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Wednesday 27 February 2013

We all love SUNSHINE

I think this has been the best "February" for years!  OK yes we've had some gales, but we expect those in February.  We've also had some glorious weather, beautiful, mystical misty days, and SUNSHINE! It's amazing how it lifts the mood. I already feel I have more energy.

Button, of course, adores the sun (as you can see in the picture above).  Her snoozing spots vary throughout the day and follow the pattern of the sun through the house.  Till the sun sets and the moon rises and she becomes a Warrior cat and is out hunting!  This week with the full moon and clear skies she has been in her element. Fortunately (so far) no presents left for me......

And lambing has started!! These twins were a little shy......

A walk on the beach was called for yesterday to make the most of the stillness and sunshine.  I love the variety of seaweed along the shore.

And the shells too among the coral sand.... (yes I have a speck of dust on the lens of the camera...sigh... I need my camera guru to help sort this out....).

Meanwhile over in Stromness, barges are queueing up as dredging begins for the new pier which is being built for the "renewable" industry. Lots of research and development going on around Orkney waters into wind, tidal and wave energy. Lots of windmills appearing around Orkney (quite controversial in this low lying landscape) and wave and tidal power, though still in their infancy, are also appearing around the shore.

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Ness of Brodgar Dig

For those of you outside the UK who may have missed all the publicity regarding the Ness of Brodgar archaeological dig, here is a treat for you. A short clip was shown on the PBS network, with an interview with Nick Card (leader of the dig) while on a lecture tour in the US.

Hopefully clicking on THIS shows it!

Meanwhile the annual dig begins again in mid-July and members of the public can wander up and watch the excavations or join a tour and hear all about it until about mid-August.

Sunday 24 February 2013

Signs of Spring.....

The photo above was taken by my neighbour, Sue Anderson, of Garson. It's a really beautiful, ethereal photo and somewhere in there, I swear, is a Unicorn!

My favourite season is Spring. It holds so much promise and hope for the year to come. I eagerly search for the first signs - it's much later in Orkney than further South in the UK. So it was a delight to spot these about to flower among the willow trees outside my house (dwarf narcissus).

And the willow trees have the gorgeous fluffy buds that protect the delicate leaves within....

And of course Button wants to get in on the act!

And she enjoys a little sunbathing on the flagstones outside the front door. Still a bit on the cool side at this time of year, but she doesn't seem to mind.

And after a wander in the warming sun, nothing like coming home to tea and home baked scones!

Wednesday 20 February 2013

A mist bow.....

...well technically I think it is a fog bow..... but very pretty! (click photo to enlarge). This one was right outside my back door yesterday. Beautiful!

The mist had an ethereal quality to it .....

Tuesday 19 February 2013

A time of mist....

....or the mists of time...? Gorgeous day yesterday, warmer than it has been for many months, despite the mist that drifted over the landscape.  Beautiful - though it disrupted plane schedules, though largely because other parts of the UK were affected too, having a knock on effect.  Meanwhile I could stand at the front door with a cup of tea in hand and just watch the ethereal beauty of the landscape.

Later the sunset was even more magical.

I expected a Unicorn to come walking towards me out of the mist....

Monday 18 February 2013

A glorious sunset!

Sunday was a glorious day. A taste of Spring to come maybe? The sun shone, oystercatchers were singing (another sign of Spring) and the sun set a little further on it's route to the height of summer. Sunset today was at 1705.  Such a change from 1505 in mid-winter!

So I thought I'd share some pictures of the beautiful sunset. May it be the first of many this Spring! (OK it's not "quite" Spring yet, but we can imagine).

I love the way the sun warms the colour of the stone on the house....

And the colours got deeper as the sun sunk lower

Ah yes, I can feel the promise of Spring in the warmth of the sun :-)

Saturday 16 February 2013

Maybe .... it's Spring???!

Shhhh .... perhaps we should whisper that??  But today it was mild, the sun shone (between the showers), the birds were singing (starlings and oystercatchers), and the trees are getting buds and the bulbs pushing up through the ground.....

So of course Button insisted we took a walk on the beach. I'm not exaggerating ..she stands at the door and meows and won't go out, then I put my boots and coat on and she's at the door meowing and trots out waiting for me to follow.  Sometimes I think she's a dog!! (oooh she'll get me for that comment!).

We started out heading for the sandy beach, but the dunes got a lot of damage from the storm tide and I decided it wasn't safe to try and scramble down the shifting sand. Button, of course scampered down calling for me to follow. Oh were I as nimble as a cat!  Lots of tangles on the shore (Orkney word for Kelp seaweed).

So we retreated and went back to our favourite walk on the shell beach. Um... I thought cats weren't supposed to LIKE water??

Lots of shells still on the beach

And I love watching the seaweed gently swaying as the waves lap the shore. How did this survive the storm?? So delicate but so strong....

I love watching and listening to the waves.... (hmmm speck of dust on the lens there...)

And then walking back, we saw some daffodils struggling up among a pile of sand blown by the gales. They might think they are somewhere tropical!  Well once they stick their heads up a bit further the weather will disabuse them of THAT!

But in the shelter of the dyke (wall) and the shrubs, these daffodils are fairly coming on....

Meanwhile the chooks have come to greet us and ask for news ....of course!

Friday 15 February 2013

It's graupelling....

Yes, I did say graupelling.... no I'd never heard of it before either..... but apparently that is what it was doing on Wednesday.... horizontal graupelling even..... um... that's soft hail or snow pellets, in case you were wondering. Take a look here for the explanation.....

It stuck onto the side of things - only the side of this car was covered!! This was Irene delivering some laundry to me. My washing machine has been behaving improperly so she kindly put some laundry through her machine. What a friend to deliver clean washing in a blizzard!! Actually she was on her way down to the post office at the Lighthouse where she is Deputy Post-Mistress on a Wednesday. Um... she didn't get any customers....

The graupel stuck to the side of the windows in thick sheets of ice.

Which then broke off in chunks.... at the Lighthouse it was falling from the tower in huge chunks apparently, making it hazardous to go outdoors.

And then the next day....sunshine again!! This photo was taken by a friend out walking in Orphir, looking back to the hills of Hoy.

Monday 11 February 2013

After the storm....

Finally, after days of wind and rain and a busy few days with visitors, I managed to get to the beach to see what the waves had done to the shore.

First I walked past my neighbour's "allotment" outside my garden wall - this sand was blown there by the storm force winds!

The land around the top of the old stone pier has been gouged out by the waves too

Button was in search of her pea-green-rimmed boat.....

Sadly it had been smashed to bits.  Don't worry - it wasn't sea-worthy anyway!! Well it certainly isn't now!

Bits of it are scattered along the shore....

The old burned hull was still there though!

Sunday was a particularly low tide and it was possible to walk right along the channel cleared by storm tides. I felt I might even be able to walk right over to Stromness!

I've not usually walked this far out before!

Meanwhile Button wanted to get on with hunting...

So we set off along the beach....

You can see where the seaweed is in a tide line above... (Button must be hunting mice!).

Here you can see the coastal erosion is worsening! This old ruin is definitely teetering on the edge!

Meanwhile the sea is flat calm for a change. Oh for it to stay that way for a wee while. I might believe Spring is on the way then...