1. Amid the 23,000 people, there’s some hairy Vikings
They come out to play across the isles in January, February and March for Up Helly Aa to celebrate Shetland’s Norse heritage and man’s innate love of setting fire to things.
And in true Viking tradition, the main Up Helly Aa event in Lerwick burns a galley in a playpark, right near the big slide
No pillaging here, no siree.
2. There’s probably Britain’s best road sign
Countless people get their photo taken next to the Twatt sign. Shetland’s Eiffel Tower, perhaps, with a smidgen less class.
3. And there’s every photographer’s dream, the Northern Lights - or as they’re called in Shetland, the Mirrie Dancers
Or for all you posh buggers, the Aurora Borealis.
4. There’s the ponies too, but contrary to popular belief, they’re not absolutely everywhere
And they don’t moonwalk either.
5. Shetland’s Fair Isle knitwear has influenced fashion
‘You talkin’ to me?…You talkin’ to me?’
But the boiler suit and yellow boots combo has yet to kick off down south
6. We pretty much have Britain’s ‘most northerly’ everything - the most northerly brewery
Viking is man! Viking like beer.
…the most northerly golf course
Contact Norway for any balls lost in the sea.
7. We always have good nights
8. And even the bad days, when the wind slaps your face with the anger of Hulk Hogan after he discovers the milk’s run out, are pretty great
9. Growing up in Shetland meant beaches, sledging for miles, safety, building dams, sitting in front of the fire, grubby hands, and above all, a clean soul
Defying that well-known saying, the grass is actually just as green on this side as it is on the other side. Where do I complain?
10. And this, sadly now a Specsavers, is where many teens spent their Saturday afternoons
Warning - some members of the grammar police may find this image distressing.
11. Because there’s no fast food chains to feed the masses with insipid fare, Shetland manages to get by pretty well food-wise
Tattie soup* and bannocks will do just nicely, thanks. *Potato soup.
…but it’ll probably end up like this
Buzz Lightyear outfit optional.
13. The bouncy twelve-hour boat journey to and from Aberdeen usually results in this
But it’s okay, you’ll meet someone you know in the bar and drink away your travel sickness blues. Then throw up again.
14. …and the plane trip back south might start off like this
Our pilots aren’t drunkards, promise. It’s just wind. Just wind…
15. If the boat is cancelled a few times in bad weather, the supermarket shelves get wiped out in fear of starvation
Panic buying: A time when human life on the isles suddenly can’t survive without ten loaves of bread a week.
16. Our wildlife inspires the awe
Holy scoot, that seal is cute.
17. …but unfortunately our birds aren’t quite toilet trained yet
Week-old tattie soup is a dangerous idea for both humans and animals, apparently.
19. Even when you’re not in Shetland, you somehow manage to bump into Shetlanders everywhere
Vikings rolling about the mean streets of New York in those outfits? They’re ax-ing for trouble…
20. The lilting dialect meanwhile is so catchy that even our sheepy friends speak it
21. And Shetland’s other native language, music, keeps on buzzing
What is that man’s head doing at the bottom of the picture? Answers on a postcard, please.
22. Sometimes we have slow news days
Local commercial radio station SIBC regularly keeps the Shetland public abreast of the hottest breaking news.
23. Shetlanders always stop and speak to each other on ‘Da Street’ even if there’s nothing much to say
And if there is something to say, they will be there for hours.
24. Even though there are tens of thousands of folk spread across numerous islands, Shetland still seems like one big community
Everyone knows each other, or their parents, or parents’ parents, or parents’ sheep.