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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Short videos of Orkney (and Scotland)

For those of you unfamiliar with Orkney (or indeed Scotland), here are some short videos.

The group of three share some similar scenes but focus on different aspects of Orkney

This one is about living and working in Orkney (about 12 minutes long)

The next one is on Orkney culture (can't embed this one so click on link below, about 10 minutes long).

And this one on Orkney history (again I can't embed in this blog so click on the link below, again about 10 minutes long)

And finally, one from Scotland - a bird's eye tour of some of the majestic views around mainland Scotland and some of the islands.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Summer is drawing to a close.....

September has been a good month for weather! It's lovely to feel the last of the summer warmth, and watch the shadows lengthen as the Autumn equinox approached.  Above are some fuschia bushes, willow trees and a honeysuckle peering over the dry stone dyke in the garden.  These are in a "shrub" border on the other side of the dyke - they have to brave the fierce North winds of Winter.  Hoy High lighthouse can be seen between the gap. My nearest neighbours.....

Meanwhile Button enjoy snoozing on the garden bench outside the front door. I love sitting here and having my morning "cuppa".  It will soon be put into the shed to protect it from the worst of the winter gales.  But we make the most of it while we can, both of us.

And some fluffy clouds in a blue sky

I love dandelion clocks! I remember blowing them as a child - they were never very accurate but I didn't mine. Time has a different meaning as a child does it?!

And they are just so *pretty* and delicate....

Ok so you get MORE dandelions.....but that doesn't stop them being pretty!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Referendum over....

Stromness Polling Station
The referendum is over and as anyone following it will know, there was a majority vote against independence.  The turnout throughout Scotland was great - over 80%.  That is extraordinary and much higher than for a General Election.

The Westminster Government have made a number of promises to the people of Scotland about giving more devolved powers. Promises made to try and keep Scotland within the Union.  We'll see how they pan out, but I suspect if they renege on them there will be trouble ahead.

Those voting for Scottish Independence vow to continue campaigning on and there is talk of another referendum in a few years.

But for now it would be great to keep up the level of political engagement that the referendum brought and take that forward to the next Westminster and Scottish elections.

I voted in Stromness. Most isles residents get a postal vote but mine didn't appear so I went to town to vote.  The town was buzzing with lots of folk clutching their polling cards (you can vote without them but it saves time).

After voting I went into Julia's cafe for breakfast and folk were discussing in very good natured terms the pros and cons of independence, and how folk thought the vote would go.  It was great to have such good natured discussion.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Scottish Independence Referendum

The Saltire is the national flag of Scotland, proudly displayed throughout the land on public buildings, car stickers and many flag poles.  It's also currently all over the TV, newspapers and social media because of the forthcoming Scottish Independence Referendum on Thursday 18th September. I won't provide any links - just Google it and you will be overwhelmed with information (or disinformation!).

I also won't say how I am voting and I won't say much about it on my blog. But to not acknowledge what is going on would be strange as it is such an historic occasion.  Currently the polls have both the Yes (in favour of Independence) and No (against Independence) almost neck and neck, and depending on the day and the source either one in the lead by a couple of points.  It will be a close run thing, with just 51% needed to decide the vote.  With the vote being so close (according to the polls anyway) whatever the outcome there will be challenging times ahead as nearly half the country will not be getting the result it wanted.

As the saying goes "We live in interesting times".

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Home again....

Truth to tell I've been back a few days, but just now taking a breather and some time to catch up here. I've been away on holiday down "south" to London and Exmouth in Devon.  I'll post photos of that adventure sometime in the coming weeks...... I enjoy going away, but it's good to come home. And there have been blue skies and warm sunshine on my return.  A lovely end to the summer.

Meantime I arrived home just as our ferry developed engine problems.  So we've had a week of uncertainty with various replacement boats brought in to get people home, children to and from school etc.  We currently have the MV Golden Marianna, which should still be running between the more Northerly of the Orkney islands of Westray and Papa Westray.  However it's been brought to do the run between Stromness, Graemsay and Hoy until our own ferry is back working. Currently a reconditioned engine is being put in, or so the story goes.

One slight problem for me is that before I went on holiday I'd run my heating oil low so that a neighbour could fix a new valve onto the tank. So I'd ordered a fresh tank of oil to be delivered this week. Unfortunately the replacement vessel for cargo has a weight limit so couldn't bring the tank over. However a drum of oil has been delivered so that should keep me going fora while.  Actually the weather is quite warm at the moment, but I like to be prepared for the inevitable change!

Hopefully our ferry will be back at full capacity soon.  It's also coming to the time of year when the island farmers are wanting to ship lambs and cattle over to the mart in Kirkwall so the ferry will be busy over the next few weeks.

Which reminds me, just before I went on holiday one of the local farmers had a bull to send off to the Orkney Mainland.  He had a cow to keep him company on the voyage, but he seemed peacable enough.  Bloomin' big, but peacable!  I took this photo from the safety of a vehicle...just in case!

Up up and away!

Ready for his sail to Stromness.....

And now for the final sunset of summer. I took these photos just before I headed south and while I was away the sun snuck behind Graemsay to set, on it's way to hiding behind the Hoy Hills for winter.....sigh.....

Look, we could roll it down the hill like a giant cheese.

Night Night sun....