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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Winter Solstice.....



Well it's here, the shortest day.  Sadly no sign of the sun but I'm hopeful it is just teasing by hiding behind the thick layer of cloud. Now I can look forward to lengthening days, and the return of Spring :-)

I usually go for a solstice walk, but am still feeling a bit poorly, plus it's very windy and wet, so I made do with a brief excursion to see the hens and Charlie the barn cat, and came back via the shore.

Charlie enjoying breakfast

Here are two of my youngest hens, Tallulah, who you've met before, and Cheeky - so called as she is VERY friendly and cheeky.  If I'm slow getting the food out the bin she will fly onto my shoulder or my head! And then into the feed bin.  And she really gets under my feet - silly hen will get trodden on!


Tallulah and Cheeky


And here are the rest of the gang scoffing breakfast in the henny house.....


Meanwhile Button snoozed through all the activity.....


Now I'm back and snug indoors making some lovely warming mulled wine.


Button goes bonkers whenever I use herbs or spices......


Completely bonkers.... with a glazed expression!


Earlier in the week we had some snow flurries, though Graemsay usually manages to stay green throughout.


You can see the green building that is our wee community hall below.  The annual Christmas Party was held there on Friday but I decided to stay in the warm and not mix with more "bugs" as lots of things circulating and my immune system struggling with the ones it already has!


Mostly though it's been wet and windy with lots of thunder and lightning!  Some folk are still without phones or broadband, but at least everyone still has power!


And the farmers have still had to go out daily to tend to their livestock.  Here's some sheep that were on the move..... now if I could get them to graze in a straight line I wouldn't need my petrol mower!



And here for your delight is the annual offering of a wonderful film by "Red Orkney" in 2010 when we were covered in snow!




PS - those of you in the Southern hemisphere....sorry, it's time to give us the sun back now you've had your turn :-)

Friday, 19 December 2014

As the Solstice approaches...


Here's a short film by David Gregory taken in 2011 when we had snow at Christmas!  Enjoy!








PS - sorry for lack of response to comments (which I love receiving) but am fighting tonsilitis, conjunctivitis and a couplf of other "itis's"!    Hope to be bouncing back soon!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Winter time....


Brrrr... it's snowing today, though it melts as soon as it settles.  0 degrees C on the thermometer.  But it's CALM!  No WIND!  Though the wind is due to get up to gale force later tonight.  But for now I shall revel in the silence.

Snow on Ward Hill, Hoy

Button was delighted to go out on a short hunting spree this morning but wasn't out long.  I think she muttered something about "cold paws" when she came back in!

Hoy Hills at 8am with the moon in the sky and the sun about to rise

It's the shortest day in just over a week. Whoooo hoo!!!  I shall be celebrating!  I don't celebrate Christmas but do celebrate the time as a mid-winter festival.  Though it's not exactly "mid-winter" as winter is from December through to February, and frankly our worst weather in Orkney tends to be after New Year. But it's a time for feasting and raising a glass of something warming.



I choose to stay home at this time of year.  Trust me - Winter is no time to try travelling around the UK!  Been there, done that, waited on cold platforms for delayed trains, slept in airport lounges for cancelled flights, and lain prostrate on the deck of a ship being thrown around in the gale.  Now I stay home, snug, warm and enjoy a respite from work and enjoy the season.

On Graemsay there will be the Christmas Party on Friday and maybe a Carol Service on Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile the Circle of Friendship continues to protect the light.....


Friday, 12 December 2014

Memory of winter sun.....



The sun hunkers down between the Hoy hills at this time of year..... Ohh look at the stillness of the water......


An Oystercatcher and some waders making the most of the change in tide to feed.


A wee boat on the way into Stromness


All quiet in the harbour at Stromness


On the shell beach the sea was like a mirror


And looking out to the entrance to Scapa Flow ......


Button hunting again... spot the seal in the background.... BEHIND YOU! Button!


A walk past the old sail shed....



And then time to walk back to the house.... the hens ready to greet us.... Tallulah, my Shetland Black hen looking rather fine.



And a young cockerel and hen resting their legs by roosting on a branch!


And of course, we're not long home with the kettle hardly boiled and Button is having a nap again!



Thursday, 11 December 2014

While storms rage a reminder of calmer days



The wind has shifted round and it's a little quieter in the house for now.  The thunder and lightning has ceased for the moment, though forecast to return.  Fortunately the power has stayed on so far, and all is well at Sandside.

Folk on the island have been phoning round to make sure everyone is OK, and offers of help where needed.  I was up at 7 this morning VERY unusual for me. A neighbour phoned as it was so unusual to see my lights on that early unless I'm going to the town and on a day like this THAT was unlikely! But I'd been woken by the storm and decided to sit wrapped in my dressing gown with a mug of tea and listen to the radio rather than go back to bed.

There has been rain and hail - hail the size of blooming golf balls I swear! The noise they make hitting the window I fear for the glass!

Button is bored but has been out for the "necessary".  She's also liked the heating being on for longer (to keep the house warm in case of power loss).  With underfloor heating it means she has warm paws and has taken to sleeping on the carpet rather than her bed! Very disconcerting!

Anyway only a few days ago I was walking on the beach enjoying the beginning of winter with blue skies.  So I'll try and recapture that mood now as I gaze out on pitch black windows and listen to howling wind!

We went for a wander on the sandy beach first......


















Button enjoyed a little hunting in the long grass


While I searched for patterns in the sand.....

Birdie footprint

A birdie finishing off the remains of a crab?
A dog?





And Button Paws!
And of course...mine
And my favourite patterns in the sand....




















And the sun low over Sandside Bay


More of our walk tomorrow.  I have to treasure the calm day photos, they cannot all be squandered at once on long windy winter days :-)

Calmer day...




Photo taken yesterday by Alistair Skene up at Yesnaby on the west coast of Orkney Mainland. Not surprisingly this has gone "viral"!  These are HUGE cliffs...

Made it through the night of wild weather. Poor Button was quite unsettled.  Today feels so calm in comparison though the average wind speed is 37 mph and gusting to 52 mph!  Button went for her morning constitutional at 7.30 this morning and is now sleeping off the effects!

I've not been outside yet but no visible damage (no roof on the ground!).  Electricity stayed on for me which is great as house warm.  Though phone line a bit intermittent but not surprised with all the lightning last night!

Hope the rest of the country fares as well....

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Storms and stuff!

Sorry for lack of posts, evil virus has kept me away, and now we have a Winter storm raging.  This one is made worse by a huge storm surge of water due to a "weather bomb" (a sudden dramatic drop in pressure).  So I'll not stay here long as thunder and lightning accompanying the storm and I need to switch my modem off before it gets fried and I have no internet!! (Clearly I have power so am warm, plenty of food, and a very grumpy cat!)

Anyway here are a couple of clips of the rough weather:

This one shows the waves off the west coast of Orkney today
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-30416288



And this one shows Norman Brass, one of the lifeboat crew from Stromness speaking about a dramatic rescue this morning off of the island of Westray.  The lifeboat went to the aid of a stricken vessel and saw it into safe harbour.  But the seas were huge!  Brave crew of the Stromness lifeboat risking their lives to save others and they are all unpaid volunteers!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-30416291

Back soon - I hope!!