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Thursday, 13 January 2022

A ride round Graemsay (3)


A few more photos from e-trike rides around Graemsay.  Meanwhile I haven't been out of the house for the last 3 days due to the weather (wet and windy), well except to feed the hens.  Button has been in and out for the necessary and that's about it!  Forecast is for better weather for the next two days so hopefully we can both get outdoors then.

Above are the hills of Hoy.  Below the Old School, recently sold.

The old School and Cott of School behind.

Croft of Dean, with Hoy Hills in the background.

I think this ruined group of buildings is known as Flaghill

Flaghill and the Manse.  The Orphir hills in the background.

More of Flaghill

From just below the old School, looking down to Sandside and Hoy High lighthouse.

Hope these display OK - I can't seem to view on my laptop!!  

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

A ride round Graemsay (2)


Sometimes, on a good day, a ride on the e-trike involves a bit of a picnic.  A small thermos of tea and some munchies (cake if available) to be enjoyed on one of several picnic benches around the island.  All have amazing views.  Though it has to be said, with the Winter weather, the picnic idea has only worked out twice so far....

Photo above is at the West end of the island, nothing between us and Canada!  To the right is the Orkney Mainland, and at the bottom of the hill is Hoy Low lighthouse.

I have the e-trike on loan for a bit longer.  I am definitely wanting to buy one.  Unfortunately this one is an inch too wide to go into the shed at the house so I need to find something a bit narrower.  The manufacturer's were approached (Jorvik) but sadly they don't make a smaller version nor can they suggest any modifications so I can get this in the shed.  The search continues!

The view to the left of the picnic bench..... The Hoy hills.

Hoy Low lighthouse, and outside Stromness below......

Looking over to Black Craig - the sun sets just to the right of the summit in mid-summer.  At the moment it is still setting very much behind the Hoy hills....

Stromness across the water, nestling into the bowl of Brinkies Brae

Sheep on the top of WindyWalls Brae.....

This is the South side of the island now, looking over Burra Sound towards Ward Hill on Hoy.

The valley between the hills on Hoy.

This wee house is known as the Cott of School.  It's just above the old school.  Though the actual School House, where the teacher would have lived, is across the road.

Looking across to Hoy again....

The tour of the island will continue!  The weather in these photos looks lovely - well I'm a fair-weather cyclist.  I don't mind it being cold, but it has to not be windy or wet!  And if the weather is flat grey and cold I tend to just do a couple of laps of the island and not stop off.  Today the wind is howling as it does in the Winter, and it's most definitely an indoor day.  Tomorrow looks like more of the same.  But hopefully an outing again at the end of the week.

Monday, 3 January 2022

A ride round Graemsay (1)


Although the weather has been changeable over the festive season I have been able to get out most days around the island on...... an e-trike! This is an electric (battery) powered tricycle that I have on loan for a few weeks. It's a real game changer for me and I'm looking into buying one for getting out and about on the island. 

The Scottish Government gave some funding to the Scottish arm (or leg - ahem) of the UK Cycling group, to encourage folk to get out and exercise more.  This involves regular bikes as well as trials of e-bikes. Advice is provided as are taster sessions.  In Orkney the local person spearheading this has been encouraging folk on the smaller isles to have a go.  My neighbours tried the e-trike but decided they would prefer a two-wheeled e-bike to try instead.  

I was curious to have a go on the trike - because of life-long reduced lung capacity and other health issues I have never been able to ride a bike.  I run out of puff after a few yards! But I thought if I can ever get away on holiday again, then often they are available for hire in country parks etc so I might be able to go out and about with friends instead of the habitual sitting in a cafe while they go off for a walk.  Well - it's no hardship with tea, cake and a book, but in good weather it would be fun to go with them!

But having the "e" assist on helps enourmously.  I can pedal slowly with no tension on the pedals yet could whizz along at 10 mps if I wanted to (max speed of bike is about 20 mph I think). I did get up to just over 10 mph but for me the joy is being outside, getting fresh air, watching the sea, clouds, animals as well as getting some not too strenuous exercise!  The battery assist is supposed to last for up to about 35 miles, however as I need the assist on all the time (apart from when free-wheeling down hills - wheeeeee!) it doesn't go as far.  But on Graemsay that isn't a problem.  

Anyway the next few posts will be a compilation of photos taken over the last couple of weeks while out and about on my e-trike!

I popped up to the post box on the trike - we have post collections and delivery 6 days a week.  The phone box is not in use - hence the rope round it to keep the door shut.  However the community is seeking to purchase this from BT and set up as a public access defibrillator site.

This leg of the journey is from my house, next door to the lighthouse, up the brae to the community centre, and along past the phone box. Then up an incline towards the Windywalls brae.

Sheep may safely graze.....  they have got used to me whizzing past and don't run off so much now!

Looking back towards Sandside and the old steading.  Orphir on the Orkney Mainland in the distance.

And just up the Windbreck brae is Quoynanapp, one of the many ruins of houses on the island.

More to follow.....

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Happy New Year


Belated New Year Greetings!  It's 2022..... hmmm I'm hoping for a better 2022 than the last two years as I'm sure are many other people.  Hey Ho.  It will be what it will be.  It was quieteon the island last night with families celebrating at home rather than mixing.  I don't do late nights so was in bed by 10.30 with Button and a book.  I was asleep before midnight so didn't hear the ships hooters this year.

Today the sun shone, and it was very mild for the time of year, however it was also quite breezy.  So just a couple of snaps from when I was down by the hen house earlier today.

Above, Hoy High and the hills of Orphir on the Orkney Mainland.

Below....... looking over to Stromness from outside the Henny house.....

And these two chaps are grazing in my field.  On the left is Buey, a Zwarbtle-cross ram, and on the right is Yacob, a Jacob-cross ram. They are having a bit of a time away from the ladies so are spending a few weeks here.  They are very tame and enjoy a scratch on the head.

I wish everyone a safe, peaceful and healthy 2022!

Friday, 31 December 2021

And then there is....


.... the drone plane delivering post to Orkney's most northerly island, North Ronaldsay.  I should have added a link to that yesterday.  So here it is now

And a youtube video from Orkney.Com - link here

Thursday, 30 December 2021

Meet Larch....


Larch on the pier on a cold and frosty morning!

In November I was approached by Hans from MWLC in the Netherlands to see if Graemsay folk would be interested in being a pilot project for testing of an electric autonomous vehicle (AVs). No not a "remote" car, but something that might be able to deliver parcels or similar.  This project is funded by HITRANS (the Highlands and Islands Regional Transport Partnership). The Orkney project base is at the Orkney Research & Innovation Campus in Stromness.

So, after some discussion it was agreed that the small AV (rover) would run tests between the Graemsay pier and my house, along the public road.  So Larch duly arrived on Graemsay and began the pilot.......  

Folk on the island were aware of what time the trials would take place, and were invited to come and watch, ask questions, raise concerns etc. and yes smile and make jokes!

For the pilot Larch was connected via the 4G mobile network to MWLC in the Netherlands and they could control Larch, and see through the camera.  The idea was that Larch would first learn the route before being able to do this automatically.

Larch leaving the pier.....

Larch at Sandside

Larch heading up the road back to the pier....

Off it goes....

Unfortunately, despite this side of the island generally having an excellent 4G signal, Larch ran into difficulties on the Windbreck brae and had to be guided down to the pier, as the camera wasn't working.

What happens if it meets oncoming traffic I hear you ask?  Well it then stops and sends a signal back to the operator who takes control and moves Larch off the road.  And yes there are high verges and ditches - again this is why pilots are necessary to test in real world situations.  There were some tractors and cars heading to the pier for the cargo run so Larch got some practice in getting out the way.  Though I think at one point due to loss of signal it was hauled along on a piece of baler twine.

Larch is a prototype and full of electronics, and not, as yet, able to manage any kind of parcels or other "freight".  But that's what research and development is all about - getting things to work operationally.

Despite the problems losing the 4G connection, and poor Larch needing to be carried or dragged along,  the team in the Netherlands were largely pleased with the trial as it enabled them to collect a lot of data.

Though there was much skepticism and amusement on the island as to the practicality of such vehicles being useful here, it was interesting to see.  It was also good to be able to provide real-world situations for future development.

On one of the more northerly of the Orkney Islands, Papa Westray, the local school are running the project with the children able to be involved.  They are transporting food from the school and community garden to the school kitchen etc.  So a great opportunity for the children to learn about what are likely to be future developments and take part in the pilots.

Here - well Larch is due back in January so we will see how it gets on this time!

Do take a look at MWLC Global's website (click here) - and you can see more practical uses and models.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

So..... back at the end of November.....


Photo by Charlie Groundwater over in Stromness

.... we had snow!  It's unusual for Orkney to get much in the way of snow.  This is largely due to us being in the Gulf stream.  As you will see from these photos, even when there is a layer of snow over Orkney - Graemsay remains resolutely green!  This is much to the disappointment of anyone wanting to go sledging.  Most of the children grow up not getting much opportunity to make snow creatures, snowball fights or sledge.  Instead of snow, our Winter is characterised by wind (lots) and/or rain (lots).  Today we have both wind and rain...... so.... a reminder of brighter days!

The photo above shows lots of snow being dumped in the vicinity of (but not on) Graemsay.  This picture was taken by Charlie Groundwater who goes on a daily morning walk around Stromness and the shore with his camera.  He gets some lovely shots and is happy for me to share them.

When we can, Button and I like to take morning tea (well ok that bit is just me) on the bench outside the front door.  So despite snow on hills, there we were....

Earlier in the morning - a sprinkle of snow on the grass.

Sun rising over Windbreck hill

Meanwhile down at the hen house - snow over the Orkney Mainland...

Looking towards Stromness

Stromness under a blanket of cloud and snow....

The Hoy Hills looking glorious!

Looking across Sandside bay - Community hall, and Hoy Hills

Sheep may safely graze....

These cattle have been moved into the sheds now for winter.....

Snowy over in Orphir....

Looking over the Graemsay post office to Orphir

Button is indoors keeping her paws warm with the underfloor heating, and the hens in their wee house also keeping snug with lots of hay to scratch about in, water and food.