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Published: 11 June 2016

By Andy Ross

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A few years ago a friend and I coined a phrase when a moment of serendipity resulted in A Perfect Instant; a Curlew Moment. 

It happened on a walk to work when a piece of music with recordings of curlews at the North Pole coincided with real live curlews calling around me and it was one of those moments that one never forgets. Since then coincidence seems to follow on coincidence, and here is one that proves to me that we are on the right track...

Regular readers of the blog (I think we should give you all a special name. Suggestions anyone?) will remember that we have started a tweed research project which will seek out the old tweeds that used to be made in the islands, combining photographs of those with interviews with the weavers of those fabrics to produce a little archive of resources. It was not intended to be a major project, just a simple one to find out what tweeds do exist still and if they are interesting. And last week we went to Hoswick Visitor Centre to look at their collection. 

Now the "we" in this instance is myself and Shona Skinner who owns The Shetland Gallery next door to the studio in Yell. We were tremendously excited by what we have found and, into the bargain, along came a Curlew Moment!

Shona's late father was Adam Robson, an artist, teacher and rugby player, and while we were looking at the tweeds and discovering new-to-us patterns and colours, one of the Hoswick team, Rosemary, came along to chat and bearing a letter for Shona to see. It was a letter written by Shona's father asking for help with research he was doing about the ship the Earl of Zetland, which used to sail around Shetland and acted as ferry and goods transporter. It was so strange to see the letter and to read that, just like us, Adam was not sure where his research was going to take him but that it was important. The parallels were striking and the fact that Shona happened to be in the same place doing the same type of work as her father was doing was equally amazing. 

Here is a photograph of the letter that Adam sent. Don't you love the typewritten letters and the address. What a wonderful Curlew Moment! Thank you Rosemary and Shona.