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Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Scottish Independence Referendum



The Saltire is the national flag of Scotland, proudly displayed throughout the land on public buildings, car stickers and many flag poles.  It's also currently all over the TV, newspapers and social media because of the forthcoming Scottish Independence Referendum on Thursday 18th September. I won't provide any links - just Google it and you will be overwhelmed with information (or disinformation!).

I also won't say how I am voting and I won't say much about it on my blog. But to not acknowledge what is going on would be strange as it is such an historic occasion.  Currently the polls have both the Yes (in favour of Independence) and No (against Independence) almost neck and neck, and depending on the day and the source either one in the lead by a couple of points.  It will be a close run thing, with just 51% needed to decide the vote.  With the vote being so close (according to the polls anyway) whatever the outcome there will be challenging times ahead as nearly half the country will not be getting the result it wanted.

As the saying goes "We live in interesting times".


Saturday, 13 September 2014

Home again....



Truth to tell I've been back a few days, but just now taking a breather and some time to catch up here. I've been away on holiday down "south" to London and Exmouth in Devon.  I'll post photos of that adventure sometime in the coming weeks...... I enjoy going away, but it's good to come home. And there have been blue skies and warm sunshine on my return.  A lovely end to the summer.



Meantime I arrived home just as our ferry developed engine problems.  So we've had a week of uncertainty with various replacement boats brought in to get people home, children to and from school etc.  We currently have the MV Golden Marianna, which should still be running between the more Northerly of the Orkney islands of Westray and Papa Westray.  However it's been brought to do the run between Stromness, Graemsay and Hoy until our own ferry is back working. Currently a reconditioned engine is being put in, or so the story goes.

One slight problem for me is that before I went on holiday I'd run my heating oil low so that a neighbour could fix a new valve onto the tank. So I'd ordered a fresh tank of oil to be delivered this week. Unfortunately the replacement vessel for cargo has a weight limit so couldn't bring the tank over. However a drum of oil has been delivered so that should keep me going fora while.  Actually the weather is quite warm at the moment, but I like to be prepared for the inevitable change!

Hopefully our ferry will be back at full capacity soon.  It's also coming to the time of year when the island farmers are wanting to ship lambs and cattle over to the mart in Kirkwall so the ferry will be busy over the next few weeks.

Which reminds me, just before I went on holiday one of the local farmers had a bull to send off to the Orkney Mainland.  He had a cow to keep him company on the voyage, but he seemed peacable enough.  Bloomin' big, but peacable!  I took this photo from the safety of a vehicle...just in case!


Up up and away!


Ready for his sail to Stromness.....


And now for the final sunset of summer. I took these photos just before I headed south and while I was away the sun snuck behind Graemsay to set, on it's way to hiding behind the Hoy Hills for winter.....sigh.....



Look, we could roll it down the hill like a giant cheese.


Night Night sun....


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Meanwhile, back in Orkney....



Above is a lovely sunny say with fluffy clouds in the sky.  Hoy High lighthouse with Sandside next to it, and the Orphir hills (Orkney Mainland) behind.

Meanwhile in the garden..... I'm so glad I invested in a fruit cage for the fruit bushes....NOT!  Button enjoying a roll on the warm earth in the sunshine.... undisturbed by hens....


Though Madam Button maintains she is keeping the rabbits out - um Button dearest, it's a Hare and it's a PRETEND Hare.


Meanwhile this common carder bee goes about it's business of collecting nectar. Before you panic - the flower head is very small! It's a scabious.


The hens are also enjoying a bit of sunbathing, this time among the borage....


I should say, the hens and the cockerel!  Stretched out soaking up the sunshine


Time for a bit of a preen too.


Doesn't she look smart!


I think they are pretending to protect the broad beans... yeah, right!


Elsewhere in the garden the sea holly is looking good. (Spiky rather than prickly).


I was alarmed on Monday to see these wee swallows in a nest in the byre. This is a second brood from this nest.  It's the end of August and they migrate in September. I feared for them. However on Tuesday they were out of the nest on the beams and today they had fledged - no sign in the byre!!  Still not sure they will make the migration all the way but wishing them luck and a fair wind!


Meanwhile the swallows from other broods have been doing well and often sit on the guttering on the rooftop having a preen and a chatter.


Last week it felt quite Autumnal, with wind and rain.  We've had a respite and back to summer the last few days, but with some heavy showers and it's the season of rainbows again.


It's been a good dry summer though and farmers have had a decent crop of silage and hay and been able to get it in when they wanted.  Just one or two remaining fields with crops to be gathered in now. (This one was completed the same day I took the photo so all is safely gathered in).


And of course there are beautiful sunsets.  Though sadly the sun has crept back across the sea and will soon be setting behind Graemsay on it's way to it's winter "nest" behind the Hoy hills.


And for a different perspective - this is Graemsay taken from the pier in Stromness as I was waiting to get on the ferry home.


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Not Orkney but a tour of the Cotswolds!



Last month I visited the South West of England on holiday.  I've not had a chance to post photos, and for those of you who like quintessentially English villages - here's a snapshot of a tour of the Cotswolds (click on the images to see larger versions)!  I'd met up with my older sister and one of my nephews in the wonderful city of Bath and I'll share some photos of that another time.  But one day we took a tour run by Lion Tours in a mini-bus around some of the lovely villages.

First stop Castle Combe....

A dog enjoying a river run!


Some old slates for a renovation project


Our guide knew the "lady of the house" so we were shown round her lovely garden.  You can see the roof in the  distance which was being repaired.

I LOVE this porch decoration
The main street in Castle Combe
You would have to duck going through this door!
I love the rooftops....
An old sign below this window
And the old Market Cross















I love the curve of this building
It was then onto Malmesbury Abbey with the old sandstone carvings over the doorway


A stained glass window designed by William Morris
The Abbey with ruins showing it was much larger once.


Then onto Bibury  for lunch (and Cake!) and a wander around the village and more "chocolate box" houses (so called as you used to get biscuit tins and chocolate boxes with pictures of thatched cottages and pretty old houses on the lid!)


Arlington Row, Bibury
These cottages appear on many calendars of the Cotswolds!  And there is a connection between Arlington Row and "Arlington" in the USA - see here for link

And another quintessential English Cottage with roses!


And finally we called in at Tetbury with it's 17th Century Market Hall


And some rather fine Georgian houses...


So I hope you enjoyed your tour of the Cotswolds too.   Um..... is now a good time to say I'm off on my travels again shortly!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Late summer miscellany




The last couple of weeks have been busy, plus I had a spell of being unwell.  Much better now, and trying to get back on track.  The last 8 months have been really hectic with work, but things are slowing down now (thankfully) so hopefully a bit more time to myself and to do some of the things I've missed over recent months.

Above were some glowering clouds over Hoy on a morning sail home today.  You can just see a tiny rainbow to the right of the island.  I'd been over to Stromness for a night out with friends. Due to no "late boat" home I'd stayed in the town and got the morning boat home, sailing via Hoy before arriving at Graemsay.

The last week or so has been very changeable weatherwise.  I am actually typing this with the wind rattling around outside. A gale forecast for tonight.  I'll have to "batten hatches" - or at least the cat flap, tonight.  Of course Button has just gone out for her evening entertainment so I can't go to bed till she returns (well I could, but I'm a mad cat lady so I won't!).

Meanwhile, before I fall asleep at the keyboard, here are some photos taken over recent days......

I had breakfast on the bench outside watching a lovely cloud display.


Button enjoyed a bit of sunshine too.


The hens are laying but several are going broody so I'm having to hunt for eggs.  Meanwhile one of the hens had a bit of a mishap and laid a VERY tiny egg ........


Some of the wildflowers I grew in the garden. This packet of seeds went in quite late so they are just blooming now.  Very pretty though and the bees love them.


Raindrops on borage flowers from the recent showers.


Another one of the wildflowers (no doubt about to be battered by the gale, sigh).


And this afternoon I popped up to see Ethel (the oldest Graemsay resident who was born and bred on the island). I never like to visit empty handed so took along a posy of flowers from the garden. Not many left now as most flowers have "gone oer", but a few still giving some summer colour.


And while in the garden I took a few more photos.  Neighbour Sue is helping me in the garden doing some digging and tidying up.  This border is looking very smart now.  Well weeded, ready for some manure and then leaving for the winter.


The broad beans have been very slow this summer, though I've not helped them as I didn't water them much, and it's been a very dry spell (great for the farmers to get the silage and hay in though!). Under the green netting are salad leaves.  I used an old pallet retrieved from builders. Another neighbour, Bobby, made the cover out of a pallet and some netting. Great for keeping the hens off!  And I did some companion planting of the nasturtiums as they, in theory, help keep the black fly off the broad beans. But I think the hens help with that task too!


And then there are the garden ornaments...... a lovely hare by the fruit bushes, and Button on the black plastic!  (I use black plastic over areas I want to dig so the weeds die back and it's easier to dig. I try and avoid using any weed killer in the garden as far as possible. No pesticides either - the only pests are the pesky hens and Button!!).


Meanwhile there have been some lovely sunsets recently.  The sun slowly moving back across the sky....


And here a cloud dancing with the last of the suns rays


And this photo from some weeks ago..... I may have shared this before but I just love this photo so forgive me if you've seen it before!  (Too tired and lazy to go back and check!)


Button has finally decided to return so that's us both off to bed for the night!  Sweet dreams everyone!