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Sunday, 26 April 2015

A walk down the street (part 1)



I thought you might like to come on a different walk for a change, so come with me down the street in Stromness.  It's my favourite town (NEVER call it a village!).  Population just short of 2,000 I think.  And one main street with shops and businesses, and wee lanes leading up the way, and on the other side, wee piers leading to the harbour. There's lots to see so we'll take our time.

Above is a taster, a glimpse through the gateway to the Pier Arts Centre and a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth, beyond is the entrance to the harbour.

Now we seem to start rather inauspiciously with this photo, but it hides great excitement - these signs are on our new library (more interesting pictures later) which is soon to open. Fantastic news when so many libraries around the UK are struggling with funding and facing closure.  I also love the signs, when you step out this door turn left for Victoria Street, and right for John Street. Both meet here. Ha! Wonder what the history of THAT is....


And here are "roadworks" in the main street. Actually new flagstones are being laid after all the building work for the new library.  The flagstones are traditional and are from a stone quarry outside Stromness where the original flags would have been sourced.  The work is going on outside one of my favourite shops in town, Wisharts.  Inside this "tin hut" is an Aladdin's Cave where you can buy anything from decorating supplies, to kitchen utensils, light bulbs, bird food, rodent poison, and "widgets". Indeed you can buy widgets individually!  What are widgets? Well they are what I call odd little screws and such like that tend to hold the fabric of life together.  I just wander in with a broken widget and ask for a replacement and as if by magic, exactly what I want is produced.  No sharp sucking in of breath, or shaking of the head and a "Ooooh they went out years ago". Nope, they've never let me down yet!


As we walk past the roadworks, daffodils nod happily despite appearing to be "in jail". They are in the garden of the Town House, now used as council offices, but always presumably some sort of "municipal building".


Now we need to watch our toes as we walk down the street because this is also the "main road" through the town.  NOT to be driven by the faint hearted and I usually avoid driving down it unless absolutely necessary. Because despite being one vehicle wide it is, in fact, two way!  Much manouvering and reversing may be required... So pedestrians need to keep an eye out! On the right is my hairdresser, Orcadia Cuts, and on the left the Pier Arts Centre (we're just about to walk past Barbara H's sculpture on the left)


And here we are outside "Soft Pink", the local florist, and a great place to get locally grown plants too. AND they deliver to our boat!


And here is another of my favourite shops, one of the "Quernstone" shops, run by Elaine Bentley.  I love the colours and fabrics in this shop. Lovely knitwear and lots of gorgeous "bits and bobs". Elaine is used to me chatting to her as I wander round getting my "colour therapy"!


The shop has quite a history and used to be an ice cream parlour and coffee house run by an Italian family many years ago. The sign remains....


Here's another glimpse down onto one of the piers....


We're now outside one of the local hotels, the Orca (the proper name for killer whales), with Orca bones outside the door and the town is sheltered enough to have trees! To the right is Andrew Appleby's shop, selling pottery he makes out at his studio in Harray - he's known as the original "Harray Potter". Hee hee!


And a view of a lovely row of houses on one of the piers, with the Stromness lifeboat moored in the harbour ready for immediate action (all by volunteers).


I have yet to find out WHAT lies behind this peedie (small) door, and the significance of the old sign set into the wall above it....


And opposite the door is Church Road. There are THREE churches (or kirks as they are more usually called in Scotland). Up on the left out of sight is a former church which is now known as the Town Hall where concerts, parties, plays and other events take place. The local fringe cinema operates from here too.  On the right  halfway up the hill is another small church still in use, and up the top of the hill, the Community Centre which was also a church at one time.  There was a huge split in the Church of Scotland many years ago, hence so many "kirks" in one wee town.


Now we are at the Bank of Scotland. A solid looking building from a time when banks were - er - solid!


And opposite another glimpse down onto a pier into the harbour....


And another kirk! This is the main Church of Scotland kirk in Stromness with regular services and events. The Minister and some of the congregation travel out to Graemsay every few weeks to hold a service in the community hall for those Graemsay folk wishing to attend.


And here is an interesting piece of history. A "fishery barometer" dating from the 1850s, recently restored.  It was used to give weather information to guide local fisherman and seafarer's. Apparently the information was telegraphed to a London office!  And now we stand in the street with our mobile phones checking the weather for the moment for our exact location! Um..... okay.... the weather is horizontal today...sigh.... I hate technology sometimes....


Moving swiftly on...oooh look someone has their washing out!  You can't feel inhibited living in a town with a very public washing line!


And I think we'll take a break for today just outside Cream, a great shop that sells lots of made by local artists, as well as fun recycled stuff.  Up to the right is a small delicatessen that has delicious fresh coffee "to go" so shall we pop up there now for a coffee and carry on again tomorrow?




27 comments:

  1. What a treat! Thanks so much for this.

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    1. I think you will enjoy tomorrow's episode as there are a couple of artists featured!

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  2. I read your blog regularly - it's great! We've just booked to visit Orkney this summer so I'll be paying special attention from now on.
    Anabel's Travel Blog
    Adventures of a retired librarian

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    1. Hi Anabel, thanks for commenting. Great that you are visiting Orkney! Drop me an email if there's anything you want to know. sian.thomas@btinternet.com. I've bookmarked your blog so I can take a look when I have some more time!

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  3. Wonderful tour, lovely to see a small "town" thrive with older buildings still in use, envious of that dress shop. Wondering do the houses on the pier have outdoor spaces or do they back directly onto the water at the back? looking forward to part 2

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    1. Stromness is a wonderful old town and the stone buildings are much loved, well except possibly on a windy winter night when the draught rattles through them!

      Most of the houses have a bit of space behind them, some quite long gardens, and a few have a small "boat shed", though one or two do back directly onto the water I think.

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  4. Oh, I did enjoy that, Sian. It took me straight back to the time you showed me round Stromness (THREE years ago this month!) I thought then what an appealing little town it is and your lovely post has reinforced this impression. Looking forward to the next instalment.

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    1. Was it THREE years ago?! Wow! How time flies. Maybe you should pay a visit again sometime :-)

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    2. I do hope so. Must plan ahead. :-)

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  5. Thank you so much for the delightful tour of Stromness ... you are indeed lucky to have such a treasure to visit. I love the daffodils peeking through the 'imprisoning rails' ... they do not appear to be in the least intimidated!
    Looking forward to Part 2.

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    1. Haha no the daffodils are hardy souls, they have to be to bloom so early. Today they are bobbing in SNOW showers...brrr.

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  6. I enjoyed taking this photo walk with you. Stromness has a lot to offer, with its churches, shops, art and recycled things for sale. I like the stone buildings.

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    1. It's a real treasure of a little town :-)

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  7. What a beautiful walk you took us on, the old stone buildings are a real delight. Looking forward to the next instalment.

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    1. Hope to post a bit more next week too as not all the photos of this walk were worthy of sharing and I missed out some gems!

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  8. You have brought back so many happy memories with this lovely walk, Sian. It is too long since I have visited Orkney but I love your blogs despite being quiet. Take care, Jo x

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Glad to hear you are still reading. Hope things are OK with you? Glad the pictures brought back some happy memories.

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  9. Always enjoy your Blog and glad your dream came true. Loved the trip around Stromness.

    Christy
    Lilbitbrit

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    1. Thanks for taking time to comment Christy. Glad you enjoyed your visit to Stromness :-)

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  10. I love Stromness! Kirkwall, while offering more services, just does not have the same charm. I whiled away quite a bit of time in the Quernstone store when we were in Orkney last, still using some of the beautiful ceramic buttons on cards and baskets that I make. Looking forward to the next installment. Thanks, Sian!
    Louise from Seattle

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    1. Oh yes it's a real gem of a place!

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  11. Now that's a lovely blogpost! But I can't decide whether you're teasing us with the barometer photo... in Orkney, the weather is usually horizontal!

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    1. Haha! Ain't that the truth! Especially today.... horizontal snow...sigh...

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  12. I read about the 'polar plume' disrupting your spring... (really shouldn't read the headlines in the Daily Mail, but it's just too tempting). What an interesting town - especially with you as tour guide.

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  13. What a lovely place. You have such a respect for your history and not replacing everything with "modern" buildings. Thanks for the tour.

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  14. I enjoyed that walk round Stromness! Thank you! I have always wanted to visit, and hopefully one day I will. I love Peter Maxwell Davies' piece of music 'Farewelll to Stromness' and now I have seen your photos I can imagine it all even better!

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