25 Things Only Shetlanders Know

Shetland is marooned in the middle of nowhere off the top of Scotland, with the isles considerably closer to Bergen than Edinburgh, so naturally, it’s a bit of a mystery to some. But yes, we do have the internet and no, there aren’t any polar bears. I think. But despite the remoteness, there’s lots to offer…

1. Amid the 23,000 people, there’s some hairy Vikings

Chris Furlong / Getty

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

Jeff J Mitchell / Getty

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

Uriel Sinai / Getty

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

Targn Pleiades/Shutterstock

And they don’t moonwalk either.

5. Shetland’s Fair Isle knitwear has influenced fashion

REX USA/Rob McDougall / Rex

‘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

Flickr: Cathy Simpson / Via Flickr: 11318452@N00

Contact Norway for any balls lost in the sea.

…and of course, Britain’s most northerly ‘dancing’ pony, Socks

7. We always have good nights

Andrew Milligan/PA Archive/Press Association Images

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

Denis Paquin / AP/Press Association Images

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

LOCOG via Getty

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

Mike Pennington/Creative Commons / Via geograph.org.uk

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.

12. Going for one pint might start something like this

…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

Lisa F. Young/Shutterstock

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

cla78/Shutterstock

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

REX USA/Jim Hutchison / Associated Newspapers / Rex

Holy scoot, that seal is cute.

17. …but unfortunately our birds aren’t quite toilet trained yet

Pim Leijen/Shutterstock

Week-old tattie soup is a dangerous idea for both humans and animals, apparently.

18. Our remote landscapes are pretty noteworthy

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.

25. And that’s one of the many reasons why I’m happy to call it home

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