This is a fascinating piece about the Faroe Islands, one of Scotland’s nearest neighbours by Lesley Riddoch.

With 65,000 people, it is a fraction of the size of Scotland, but its devolution from Denmark’s government is far deeper than Scotland’s. It is not in the EU, for example (nor is its sister country, Greenland). (Remember when we were promised the most powerful devolved government in the world… We really are suckers!)

I seriously suggest that this is worth half an hour of anyone’s time, and a donation, no matter how little, to help make further films about our nearby Nordic neighbours.

Iceland is next…


  1. Interesting; pity everyday matters like cost of living, fuel prices and medical services weren’t covered. Not good enough to sell it only on broadband. Maybe improve as they go along – see what’s said about Icelend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know about Faroe Islands, but the cost of living in Iceland is very high. That said, the standard of living is also very high. The same can be said of Norway.

      A friend is just back from a holiday on Lewis and Harris. Broadband there is very hit and miss, as is mobile signal.


      1. The reasons for that are a combination of BT indifference and “Connected Communities”.

        Basically about 15 years ago when 2Mbps ADSL was the “state of the art” (in BT terms) the people of Lewis & Harris were informed in no uncertain terms that BT would never be deploying ADSL except possibly on the Stornoway exchange. This meant the best you could get was about 115kbps ISDN for about (IIRC) £250/month.

        So HIE (IIRC) funded a group called “Connected Communities” which is basically a wireless point-to-multipoint system. The planning and execution of this scheme was (IMHO) amateurish to be kind, totally bloody incompetent/stupid if I’m being brutally honest. The scheme was basically rolled out on the west coast of Lewis and (as always) BT suddenly got interested when a third party started impacting their monopoly. Much to and fro on this occurred and BT apparently agreed not to install ADSL in CC areas.

        Fast forward a decade & the CC areas are a bad joke in terms of “broadband” while a lot of the rest of the island isn’t that bad for ADSL – most houses in villages are within a mile of the local exchange (shed really).

        What should have been done at the start (still should) is to deploy fibre cabling to rural areas – most of it could be cheaply run in the deep roadside ditches & it’d save a fortune in terms of repairing old overhead copper cabling that comes down in gales every winter.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. There are other factors in play – like the island doesn’t have a fibre connection to the mainland capable of carrying the traffic, even after all these years – but the basic issue is that the villages need to be upgraded to fibre to make any sort of sane progress.

            This is cheap as chips on the islands as wayleaves are already in place, little to no digging is required and where a dig is required to the premises its quite likely the homeowner will just get the local digger driver to do it & BT/whoever lay the cable (that’s what happened with sewerage 40-odd years ago). The linear nature of villages there also lends itself to the GPON architecture BT favour.

            But no, BT still mess people around with ancient copper crap which costs a bloody fortune to maintain in winter. Depressing really…..

            Liked by 1 person

  2. I would imagine that the Faroes could exploit the sea in other ways than simply fishing it. I do wonder about two contradictory things, firstly is there any oil exploration going on, and secondly whether tidal energy could be a very profitable option for them, or not?

    If I remember correctly, serious medical treatment is carried out in Denmark and they pay Denmark for it. It would probably be difficult to provide a full range of world class medical services with such a small population base.

    All that said they do indeed seem pretty content with their lot. Not any obvious poverty, though the old fisherman did have a point. A nation based on a single industry – fishing – is subject to some pretty uncontrollable vagaries.

    Scotland should probably extend the hand of friendship to them. Y’know, beyond Leslie Riddoch who has been a lone voice in pointing us to the North and North East as an alternative future for us. Personally, I think she speaks a lot of sense.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think a bit like the Channel Islands which are not part of the UK but do belong to Lizzy. Their population can use English hospitals (if they are desperate and want to risk it) but I understand some go to France, because it’s nearer and the treatment is better. Likewise for shopping.

      There is no university on the islands, so again they tend to use (and pay for) the English universities…although some may also go to France, which is probably cheaper.

      The Faroe Islands are involved in the Nordic Council which Scotland has been working with in the recent past.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. trispw,

    You indirectly raise an interesting point. What will be the status of the Channel Islands after Brexit? I have no idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just would like to save this somewhere. trispw, delete if you will:

    “The Herald,

    Just to let you know that your system is a tad jiggered. On controversial issues I hit a barrier that effectively means that I cannot comment. Is that deliberate? Frankly it is childish and defensive in the extreme. A journal, which I incidentally pay for, ought to be open to challenge.

    Any thoughts? ”

    Quite amazing. Perhaps it is just an error.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s 23 years – perish the thought – since I was in the the Faroes and even then, the improvements in infrastructure were very striking compared to my first visits in the 1970’s, when there was hardly a metalled road outside Torshavn and Klaksvik, far less a bridge to Eysturoy. The football stadium at Gundadalur was a bit of stony Faroese hillside with a blaes pitch in the middle not the smart modern all weather pitch with stands etc. And there is now the international stadium across the water.

    Faroese society seemed very cohesive – for example during a period of recession in the 80’s when many houses were repossessed due to mortgage failure, people simply refused to buy repossessed houses and prices had to drop and drop – in many cases to a level that the previously dispossessed owners could repurchase.

    Not necessarily a place without a downside. For all that the only beer available in the 70’s seemed to be prohibition – strength “near beer”, sometimes sold in slot machines, there seemed to be a lot of Carlsberg “Elephant” empties in and around harbours. The limitations seemed to have eased by the 90’s and I much enjoyed Faroese Porter.

    Wonderful islands though – all of them although those in the north like Kalsoy and Kunoy I thought the most striking of all. Walks on the cairned paths across various islands are quite spectacular and are a legacy of life in a harsh and demanding environment. In the past, when seas were too rough for a boat, the peripatic teacher on Kalsoy would travel over the cairned path rising to 2000 ft between the villages of Mikladalur and Trollanes, roped between two men.

    This is becoming a nostalgic ramble. I shall stop and wallow in private.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I’ll never forget Carlsberg’s Elephant lager. Walked into a bar, saw “Carlsberg” and pointed to the bottle and raised two fingers. Four bottles later, I was raising four… 10.5% ABV.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Many years ago, I was invited into a farmhouse on I think Bordoy (can’t do Nordic “th” letter on this machine) and offered a coffee. The lady of the house made several attempts to start the process of making a pot but lost her way between me and the kettle each time and seemed to have some difficulty in focussing. Her son, burly young man, sat motionless and silent on couch, father sound asleep in armchair.

        I eventually concluded from the row of Elephant empties on the table that I might have a long wait for coffee so politely made my excuses. Life on remote islands isn’t always idyllic. But got a picture of the sheep grazing contentedly on the grass roof, which had been my reason for stopping in the first place.

        I should add that the this was not typical of my contacts with Faroese !

        Liked by 1 person

    2. It was a very interesting one though.

      Ref the beer, it seems that all northern territories are plagued by alcohol misuse, rich or poor.

      Long cold miserable dark winters… Seasonally Affected Disorder?

      Making alcohol very expensive, or ensuring that it was very weak, only selling it with meals, are things that various countries have tried.

      In the end none of them really work… note to Scotland.

      Education and activities for the young seem to be working in Iceland.


      1. Banning drugs never works, it just hands the procurement into the hands of criminals.
        Which is why the Tories are so adamant in banning drugs…

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I think Lesley’s ad seems to have done the trick. Although I posted the video to our branch fb page last week ( like most Phantom Power vids ), I only had time to watch it ( and Eck 29 ) last night. I went onto Expedia and put in the October School dates, to find that most of the hotels seem fully booked. So I guess I – and from the comments above – was not the only person who put the Faroes on their bucket list this week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well done to Lesley then. She’s sparked interest in a country that can make it on its own.

      Let’s hope that the other countries she documents are are interesting.


  7. I should add a small cautionary note – the Faroes are not the best bet for weather (and often appear from seaward as a bank of cloud on the horizon). I had my wife eagerly anticipating seeing Kunoy rise 2500 ft from the sea across from Klaksvik harbour – and for 2 days the clouds were almost at sea level and she still hasn’t seen it. But when the cloud lifts, the islands are all the more spectacular.

    Anyone who has been to Orkney or Shetland will be aware of he vagaries of island weather.

    I wish all the best of weather to those tempted by Lesley’s article.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. It is disappointing if the weather means you can’t see stuff, but it’s something you just have to accept.

      A friend was in the Hebrides last week and the sun shone non-stop, so island weather CAN be good…


      1. As someone who grew up on Lewis I always advise people to go there the last two weeks of May/first week of June. Its normally sunny & warm (to islanders anyway) without the midges and rain which come in June/July. Late August is also usually nice but midges will be out in force.

        Been a while since I lived there but you could pretty much guarantee the last 3 weeks of June (European Summer Monsoon phases 1,2 & 3) would be wet and windy. First couple of weeks of July would be OK (peat “stacking” on the moor weather for kids back then 😦 ) and then it’d rain late July/early August.

        I don’t miss Winter but I do miss Summer up there. I remember going into village hall discos at 11pm when it was dusk and coming out at 3:30am when it was dawn 🙂 I’d like to say it made getting home easier but when you’d missed the bus & it was 7 miles….. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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