For some a 14 hour ferry to Shetland might seem like a big ask but for me it was always going to be the start of a great adventure. Travelling onward north to visit Wendy Goode on Yell, the second most northerly point in the British Isles was a great excuse to explore the length and breadth of Shetland.
When you start to explore the Shetland Isles it’s really easy to see why Chris and Wendy chose this little piece of paradise. There’s the secluded private beach, bar the odd sheep snacking on seaweed. Rush hour is classed as meeting one car on the road. Winter fires are still fuelled by peat cut from the hillside near your home and community is still central to Island life.
But Shetland is not where this rather fabulous story originates. Wendy first started creating her feather masterpieces when she moved to a sporting estate on Royal Deeside. Surrounded by a plentiful supply of feather and cartridges from the local gamekeepers, it seems like fate that this would be where Wendy’s future creative talents would lie.
As the business has grown Wendy Goode Feathers has become what you might call a real family affair. Her daughter handcrafts the copper conesand posts them across to mum, her husband Chris cuts down and shapes the cartridge bases and her friends from Deeside Estates still send across a plentiful supply of cartridges and feathers.
The care and attention to detail Wendy puts into making her feather brooches is second to none. From elaborate statement pieces to delicate simplicity, each piece is meticulously crafted and finished to the highest standards. Watching Wendy create such stunning designs to adorn the Mackenzie & George fedoras, you could see the true craftsmanship and passion goes into each and every brooch. Such a pleasure to witness.
For Wendy crafting the feather brooches is not where it ends, to make sure these pieces arrive with you as soon as the last piece of packaging is sealed she drives an hour to the ferry to mainland Shetland then over an hour to the main post office in Lerwick so that her precious cargo leaves the same day on the overnight Northlink Ferry to Aberdeen. To give you a sense of just how far north Wendy lives, her nearest city is actually Bergen in Norway, can you believe she is actually closer to Norwegian Cities than Scottish Cities!
One things for certain, the feather brooches created by Wendy in the old lairds bedroom (her workshop was always going to demand the best room in the house) are second to none in beauty and quality. My biggest dilemma was which new feather would go best with my fedora… Then again maybe a new colour of fedora and feather is the best option!
- Shetland is closer to Bergen in Norway than Aberdeen in Scotland.
- You are never more than 3 miles away from open water in Shetland.
- There are no trees grown on Shetland because of the wind.
- Rush hour on Yell is when the ferry docks and cars cross the island to Unst/Mainland otherwise you are lucky to see one car.
- The Islanders still all cut peat from the moors to fuel their fires.
- There is one small corner shop on Yell, your main shop needs to be done in Lerwick so over 2 hour drive to get your weekly shop.
- Wendy’s workshop is in the Old Lairds Bedroom (the first room that was renovated when they moved in)
- There are no pheasants on Shetland so all her feathers come from Deeside.
Lindsay Robertson is a rural lifestyle photographer specialising in Weddings, Families, Equine & Dogs. A country girl with a passion for life and the outdoors getting the perfect shot happens for Lindsay (as you'll see above) come mud or high water!