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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Sunshine walk and scones.....

Looking towards Stromness

I made the most of the lovely weather we had for part of this week to have a wander around the island and thought I'd share some photos with you.....

Above is a photo taken from the top of Graemsay (which isn't very high! At it's highest point I think it's only 65 feet high!)

At the top of the hill are the ruined croft houses of Dean. They have stunning views of the Hoy Hills which are silhouetted behind them.






And a signpost so folk can't get lost, left to the point of Oxan and straight on for the ferry!


The old school with the "Cott of School" behind.  The island children went to this school until 1996 when the island got a daily ferry service and new boat. Now the children cross each day to the primary school in Stromness.


And back down the hill towards Sandside


The Hamnavoe ferry setting sail for Scrabster on the Scottish Mainland, as it sails past the Hoy Low lighthouse.


While earlier in the day local farmers had been shipping sheep off the island. These are this year's lambs and will be sent as "store lambs" to continue grazing to fatten them up for market.


And now back on our usual walk to the coral beach with Madam Button.... She's looking rather alert. This is because she can hear children!  Very wary of children is Button. Wise cat!  In the  distance you can see some them playing on the beach. A paradise for for them!




The children seemed to be enjoying themselves so we left them to it.


Instead we set off down the old "lighthouse" pier....


Onto the coral beach, looking towards the wee town of Stromness.



The old farm buildings looking as though they will fall onto the shore with the next puff of wind! (They're a bit more secure than that...for now).


And a beautiful natural swimming pool here - even if the water is a wee bit chilly!


I love the shore, that liminal space between land and sea......


Come on Button I want to go home for tea!


Even the sun is beginning to set ........


Slipping behind the Hoy Hills....


Time to go home for warm scones......


Hope you enjoyed your wander around our wee island.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Autumn......


Sunrise is getting later now we are in October, today it was at 7.45 am.... I love the reflection of the sun across the Hoy Hills.

Meanwhile Sunset is getting earlier , today it will be about 18.13 - though obviously the weather makes a difference to the amount of daylight - dark cloud and it's gloomy all day.


We had a couple of days last week with severe gales. I was prepared and had moved anything that might fly around into the shed (including one of the benches). Other things were battened down.  Unfortunately I was ready for the gale a couple of weeks ago which "got" my fruit cage.  I've dismantled it now and I think it will be OK next Spring, with some new netting.


Some days are full of grey skies, and others full of sunshine and fluffy clouds (I like days like those!).


Some flowers in the garden were sheltered enough to withstand the gales. These dwarf sweet peas are still flowering their hearts out!


So pretty and with the perfume of summer.



But the old elder tree got blasted in the wind.  We don't get a proper autumn in Orkney where the leaves turn brown and drop to the ground.  Usually a gale comes along first and blasts them black and off the trees. I marvel at autumn colour when I got "south".


But as well as rough weather and high winds, we've had calm days..... This photo was taken from the Graemsay pier looking towards Stromness.


And this one with Hoy HIgh lighthouse in it. The Yellow Triangle is where our electricity power supply cable comes ashore.


And here is our ferry coming out to the island.


And here she is in Stromness harbour at high tide.  I love high tide in the harbour (not least as there are fewer steps to walk up or down to the boat!).


Sunday, 12 October 2014

A visit to the V.E.T......




Panic not, Dear Reader, Madam Button is fine. But a couple of weeks ago I noticed she appeared to have the early signs of a urine infection. My old cat, Fitzi, suffered from those on occasions so I recognised the symptoms and promptly got Button off to the vet. The lovely vet at NorthVet in Kirkwall gave her an antibotic and anti-inflammatory injections and within a couple of days she was back to normal.

But the journey to the vet is a little more traumatic for an isles cat than most city kitties, not least because there is a boat journey to consider.  Button can tolerate a car journey (although she swears at me the whole way), but she does not like the ferry ride.  I think it's a combination of the movement, noise and smell.

Our vet practice is excellent, understanding the challenges of getting pets to the vet when we live on the isles, so they found an early appointment that fitted in with our boats.

It has to be said on the morning of our visit Button returned from her overnight hunting expedition (ahem, not THAT much wrong with her then...), with a mouse, which she consumed for breakfast!  I did wonder WHY I was taking her to the vet, but I know from experience that it's necessary to catch these infections early, for all our sakes.

So into the box she goes.  NOT best pleased, and I was rather unkind, waking her up and unceremoniously dumping her in the box and whacking the lid shut. Though in that nano second between each, she woke up enough to put up a stiff resistance.



Anyway it was a beautiful sunny day with calm seas so the journey across wasn't too bad, the vet saw us promptly and we were back home again by mid-day.  Button, of course, getting a pouch of "gourmet" food for her troubles!




But it could have been MUCH worse - a few days later THIS was the sea we would have had to cross!

Photo by Irene of Breckan looking towards Hoy Low 

As I say Button has made a full recovery, and after some cake, so did I.

Monday, 6 October 2014

I know the feeling.....





Button feeling a bit "Mondayish" and realising she has to go out in a gale and heavy rain to have a pee!  She DOES have use of a litter tray, but being a rufty tufty country cat she insists on going out in all weathers!

Anyway I'm joining her with my head in my meataphorical paws - er no *I* use my indoor facilities!! But  I'm way behind answering comments here and I LOVE getting comments.  Apologies - I will reply!  Just life getting in the way of fun stuff - you know how it is.  That and energy following the sun to hide behind the Hoy hills for winter I think......

Another gale due for tomorrow - I may emerge by the end of the week....perhaps......

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Autumn gales...



To be fair, it was only the one gale and it didn't stay too long!  But for a couple of days we have VERY changeable weather.Sunshine, showers and wind.....

The Hamnavoe Ferry which sails from Scrabster on the North coast of Scotland is pictured here on it's usual route via Hoy. However during the gale it sailed up Scapa Flow as it was more sheltered.


And the rain came too.....


I now have some sheep in my field behind the house.  These belong to a neighbour.  The brown ones are crossed with Jacob sheep.  These are this season's lambs which will be sold onto another farmer to "bring them on" before they go for - er - eating.... I don't like thinking about that bit but I DO eat meat so I shouldn't really be so squeamish.  And at least these lambs have had a good life on Gramesay for the summer.


Large clouds over Stromness on the Orkney Mainland.


And the sun is out for a while.... I love the bright colours after a shower of rain


The grass in front of the house is getting quite long, but it's not been dry enough for me to get my tractor mower out.  The hens just love wandering among the grass, nibbling bits of it and scratching around for any insects or worms.


If you look closely at the front of the house you can see a diagonal line running from the window above the door to just below the window to the right of the bench.  That's where the old stone staircase used to be.  It disappeared long before I lived here. But originally the house was split into two "flats", with one family living upstairs and one downstairs. Both with their own entrance.  Quite unusual for an island property which were usually small croft houses.

More interesting clouds over the Orkney Mainland - this time looking towards Orphir, behind the Hoy High lighthouse.


More sheep were added to the field during the week.  I like having sheep in the field, they are usually quiet (so don't disturb my sleep! Apart from lambing time), and make the the place feel part of a farm again (the house was one of the main farmhouses on the island at one time).


And here you can see the sweep of Sandside bay. The island road runs quite close to the shore so on stormy days drivers have to watch for waves crashing over.


And down at the main Graemsay pier were some seals taking a break......


These are grey seals and are often seen around the shore on Graemsay


And here is our ferry coming into the pier - it had engine problems a couple of weeks ago and we had to have some interim boats (a pilot boat among others) and a small ferry drafted in from another island for a few days.  We were all glad to see our own wee ferry return though.


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Short videos of Orkney (and Scotland)

For those of you unfamiliar with Orkney (or indeed Scotland), here are some short videos.

The group of three share some similar scenes but focus on different aspects of Orkney

This one is about living and working in Orkney (about 12 minutes long)


The next one is on Orkney culture (can't embed this one so click on link below, about 10 minutes long).


And this one on Orkney history (again I can't embed in this blog so click on the link below, again about 10 minutes long)


And finally, one from Scotland - a bird's eye tour of some of the majestic views around mainland Scotland and some of the islands.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Summer is drawing to a close.....



September has been a good month for weather! It's lovely to feel the last of the summer warmth, and watch the shadows lengthen as the Autumn equinox approached.  Above are some fuschia bushes, willow trees and a honeysuckle peering over the dry stone dyke in the garden.  These are in a "shrub" border on the other side of the dyke - they have to brave the fierce North winds of Winter.  Hoy High lighthouse can be seen between the gap. My nearest neighbours.....

Meanwhile Button enjoy snoozing on the garden bench outside the front door. I love sitting here and having my morning "cuppa".  It will soon be put into the shed to protect it from the worst of the winter gales.  But we make the most of it while we can, both of us.


And some fluffy clouds in a blue sky


I love dandelion clocks! I remember blowing them as a child - they were never very accurate but I didn't mine. Time has a different meaning as a child does it?!


And they are just so *pretty* and delicate....


Ok so you get MORE dandelions.....but that doesn't stop them being pretty!