Thursday, 22 August 2013

What a difference a year makes

Uradale Farm, Shetland – what a difference a year makes
What do you call an uninvited visitor to an organic Shetland croft? How about ‘Pete’?  Or should that be ‘Peat’? That’s the thought that came to me on when I returned to Uradale Organics after almost exactly a year away.
A lot’s happened for this Cheltenham copywriter  since visiting Ronnie and Sue last August. But not as much, or as dramatically, as has happened high on their mountain overlooking East Voe since our last visit.
The events of one night dominated Uradale’s year
Whereas my year has been one of gentle business growth, a banged head on a low office-ceiling and the sad-but-inevitable end to several  years’ care for my dear mother-in-law (Sue’s Aunty Mary), one dramatic event in August 2012 has dominated the last year at Uradale Organics... 
We’d barely landed back at Bimingham last year, and I was in the middle of crafting a Shetland Copywriter  page on my website. Then we heard about the storms and landslides that so dramatically affected Shetland – and Uradale in particular. Online, we watched in horror as Uradale’s mountainside appeared to descend through and around the Eunson croft and down to the shore below – taking a Land-Rover with it. If you need a reminder, you can revisit the story here
Ronnie and Sue’s organic businesses are thriving
Uradale farm from Trondra
Given what happened last August, I was pleased to drive up to Uradale and see that, despite the catastrophe, Ronnie and Sue’s organic lamb and beef, and organic Shetland wool, businesses are thriving. As I looked across the voe from our rented house at Trondra, the still-unhealed scars on Uradale's mountainside didn’t bode well. However, once on Ronnie’s land, it was clear that repairs had been made and life continued – and was getting better – as befits an authentic Shetland crofting family.
Outside the croft, there’s a replacement Land Rover, albeit parked next to the water-tumbled rubble of a once-proud dry-stone wall. That we could drive to the house at all reflects months of hard work rebuilding the washed-out road and two culverts.  And once in Sue’s cosy kitchen, scrubbed floorboards, painstakingly-cleaned scatter rugs and a dram of Ronnie’s whisky ensure as warm a welcome as ever.

And their story just gets better...
All good so far, but the story gets better. Just a fortnight before flying to Shetland, we’d watched as Ronnie Eunson, now  media star, held forth, with signature charm and wisdom, about Uradale’s organic sheep and cattle on the BBC’s prime time Countryfile  programme.  And now, over Sue’s delicious farmhouse supper, we hear – as much as Ronnie, or should I say ‘Lonnie-San’, is allowed to tell – about ongoing interest in supply of Uradale’s speciality wools by a major Japanese brand. Add daughter Kirsty’s clean sweep in her Highersand life's looking good at Uradale. As they say, what a difference a year makes – especially when you’re determined Shetlanders with a unique product portfolio and an authentic, organic brand-story.
hand winding organic Uradale yarn
So here I am, looking across the voe towards the misty slopes of the Eunson croft and writing another guest post blog before flying south again to my world of website content, client case studywriting  and brochure copy. What I’m doing over my Shetland breakfast is copywriting; I’m a copywriter; and I’m writing in Shetland as someone with strong Shetland connections. So I guess that does, just about, qualify me as one of the copywriters  in Shetland – at least for today.