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Wednesday 9 April 2008

Admiring landscapes

Resuming “normal service” now after my visitor departed on Monday. It was lovely having some company and visiting a few of the tourist places in Orkney (Picture is of the Earl’s Palace at Birsay). Unfortunately the weather was foul – Sunday we barely set foot outside with the wind, sleet, hail etc. battering the house. And of course as we were indoors a lot we ate far too much. For some reason I always feel obliged to feed my visitors at least hourly, even if it is just tea and cake! My hens eggs were appreciated for “eggy bread” (French Toast) though.

My visitor was fascinated by the changing weather patterns viewed from the conservatory window. One minute Stromness was visible the next it was not, and at the front of the house the Hoy hills were sometimes shrouded in cloud and snow and minutes later not. She became quite obsessive, checking out of the window every few minutes – it was quite funny to watch as I tend to take such changing patterns for granted now.

But I remember when I first moved to Graemsay I would spend ages looking out the caravan windows at the changing landscape, with different shadow plays on the hills made by clouds, the *speed* of the clouds skudding across the sky, varying colours of the water, and the patterns the waves made across the surface of the sea.

From the conservatory at the back of the house you have a 180 degree view of the West Mainland of Orkney (Warbeth Beach) right across the hills to Orphir. Now it is lighter in the evenings I sit out there reading or watching TV, but often just gazing across at the landscape. At the moment farmers are “muck-spreading” on the fields which darken the grass, but soon the bright spring green will show through. Later in the summer the fields are cut for silage or hay, the green fields turning to rows and ribbons of yellow as the grass dries. I noticed when I was over on the West Mainland last weekend that the bright yellow gorse bushes are out adding a splash of colour to the moorland.

Yesterday Liam McArthur, the Orkney MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament) paid his annual visit to the island to wander round talking to folk about issues and concerns. He is of course contactable through his office, but he said he likes to do a regular tour of all the Orkney Islands personally just to get a feel for each community etc.

Today the Graemsay ferry was heading off South for the marine version of the MOT. So now we will have the “Golden Marianna” for a couple of weeks. It is not my favourite boat – it is not so easily accessible from the pier steps especially if you are carrying shopping bags. And being much smaller it tends to bounce around more. However it *is* only for a couple of weeks and I should be grateful – the “GM” is the regular summer ferry between Westray and Papay Westray and that stretch of water has much stronger currents and rougher water even on a calm day, so we don’t do too badly here. Next time I’m over to town I’ll take a photo of it to post here.

As you can see from the photo below – the sun is shining today – HURRAY!


  1. What a beautiful spot! We enjoyed the Earl's Palace, too. Birsey is where we got our "Blue Coo" ice cream cups.

  2. Birsay is one of my favourite places and I always take my visitors there. There's a mixture of natural landscapes, history plus a jolly nice tea room, what more can one need! Sian