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Saturday 29 March 2008


Thursday night I was over in Stromness for a book reading hosted by the Orkney Arts Society. Louisa Waugh was reading from her book “Hearing Birds Fly”, a travelogue of her time working as an English teacher among a group of Mongolian nomadic herders. Her story and those of the nomadic herders is fascinating and I recommend reading the book! She really conjures up the hardships of the life *and* climate, but tells the stories of the people very sensitively. She is currently using her skills as a professional writer and working with a human rights organisation in Gaza City. She is planning to write her next book about her experience there.

Afterwards a few of us adjourned to the Upper Bar of the Stromness Hotel and sat round a glowing coal fire chatting. Louisa was interested in what brought each of us to Orkney and it was interesting hearing each person’s story. Some had been born here, of course, but one had come up on holiday many years ago and never gone home again, another had spent a succession of holidays here before deciding to move up for good, another had chosen to work here for one of the ecological agencies, yet another had moved here as it was a good place to raise a family and me – who fell in love with Graemsay on my first visit and bought a house the same weekend!

Having stayed overnight in town I took the opportunity yesterday to do some shopping before heading home on the cargo boat. But the wind had yet again blown up and it was quite choppy at the pier and I had to dodge the sea spray as I unloaded my shopping. Thankfully there were folk at the pier to help with shopping and I got a lift up to my car so didn’t have to battle the wind getting up the pier.

Today (Saturday) has been the most glorious day. I’ve been working out in the garden, removing stones I dug up last year. I kept stopping and listening to the birds – today I heard sky larks, curlews, and had a blackbird keep me company – hoping for some tasty worms I’m sure. I also heard a bird of prey but not sure which one. There are Hen Harriers around, and Merlins, but haven’t learned to differentiate between their calls.

Tonight is the official start of “British Summer Time” when the clocks go forward an hour. It’s one of my favourite days. Now the days are getting longer I can enjoy the evening more, especially on working days. I love to go out for a walk along the shore, or just potter outside with my newly planted trees and shrubs - weather permitting of course!

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