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Sunday, 2 March 2008

A calm day at last!

Finally the wind has dropped! I have just been out for a refreshing walk along the shore. I think I was beginning to get “cabin fever” from not being able to go outdoors.

It seems it was quite a storm on Friday night, with winds from the North. Fortunately there doesn’t seem to be any damage reported on the island or to my house. BUT my telephone seems to no longer be working. Thankfully broadband seems OK today. It may be sometime before I get the phone working as the telephone engineers have to schedule in a half-day visit to the island for a job that may only take minutes – so I doubt I will be a high priority! At least the phone company have diverted my phone calls free of charge to my mobile, and I can use Skype (internet phone) for outgoing calls as long as the broadband service holds up.

I’ve been able to catch up on jobs that are impossible when it’s windy, such as putting the rubbish out in the shed, and filling the car with petrol. On Graemsay we have no petrol pumps so each household has fuel brought over in “gerry cans”. Petrol in Orkney is the most expensive in the UK, and Graemsay beats that too as we have to pay for delivery of the petrol, and pay for an account at the local garage. And one has to remember which day the empty cans get sent over to Stromness to be filled and returned the next day as obviously there are strict controls for health and safety reasons. Other Orkney islands have Ro-Ro ferries and can take cars back and forth to the mainland and can either fill up with petrol there or some islands have fuel pumps in the island village, however on Graemsay “filling up with petrol” is not so easy. Also I cannot lift the full gerry cans, so I have to get someone to decant the petrol into smaller cans that I can then use to fill the car or lawnmower. None of which can be done on a windy day!!

I keep an “island car” on Graemsay – we don’t need to have MOTs (certificates of roadworthiness) on the island so it is usually quite an elderly car. But I also keep a car on the Orkney Mainland as I like the convenience of being able to drive wherever I want to go, and it’s useful as a shopping trolley too!

It’s a similar story with fuel for heating systems such as kerosene. The large tankers come through from Kirkwall and fill a small 1000 litre tank on the pier in Stromness, then it is shipped over on a certain day when no other fuel is being transported, and lifted onto the back of a trailer. A neighbour then brings it up to the house and it is pumped into m own oil tank at the back of the house. It means I need to keep a careful check on the fuel when it is getting low as there are only certain days the fuel can be delivered, and there are only two 1000 fuel tanks, so if other neighbours are having fuel deliveries (including diesel for tractors etc) then I might have to wait another week. However so far it’s all worked out OK.


  1. Island living does force one to take notice of things that are taken for granted on the mainland.

    How do you get your broadband hookup? Satellite?

  2. No, it's via a microwave link from the local telephone exchange. It is usually pretty stable which is surprising considering it's a small dish stuck on a pole open to all the elements!