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Thursday, 14 December 2017

In the bleak mid-winter....

Except it's only JUST winter! But on Sunday I decided to take a "turn" around the island in the car to give it a run as it has sat in a gale and snow for days. It was lovely to get out too and the island of Hoy looked magnificent!  So here are a few photos of my drive round the island. Button, of course, remained firmly in her bed, snoozing!

O love the bluish colours, though the light to the eye wasn't quit that blue.

It's snowing on Hoy!

Looking across the croft of Dean on Graemsay to Hoy.

Still snowing!

A panorama of Hoy round to Stromness on the right.

This panorama distorts the landscape a bit but I do love it!

The road home - strewn with seaweed. Hoy High in the background.

The waves threw the seaweed across the road and into the adjacent field.  Not many stones in it thankfully.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A walk across the Stromness hills

Photo David Sinclair

One of our boat skippers, Davy sent me these pix of his walk across the top of the Stromness hills at the beginning of September.  Above Graemsay as the sun rises!  You can make out Hoy High lighthouse and Sandside.

And over the top of Stromness, it's wild there! Haha! Looking towards Hoy.

Photo David Sinclair

Photo David Sinclair

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

A trip to Stromness

I've said many times that Stromness is my favourite town. It is beautiful in any season. As well as grocery shops and a hardware shop it also has a number of galleries.  In December they all have a Christmas exhibition and an opening night on a Friday, with mulled wine and mince pies.  It's a lovely atmosphere going from gallery to gallery a mince pie here, a mulled wine there... don't mind if I do!  However this year the weather was too bad for me to go over on the Friday night. Instead I met up with a couple of friends one afternoon and took a look round. And the shops dress up in their Christmas finery too!  My favourite shop in Stromness - the Quernstone! Lots of goodies to be had!

The big exhibition is in the Pier Arts Centre which is a lovely building with history that has evolved over the years.  In the courtyard is a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth, and there are several of her pieces in the main collection in the upstairs gallery.

The building has cut through views that surprise....

The Christmas exhibition is open to all in Orkney, professional artists and "amateurs".  You can exhibit for free too which is a wonderful opportunity.  This year it was one of the best I think.  Lots of pieces in different media, paintings, sculpture, mixed media art, fabrics etc.

Lots of lovely things.  My eye was particularly caught by this beautiful sculpture. An otter.  There was so much movement in the piece it was amazing.

And I loved these ceramics too..... and a view over the harbour!

Then after lunch in a nearby cafe it was time to head home.  This duck is having a map! He's very tame, it's thought it was a pet that has been abandoned. However it has been adopted by the MV Graemsay crew who feed it, and it seems very happy in the harbour. I hear it swims up to the primary school at lunch time and gets fed by the children there!

It had been a frosty, snowy day - the Hoy hills in the morning....

And in the evening..... just a light covering.....

But it was a lovely time spent in Stromness with friends old and new....

Monday, 11 December 2017

A dusting of snow....

Button ready for a walk to the shore

I'm catching up with myself now.  Sorry for the lack of posts but this was due to sinusitis and the consequence of me being very grumpy.  Mostly all better now so on with blogging!

These photos were taken on 1st December when we had our first sprinkle of snow.  Orkney rarely gets snow so the children get *very* excited at the thought of snowmen, sledging etc.  Sadly the last decent snow was about 6 or 7 years ago. Most will have outgrown their sledges in that time!  Anyway here are a few pictures of a lovely fresh day in December.

Showers over Stromness

Then brighter again

Ooops incoming for Graemsay! Button and I headed indoors!

Madam Button MOST put out as she wanted a walk to the shore...

Then the sun was out again....

Looks chilly in Stromness!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

A different view of Graemsay

I thought you might like to see Graemsay from another angle. Ale Carini visited Orkney earlier this year and has made this film of a trip along the Orphir coast, looking towards Graemsay, Hoy and Stromness.  You can see the Hoy High lighthouse on our island (my house is just the other side of that).

I'm not sure where the boat journey is but it most definitely is NOT our MV Graemsay! Hee hee!

Best viewed in full screen (we are only a small island!)

Do visit Ale's website, particularly "50 shades of Scotland" (ahem) - and click on the tab for Orkney Islands for some beautiful photos of a whistle-stop tour of Orkney Mainland!

Use Google translate to share the journey too.  And there are wonderful travelogue photos and blogs to read and follow too.  Definitely one to recommend.

Linke to Ale's website: click here

Blue sky and sunshine....

Most of November (Orkney's wettest for 10 years) and December so far have been under a lot of grey cloud and rain.  There is an excess of water everywhere.  So yesterday to see some bright sunshine was a sheer delight!  Even if it was sub-zero temperatures!  Above photo is of Hoy High, with the Orphir hills in the background.

A chilly view to Stromness but at least the sea is calm!

And the sun setting behind the Hoy hills....

The cloud looks like someone is walking over the Hoy Hills onto Graemsay! A giant perhaps! Or Paddington Bear?!

And this one looks like a giant rabbit!?

And here Button was looking at the sun wondering what I was I think, it's been a while since we've seen it! And although I am no domestic goddess, the windows are covered in salt spray - not dirt!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Winter storm....

Photo courtesy of Mick Braddock
The first Winter storm was early this year arriving early December. Often we don't get the worst of the wind till January or February.  We've just seen Storm Caroline off now and she was somewhat feisty.  Winds in some parts of Orkney recorded at 145 mph at some points.  It was a North Westerly gale too which wasn't pleasant. 

Schools were closed, and ferries cancelled.  Well .... mostly!  The Hamnavoe ferry which sails between Stromness and Scrabster set off in the morning and because the wind was so strong and from the North it was unable to dock back in Stromness.  In trying to dock, with the help of a pilot boat and tug it managed to "glance off" the Pole Star, one of the lighthouse board ships.  The Hamnavoe then had to seek shelter in Scapa Flow where it was calm enough until the next morning.  23hours folk were on board! There were few folk on board so the passengers would likely have been given cabins and were no doubt warm and cosy but not the same as getting off the boat when expected! 

Our own wee ferry did a couple of the morning runs before cancelling the rest of the runs of the day. Above you can see the vessel coming into the Graemsay pier. Mick was down collecting post and took the photo. SO glad I didn't need to be on it!

We lost power for about 6 hours, but it came on at 5pm so wasn't too bad. The electricity linesmen were out working in the most atrocious conditions!  I was fine. I have a gas hob (hotplate) on the cooker so I could eat and have hot drinks.  The underfloor heating stays warm during the day anyway and Button was warm!  The phones were off for a couple of days but they are back now too.

I'd been out to give the hens lots of extra rations and Charlie the barn cat too. I didn't think I'd get out on Friday as the wind was due to still be bad, with added sleet showers and I was afraid of flying debris.  I've been out today and they are ALL fine with food left over!

Anyway here are a few photos taken of the Thursday storm, from the shelter of the hen house!

Looking towards the normally sheltered harbour of Stromness.

Looking West - towards Canada!

Looking towards the West Mainland where the sun sets in the summer...

This was the weather forecast for Thursday... "Sunrise" and "sunset" times were immaterial as it barely got light all day.

And at high tide the waves were crashing over the links (sand dunes) and onto the "main road" on Graemsay.  No damage to the road but lots of seaweed thrown about.

The seas around Graemsay are usually fairly sheltered, even in a storm.  Other parts of Orkney had spectacular seas...  this was Kirkwall Harbour (photo courtesy of Kirkwall Lifeboat station).  This too is normally a sheltered harbour!

So that is the first Winter storm by.  Time to replenish supplies and enjoy the respite from the gales while it lasts!

Monday, 20 November 2017

Graemsay Harvest Home

It's that time of year again when the parishes and islands in Orkney hold their "Harvest Homes" and Graemsay was no exception.  So this weekend there was the making of clapshot (neeps (swede) and tatties (potatoes) along with lots of butter are mashed together). There were cold meats, salads, soup and trifle too.  Of course there were also homebakes and tea while the evening's speaker, Magnus Thomson from Hoy, gave a speech about the harvest.

Our hall is small so just takes about 40 folk seated together.  It's a real community affair with each household doing something towards the event.  Some musicains very kindly came over, despite the appalling weather, so there were accordions and banjo, and mandolin for those that could to dance too!  Here are just a few photos of the evening.....  Well done to all those who helped to make it another great night on the island.

All seated for the supper..... just waiting for a few more folk to arrive.

After the meal Magnus said a few words...

The tables were cleared and the musicians started playing.  Here is John Budge from Walls on Hoy with his accordion.

Now joined by James Groat on the mandolin (with banjo for later).....

And then by Jack Yorston from Stromness - his band, Aff the Cuff have played for us for several years now.  Just he and James could come over this year, for which we were very grateful, and John stepped in to play along too.

Then there was time for dancing.....

Think they are trying to work out exactly *what* this dance might be!

And then had a go....

There were lots more dances too, including our speciality, the Graemsay Strip the Willow! But I was helping out selling the raffle tickets so didn't get so many photos.  The Graemsay Harvest Home Raffles are the stuff of legend...they go on for about an hour with lots of prizes!

And this wee flower child needs a bit of a nap!

So another good night on the island with money raised for hall funds too from the raffle.