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Sunday 15 February 2009

Graemsay is green again!

Thanks to the rain yesterday and overnight Graemsay (and the rest of Orkney) is green once again. Though, being British, and never satisfied with the weather - I wish the snow was BACK in preference to the grey skies we have at present. At least we had brilliant sunshine and a crispness to the silence during the snow. Though we have been very fortunate and not had any wind to speak of for the last couple of weeks. It did feel ethereal waking up and gazing out onto a moonlit landscape that was totally silent - no bird calls nothing, no breeze. I felt I could reach out and phycially touch the silence.

Today there's a bit of a breeze and I can hear the waves lapping the shore and the breakers roaring out at Warbeth beach. Normal service is resumed for Orkney weather I suppose!

I did manage to escape to Stromness on Friday. I'd arranged to meet up with two other friends who had also been hibernating during the snow. We weren't sure we'd remember how to hold a proper conversation and thought we might be reduced to grunts over lunch. However, as ever, talking wasn't a problem!

I had planned going up to the Co-op after lunch, but discovered my car on the Mainland was still covered in three inches of snow with a nice little snow drift in front of it. Fortunately a friend offered me a lift so I could get fresh fruit and veggies from the Co-op and a few goodies to replenish the stock cupboard.

Because we don't have a ferry you can easily get cars onto and off, several of us keep a "mainland" car over in Stromness. I only use mine about once a week, but a couple of other friends also use it so it does get a run now and again. It is probably a luxury to keep a car sitting in a car park most of the time. However I think of it as a large shopping trolley! Buses run frequently between Stromness and Kirkwall but don't always match with ferries. Plus there is the necessity of carrying shopping around the town rather than dumping in the car. And the buses only go on main routes so if you want to deviate from those a car is essential.

A year ago when my old Suzuki jeep failed it's MOT and had to be retired to the island I did try by just hiring cars when needed. However that isn't always practical, especially in the summer when there is a demand for hire cars. So I got a second-hand, no frills, saloon car to run about in.

I also have an "island" car - as long as cars don't leave the islands there is an exemption on having an MOT so it's possible to keep running a car till it stops really! However if you needed to take the car to the Orkney Mainland then a road-worthy car is necessary. (For non UK readers an MOT is a government certified test of roadworthiness that all road vehicles are required to have, with certain exceptions. The exception for us is "Vehicles used only on certain islands that do not have a bridge, tunnel, ford or other suitable way for motor vehicles to be conveniently driven to a road in any part of Great Britain" (Source UK govt website.)

Yesterday I only needed to do a few hours work as I have just finished one project and am waiting for another one to start. So I did some "domestics" and then experimented with a new cookie recipe. That's "cookies" as in American Cookies, not as in Orkney cookies (which are sweet bread rolls with currants in them!). The cookies contain dark and milk chocolate, raisins, walnuts, and lots and lots of sugar. They turned out well, though are very rich in taste and I can only eat one at a time!

After the excess of sugar yesterday, I've just put the breadmaker on for a sunflower and pumpkin seed white loaf. OK white bread maybe not so good, but all that omega-3 in the seeds MUST be good for me!

Have just been out to collect eggs. The new hens are very canny - they clearly don't like the idea of someone stealing their eggs on a daily basis and have moved nests three times in the last week. Today I couldn't find a single egg. I shall have to have words with the girls........

Bill the goose failed to find a Valentine yesterday so is still on his lonesome. As I mentioned in one of my comments, Scottish Natural Heritage are conducting a feasibility study into effective ways of scaring off the geese from newly seeded fields. Some farmers have thousands of geese on their fields which cause lots of damage. It will be interesting to see what methods do prove effective. On Graemsay we've never been bothered to a great degree with large numbers. But when I lived on Hoy there was someone employed to go scaring them off fields - of course it just moved them around, but some areas are OK to have geese on, it's the newly seeded fields that tend to be more vulnerable. Oh well, with just the one goose I don't suppose I'll have too much trouble!

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