Postcard from Shetland
Hello, my name is BeAnne Duvet, I am a Patterdale Terrier, and I live in Shetland, Britain’s most northerly outpost. Shetland is 100 miles north of the British mainland – that’s a long way. Attlee has asked me to tell you about what it’s like being a dog, up here. I am the rover reporter from the farthest afield!
My life on Shetland is like this. Mostly I spend my days on the croft – that’s what farms are called on Shetland – sitting at my mum Frances’ feet so I am ready in case she attempts to go somewhere without me.
Mum used to train ponies – Shetland and Icelandic – and now she breeds them. I like playing with the ponies and sometimes I ride them. Mum is also a photographer – lucky for me as I am always having my picture taken and I love it. All the photographs on this page are taken by Mum – she is very clever. Her website is at www.onlinepictureproof.com/francestaylor and you can buy prints of her photographs there.
Well, right now, in the summer, Shetland is beautiful. The sun can shine for almost 24 hours and there are lots of wild flowers and amazing wildlife called otters, puffins and whales.
The beaches in Shetland are beautiful and dogs are allowed all year round. I like the beaches because there are no woolly maggots on them – and by that I mean sheep. Apart from the beaches, woolly maggots are everywhere on the island. And I’m not allowed to chase the woolly maggots because their owners would be very angry.
Shetland is very few houses and lots of open space – and because of the right to roam act dogs, and people, are allowed everywhere. But we dogs have to be on our leads for a lot of it because most of the countryside is ‘working countryside’ and that means it earns someone a living. And most of the countryside has ‘woolly maggots’ traipsing about on it.
Lerwick is the only town in Shetland. Mum likes showing me off there, as I am very pretty and I roll on my back a lot, which seems to impress people. I am allowed in most shops, as long as permission is asked first. One lady said it was ok as long as I didn’t pee. As if – I am highly well-bred and well-mannered! I know not to pee indoors.
In the winter Shetland is not for the faint-hearted dog, or human – it’s a rough, tough place almost continuously battered by wind and rain. But having said that, there are an infinite amount of rabbits, as they have no predators on Shetland, so chasing them is worth braving the weather for.
As for eating out, I don’t get to do that a lot but one place on Shetland that is totally dog-friendly is Foords Chocolates on the island of Unst – and the reason dogs are allowed is because 14 dogs live there, on the owners’ croft. Every dog who visits is given a treat – not chocolate, obviously, because we are allergic to that – and has their photograph taken for the wall of dogs! For humans there is yummy hot chocolate and chocolate ice cream and chocolate cake – Foords is a factory as well as a café – and some other not-chocolate things too. (Unst is the most northerly of the 90 Shetland Islands, 29 of which are inhabited, and is accessible from Lerwick, by car or bus route 24, hopping on two ferries along the way.)
Phileas Facts: Shetland
- Frances’ photographs are at www.onlinepictureproof.com/francestaylor. Her stories of life on a Shetland croft (in which Beanie receives more than a couple of mentions) are at www.shetlandponyeverything.posterous.com
- The ferry ride from Aberdeen to Lerwick takes 12-14 hours. Kennels are provided for dogs as they are not allowed in public areas of the ferry: however, owners can visit them at any time. Website: www.northlinkferries.co.uk; prices start at £24.90 adult single and £6.86 for a small kennel.
- Foords Chocolate Factory and Café is at Saxa Vord resort, Haroldswick, Unst, Shetland, ZE2 9TJ; www.foordschocolates.co.uk
- Beanne does not have need of a kip on Shetland but Visit Scotland recommend Herris Lea House Hotel, five minutes drive from Lerwick; www.herrisleahouse.co.uk and Sumburgh Hotel in Sumburgh; www.sumburghhotel.com
- For more information about Shetland log on www.shetland.org
- And, if you can’t make it to the island, log on to www.http://www.shetland.org/puffincam/index.php?file=stream2 to watch a burrow of puffin at Sumburgh Head RSPB reserve.