29th February

I think we should celebrate the 29th February more.  

They don't come around very often after all.  Today is my 16th.

I've been looking through my diaries and photo archives and picking out what I was doing on each of my 16 29th February.  In later years I've got photographs taken on the 29th, earlier years not so much.

1964    Saturday - Probably in Lisburn - still too young to be at school (and it was a Saturday anyway)

1968    Thursday - School day (in Lisburn)

1972    Tuesday - School day (in Lisburn)

1976    Sunday - Probably doing school homework!

1980    Friday - Probably in Bristol. Probably in a pub.

1984    Wednesday - Cross Country Skiing in Norway

1988    Monday - In Ithaca, New York

1992    Monday - Apparently in Oxford (in the FIM Lab)

1996    Saturday - Probably in Oxford

2000    Tuesday - Milton Keynes (probably in the Open University Library)

2004    Sunday - Probably in Oxford

2008    Friday - At Heathrow Airport.  Collecting tourists rather than flying

2012    Wednesday - Faroe Islands

2016    Monday - Workday at Warwick. Office View

2020    Saturday - Innsbruck (the pre-COVID holiday)

2024    Thursday - Oxford (the Headington Shark)

Monthly Report, January 2024

It's always good to be able to start the year with a long stay on Shetland, but a winter month on Shetland is very often a reminder out how much the weather can dominate daily life on an island where nothing is more than three miles from the sea.

But first some numbers.

Reporting Days: 31

Location: Mostly Shetland

Distance Walked: 240 km

Distance Driven: 2080 km 

Photographs Taken: Thousands (mostly beaches, waves and snowdrifts)

The Calm Days

When the weather is calm and dry, it's good to be able to spend the short winter days on the headlands and beaches - and sometimes the guillemots (always the first auk to reappear on the cliffs) will hang out on the stacks.

Calm days on Scat Ness

Guillemots at Sumburgh Head

Early Afternoon Sunset on Quendale Beach

The Snow Days

Every winter brings a few snow days to Shetland - and the normal pattern is for the snow to fall and then melt within a few hours.  Not this year, a spell of bitterly cold weather meant that for almost a week the snow fell on a regular basis and just didn't melt, and when the wild picked up, developed into some very spectacular but inconvenient snow drifts!

Snow on Garths Ness and Fitful Head

Snow on Quendale Beach 

White Out


The Wild Days

And eventually the snow did melt, but the winds built up and stayed.  The ferries didn't run and leaving the house was often classified as a high risk sport. 

High Water on Quendale Beach

Big Waves on Scat Ness

Big Waves and Big Seas on Scat Ness

Next Month - Mostly Oxford but with an Italian theme.