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Saturday, 22 January 2011


Yes I'm still here, and no I haven't posted for a while.  All's well but I'm just very busy with work at the moment and have little free time.  Plus because I spend most of my work time at the computer I'm trying *not* to spend free time here too. Anyway some randomness......

Above is a photo that, for me anyway, holds the promise of spring, with some daffodil bulbs just peeking through the earth, and the cockerel, a symbol of fertility of course.  I have mixed feelings about "daffs" or narcissi, they are reminiscent of municipal planting and surbuban gardens, but in Orkney Spring is late and the daffs are a bright cheerful flower after the dark days of winter.

And here is a photo taken today of a bright brave primula in the walled garden.  I can see various of the perennials beginning to green up again so I'm hopeful of lots of wonderful flowers in the summer to attract the birds, insects, butterflies (are they insects?) and to gladden the heart!

January - I struggle in January. I'm never exactly a "high-energy person" anyway and have never "done" winter well.  Even when I lived in the South-East of England.  But although there is less light in Orkney in Winter than "south" I can at least live my life more in tune with the rhythms of nature. Working from home I can get up later, and work later etc.  But my energy is low in January. So I search eagerly for signs of Spring even though, for Orkney, it is several months away yet!

But - the days are slowly lengthening. Not much difference in the mornings yet, but yesterday coming back from shopping in town I was able to comfortably drive home without lights, and get into the house without a torch at 4.30.  Sunrise here is 8.42 (London 0753) and sunset is 1602 (London 1632). 

Button is on a diet - well not that she really needs to lose weight but am trying not to let her gain any more. So nobody tell her the new food in her bowl is *diet food*!  Last time I tried cutting down her food she just brought in several LIVE mice and released them in protest....... so this time she should get the same amount and not notice..... no doesn't work for me either but it's worth a try......

Right- back to work!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Sunset or Volcano?

I love sunsets as you will have gathered if you follow my blog! I just love the way each one is unique depending on the position of the sun, clouds, light, etc.  Last night's sunset was magnificent. It looked like the wonderful hills of Hoy were a raging volcano!

As you can see we've had a light snowfall again this weekend. Most of it has thawed on Graemsay this morning although the Hoy Hills and Orkney Mainland are still covered in a blanket.

Meanwhile water continues to flow through the taps so I continue to rejoice after it's Christmas/New Year absence!

Note: A professional photographic artist, Rebecca Marr, who lives in Stromness, has some brilliant images of Orkney and other parts of Scotland on her website. I recommend you take a look here.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Sunrise, Sunset...

...but no eclipse.....  I've been watching BBC TV's Stargazing Live programmes this week.  So yes I knew all about today's eclipse of the sun by the moon AND it was at a reasonable time (around 9am), but I didn't get myself set up to watch/film it.  So you will have to look here for photos (or on the BBC website above).

There was, however, a beautiful sunrise and cloud effect (see above), followed by a lovely sunset (see below). At this time of year I can take the sunrise AND sunset out of the same window.  Today sunrise was at 0904 in Orkney, and sunset was at 1526. But s-l-o-w-l-y the days will lengthen now. Yippee!!

Monday, 3 January 2011


OK it's deepest darkest January but I need a reminder of summer sun and abundance! So here are some "before" and "after" pictures of the walled garden which I've been renovating over the last 18 months (with the help of Arthur of Fillets and his digger, tractor, plough and harrow!).

First a "before"! This part of the garden used to be a silage pit many years ago, and in recent years held sheep during the lambing season.

And another one....the rough grass and weeds were killed and burned off.

Then last spring the borders were planted with perennials, trees and shrubs. Here are some in their first summer

And a bright fresh "lawn" and the veggie patch, which produced a wonderful crop.

In the autumn I put plastic silage matting on to prevent weed growth in the veggie patch. I'm hoping this will enable me to get the weed growth in flower borders under control early spring and then be ready to plant veg again late Spring.

I have one more border to plant up, as the stone dyke at the front of the garden was repaired during an island "workshop" in June last year, as regular readers will remember! (see more here and here)

And after.....
So lots of work to do in the Spring and Summer!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Water problems continue for some....

Firstly - Happy New Year to everyone and may 2011 be a great year for you!

Now back to water....sigh.... Scottish Water workmen restored the water supply to our island storage tank on Hogmanay, but by this time a number of households and farms had completely run dry. My water continues to flow, however several households are still without water. We *think* the problem is that air locks are preventing water going to some of these houses (which are the same ones as ran dry). Unfortunately there are no scheduled ferries to the island this weekend, but we are hoping that an engineer will come out on scheduled run from Stromness tomorrow and sort out the remaining problems.  Meanwhile neighbours are distributing water to those in need, and the water storage tank continues to fill up.  It's hoped that once the water tank (which also ran completely dry) gets above a certain level, another pump can be switched on which may increase the pressure and help move on some of the air locks. Meanwhile I am grateful that I live at the bottom of the hill and still have water! Graemsay may only be 65 ft above sea level at it's highest point but that's just enough to give me excellent water pressure.

The rest of "New Year" went well.  Most of the island went up to Fillets, the farm on the hill, for Hogmany and to see in the new year. Lots of food and whisky flowed freely! Yesterday it was "first footing" around the island and in the evening another wee party at Breckan, where again food and whisky flowed freely.

I only made one New Year's resolution : to Have More Fun in 2011!! Hope you all do too.....!