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Friday, 22 February 2008

Beware the toast that has no ears....

No I have no idea what that means, but I saw it on a mug in a friend’s house and it made me smile and given my adventures with a bread maker seemed appropriate. Having said that, my first loaf turned out very well and I have eaten most of it already. But I just tried making an apple and walnut cake and um… let’s just say my hens will be using it as ballast to avoid being blown away in the gale that is battering the island at the moment. I got a little too daring and meddled with the ingredients and I know where I went wrong…….. tomorrow I’ll try bread again – herb bread to be exact.

Today I was over in town for a meeting – the weather has been atrocious, South Westerly gale force winds with squally showers, high seas etc, add this to the high spring tide and there’s a lot of water about. Fortunately the Graemsay pier is fairly sheltered from the Westerly wind so our ferry sailed despite most other ferries in Orkney being cancelled. Also Graemsay is in fairly sheltered waters in Scapa Flow so it has to be very very bad for our skipper not to sail, or the wind in the wrong direction.

However folk with houses on the piers in Stromness were a little anxious as the tide was so high. If the wind had been from the South East there could have been quite a bit of flooding in the town. I once worked with someone who had a house on a pier in town and extensive flooding was forecast due to tide and wind. So they put sandbags around the doors and windows and hoped for the best. There they were sitting drinking a cup of tea and noticed the carpet move in a corner. The water was coming up *underneath* the house, not through the doors or windows. Seemingly that’s what happens on the piers in Stromness, the water somehow seeps up through the stone foundations. They ended up removing the sandbags to sweep the water *out* of the house.

On Graemsay flooding is only a problem on the road. The Links (sand dunes) have a tarmac road running through them which is the main access to the pier. Quite often after storms it’s only passable by tractors, what with the stones and boulders thrown up by the sea, the sand swept up off the beach, seaweed and water sloshing about.

The island sea defences take a battering every winter but little is done by the local authority to repair damage, just patch-up jobs each year. There has been talk of re-routing our “main highway” but who knows if that will ever happen. The main road on Graemsay were originally made up as access roads to the two lighthouses, the rest being rough tracks. Over the years more road got adopted by the local authority as access to the school was needed. However it is all single track road with no passing places – so drivers learn to look a long way ahead to avoid reversing back to the nearest gate or wider part of the road. There are verges along the road but these also hide *very* deep ditches so I always try and avoid driving onto the verge in case my car disappears into the ditch!

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