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Sunday, 21 February 2010

Snow Cat

Yesterday was beautiful with a thin layer of snow crunching beneath footfall. Button decided I needed to go for a walk with her. She has a very demanding tone which she uses as she stands outside the door - "Get your boots and coat on and get some fresh air, woman!" So we set off to to walk along the shore. Above is Sandside Bay, with snow dusting the Hoy Hills behind - looking all the world like a Christmas Pudding with a dusting of sugar - where's the Holly?

Below Button was finding it tedious that I kept stopping to take photos. This just goes to show that she has good thermal insulation - it's SNOW she is lying on not sand!

The tide was coming in and melting the snow. Fascinating to watch......

And Button clearly thought the above picture lacked some focus - so she provided it.....

Below are some oystercatchers keeping their feet out of the icy water - who can blame them

And - er - here is Button trying to work out how she can get to the aforementioned oystercatchers...... sigh..... she is far too curious for her own good!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Icy morning

Friday was a "day in town". It was a beautiful frosty morning, still, clear and bright in Stromness. So I decided to take a drive out to Stenness and go for a walk along the shore of the loch before my morning appointments. The loch has "brackish" water as it's also fed from the sea, so an element of salt is in it, however it still freezes. The best photos were from the top of the hill but I couldn't stop the car as there was traffic behind so had to content myself with "ground level" photos.

Despite some ice the swans were still able to swim around the loch. In the background you can see the neolithic stone circle of the Ring of Brodgar.

And this is an optical illusion - it is two stones from the Standing Stone circle at Stenness. The sun was shining on Stromness and the West Mainland but in the East were snow clouds gathering and I drove into Kirkwall in a blizzard!

But on returning to Stromness - not a snow flake in sight! Below is the ferry, Hamnavoe, which travels between Stromness and Scrabster in the North of Scotland. As you can see - the ferry dwarfs the town buildings.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Stone circles

Orkney has a number of examples of standing stones and stone circles. Don't think "Stonehenge" here - not massive blocks, but still impressive "henges" in their own right. Last week I went for a wander around the Standing Stones of Stenness (dating from around 3,100 BC) and the Neolithic Ring of Brodgar (dating from around 2,500 to 2000 BC). I love visiting these in the winter as I get them to myself! In the summer I must share them with visitors. The Stones of Stenness, Ring of Brodgar and Maeshowe are all within about a mile of each other. Great monuments which blend in among the landscape and modern houses of today.

One of the Stones of Stenness, with the Hoy Hills in the background

In the background over the top of one of the smaller Stones of Stenness you can just make out the domed shape of Maeshowe a Neolithic chambered cairn.

Below are some of the stones from the Ring of Brodgar

Around the Ring of Brodgar are other mounds which have yet to be excavated - you can just make one out to the right of the standing stone below. Again the Hoy Hills in the background.

The stones are covered in moss and lichens which follow the strata of the stones

Symbols of the past and present - on the horizon you can see the wind turbines of Burgar Hill.

There is talk that the Ring of Bookan has some funding for an archeological dig to take place this year. Archaeologists will also be continuing last year's excavation on the Ness of Brodgar. So the land in this area still has some secrets to yield.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Frosty day

I've realised I haven't posted here for quite a few days. A combination of laziness, lethargy and SAD I think. However today I awoke to blue skies, sunshine - and a wonderful crispy frosty morning. I went for a walk along the beach and listened to the waves gently lapping the shoreline. The air was so still that noises from the town drifted across the water. The sound of many geese came from over the hill and shore birds twittered as I moved across the sand. Oooh bliss......... so here are some "frosty morning" photos. In the photo above you can just see ice clinging to the top of the Hoy Hills.

Below is frozen seaweed! The usually soft sand in the dunes was frozen solid, and seaweed and sand crunched underfoot as I walked.

In the warmth of the morning sun the frost melted to beautiful sparkling droplets of water.

These were my companions this morning, twittering cheerfully in the warmth of the sun