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Sunday, 30 September 2012

More chicks....

One of the Light Sussex Hens has hatched a couple of chicks this week. They are very sweet!  Here they are at a day old.....aahhhh!   And no the one on the right is not a Ninja chick!  It's the result of taking a moving object in low light without flash ;-)

These photos were taken when they were literally only a few hours out of the egg. All nicely dried off and fluffy. But already the mother hen is teaching them to eat, and they get the idea very quickly. Just as well or they would not survive!

The mother hen keeps them safe and warm under her feathers as their little fluffy bodies are not waterproof. But even after a few days I can see feathers developing.  The mother hen is taking them out and they are already foraging for food themselves - though within range of "Mum".

Sorry for lack of posts!  Just a bit busy at the moment with work and life etc.  Back soon....

Monday, 24 September 2012

Looking upon Graemsay.....

This photo was NOT taken by me (!) but is from the top of Ward Hill on Hoy. You can see Graemsay in the top of the photo and Hoy High lighthouse.  The photo was taken by John Aberdein, a local writer (among other accomplishments) who lives on Hoy. He has climbed Ward Hill many times. He kindly said I could use this photo that I saw on his Facebook page. I hope he doesn't mind me using his description of it either.

"It's the top of Ward Hill, Hoy, the biggest bump in Orkney. Only 1500 feet, so a flea-bite compared to the Cairngorms, which "brought me up", as it were. The rock is shattered by gale and frost so it's an arctic-alpine environment.

The Ward Hill's mountain hare in its whiteness is the largest native mammal in Orkney. There used to be red deer, but only because they were imported. They cleared crofters to the shore, built two shooting lodges, imported deer from Scotland, and advertised for toffs with guns. Then they dealt with the deer problem.

The view is looking across to Graemsay and mainland Orkney, with the Atlantic out west to the left and Scapa Flow, the largest enclosed area of sea in the world after Pearl Harbour, stretching to the right."

Sunday, 23 September 2012

A sail around Hoy to Graemsay.....

Well I was out partying on the Autumn equinox so no photos from then. But here are a few from the following morning when I was sailing back to Graemsay on our wee ferry. It was a beautiful still morning. Magic!  Hope the rest of Autumn is like this...... ok delusional again..... gales forecast for this week....

Hoy Low lighthouse, with the World Word II gun battery outside the walls.

The World War II gun battery at Moaness, Hoy. Both these were protecting the entrance to Scapa Flow.

Near Moaness Pier on Hoy, beneath the hill (Ward Hill).

Reflections of the Hoy Hills near the pier at Moaness.

And opposite, some ruined crofts on Graemsay

Close up of part of Ward Hill - you can see a house in the bottom of the photo which gives an idea of scale.

Burra Sound, between Hoy and Graemsay. The Hoy cliffs in the background. I just loved the clouds reflecting on the still water.....

It's well camoflaged but you can just see the turf roof of the old house, Scarratain, on Graemsay with it's outbuildings about to slip onto the shore.

And coming into the pier at Graemsay with Hoy (Sound) High lighthouse and Stromness in the background.

And there were a huge flock of shags just off Hoy too - lots of these were juveniles.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Autumn arrives.....

....rather early and with high winds and lots of rain. Actually there was a bad storm while I was away in Dorset. I feared for the house! Or at least debris flying into windows.  Towards the end of September I start packing away anything in the garden that might fly about, and anything outside (eg garden bench) that might get damaged or cause damage.  However the first storm of Autumn arrived in EARLY September and caught me unawares!  Fortunately the house was fine and all windows remained intact, as did the garden benches.  As you can see above, our reward is a lovely sunset......

However my poor peas and broad beans took a battering.  Fortunately I had harvested a large number of broad beans before my holiday and they are safely in the freezer.  But I didn't get a single pea this year - sob!

There are sheep in my field behind the house. These belong to a neighbour, and I do like to see livestock in the field. The house was once a busy farmhouse and it's sad to see the yard silent, so I like to see my hens bustling about and some stock in the field.

This hen has three "chicks" that are almost as big as her now!  I've managed to control the "hen production" this year and have only 5 chicks.  Not sure how many are hens yet.....

There are lots of berries on the St John's Wort and on the rosa rugosa too.

Though it's been a tough time in Orkney (as in the rest of the UK) for farmers and their crops. The hay was very late being gathered on the island this year.

And the weather is very changeable with beautiful still days like the photo at the top of the post, or blustery days with the sea frothing and foaming as it is caught by the wind or crashes onto the shore.

Time to hunker down now that the days are getting shorter and there is a chill in the air. But I must remember to stick my nose out the window at night as there was a fine display of the "Merry Dancers" (Northern Lights) last night while I was sleeping!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Last of the holiday snaps....

Here are a few random pictures of Lyme Regis. I just loved the harbour and the buildings around the town.

Here you can just see the Cobb along the shoreline

This boat is called a "gig" and Lyme Regis has a very active gig racing club. It was great to watch the boats out in the bay.

Colourful fishing nets around the harbour

These pink cottages are on many a postcard. You can imagine Jane Austen walking through the door of one. However they were built after her visit to Lyme so sadly it's not likely to have been a reality.

Seen from the promenade below.

Pink is clearly a popular colour for houses along te promenade!  This house had quite unusual architectural features - not least the rather elaborate drain pipes!

And that's the end of my Lyme Regis adventure.  No this picture isn't of a tropical island but of the shore just along from Lyme Regis.... who needs the Caribbean!

Below is a picture of the apartment block we stayed in. If you're looking to stay in the town I do recommend Lyme Bay Holiday company.

Right - now time to drag my mind from the memory of warm sunshine to the cool autumnal weather in Orkney!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

And more from Dorset...

We paid a visit to Forde Abbey while in Dorset.  This is still a family run home and estate. The house began life as a Medieval Monastery before being turned into a country estate. The architecture is still very reminiscent of ecclesiastical buildings.  The gardens are beautiful, even at the end of Summer they are a riot of colour.

A small lake has a magnificent fountain that is one of the highest I've seen.

And grazing contentedly on the lawn was "Twiglet", the old family pony. He's 46 years old!! He was oblivious to all the visitors, just happily munching on the lovely grass.

And on the subject of four legged creatures....we also visited the Dorset Donkey Sanctuary.  I came soooo close to adopting two donkeys.....

If it wasn't for the fact they don't do well in rain (their coats aren't waterproof), I would have had two shipped up to Graemsay immediately!!  I just love donkeys!  OK, they make a bit of noise, but they are such lovely creatures.

At the sanctuary you could "meet and greet" donkeys in the yard. They loved having their heads and backs scratched!  These two were doing some mutual grooming....

The Donkeys with "special needs" were in a barn nearby, but also had access to outdoors. These donkeys need extra feeds or medication.

And were quite happy to chat through the fence!

The hairy donkey reminded me of Highland Cattle, but is actually an unusual French breed.  It's companion is a mule I think.....

I mean - how can you resist fluffy lugs (ears) like these??

But I did, somehow,  largely by being bodily dragged from the sanctuary before I could sign the adoption form.....sigh.....

Saturday, 15 September 2012

More on Dorset & Devon

As well as exploring Lyme Regis while on holiday, we also visited some of the surrounding villages. Lyme Regis is in Dorset but on the border with county of Devon. Two of the very prettiest villages in East Devon that we visited are Beer and Branscombe. Both had winding roads leading to them, and a plethora of thatched houses and "chocolate box" views down to the beach.

Beer was a bustling large-ish village with a main street winding down to the shore. (see photo at top of post). There were the usual mixture of old houses, some with a thatched roof.

Unusually, Beer had a small stream running alongside the road down to the shore too. You had to watch when stepping out of your car!

The beach is quintessentially English too with deck chairs........

And beach huts (these are really large sheds along a beach which can only be used during the day). Useful if you have a family as shelter if at the beach for the day, to make a "brew" (no electricity or water but often calor gas camping stoves are used).  Many will be individualised too.  Some around the coast of England are in private ownership and are sold for vast amounts! Others are rented from the local authority.

And of course there are plenty of boats, often used for fishing trips......

Then there was the lovely village of Branscombe, also in Devon.  This had a lovely Norman Church (as with most villages and towns, the church was the centre of the place).

The road was winding and lined by beautiful houses down to the shore again. Unfortunately it was such a narrow lane we couldn't stop the car to take pictures.  But I *did* manage to snap this most stunning cottage with beautiful traditional "cottage garden" flowers out front.

And again there were boats ....

We also paid a quick visit to the town of Seaton to go on the electric tramway that runs through the Axe Valley. It was lovely being on the top deck, though it was a HOT sunny day and I felt like a broiled lobster by the time we got back!

The tram takes you 3 miles along the valley to the station, where there is a gift shop and, most importantly, a tea shop too!

Along the way we followed the estuary and passed another pretty village.

As well as picturesque villages we also briefly visited the county town of Devon, Exeter. Exeter is full of history too, but we were meeting up with a friend who lives in the city for lunch, so didn't spend too much time sight-seeing.  Exeter has a beautiful cathedral

Lots of lovely cafes and restaurants (we tried the one on the right which was great).

And, of course, opportunities for retail therapy...... I fell in love with these shoes..... I *almost* bought them....but I couldn't think of a single occasion when I could wear them!  NOT practical for getting on and off a boat, walking the flagged streets of Stromness, negotiating stairs at home, or dancing to "Strip the Willow" in the Graemsay Hall.  So, despite them being comfortable, and YES I could walk in them, they remained on the shelf.....sigh...

Ah well that's it for today....a few more photos to come..... I shall go off and continue to dream of shiny red shoes.....