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Saturday, 6 June 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let is snow.....!

Well OK they are forecasting snow on the "hills" and I don't think Graemsay constitutes a Hill of any great height anyway. But it is still very chilly in comparison with last week. Brrr. Though snow is no stranger to even the South of the UK in June so one shouldn't be surprised we may get some snow flurries this far north. I may have to put duvets over my veggie patch. The poor wee peas and broad beans that have just stuck their heads above the ground will be retreating beneath it again at this rate.

I've mainly been busy with work this week, but the farmers have been out ploughing and sowing seed for winter feed crops, as well as lambing and finishing off calving. It's lovely to see the fields populated with livestock again. Though it never ceases to amaze me how the lapwings and oystercatchers managed to raise their chicks with the cows and calves, or sheep and lambs across the fields. And the birds *choose* to lay their eggs among the livestock - there are plenty of places on the island "animal free". It seems as if they are trying to make life difficult for themselves!

Yesterday on the way to the afternoon boat I saw a wee Oystercatcher chick in the road. It was running for all it was worth straight up the road. Three adult oystercatchers were having hysterics in the air, and one was on the ground doing the "broken wing" trick to deflect me, the perceived predator. Eventually the chick got to the verge and stuck it's head in a clump of grass - but with the rest of it showing! I was really concerned as the road gets busy (for Graemsay) at that time on a Friday with folk collecting kids from school, going to the boat for groceries, or going over to town for the evening and I wasn't sure the chick would survive playing "chicken" on the road. So I decided I needed to take direct action and pick it up and place it through the fence on the edge of the field. I try and avoid handling wild bird chicks in case it causes the parents to abandon them, but the oystercaters were screaming in my ears as I did it and were quick to land near the chick when I retreated, so hopefully it will be OK and anyway it's chances of survival were increased by removing it from the road at that time! It was a dear little thing - just a ball of fluff with some spots on and a black pointy beak. I could feel it's little heart racing as I gently lifted it up and placed it through the fence. It promtly started sqeaking so it's parents were in no doubt where it was. Today I haven't seen the chick but the Oystercatcher's are screaming "Here comes the Giant" when they see me (even 4 ft 9" constitutes a giant in some circles it would seem) so I'm assuming they still have the chick!

Orkney had Royal visitors this week, with the Duke & Duchess of Rothesay (as Charles & Camilla are known in Scotland) visiting Kirkwall and Stromness. I wasn't in town on Monday when they arrived which was just as well as traffic struggles in the tiny street as it is without additional interest from Royal watchers. They met folk from the Lifeboat and the Ladies Lifeboat Guild in Stromness as well as visiting one of the Renewable Energy Centres in the town and Charles & Camilla spent time talking to the small crowd in the street. At least the sun shone for the occassion.

I think the folk of Stromness were somewhat bemused by all the security precautions taken for the Royal visit. One of my friends had a "bloke on a fast bike" sweep past her car as she was down at Warbeth beach dog walking on the day of the visit. Clearly checking out that she and her Shetland collie weren't a security threat!

Orkney will get another royal visitor next week when Princess Anne will visit some of the lighthouses in her role as President of the Northern Lighthouse Board. She visited Graemsay about 12 years ago but is going to the Northern Orkney Islands this time.

The Queen and the late Queen Mother have also visited Orkney at various times. The Queen Mother owned the Castle of May in Caithness just across the water from Orkney, so visiting was just a short hop away.

The other event this week was the Eurpoean elections. However polling day passed us by on Graemsay as we use postal votes as we don't warrant a polling station, there being so few of us.

And we had our own elections on the island last weekend, as it was our Community Association AGM and the committee was re-elected. We also agreed on a programme of events for the year which includes the Harvest Home (which incorporates Halloween!), Christmas party and some quizzes and games nights. So that should be ample opportunity to sample "home bakes". I have tried to get myself elected as chief taster of home bakes to ensure they are up to standard, but there would be too much competition and to be fair we'd need a committee and then there would be no home bakes left for anyone else. Apparently I'm the only one who doesn't see that as a problem ;-)


  1. too bad Anne isn't going to check out your lighthouse; you could invite her in for a spot of tea.

  2. She would need it after climbing up AND down the stairs in the lighthouse. Um..... dare I ask if you are intending reprising the walk down the Eiffel tower on your trip to Paris this month? [g,d&r]