Sunday, 28 July 2013
As I said in yesterday's post, we've had lots of fog lately. But we have also had some lovely sunny, clear days and lovely sunsets. These photos were taken a week or so ago.....
Click on the photos to see them larger in a photo-stream....
So still and calm.....
The silhouette is of the old barns at Sandside, and the trees in front of the house..
The nights are drawing in..sigh... sunset is now just before 10pm....
Stroke of luck the birdie sitting on the chimney ;-)
Saturday, 27 July 2013
.... a trip on a plane! Which was why, on Thursday morning, I was heading towards this plane at 7.45am. I was off for a routine DXA scan (bone density scan) in Aberdeen. I go every few years as I have osteoporosis. It's routine, it doesn't hurt, I don't get the results for 3 weeks, so I can just enjoy whatever the day brings - it will include Cake....
Our primary health care in Orkney is brilliant. For Graemsay we have a health centre in Stromness with GPs (general practitioners), nurses, physiotherapists etc. They are understanding of the challenges of travelling from Graemsay and do their best to accommodate us with appointments to suit where possible.
Our local hospital is the Balfour Hospital in Kirkwall (always referred to just as "the Balfour"), however this is more of a "community hospital" and deals with some minor surgery, uncomplicated pregnancy, and general medical needs, and has visiting consultants taking various clinics, but for more serious or complicated cases, or for most diagnostic tests, a trip to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) is required. Hence my visit.
As the flight was so early I had stayed on the Orkney Mainland overnight and made an early appearance at the airport. The flight to Aberdeen only takes 50 minutes and there are usually other folk going to the hospital. I recognised someone I knew so we chatted and shared the minibus service that meets patients at the airport and takes them to and from the various locations of ARI. I took advantage of the minibus to get to my appointment but then took a diversion into Aberdeen to do some shopping as my flight wasn't till later in the afternoon.
It is well known at ARI that folk from Orkney will make the most of the opportunity to do some shopping, and the lovely radiographer who did my DXA scan was chatting during the procedure and asking me if I needed directions to Marks & Spencer (M&S) or anywhere else!
So armed with some directions I set off to look round the shops. I didn't particularly need to buy anything and wasn't really looking in earnest (I do quite a bit of shopping locally, or online, or on visits south anyway). But I did enjoy a brief foray into some of the well known department stores. In one store the "Kitchen" department had so many gadgets that I seem to have managed most of my life to live without!! I get bored with shopping easily, so after a while I went in search of tea and cake...... several times in fact.
Eventually it was time to head for the airport so I trotted along to the bus station and got the airport bus. The flight appeared to be on time but a friend in Orkney was keeping an eye on flight information and texted me to say the flight was likely to be delayed by about 20 minutes. This was NOT what I wanted to hear. I had hoped to get back home Thursday night but only had 50 minutes from plane landing in Kirkwall to getting the ferry, and 45 minutes of that would be the drive.
But according to the pilot time can be made up in the air (no idea how pilots do that - go faster? Take a more direct route?? Play with the Space-Time-Continuum Thing?). Anyway we were coming into Kirkwall airport and I still thought I *might* just make the ferry. But then the pilot comes onto the intercom and says "We're going to go and have a look, using the instruments, to see if we can land, but if we think it's not going to work we'll abort the landing and then make a decision what to do." .....Um..... huh???? It then transpired there was thick fog in Orkney (again) and although there is an instrument landing system - they need to see the runway once they land.
We circled Kirkwall (or so we were told, too thick to see) and eventually made the landing attempt. Fortunately the pilot landed the plane OK, though the wheels had hit the tarmac before the passengers were expecting them - it was that thick we didn't see the ground coming up!! There was a collective "Oh" as the wheels hit tarmac.
All hope of getting home dispelled I phoned my friend who had been keeping me up to date on the flight as she'd offered me a bed for the night. So I stopped off at Tesco for supplies and headed over to her through really thick fog. I was amazed the flight had landed! Ah well at least we were not diverted to Inverness or back to Aberdeen. And the next morning I was able to get home.
So.... I just hope I don't have to make another trip to Aberdeen for a while!!
There's a lighthouse around here somewhere....
Sunday, 21 July 2013
Finally this weekend we got some of the heat that the rest of the country has been experiencing. It was 23 degrees C in the garden yesterday. Thankfully there was a sea breeze so that made it feel pleasant rather than hot and sticky. The rest of the UK has been getting temps around 27C which is above average for this time of year. That and high humidity too and high temps at night - no thanks, I'll stick with our variable weather here ;-) Though it has to be said one doesn't move to Orkney for the weather.....
|The stone henny house on the left basking in the sun|
But then again these photos make it look positively tropical.
Saturday, 20 July 2013
Of course no tour of Orkney is complete without visiting Skara Brae. TEXT Much as I love Skara Brae, I have been round many times, so often take the chance for a cup of coffee and Cake while visitors explore. So for more photos take a look here.
Nearby is the lovely old St Peter's Kirk, no longer used for services but maintained in it's original state (1836) by Scotland's Churches Trust. A huge pulpit dominates - the hood to aid the distribution of sound from the Minister, no doubt! The Sunday School room is beneath the pulpit - no noisy children in days gone past in a kirk!
The website of the Trust states "The interior is dominated by a towering pulpit reaching to gallery height, the austere interior powerfully evokes the experience of Presbyterian worship in the 19th century when over 500 packed the building - each allowed a mere 18 inches of pew."
I love these oil lamps.... they would have been needed in the dark of Orkney winters...
Then it was back to South Ronaldsay for a visit to the Tomb of the Eagles (so named as sea eagle talons were found in the tomb), also one of my favourite places! Much as I love Skara Brae, I much prefer the informality at the Tomb of the Eagles. The family run the interpretation centre, and have lived on the land for hundreds of years. They consider the inhabitants of the tomb to be their ancestors. Ronnie Simison, who found the Tomb was a great character, and sadly only died recently. He will be greatly missed. Meanwhile his family continue his legacy, with his daughter showing us the various exhibits. It's a rare pleasure to be able to hold the tools used thousands of years ago.
And the only way into the tomb is either to crawl or use pull yourself through on the "granny skateboard" (modelled here by a granny - tee hee, she'll kill me if she sees this!!).
The landscape around is bare and it's easy to imagine Sea Eagles wheeling around....
There is a lovely standing stone erected in memory of Ronnie Simison and his wife Morgan.
Then back to Stromness and towards Warbeth which overlooks the Hoy Hills and Graemsay.
Thursday, 18 July 2013
I interrupt my holiday ramble to bring you news of the latest archaeological dig at the Ness of Brodgar! The dig diary is updated daily and available here
Already some interesting things have been uncovered and it's only day 3.
Also here is a great timelapse film of the two days of uncovering of the dig (it's backfilled each year to protect it). This film was made by Mark Jenkins, a filmaker living in Stromness.
And for a reminder from last year about the Ness of Brodgar excavations here is a previous post.
All very exciting!
One of the places my sister was particularly keen to visit was the Italian Chapel. This is also one of my favourite places. This wee Catholic chapel is on Lamb Holm, one of the linked South Isles. It was built by Italian Prisoners of War during WWII, as they were housed in the camp that surrounded it. Despite it's appearance, it is, in fact, two nissan huts joined together and then decorated. All the construction was done by the Italian POW's themselves, using whatever came to hand.
Beautifully detailed work....
The painting of the Madonna and Child was from a picture given to Domenico Chiocchetti by his mother before he left Italy. Chiocchetti was responsible for most of the interior decoration and he copied the picture for the alter piece. He remained to finish the work on the chapel even when his fellow prisoners were released.
The metal work is made out of scrap metal. Whatever could be found around the camp was used.
The interior is all trompe-l'oeil work. It's very effectively done.
The chapel fell into disrepair for a time, then Domenico Chiocchetti oversaw some of the renovation some years ago. There are still close links with his remaining family and the small town of Moena, the region of Italy from whence the prisoners of war came. Services are sometimes held in the church, weddings too, and of course it is much visited by tourists.
The Chapel overlooks the Churchill Barrier that the prisoners helped construct. These barriers were part of the defence of Scapa Flow against submarine attack. Today the barriers are road causeways linking the isles to the Orkney Mainland. It all looks very benign on a Summer day. Bloomin' cold and bleak in the winter though!
Wednesday, 17 July 2013
Above is the Pentalina, the ferry that sails from St Margaret's Hope in South Ronaldsay to Gills Bay on the Orkney Mainland.
Here is Cromarty Square in the village of St Margaret's Hope
The countryside around Hoxa, I love these lupins, though they are the cultivated variety....
Fields of buttercups at Hoxa too...
And a lovely beach, popular with visitors
And a bit of a surprise as I turned a corner..... this gentleman had the most stunning display of flowers and - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs! A touch of Disney in Orkney.
While in Hoxa we visited the Hoxa Tapestry Gallery of Leila Thomson. I love her work and dream of owning a piece, but for now I content myself with cards and prints.
On another rather greyer day we visited Maes Howe in Stenness...... This is a magnificent chambered cairn dating from about 2700BC. To enter the cairn you have to stoop low (even me!) and walk down a long narrow passage. This is aligned to allow the last rays of the mid-winter sun as it slips down behind the hills of Hoy to shine down the passage way and light up the rear wall of the chamber. No photography was allowed inside so to read more click on this link.
Um..... that is the one day it rained!! Welcome to an Orkney Summer ;-)
And on returning to Stromness we saw a small cruise ship sailing out of the harbour.....(the weather cleared up in the afternoon so I hope the visitors had a good time around Stromness).
More of our travelling adventures to follow.....
Tuesday, 16 July 2013
So I had my sister and one of my nephew's to stay for a week. Their first visit to Orkney so we did all the major sights. I drove 250 miles too! The weather was kind to us, though I think my sister thought it was a little on the chilly side! They come from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, where it tends to be a little warmer....today for them it's about 24 degrees C in the shade....meanwhile here it's blowing bit, and is cloudy and dull..... but there are compensations :-)
So I'll share some photos (without people - they're rather shy) of our tour around the Orkney Mainland (no time to island hop apart from Graemsay (obviously) and Lyness on Hoy).
To start....the shores around Graemsay....
Evening sun..... out to the Atlantic.... (wave to Canada)
Fields of buttercups around Garson (a good year for buttercups...)
Home, of course, leading down to the beach
A seal, whiskers and all.....
The "lane" home from the beach
The hills of Hoy on a glass calm sea....
Hoy High and the hills in wispy cloud...
Sailing into the town of Stromness
And of course there were sunsets....
Almost apocalyptic sunsets!
And misty mornings that the sun burned off.....
More photos of our adventures to follow....