Click on pictures to see them enlarged in a photo stream. Comments: word verification on to allow anyone to comment but try and deter excessive amounts of spam! I LOVE getting comments!

Saturday 21 March 2009


I enjoyed an excellent Spring Equinox party in Orphir (Orkney Mainland) last night. Our hosts, M&R did a great job and made everyone welcome - even providing S'mores (more of that later!). And the fire was magnificent. This picture is of the fire just getting going.

The weather also put on a stunning evening for us. Once the roar of the fire died down you could hear geese, oystercatchers and lapwings calling. The Hoy High lighthouse on Graemsay shone like a beacon, with the light reflecting across the still water to the shore. It was interesting seeing Graemsay from a different angle! At the start of the evening the lights of Stromness were twinkling - we were remarking just big the town looked with lights stretching along the line of the harbour and up the hill. However slowly and silently the mist stole in and hid Graemsay and Stromness from us. All that could be seen of the town was a shimmering light following along Brinkies Brae at the top of the town.

Although there isn't that much light pollution from Stromness, the dimming of the lights did enable us to get a spectacular view of the night sky. I used to love standing in my garden in Kent looking up at the stars, but the view is nothing in comparison with Orkney. There are just layer upon layer of stars. First the largest and brightest begin shining in the sky, then as your eyes get accustomed to looking at them you can pick out tiny pinpoints of light between the brighter stars, and eventually the whole night sky seems to be a glitter. Last night we could make out Orion, the Plough, Saturn and many others I can't name! Just magical.

The party was held on the shore near M&R's house (which is just across the Flow from Graemsay - OK they will say I am just across the flow from Orphir.... depends on your perspective). Anyway, it was possible to walk down to water's edge as the waves gently lapped the shore. Some of the kids came down with us, they were sensible and had rubber boots on so they could jump around in the shallows. Meanwhile I kept my feet firmly on dry land!

Baked tatties (jacket potatoes) were being cooked in the embers of the fire, and sausages were cooked on improvised skewers. And the best bit after consuming the savories was dessert - S'mores. For the uninitiated these are chocolate biscuits with marshmallows on top, the mashmalows first having been toasted on the open fire. The soft warmth of the mashmallows slowly melts the chocolate on the biscuit. I can only eat three in one go. Which is probably just as well as others were keen to eat them too. I was very magnanimous and even helped a wee boy, Hamish, toast some marshmallows AND let him eat them himself. Though someone did discover I was hogging the packet of biscuits and marshmallows..... damn, thought the darnkess was hiding my gluttony!

So it was a great night and a wonderful way to herald a new Spring!


  1. The way we used to make s'mores in Girl Scouts was to start with a square graham cracker, top with a square of Hershey bar, top that with a roasted marshmallow, and cap it off with another graham cracker. Definitely decadent.

    Are you anywhere near the Italian Chapel? Isn't that near the Scapa Flow? That was one of the places we stopped.

  2. Sounds like a beautiful evening! Mary Z describes the s'mores we have here. I don't like them personally, but my Camp Fire Girls don't care, more marshmallows for them!

  3. Well R is from the US too and I think this was her idea of a "conceptual introduction to S'mores" for Brits to whom it is an alien concept! LOL! We don't have Graham Crackers, but something similar called "digestive biscuits" (much more tasty than they sound - a sort of wheatmeal biscuit), and these are covered in chocolate. R was also in the kitchen a lot of the time so the instructions may have got lost in the delivery chain and we forgot to put the chocolate biscuit on top of the marshmallow too. So I guess we invented the British version of S'mores - bit like an "open sandwich" - LOL! I will get on to M&R to have another fire party so we can try again and get to the "Advanced" level.

  4. Mary Z - re Italian Chapel. I was possibly a bit out when I said "The Flow" as I think we were still in the Sound (Hoy Sound), but the Flow starts somewhere around there! The Italian Chapel is much further to the East about 15 to 20 miles. But it is a beautiful place and I always take my visitors there. I once went to a service in the chapel - not that I am "religious" but I just wanted to experience a service in that setting. There were some local kids playing the music to accompany our singing and it was a lovely experience.

  5. Hello from M :)

    When we have been over in the US with R's relatives we have of course done the authentic s'mores.

    To the British palate I really don't think anything can surpass plain-chocolate coated 'digestives' for s'mores - you certainly wanted more, Sian!

    R does however complain that the British marshmallows are just not the same, less sugar content or something - but isn't that part of the delight of visiting new places, even subtle differences can enthrall and stimulate?

    (I am happy to oblige with more beach fires - just name the day. I could do one on Graemsay too, some day).

  6. Definitely more beach fires required so that I can perfect the art of s'mores....... One on Graemsay would be great, except I'm not sure we have that much wood!