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Monday 3 March 2008

More weather on the way

Weather seems to figure large in my life at the moment. We’ve been having heavy sleety showers today but at least the high winds have dropped. I’m off to town tomorrow to shop and meet up with friends so I hope the wind doesn’t get up. I usually try and adjust my shopping list dependent on weather. It’s not a good idea to try and walk off the boat with a large bag of 12 kitchen rolls in a high wind else there is danger of them getting blown back to Stromness! Although there is often at least one pair of helping hands as I get off the boat.

And at least it is daylight now when I get home at 4.15 pm. In mid-winter it is usually dark by about 3.30 pm. When I used to commute I would get off the ferry at 6pm, often the only passenger at that time, and have to trudge up a well lit pier to the darkness where my car was parked. Sometimes it felt like the Dark Night of the Soul! However in really bad weather the skipper would phone a neighbour to come down and catch the ropes – and me! And sometimes someone would put my island car at the pier steps so I didn’t have to walk up the pier.

I am actually getting used to winters in Orkney now. I don’t like winter anywhere – even when I lived on the outskirts of London I wanted to hibernate from about October through to end of March. Orkney is no different.

The first year I live on Graemsay I stayed in a caravan while the house renovations began. Winters are fairly mild in Orkney, it is unusual for temperatures to drop below freezing for extended periods of time. Although the water pipes and calor gas did freeze up for several days at a time, I could still keep the caravan fairly warm and snug.

The worst time was during the gales. Neighbours would offer me a bed for the night if I got too scared. I only baled out on one night and arrived at midnight at the house of some friends – complete with cat under one arm. They were rather surprised to see me with the cat – well I couldn’t leave poor Fitzi in the caravan alone. He’s a pampered London house cat and was as scared as I was with the buffeting of the caravan by the wind.

Many windy nights it was just too noisy to hear the radio or TV and the cat and I would just hide under the duvet. I knew the wind was really bad once things started falling off the shelves. But by that time it was safer staying *in* the caravan than trying to get into the car and drive up the island, what with debris flying around etc.

By the January I’d had enough and moved over to the island of Hoy where I stayed in a nice warm house till the summer!

Now whenever the wind blows I think back to that time and am grateful I live in a solid stone house with a good roof!

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