time to take the ponies to the beach! The horses have existed on the island for centuries. Because there is no place on the island more than 4 miles from the sea, they have adapted to eating seaweed as well as grass. Dazzle loved fresh seaweed and chewed it like gum.

After the beach, the ponies were put out in the field and could come and go to the beach as they wanted. Meanwhile. we went to spend time in the pen with the new foals. What wee dolls. 

The fact that we were able to be hands on with the ponies really made this an incredible experience. 

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Lerwick Museums

I also decided to check out the museums in Lerwick. I started with the Shetland Textile Museum in Böd of Gremista, A Böd is a building from the 18th Century. This particular one was built in 1780 and was used for fish curing. The family lived upstairs. 

The museum has three rooms of displays. The main room on the first floor and then the two bedrooms upstairs. 

Sweater boards used for drying the sweaters so that they didn't shrink after being washed

Frame used to make large pieces of lace 

Shetland tweed

Then it was on to the Shetland Museum and Archives. This is a new, purpose built building and houses some terrific displays on the history and importance of Shetland in the economic world as well as a strategic location during both world wars. 

Thrashing machine for thrashing oats and barley
to separate grain from straw

Salted fish hanging to dry 

During the "off" season, it was common for fishermen to use their upturned boats as a roof for their sheds. 

Sixareens were the common fishing boats in Shetland. So called because they were driven using 6 oars. The sixareens were used for fishing far from shore, often up to 40 miles out. Because of their construction and open design, many lives (and boats) were lost to storms. The worst disaster for Shetland was in Yell in 1832 when 10 boats and 58 men, mostly from Gloup, Yell were lost to a violent storm. 

The Cake Fridge

This morning, I made the 35 minute trek north west to Aith (pronounced Eid, which is old Norse for isthmus) to find the cake fridge that was seen in season 6 of the tv drama, Shetland. And find it, I did. 

Let me say, it is literally in the middle of nowhere, although now with the VisitScotland signage, I'm sure that the neighbours will see quite an increase in traffic on their almost single track road. 

There are a couple of other cake fridges in Shetland, but one has closed for the season and the other is on significantly reduced hours (weekends). However, most wee villages do have egg boxes. These are essentially oversized bread boxes with fresh eggs, which can be purchased on an honour system. And a few of these also have fresh veg for sale, in season. 

Tuesday 20 September 2022

The South

Today I headed to the southern end of the mainland. I first visited the Crofthouse Museum. This is unassumingly situated in the middle of other homes and farms. The crofthouse dates from 1880, but was still in use up until 1960. 

Cleit for storing farming tools

there was a serious lack of trees in Shetland
so people had to depend on driftwood to use for 
building. You can see the marks from 
the sea on this wood. 

the workshop

The 'ben' end is where the family would
have lived. 

Peat stacks for the fire

The croft house still in remarkable shape

There is evidence that this crofthouse was once part of a township or village community but the other homes have all since fallen down and only their foundations remain. 

From the Crofthouse Museum, I headed further south to Jarlshof. Jarlshof is an interesting place. Not to mention having to drive over the airport runway to get to it. Unlike Skara Brae, Jarlshof houses evidence of several centuries of life in the area. 

There is an early settlement, dating back to about 4000 years ago, it is similar to Skara Brae, but on a much smaller scale. 

Each home had a quern for grinding grain

There is also evidence of Bronze and Iron Age structures, including a "smithy" 

Moving forward in time, there is a wheel house, with 'rooms' separated by columns. 

 There is also evidence of a broch 

And a medieval farm

And from the 17th century, a Laird's House

Walter Scott, on seeing the ruins of the Earl's House, commented on how desolate it was, calling it "a most dreary mansion." He went on to pen his novel "The Pirate" and in that book, he called the house Jarlshof. Jarlshof now refers to the entire excavated area. 

There is some thought that these stones scattered throughout
 the yard might be memorial stones for people lost at sea

The fascinating thing about Jarlshof is that it was used as a settlement, and then reused several times over by differing time frames.