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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Clouds....(among other things)



With big skies in Orkney we get some great cloudscapes.  We also get a lot of low, grey looming cloud which is very depressing, particularly in Winter when it goes on for days. But recently we had some beautiful clouds, like mares tails, dancing across the sky.  So I thought I'd share a few photos of them.


Above the house...


Above the garden....


And while we are in the garden.... Button, posing.....


The new flower bed.  Still has the plastic down to keep the weeds at bay but will be dug over in autumn - too difficult stopping the plastic from flying away with all the holes in it!


The bees love the Monkshood - they disappear up into the pods for the nectar and of course gather up the pollen on the way.  Monkshood is pretty toxic but so far no one has eaten it so it's fine!


In the central pod you can just see a bee...


Ah yes, Button.... never one to be ignored!



Looking out to sea - nothing much between us and Canada!


And on the subject of the garden...... the daisies outside the house - blasted by a recent storm now, but they looked pretty for a while!


And in the evening.... Hoy High light - it has a temporary light while work is being done on rewiring etc.  It looks VERY bright from the house.  The usual light is blanked out at the back of the glass so I don't usually see the light!


And on another day with a different cloud formation.... here is the "main" road round the island.....


And the mist rolling onto the Hoy hills behind Graemsay (and The Manse).






The tall plant - Lovage, also got battered in the high winds this week, so has had to be hacked back now.  It's a lovely structural plant in the summer months though.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

More on the hens!



Whenever I'm doing some gardening I am supervised by the hens, especially if digging is taking place! Notice the concentration in that beady eye above!

I battle against creeping buttercup in the garden.  Because I was unwell and away a while in June the weeds had a change to run rampant.  So the last couple of weeks has been battling to get the garden back into some sort of order. Ably assisted by the hens!


Having a good dig around the roots of the columbine to seek out any worms!


And everyone joins in....


Even this wee chick!


Oh wait s/he (I'm still not sure!) has lost sight of Mum and is standing on the highest point (ahem, a tussock of grass about to be dug up!) to try and spot her!


It has to be said s/he failed. I wasn't worried as the chicks can feed themselves now and usually wander back into the hen house to roost with the other hens (including mum).  But no, this one got in a panic and managed to get through a small gap in the anti-chicken netting and was hiding among the wild flowers.  Took me the best part of an hour to coax it out - by bringing the rest of the hens into the garden for their "tea" and out comes the chick too!  Phew!

Anyway, after a good rootle some of the hens need to take a wee rest and have a bit of a preen....


While others carry on rootling through the now weeded earth....


And the other cockerels (yes I have more than one, sigh, and no they don't fight - they seem to have divided the females among themselves).


And at least the girls give me lots of lovely eggs, and the netting keeps them off MOST of the strawberries!


And WHERE was Madam Button during all this activity?  Sunbathing of course! She doesn't concern herself with mundane activities such as gardening... and yes she eventually found her way into the cordoned off veg patch - over the garden wall of course!


Here she is among the weeds (yes plenty of those) rolling around on top of the nepeta (cat mint) which I did plant especially for her.  I know....I know...


And after a rain shower, well one does have to keep paws dry after a shower!



Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Hoy hills....



Recently an artist friend had an exhibition of one of her larger pieces of work.  Jeanne Bouza Rose has a shop in Stromness called "Artworks of the Earth" where she sells much of her work and runs workshops. But a few years ago she rented a house which had once been the home and studio of Sylvia Wishart.  Inspired by the landscape Jeanne began this huge painting that goes from the West with the sun sinking into the sea in a blaze of colour just off the edge of the Hoy Hills, to the East (over Graemsay of course!) to the moon rise.  It IS magnificent and I have a very small version of it as a print.

Here are bits of it!  From the West


Over Ward Hill on the island of Hoy.


And East over Graemsay and Hoy High lighthouse. My house, Sandside, is a blob, but I forgiver her for that!


Here is the print I have, still to be unwrapped and put on the wall....



And here is a link to a video I took very quickly on the day the painting was being taken down.  With Jeanne sitting guard at the door.


Jeanne's shop is right along the street, she's full of boundless energy and enthusiasm for life and sometimes I just drop in for a chat in the hope I pick up some of it by osmosis!

Monday, 8 August 2016

A Stromness wander....



I had a wander down the street in Stromness last week. Dodging the rain showers.  Stromness is my favourite town, and where I would choose to live were I not on Graemsay.  Here are a few photos of the main street - and yes cars go BOTH ways down the street, mixing with pedestrians. It usually works as a good traffic calming measure but you do have to watch out as you wander along!

Many of the buildings facing onto the harbour have piers, and the houses that don't often still have access to the piers.  Years ago, when most folk would have had a wee boat, even houses ACROSS the street had right of access to the piers.  Not sure how many do now though.





















And then the houses across from the harbour side have lanes running up the hill. Some of these are traffic free, some of them are not - you need to be good on the brakes if not!




This is a VERY steep hill leading up to the Community Centre (which was once a kirk).  Actually I think there were THREE kirks on this road at one time.


Most of the properties are right on the road, but some have a wee garden out front. This is a particularly pretty example I think.


And "down the street" are some lovely shops too.... This is one of my favourites, Cream is run by Sally, where she sells much of her own art, plus that of other local artists, and wonderfully imaginative "recycled" artifacts too. Definitely worth a visit!


And another of my favourite shops is the Waterfront Gallery, run by Trudi, lots of wonderful Orkney related things, as well as other fascinating curios, and at the back the Gallery which has lots of exhibitions throughout the year.


And the Bayleaf Delicatessen (it's just moved to new bigger premises) is a wonderful emporium of good coffee and great food!  Oooh wonderful cheeses, and lots of other "delicacies".


And despite the sign over the shop saying J. L. Broom, this book shop will forever be known as "Tam's" as Tam McPhail ran it for many years.  I think Sheena has taken over now, but as I say, it's still known locally as "Tam's"  And you MUST read this review to get a real flavour of this wonderful gem of an independent bookshop!  Bookstore Guide


And another of my favourite shops, the Quernstone, run by Elaine Bentley. Well two shops actually, one with lots of wonderful knitwear produced locally as well as brightly coloured accessories (I go and visit for my colour therapy in the winter, ha!). And in this shop, lots of gifts, or lovely household goodies like ornaments and lamps, rugs, cushions etc. It's an Aladdin's cave!


And this is the shop of the Harray Potter (ha not not Harry Pottery, but Andrew Appleby who has a studio out in the country (er, Harray) on the Orkney Mainland, but sells through various shops and has his own shop in Stromness. It's next to the Orca hotel - you can see a whalebone from an Orca on the wall.


And then there are the wee lanes running off in odd directions. This goes to the Town Hall (a former kirk) that now has concerts, and is also used by the Baptist Kirk for services.  The gouge out of the wall is seen around many parts of Stromness - the purpose was to allow carts to easily pass though! Ha! Great design feature!


And I love the rooftops in the town!


And the ferns growing out of this wall! Hmm suggests it's a wee bit damp!


So I hope you enjoyed your tour of the lower end of Stromness.  You could hop on the Orkney opened topped bus now for a tour round the countryside, it's just ready to leave the Stromness Travel Centre.  Hee hee in Orkney even the open topped buses need a bit of cover!