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Sunday, 19 April 2015

Remember to dream....

Many years ago when I lived in  North Kent, and commuted through London, I would dream of one day living near to the sea.  Given property prices in the South East of England, I imagined the closest I'd get to "living by the sea" would be in a town, where I might spy the sea from an attic window across many rooftops.  But I dreamed..... and I would collect pictures of my dream. Like in the photo above.......  and now I have this view from my bedroom window.... No daffodils in a jug, but they grow along the stone dyke instead..

I did have a beautiful tabby cat like in the first picture. But dear Fitzicat died a few years ago and now I have Button.

And of course there are daffodils......

And Button.......

Ahem.... yes Button....that'll do now!

So I got my dream picture for real .......Life is cool when it works out like that!

Friday, 17 April 2015

A quick trip to Stromness....

It's been the most glorious day again today. A bit chilly first thing but then the sun warmed everything up.  The sunset has now reached the back of the house so I know Spring is well and truly here!  I'm hoping to do a bit of gardening tomorrow, though I need to work most of the day. But when the days are so good it's a shame to be indoors!  Button is loving basking out in the sun!

As you can see in the photo above, the sea was flat calm today. The Hoy High lighthouse on the left, and in the distance the town of Stromness, with the Hamnavoe ferry [the white blob on the right] still in the harbour.  Meanwhile big fluffy white clouds hovered over the sea...

And someone was out in a VERY small boat. However calm it was, you wouldn't get me on the sea in a boat THAT small!

The seals were out sunbathing too...

And the fulmars are settling in along the shore for the breeding season. I love the fulmars, and the way the skim the waves and sea. But you don't want to get too close to their nesting site and upset them as they spew a horrid fishy smelling oil to warn you off and it is horrible! (So obviously it works!)

While in town I went to the Pier Arts Centre, a number of the primary schools had work exhibited. It's great that the children get the opportunity to have their work on display in a public gallery. It's a great exhibition space and the Pier Arts does it's best to encourage all local artists young and older, as well as bringing in world class art.

This one was fun, an animation, where the Princess (of course, sigh), was kidnapped by pirates...who arrived in a taxi? hee hee!

And a beautiful calm evening to sit and watch the sunset...

And then this evening the most stunning sunset again.

The Hamnavoe sailing back to Stromness....

The boat looks like a bug!

And the sun slips into the sea...

Spring Sunset....

Ooooh it's that time of sunsets again. I LOVE Spring when the sun moves round, and the air is warm (not the sea yet though).

Evening sun over Sandside Bay.....

Thursday, 16 April 2015

A walk on the beach (the other one....).

I tend not to walk on the sandy beach much these days.  The winter storms destroyed the path I took down to the shore over the sand dunes, and I don't like to take Button along the road to get onto it. But yesterday, while she was snoozing in the sun, I snuck out to a walk along the sandy beach from whence "Sandside" gets the name and here are some photos to prove it!!

First we have to stop and say hallo to Mr "I'm a handsome chap" Ram.  He's got horns and he knows how to use them, apparently. So he's been separated from the flock for the time being.

There's a short walk along the "main road" on Graemsay, we call this the links road as sand dunes are often referred to as "links".  The banks look like they are wearing a grass skirt!

And back the other way to Sandside and Hoy High Lighthouse

The beach looks so big when viewed from the boat or Stromness but isn't that long. I'd never have been able to gallop my old pony, Badger, along this -he'd have run out of room!

And back the other way towards "home"

At the South end it's quite rocky, this is looking towards Quoys (nestled in it's own little inlet) and Garson and out to the mouth of Hoy Sound

I love the patterns in the sand made by the water running in rivulets off the land.

And the gentle waves on the shore (tide was coming in....)

It was only a short walk during my afternoon "tea break" but I hope to come along here again soon, if I can shake off Madam Button!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A walk on the wild side - ish...

A few days ago G&G from Imperfect & Tense came over for a visit. You can read about their visit on the link to get a different perspective, though our photos are nearly the same! Now usually when they arrive the wind gets up and the rain appears. However this time they must have snuck in under the weather radar as it was a lovely day. Though there was the odd shower and a bit of cloud, but a great improvement on other visits.

Anyway, after their epic sea voyage (the boat went via Hoy), I offered them refreshment of tea and cake. Though they had thoughtfully also brought along triple chocolate cookies....imagine that...for a minute...triple chocolate..... Graeme promptly ate one....hmmm not what I expect from my guests....

So duly fortified with cake and cookies we set out for a walk along the shore.  Button accompanied us for the first 4 yards then decided she had better things to do and I was clearly OK under the supervision of G&G so she wandered off.

Meanwhile back on the coral beach the tide was..coming in....or going out... we weren't quite sure...

But we boldly set off.... or was that set off boldly....anyway we wandered along the shore stopping to look at various bits of rock, musing upon the geology, knowledge of which was fairly minimal. My knowledge is SO minimal this next picture is labelled "Rock 1"....something dark seeped up between the lighter sandstone many thousands/millennia ago (see - minimal).

In a naming departure - here we have "Stone 1". But I love the circles on this one.

Here we have...Rock 2 - this looks like badly grouted tiles....

This boulder has two kinds of rock fused together, imagine the forces at play to do that.

This looks like wave ripples set in stone....

This one is so pretty, lots of imagines "superimposed" on this rock, unimaginatively named Rock 3a.

A different angle on the Hoy High Lighthouse (actually the Hoy Sound High Lighthouse as this is in Hoy Sound).

Graemsay's own mini rock stack!

These huge slabs were so smooth it felt like walking on an Italian Piazza (Rock 5).

There were other things than the rocks though. Graeme spotted this Skate Egg Case - known locally as Mermaid's purses.

And this old tractor front!

And great excitement (from me) and debate from G&G, but sadly no prehistoric fossil, but some old bags of cement that had hardened! (see above re minimal knowledge).

We were heading for this, the "new" Graemsay Pier.....(the above photo was taken hear the pointy triangle which is where the main electricity cable comes ashore - hence, probably the cement).

We then climbed up the cliff face (pause for effect - it's all of 10 feet high). This looks like a stone dog kennel, but no dog (stone or otherwise) uses this for a home. It was a store for the dynamite when the "new" pier was built in the 1950s. The little house with the pointed roof is, apparently, where they kept the fuses for the dynamite.....

And the primroses are out!! Whoo hoo Spring really IS here!

After a pause by the waiting room, a chance for me to get my breath back, and for G&G to read the information boards, we set off up the tarmac road. Past the old rusty winch by the former sail house. There were boat nousts around the shore where the yoles (rowing boats) were kept and the sails would have been stored in sheds nearby. The winch would have possibly been used to help get the boats ashore.

After so much rain this winter some of the fields are very wet....

Just up the hill is the old croft of Moan.....

This post always makes me smile.  To me the "South Coast" always means the English South coast of many holidays and day trips. That of Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset.... not the wee south coast of Graemsay.  And for visitors to the island the important sign to the beach. Don't miss the ferry, there might not be another one today!

And as we walk down the road to home and lunch (plus more cake and triple chocolate biscuits) we meet a farmer on the way up the road.  The Northern Lighthouse Board ship the Pharos is doing some work to the Bar Buoy.

Lots of lambs appearing in the field.  Think it was nap time as we passed.

Though one little lamb came running over to me. I hate it when they do that, I hate disappointing them...

So - hope you enjoyed your wander around the shore (a bit further than Button and I usually go) as much as I did.  G&G were very patient when I stopped to take a particularly long look at a rock (actually getting my breath back).  Graeme has spotted possibilities for dragon fly lairs and will be back to investigate in the summer. I'm looking forward to my next adventures with them.

And in other exciting natural history news, there are a pair of Sea Eagles nesting on Hoy this year for the first time. Young juveniles, thought to be about 3 to 4 years old apparently.  I must look to the skies more often - they have a wing span of about 2.5m and you can't miss them. Well I nearly did once but I was looking the wrong way.