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Sunday, 13 August 2017

A trip to Stromness

The other week on a trip on the ferry to Stromness it was such a glorious day that I took some photos of our "sail".  So here are a few, starting from Graemsay of course..... Above Hoy High lighthouse on Graemsay and the Hoy Hills (on Hoy) behind.

Hoy High lighthouse and Sandside.... wave to Button....who was still asleep in bed!

Sailing away....

Looking towards the Kame of Hoy

Coming into Stromness.  The Ness Campsite looking busy....

This is known as "The Old Lighthouse Pier" - this used to be used by the Northern Lighthouse Board for maintenance to the many lighthouses in Orkney.  It's still in use by the renewables industry and maybe a bit by the Northern Lighthouse Board but no so much now. To the right is "The Red Shed" which was the old lifeboat house.  The lifeboat is now moored near the pier - easier access etc.

Next bit along the shorefront in Stromness.  All the houses here have access to the piers, some their own pier, some shared.  And in the past the houses on the other side of the road (hidden from view) would have had right of use of a pier too.

The "little red shed" is actually part of a new build house on the front.  I like it - it mimics the old industrial buildings.  The spire is an old church, now called The Town Hall, and is a multi-purpose space for concerts, plays etc and is also used by the Stromness Baptist church.  The building behind the spire is the Old Stromness Academy (secondary school), split into various business units now including again those for renewable energy. And behind that Brinkies Brae (hill), the highest point above Stromness.

Bit of a panorama......

Coming in closer to the shore now....

Another fuller panorama for you......

And finally, having docked and heading into town..... the Pier Arts Centre, the Navigational School, and beyond, the Hoy Hills.

Hope you enjoyed the journey - only took us 20 minutes!  Time for tea and cake now maybe?

Monday, 7 August 2017

Field, Sky, Sea

Looking to Sandside
Late Summer is a busy time for farmers who are gathering in silage, haylage and hay as winter feed for livestock.  On Graemsay there are 7 crofts or farms on the island. All have sheep, 3 also have cattle. Some hard feed needs to be bought in but most farmers try to get enough silage etc for the winter.  The sheep stay out in the fields all winter but cattle generally come into the byres to save the ground. Otherwise they poach the fields with their hooves in wet weather and the grass won't grow so well.  Also many breeds of cattle aren't hardy enough to do well outside all winter.

As for the rest of the working population, some like myself work from home, or are retired. Some of the farmers have other jobs as well either on Graemsay or off the island.  There are a couple of holiday homes too where the owners come and stay for a few weeks at a time.

Anyway back to cutting the grass in the fields for silage.  My field behind the house is let on a summer grazing rental to a neighbour who often uses it for silage or for late grazing for cattle.  This year he has cut it for silage - well the good bits!  It's about the only time I "walk the bounds" of the field as normally the grass is too long and the ground too rough.  But yesterday was a glorious warm summer's day so I went for a wander around the boundary.  Here are a selection of photos from that wander.

The photo above was taken by the Community Hall.  It looks down the "main road" to Sandside bay, with the house and steading at the end and Hoy High Lighthouse behind.  Some other fields "at Sandside" have also been cut ready for making into bales.

This was the field being cut one evening as the mist came in.....

Then looking over the field towards Mainland and Stromness the next morning!

Looking back to the steading (byres) at Sandside and over to the Hoy hills.

It is believed that some of these ruins were originally built for the lighthouse workers - at the end is a workshop.  Lovely blue sky and sea!

A bit of a panorama shot which distorts the actual landscape but I quite like the effect!  Hoy High lighthouse, Sandside and Hoy Hills.

Vetch - wild flowers growing in the field margins.

Low tide!  Looking towards Stromness.

Hoy High lighthouse

You will have to look REALLY hard but there is a skein of geese in the cloud.....

Hoy High lighthouse - designed and built by the "Lighthouse Stevensons

A close up of the "light"

Looking back towards Sandside and the Hoy Hills.

A thistle!!

And to finish another panorama - looking across to Hoy and over to Stromness

A walk to the beach.....with Button

Button and I set off for a wander to the coral beach last week.   Button completely oblivious to the Hamnavoe sailing in....

Looking across the old Sandside "lighthouse" pier (used to haul the stones off barges to build both Hoy High and Hoy Low lighthouses).  Hoy hills in the distance and wonderfull clouds too!

Looking over to Orkney Mainland (Warbeth and Black Craig) and the mouth of Hoy Sound. Again amazing clouds!

"Why are we standing still this is supposed to be a WALK!"

The old building on the left leaning alarmingly!  And old piece of farm machinery also teetering on the edge!

Another view of Sandside beach, lovely sand. Oooh look at those clouds!

The remains of an old wooden boat that was burned on the shore a few years ago.  Nature reclaiming her....

Button exploring!

Another conflated panorama.  I like the effect though!

The water is so clear!

And back at the house, looking across to Stromness

Hope you enjoyed your wander with us.  Button had sloped off hunting by this time so no more photos of her on this walk!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Graemsay Sports Day

In the days when there was a school on the island there was an annual School Sports Day just like many other schools have at the end of the summer term.  This year Irene Mathieson (former head teacher of the school) decided to resurrect the Sports Day as a fund raiser for our community hall.

I'd just got back from my holiday in Guernsey so I was "excused sports" and was just a spectator. There was lots of fun and laughter.  Some extra wee children were drafted in for the afternoon, ably helped by their granny and grandad!  Here are a few pictures of the event.  Even if the "sport" was not of an Olympic Standard, you have to agree our venue was top class, with the best view ever of a sports field I'll bet. Hee hee! Sandra and Michael kindly let us use their field next to the hall for the event which was ideal.

Above the three-legged race.  Granny and Great-Granny having a bit of trouble getting co-ordinated at the back there!

I think this was another heat with James and Euan leading the way.

Some discussion about the rules going on here I think.  (Rules - hahahahaha!)

Older sister demonstrating some tactics maybe?

The "wheelbarrow race".....

Brilliant technique here!!  Good straight legs....

Mini-wheelbarrow race!  Bit of trouble with the steering  I think.

It was a great afternoon.  There was also welly throwing and some other games.  A "guess where the needle in the haystack is" and "How many sweeties in the jar".  A total of £60 was raised which is amazing for so few folk.  It was a brilliant afternoon and I suspect this may be an annual event.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017


Just a few random photos of the garden, Button, views...and Button.....

Above is Sandside and Hoy High lighthouse.  This is the "main road" through Graemsay. We call this "the links" where the road goes between the sand dunes and marram grass.

And here is Madam Button doing her Sphinx impression.... (fat Sphinx?)

And in the garden.....

New Allium sculpture in the new flower with the old byres in the background.

Hawkweed, Knautia and Globe Flower all mixing together with blue knapweed....

A poppy needing a little support!  Love the colour of this one though. It's new to the garden this year so fingers crossed it comes back next....

And a pink variety of knapweed.....

Washing on the line..... I love the summer days when I can put washing out, the smell of clothes and bedding that have been drying on the line is just wonderful!

A caged beastie!!!!!

The Hamnavoe coming in - photo taken up by the community hall

Hoy High lighthouse at the end of the day.....

And Hoy High lighthouse from up by the Manse!