We did have some respite from the wind yesterday afternoon and evening, but this morning the wind got up again and is currently raging outside. The Orkney Harbours website registered 75mph gusts within the last hour at the "Barrel of Butter" - which is the nearest measurement point relative to Graemsay's position. The Barrel of Butter is in Scapa Flow - so named (I think) as in days long past it was used by fishermen when they used to kill seals for meat etc. I think most of the work was carried out on the small islet and "a barrel of butter" was the cost of using the land! Paid to the Laird no doubt.
Anyway I digress, yet again. So - it's blooming windy out there. Today is the Winter Solstice - Sunrise was at 0904 this morning and sunset was at 1515 this afternoon - though it has been dark much of the day due to wind/rain/cloud etc. London got about 90 minutes more daylight than us with sunrise at 0804 and sunset at 1554.
Usually I go for a walk to celebrate the solstices but today was just too darned windy! However I will light a candle tonight..... In the old times winter was very difficult for people (no change there then...). The growing season had ended and people had to live off stored food and whatever animals they had. People were apparently troubled that when the life-giving sun sank lower on the Winter Solstice that it would disappear forever and leave them in permanent darkness and extreme cold. So they would light a Yule Candle to "call back the sun" during the longest night of the year. After the solstice they would celebrate as they saw the sun rising and strengthening once more. Although many months of cold weather lay ahead they took heart that the return of the warm sun was inevitable. I can so relate to that way of thinking!
At Maeshowe in Orkney the sun illuminates the chamber in the cairn for a few minutes during the winter solstice. More information here: http://www.maeshowe.co.uk/index.html
There's usually a live camera to capture the event but it didn't get that much this year due to the weather!