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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Misty evening.....

I'm Back!  Yeah I know you didn't realise I'd gone. Humph!  But I've been "down South" for a few days (very down South actually in the wonderful city of Bath, but more of that later).  Just before I went on my travels there was a beautiful ethereal misty evening so I thought I'd share those photos, and a few others, with you.  (And yes before you ask Button is fine, she is well looked after when I'm away and doesn't sulk when I come home. Bless....).  Right....mist..... (Fran Gray a local musician wrote a tune called "Mist over Graemsay".....)

Anyway, I was driving up the island as I had to post a letter in our island post box (collected at 7.30am Monday to Friday by Mick our postman in his shiny red van) and the mist was just starting to come in.....

I love the way it softens the landscape....

Meanwhile, on the way back from the post box I stopped to say hi to some young calves that had recently been turned out into this field.  They are VERY inquisitive and I do love the young calves when they play together, just like kids in the school playground!

And someone had clearly got tired of cycling round the island!

And coming back round the bay the light was quite different though the sun has some way to go before setting.

I love the variety of clouds in the sky at any one time (well except the thick blanket of grey we had most of the Winter!).

Meanwhile the young stock in my field behind the house came to see why I was standing outside and had I got anything for them (No!).  These were calves born last year.  The yellow in the field are buttercups. Not sure the cattle are that keen on them which is a shame as we had a lovely display this year!

And now the sun is dropping behind Black Craig

And the mist is slowly creeping up the flow, covering the East end of Stromness like a gauzy blanket.....

Gradually getting thicker.....

And thicker.....

And then it was time to see if the hens were settled for the night.  Remember the wee fluffy chick of a few weeks ago..... well she (oh god she'd better be a she but I'm not convinced....she looks awfully like her father) has now exchanged fluff for some fine feathers!

And talking of feathers, these are the swallow fledglings.  NOW a couple of weeks later they are sitting on the hydro (electricity) lines and flying around the field and garden day and evening! Just think, in a few short weeks they will be on their way to Africa again!

Hope you enjoyed the misty evening!

Thursday, 10 July 2014


Simmerdim is the short time between sunset and sunrise in mid-summer.  This is what it looks like through bleary eyes at 2am...... (thank you Button for this experience)..... Best I could do as I couldn't see the settings on my camera!  The tall blobby thing is Hoy High Lighthouse :-)

Wednesday, 9 July 2014


The noise of a snoring Button!!   It amazes me how cats can balance on the narrowest of ledges and still sleep....

Meanwhile there are cows in my field behind the house enjoying some summer grazing....

And while rootling about in the garden I came across..... a pile of eggs!  A sneaky pesky hen is obviously hiding away!!  I haven't had time to investigate further so there may or may not be more chicks to accompany the lone chick of a few weeks ago....

Summer seems to have arrived now with sunny skies and warmer temperatures (about 17 degrees C which locaks say is "too hot" and visitors think is cold!  Hee Hee!

There are lots of young birds around and the swallows seem to be having a good year.  This one stopped by to say Hi....

And more flowers in the garden....did I mention I love the pom poms of the scabious?

This rowan is putting on a bit of a growth spurt this year.  I wonder if it will flower next year??

I love the big red blousy poppies.  I don't seem to get them to spread in the garden, but at least this one reappeared this year.

And the "main road" in Graemsay is disappearing under the banks of grass and cow parsley!

And on gazing out the window the other day it was a lovely surprise to see this "tall ship" sailing into Stromness Harbour!  Actually it was only built in 2000 in a shipyard in Devon (Appledore - one of my favourite villages).  It's used as a training ship to keep the skills alive.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

And relax.......

It's been a manic few weeks with work and other stuff so I have neglected answering comments and blogging.  And now I'm heading off for a few days.  In the meantime...I HAVE taken time to enjoy the sunsets and have a cup of tea in the garden now and again.  So here are some photos of flowers!  A few years ago the garden was just a sheep pen (will post links to those posts on my return) and it's a slow process developing such a big space.  Mostly I just have 5 foot wide borders around the outside for now. I've tried various shrubs but they haven't done well so instead I'm going for perenialls and deciduous trees/shrubs that drop their leaves in winter when the worst of the gales blow.

The bees just love the garden.  I put this photo on one of the Orkney Facebook nature pages to ask which type of bumble bee it was - it's a carder bee.  And apparently an aged carder bee as it looks a bit "tatty round the edges" - know how THAT feels!!  This one is sitting on a cornflower

I love columbines (aquilegia), and they do well in the garden. This is a new one and one of my favourites.

I go in for the "chaos" style of gardening ;-)  Mostly I try and keep the weeds at bay and try and ensure there isn't a monoculture and then the garden has to fend for itself..... So here is some sweet rocket, more columbine and some hawkweed, with some Welsh poppies thrown in for good measure.

I also like ornamental grasses.  This stripey pyjama grass (um...not the real name!) is rather lovely and makes a gorgeous rustling noise in the breeze.  MUST get more of that planted.

And I love this Libertia - it almost looks like an orchid from a distance but MUCH hardier - it grows out of very spikey leaves so there's colour all summer.

Along the outside of the garden wall is rosa rugosa a very tough plant - quite invasive if you don't keep an eye on it.

My personal favourite is this scabious - I just love the pom poms dancing in the breeze!

In the corner is a weigelia, with lovely ruby red flowers. This does quite well sheltered in the corner, though it's a bit overwhelmed by the sweet rocket this year.

The lawn is huge so I'm trying to break it up a bit, but it still needs to not take too much work.  So, I'm started with some wee trees, planted by the lovely Mrs Orkney Flowers.

This corner gets lots of sun and I planted it with some wildflowers last year which seem to be quite happy here, if a little over exhuberant!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Sunrise surprise!

Well clearly the sunrise itself isn't a surprise. I am reliably informed it happens daily. No, the surprise is that I caught the sunrise AFTER the solstice at 4am this morning.  Thanks to Madam Button who brought me a solstice "gift" at that time..... just be glad I didn't photograph THAT or take a video of her eating it once I had firmly declined!

This was the best of the sun for the whole day.  Mostly rain.....bah! Where's summer?!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Summer Solstice

Today is the longest day of the year. Sunrise was at 4am.and sunset will be at 22.30.  However it's been fairly cloudy today though the sun did break through a little this afternoon.  So no summer solstice picture of sun for you today.  Instead you will have to make do with some taking during the month of June.  I love watching the sunset from the conservatory windows.  Sunrise I am less familiar with, NOT being a morning person, so the solitary picture I took of sunrise and posted last week is it!

Um yes all these were taken from outside the "back door" of the house. I'm too darned lazy to walk too far even for a sunset photo!

I love it when it is slightly misty too. The sunset looks ethereal

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Boats, cows, sunrise and chocolate...

But not all on the same day! Above is the sun rising behind Hoy High lighthouse. This was taken outside the back door - Madam Button had woken me after a night out and I wondered what the glow through the window was. It's so rare I see a sunrise I grabbed my camera and tottered outside in my pyjams to take this photo. Enjoy it - you won't see many sunrises on MY blog!

We've had some sunny days, and it is getting warmer but we've also had quite a lot of grey cloudy day. Bah! Don't like those.  But the garden is getting on with it anyway and here are some of the flowers in bloom, I'm from the "chaotic" gardener school - if it grows it stays....though sadly I've had to slaughter a lot of red campion this year as it got a bit over exuberant.

And through the grey cloud the sun does peak.  This is taken from the conservatory reflecting through this beautiful shell and glass hanging made by my lovely friend P in the USA. Wait till she sees the shells and coral on our beach :-)

I love looking out this window and watching the light play on the sea, clouds scud across the sky, boats going in and out of the harbour, plus birdies sitting on the fence. Lots of swallows around, and this year I've noticed a lot of linnets too. This male linnet was singing to me the other night!

And I mentioned boats...... here are some kayakers from Kirkwall had paddled over from Stromness one evening.  In this photo you can see them coming close to the Graemsay shore near my house, and in the distance you maybe can see some white triangles - the Stromness Sailing Club was out that night too, and all had to navigate round the big ferry the Hamnavoe as it came into harbour for the night!

The sea was flat calm that night and the tide was coming in. They were planning to paddle down to Houton, down the coast after laving Graemsay.

I went and said hallo to them as I'd seen them coming in. |I think I startled them! Poor chaps out for a quiet evening paddle to Graemsay and the wee wifie from Sandside calls by for a chat!  I was telling them there were groatie buckies among the shells (much prized tiny cowrie shells) so I left them searching for some. I'd tole them the story that we tell the children - you can't leave the beach till you've found one!

And I mentioned cows....

Actually they are last year's calves and so are strictly speaking steers and heifers. A neighbouring farmer uses my field for summer grazing so these young stock are in the field for a while.  The first day or two they were very skittish and running about everytime I stuck my head outside the door, the hens wandered about, or poor Button went out for a pee! But they've settled down now, though are still very inquisitive.

And mentioning dear Button. Here she is sunbathing. She'd had a traumatic morning. We both had. It was time for her annual injections and health check at the vet in Stromness. So that meant I had to wake her up and dump her in her box, poor thing, not impressed. Then get the 8.25 ferry to Stromness, and then car ride to Kirkwall (about 25 minutes away)....she swore at me the entire journey!  The vet was happy with her - she'd lost some weight (yay the diet is working!), and appears quite healthy. She had her injections, then I left her to go into the cat kennel for an hour while I dashed round the library, bank, and supermarket, before picking her up again (she'd been sleeping so not too distressed then!) and back for the 12 noon ferry. She's not happy on the boat, quite fretful. So next year I might see if I can get her checked when the vet is out to a local farm. We'll see how that goes. Anyway she's none the worse for it all, and even *I* have recovered now!

And I mentioned chocolate? Well I went over to Hoy where a cafe there is doing evening meals. Beneth'ill Cafe has been open a while but just started on evening meals.  So I met up with a friend who lives on Hoy for an evening out. The meal was delicious, and the dessert was the best - chocolate samosas with cream and strawberries. Yum!  I'll leave you with this......

And if that's a little too rich for you, how about this - honeycomb parfait with shortbread and raspberries! Enjoy!