Having stayed overnight at Burravoe Pier I wanted to visit the shop at Aywick – on the map of Shetland given me in the museum was an advertisement for a shop which seemed to sell just about everything, and I was still in sore need of a hat. Going hatless in the Shetlands in not to recommended. So as it was only a few miles further on I decided to see if it was as good as its advertisement claimed. Fortunately on the way the road was blocked whilst they unloaded an electricity pole - all the roads in this part of the island are single track only, and after they had unloaded and moved the lorry I asked them if I was set for Aywick. Its a good job I did as I would have driven past the turn for certain.
The shops in Shetland are not shops as we know them on Mainland Britain. In general they are a large corrugated metal shed, the door generally concealed from view, and of course the wind, but with a large porch for locals to gossip and put up notices. Once inside they stock a wide range of everyday necessities, but the store at Aywick is one step further on. According to their advert they sell
Groceries, Wines Beers & Spirits, Drapery, Footware, Handbags & Purses, Hardware, Household Goods, Knitting Wool & Crafts, Fancy Goods, Photo Frames, Toys, Camera Batteries & Film, Printer Inks, Jewellery, Toiletries, Postcards, Souvenirs, Local Scottish Music CDs, Blank CDs & DVDs, discs etc. Cards & Wrapping Paper for all occasions, Car Accessories, Animal Feeds, Paints, Cement, Coal, Compost, Garden Equipment, Large Stock of Fishing Tackle, and much much more. Teas Coffes, Hot Snacks & Sandwiches, Post Office, Petrol & Diesel, Top Up Machine, Switch Visa etc
Open 8.30am – 9pm Mon- Saturday and Sunday 2pm-5pm Deliveries available if required
Having read the advert before arriving all I can say there is much more there than that
I bought all the odd groceries I needed. Found a good hat which was exactly what I wanted and was only £3.95 – they only thing they didn't have was the Scottish Tablet and that was because they had run out. Mary, the owner was put out about this lack and was straight on the phone to the local lady who makes it to put in an immediate order. I took my booty back to Thebus, then remembered I needed WD40 so back I went. First time in the store was full of locals and everyone was busy serving, but on my return I was the only customer and Mary and her two assistants were taking advantage of the lull and having a cup of tea. They had the WD40 and in two sizes and at reasonable prices, and when I went to pay gave me a cup of tea and biscuit as well!
Whilst inside the shop I had noticed very loud birdsong coming from what I presumed was a storeroom or maybe backyard, and asked if they had a singing bird in there. Apparently the local starlings can be a real nuisance getting into the animal feedstuffs which forms part of their enormous catalogue of goods for sale. Rather than trap them they have a contiuously playing loop of birdsong which keeps them out. It sounded like a cross between a particulary large and cross canary and a very fierce starling, and no doubt the local birds were not going to try their luck.
As the ferry terminal at Gutcha was not much further on I decided to try and get a bit more internet and parked up overlooking the harbour, which again is a possible otter watching spot, The signal seemed good, the harbour sheltered, and view lovely so I thought I would stay on for the night, Behind me I could hear a cockerel crowing occasionally and as dusk fell the cries of some squabbling geese. They appeared to be auto-sexing, and I wondered if they were the true auto-sexing Shetland Geese For any non-poultry people, auto-sexing is when the males are one colour and the females another, in Shetland Geese the males are white and the females are pied, and this is apparent from quite early on, which is a particularly useful trait in geese which arenotoriously difficult to sex (in poultry terms that means telling the girls from the boys) One doesn't want to keep two boys or you will get no eggs or goslings, at least with two girls you get some eggs, but the ideal is one male and one female, as geese bond generally for life.
The lady feeding them said they had just appeared together with some ducks, when she and her husband bought The Old Post Office, and feeling sorry for them she fed them each night. Since then I have seen quite a few semi-feral geese, often just swimming in the sea or up on the moors, all at least partly auto-sexing, so I would guess they are the origins of all the English auto-sexing breeds, having, it is thought, originally come over with the Vikings and spreading down the Western Seaboard all the way to Normandy, and eventually travelling to America with the Pilgrims to be known across the seas as Pilgrim Geese, though the American variety have been slightly adapted the females being brown all over rather than pied.
Native Shetland Geese
They are fenced out, rather than in and are completely feral.
They fly well and I have seen this type of geese on the inland mountains as well as the lochs
And these ones were often swimming in the sea in front of the harbour.
You can see they would be easy to select out for perfect autosexing. The middle one is female and the others male
Gutcha Old Pier -
looking across to new ferry terminal and over to Unst