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Saturday, 21 November 2020

A blustery day.....

 

These photos were taken last week, but again we are in the teeth of a gale.  50mph winds at least, with hail and sleet battering the windows at regular intervals.  Thankfully Button and I are indoors......












And while I am warm and cosy indoors, there is some drama going on further down Scapa Flow at Lyness Pier where a container ship, "Vega Scorpio", has broken her moorings in the gale.  Two of the council tugs (Odin and Einar) and the pilot boat (the John Rae) are in attendance trying to bring her alongside.  Hopefully "all hands" will be safe.









Friday, 20 November 2020

A chat with a seal......

 


I had a lovely encounter with a Common (harbour) seal (actually less common than the Grey seals that are usually around Sandside).  S/he followed me up and down the sandy shore when I was walking there last week. S/he was quite inquisitive and came into quite shallow water to accompany me.  The seal was silent - but I chatted away quietly.  I was hopeful it was a Selkie of the legends, though I had no intention of following it into the very cold water!  Photos below were taken with a zoom lens...

I love the whiskers!!





And a few second video of a very small blob bouncing on the water - my companion! 



Wednesday, 18 November 2020

A wander on the beach.....

 

This time it's a wander on the sandy beach, from whence Sandside Bay gets its name.  You have to be pretty fit to get onto the beach, either down a steep track or via a slide down the sand dunes!  I tend not to venture here much as I usually have Button with me and it means accessing the road.  I know she MUST go along the road but NOT when I am with her!  I know we have little traffic, but still...

Anyway here are some photos taken last week when we had some beautiful weather. Today is chilly and dreich, with rain showers and breezy.  So it's lovely looking back at these.

In the photo above you can see the Manse on top of the green hill, and the Community Hall to the right.  Hoy Hills on the horizon.

Stromness over the water....


There are a number of creel boats that lay creels (pots) in and around the bay to catch partans (crabs)


The soft sand sculpted by the wins and waves...


Birds have been feeding along the shore


Looking out to the mouth of Hoy Sound - Graemsay on the left and West Mainland on the right.


Sunshine on the sand.... gentle waves...


The old lighthouse pier. Orkney Mainland on the horizon


My home looks as though it has a lighthouse sticking out the chimney! Hee hee!


This was a common (harbour) seal that followed me up and down the beach as I walked.  They are often quite inquisitive when folk are on the beach.  Creel boat further out and Stromness in the background.


Hoy High lightouse and Sandside


Zooming in to Stromness Harbour and town...


Where the shore gets rocky...


Heading out West


The road home.... sand dunes on the left....


Skeletal cow parsley....



Heading home.....



A short video of the common (harbour) seal who kept me company


And the gentle sound of waves....




Sunday, 15 November 2020

Hoy Sound Low lighthouse....

 


I often share pictures of Hoy Sound High lighthouse as it is right next door to me!  But at the other end of the island is a shorter, dumpier lighthouse called Hoy Sound Low lighthouse.  Both were built at the same time and rather than warning mariners of a particular groups of rocks they were "leading lights".  Designed to guide in the herring fleet in the late 19th Century.  Skippers had to line up the lights and get both of then white and that led them through Hoy Sound safely, avoiding sand bars and shallow water so they could sail safely into Stromness harbour.  

There's also other history around Hoy Low light relating to WWII defences of the mouth of Hoy Sound, but more of that in another post!  For now a few photos of Hoy Low, which also has homes buildt for the lighthouse keepers.  The one at Hoy Low has been made into one dwelling.

It's a long winding hill down to the lighthouse..... and across the mouth of Hoy Sound is the west mainland of Orkney.  The hill in the distance is Black Craig and the sun sets behind this in mid summer.  At this time of year it is setting way to the left of the photo....




It has a very large walled garden, as well as a courtyard outside the house (the house is privately owned as is "the drive").  The fields round about are owned by a local farmer and used to graze cattle.


As you can see it really is a short dumpy lighthouse!  The back is painted out as the light isn't revolving.


The door to the lighthouse has a wonderful pediment over it - making it look quite "classical" in architecture.  Though the designs of many of the Scottish lighthouses were by the "lighthouse Stevenson" family and harked back to Assyrian temples....



Hope you enjoyed a quick trip to the "other" Graemsay lighthouse.....

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Random early November....

 


Early November provided some beautiful weather, calm seas, blue skies, mild temperatures. Though there were windy days too!


And cloudscapes.....


As the leaves fell off the trees (or were torn off in the wind!) a beautiful wee nest lined with sheep wool was revealed.  Likely to have been home to a linnet and her brood.


Bit tricky this photo as I was trying to hold the branch still (it was windy....) and take a photo at the same time so focus not quite right.... But I wanted to show the inside of the nest.



And the girls enjoying breakfast.....



This black hen Tallulah has a beautiful green sheen on her feathers.....


Meanwhile on blustery days (like it is today) Button snoozes......


And there is that sunset again.....




Monday, 9 November 2020

Island sounds....

 


Even in November we are getting some glorious weather - among the gales, mist, rain etc... but I will take every gorgeous day with gratitude!  Scotland is still using various lockdown measures across the country to mitigate Covid-19.  Orkney is in Tier 1 which means shops, pubs etc are open with some restrictions. Though we are still not supposed to go into each other's houses.  That is a challenge in Orkney weather but hopefully that particular restriction can be lifted soon.  However, I will take all the restrictions necessary to keep me safe.  Though I realise I am fortunate as I have an income that covers my outgoings, and I can stay at home and isolate.  For now I am mostly focussing on the microcosm of life as the macrocosm gets a bit scary (though with the latest USA presidential results maybe a little less scary than it was.... time will tell).

Back to Graemsay.....

A short video of Sandside bay, with the sound of the waves, geese and a tractor rumbling along the "main road" on the island...



Sunday, 1 November 2020

A wander to the beach.....

 


First day of November, still windy (reached 85mph at the top of Black Craig outside Stromness last night), so here is a reminder of sunny, calm days a few weeks ago.  This time of year is seal pupping time for grey seals.  They are often hauled out resting, or sun bathing.  Generally they pup further round the shore on Graemsay.  But in October in fine weather they can be found around the pier at Sandside.



"Who are you looking at?"





The old lighthouse pier, coral sand and Stromness the West Mainland in the background


Looking over towards Stenness


The view from the old sail shed


Greylag geese on my field.  Orkney has thousands of them at the moment.  I love them but they can decimate good pasture very rapidly so are something of a nuisance to farmers.  


Late afternoon sun from the "front door"


And a couple of short videos :

I accidentally disturbed these seals that were on the pier when I rounded a corner..... they were soon back though.



And calming gentle waves by the pier on the coral sand.....