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Monday, 3 November 2014

Graemsay Halloween

Last Friday it was time for the annual Graemsay Halloween Party.  Cue lots of spooky outfits, and strange coloured food, as well as party games.  Yay!

This year the island children each brought a friend from school for a "sleepover" (never had those in my day!). So along with the island children and grandchildren, plus added friends there were about 16 children at the party.  Eeeek! Now that WAS scary!  But adults and children entered into the party mood.

Even the wee ones were dressed for the party (above) and the adults too (Joe below)

Looks like Ronnie Wood turned up to play us a tune - hee hee

There were, of course, the traditional party games overseen by the Head Witch, Irene, and her chief wizard, Bobby, with their familiar black cat (Squeak stayed at home this time).

First up was "dookin'" for apples. I think some practising had been going on as they all caught them very quickly.....

And, of course, the adults weren't to be outdone.

Then it was the eye and spoon race (I'd been sent on a mission in town to get eyes earlier in the day, Found lots of Zombies but couldn't see any eyes.... (haha!).  But found some in the good old Stromness co-op in the end).

The girls were competing against the boys (it was ever thus).

Then it was time for the donut game - you have to eat your donut while it's hanging from a bit of string.  No hands....! And Yes I managed to do it too!

Again boys against the girls

A more experienced witch inducts the younger ones into the dark art of the donut game!

And finally it wa the "Mummy" game - where the men get wrapped up in toilet roll as Mummies and then have to break out of it.  Three teams, the first one to finish wins...

Then it's time for the parade, where all the children show off their wonderful outfits to the adults sitting around......

The children then had to sit in a cirle and each do a party piece - tell a joke, a sotry, or sing a song, before they got their halloween treats

Two wee lads telling their jokes

Followed by a song from a wee witch.

And after all that excitement it was time for the supper, with sandwiches and cakes with lurid icing for hungry witches and wizards.

And a chance for a blether (chat) with everyone.  I got the message loud and clear from this scary monster!

A wee witch explains the workings of a wand to Granny.

Not sure who's instructing who here....

And these boys reminded me of the "Jets" from West Side Story!!

And to end the evening was a special Birthday Cake for John Cromarty of Gorn to celebrate a particular birthday (hee hee he'll not thank me for telling you his age!).  There was a card and gift from the island folk too.  He did a good job of blowing out the candles!

And what did I go as?  The Witch of Sandside of course!   Loved the hair - might have to keep it!!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Seal Cam!

Some of my blog friends have asked about the Orkney seal cams.  Well there's a new one just started on the RSPB reserve on the uninhabited island of Copinsay.

You can view it here

And it you are reading this when it's dark in Orkney, here is a wee taster. A great short film by wildlife photographer, Raymond Besant, of waves crashing on the shore on one side of an island and a wee selkie (the name given to seals in myths and legends) pup on a sheltered shore.

Click here for the film

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Orkney International Storytelling Festival comes to Graemsay

In past years Tom Muir and Fran Flett Holinrake have visited Graemsay after the official Orkney storytelling festival is over to give us a special performance.  This year they included us in the actual festival!  So it was on Friday I went to meet the ferry from Stromness expecting a handful of folk to get off the boat, to be greeted with hoards of enthusiastic folk coming over for an afternoon of stories.  Well there were about 18 of them - that's hoards for Graemsay given our population is only 27.  Hee hee!

It was a calm day so at least they had a good sail across

Though I think they stepped onto the pier with some trepidation as the boat crew had explained there would be kye (cattle) to be shipped from Graemsay and had regaled them with tales so lurid they could hold their own at a storytelling session!  Needless to say the young stock on the pier were very peacable and caused no trouble!

Fortunately the weather was kind and so many of the visitors chose to wander up to the hall, while the storytellers got a lift up so they could set up banners, and the raffle and get settled.

Earlier various of the Graemsay folk have been preparing the hall, putting up decorations, making soup and butties (sandwiches),  and home bakes of course!  So lunch greeted folk as they arrived, together with, of course, the island folk.

I was going back and forth between the kitchen and the lunch table and caught snatches of conversation as visitors and island folk. Almost the entire population of Graemsay was there, and those that weren't were over in the town attending various appointments.  Graemsay always turns out to welcome visitors! It's one of the things I love about this community.

After lunch we settled down for the first story, told by Liz Weir from Northern Ireland.  She had a spooky ghost story for the children.  As you can see in the photo at the top of this post - the spiders also liked the story.  Liz even seems to be wearing one as a very fetching hat!  (Er - due to my camera skills or lack of, rather than actually wearing one!).

Next were a couple of stories from Ian Stephen, storyteller and poet from the Isle of Lewis.  He told stories of islands and isles folk, of hardship and triumph.

Then Orkney's Tom Muir told some stories of the Trowie Folk

 And Fran told a story of the blue door in Edinburgh, a request from one of the Graemsay children who had remembered the story from last year.  A story of ghosts and terror that had folk jumping out of their seats!

There was also time for tea and home bakes, and a raffle with some great prizes.  I won a lovely picture of the Hoy Hills.

Sadly soon it was time for everyone to leave.  The sun still shone so most folk walked back to the pier. Nobody needed to avail themselves of the Graemsay Self Drive Hire.....

 Meanwhile I gave Liz a quick tour of the island by car as she hadn't seen it before (Ian had arrived on an earlier ferry and walked around the island so he'd had a taste of the landscape already).  Liz and I chatted about islands and she compared Graemsay with Rathlin island, off the Northern Ireland coast.

The Graemsay folk really enjoyed the afternoon of stories, and meeting our visitors.  And there was even some cake left over for me to take home.  Result!  So thanks to all from the Orkney International Storytelling Festival for a great afternoon!

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.