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Tuesday 28 April 2015

Stromness Harbour and Pierhead

We'll start our walk today looking at the rooftops from the pier.  The tall spire is the Town Hall (a former church) that I told you about on our other walk.  The black/grey corrugated roof is on part of the Pier Arts Centre. I love the roofs of Stromness!

The cream coloured building is the new library. The building itself is old, with the "crow steps" on the gable end.  But it's been gutted inside and new bits added on (to the right) to form the new Library, which should be opening soon.

The harbour is still very much a working harbour. No longer home to the herring fleets of the 19th Century, instead creel boats fish for partans (crabs) like this one.....

Or dive boats taking visitors to dive the many wrecks in Scapa Flow.

And a very smart new dive boat joins the fleet this year....

And general workboats....

There are also a lot of boats working in the renewable energy industry, though there is a new pier across from Stromness now which can be used by them.  More easily accessible for the onshore vehicles too.

And of course Stromness one of the places you can sail from to mainland Scotland. The ferry goes to Scrabster and back, daily (the boat with the Viking on in the background).  And the wee boat in the foreground is the Golden Mariana, the boat currently sailing to Graemsay and Hoy.  Um yes it's a bit smaller than our usual ferry!  The MV Graemsay is off having new engines fitted so is out of service for about six weeks.  In the meantime we have this boat which usually sails between Westray and Papa Westray (they have a small plane they can use).  It's not my favourite vessel but it's better than no boat at all!

We have our own sign to the ferry as many folk think it sails from the main Ferry Terminal instead of here...Hmm the sign is looking a bit precarious!

And at this time of year there is work to do to boats to get them ready to go in the water again.

And looking into the harbour you can see some of the piers that jut out.  Every house would have had access to a pier to launch a small boat, the houses on the other side of the street would have had rights of access too.

This part of the harbour is often used by the Navigation Training School.  And the low building in front of the red shed in the photo above is the Pier Arts Centre.

Looking up the pier is the Stromness Hotel which was established in 1901 and was taken over as part of the Armed Forces headquarters during WWII.

In front of the hotel is the pierhead fountain.  This dates from 1901 and commemorates Alexander Graham who, on behalf of the merchants of Stromness, fought against taxes levied from Kirkwall (the capital of Orkney). He won his case but dies penniless in 1783. The history is here and it's fascinating. There is still some rivalry between Stromness and Kirkwall to this day.

To the right of the fountain (um it doesn't have water in it now!) is the RNLI office (Lifeboat office).

There's a commemorative plaque.....

I love the horse hoof feet!  It was originally a trough when the main form of transport was horse and cart.

Also at the pierhead is a newly erected statue of John Rae, the explorer,  known as "Orkney's greatest unsung hero".  Finally after quite a fight he is also commemorated in Westminster Abbey. Not a very good photo of him as the sun was bright.  There's a better photo here.  When the statue was first unveiled the adjacent parking space had a sign saying "Huskies only". Ha!  Oh fer goodness sake!!!  Blogger will NOT let me put this the correct way round.... well take a look at the link I gave or lie down and look at this!

But the BEST view from the harbour is, of course, out to Graemsay! Hoy High lighthouse on Graemsay....

So I hope you enjoyed your potter round the pier head.  I have a friend visiting this week so I'll try and get some photos of the South End of Stromness as we will take a wander down there to the museum.

Monday 27 April 2015

A walk down the street (Part 2)

Now we start our walk today outside the Northlight Studio, run by Ros Bryant, a tapestry weaver and stone carver.  There was a lovely exhibition of various tapestries. I particularly liked the one of the cockerel! And there were others from around the world inside.

I was fortunate to find the gallery open and a "work in progress". A tapestry of Stromness!  It's not clear where this will be displayed once it is complete as it is large and needs a large space.  I'm hoping for the new library!  Anyway I chatted to the ladies working on this. The "cartoon" is behind the frame, and I was assured that Graemsay would feature later one, just the tip of Graemsay with the Hoy Low lighthouse on it, but we won't be missing out! I loved watching them work. Such skill and patience.  I'll try and get a later picture as they are about half way up by now I would think.

And outside the studio a wonderful collection of stones and driftwood.

Steps lead up to lanes and houses on the upper slope of the hill that Stromness nestles within.

And across the road, another gallery, this one "Artworks of the Earth" is the working studio of Jeanne Bouza Rose who has made her home in Stromness, but is originally from the USA.  She uses a wide variety of media and also runs workshops. I'm tempted to try one though I am not at all artistic!

And down the side of gallery a glimpse onto another pier with a fascinating wall shape. No the buildings are not collapsing on each other. These "cutaways" were part of the original design - maximising space for building but allowing people and carts (remember pre cars etc!) to move abou the town.

A bit further up the street and we come across the Khyber really!

And coming back down the street again, this is where we stopped for coffee yesteray. The Bay Leaf Delicatessan, with wonderful and interesting goodies, and small art exhibitions too.

And up this lane there are more of the curious alley ways!

And I want this address!!

And heading back down the street, I love the collection by this doorway!

Such pretty daffodils on display.  And the bins aren't for rubbish, but you will see them around the lanes.  They are for salt or grit for when it gets icy.  Steep hills and ice are NOT a good combination!

Mmmm the smell of coffee from the "Deli".....shall we have another cup? And tomorrow we can have a walk around the pier head.....

Sunday 26 April 2015

A walk down the street (part 1)

I thought you might like to come on a different walk for a change, so come with me down the street in Stromness.  It's my favourite town (NEVER call it a village!).  Population just short of 2,000 I think.  And one main street with shops and businesses, and wee lanes leading up the way, and on the other side, wee piers leading to the harbour. There's lots to see so we'll take our time.

Above is a taster, a glimpse through the gateway to the Pier Arts Centre and a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth, beyond is the entrance to the harbour.

Now we seem to start rather inauspiciously with this photo, but it hides great excitement - these signs are on our new library (more interesting pictures later) which is soon to open. Fantastic news when so many libraries around the UK are struggling with funding and facing closure.  I also love the signs, when you step out this door turn left for Victoria Street, and right for John Street. Both meet here. Ha! Wonder what the history of THAT is....

And here are "roadworks" in the main street. Actually new flagstones are being laid after all the building work for the new library.  The flagstones are traditional and are from a stone quarry outside Stromness where the original flags would have been sourced.  The work is going on outside one of my favourite shops in town, Wisharts.  Inside this "tin hut" is an Aladdin's Cave where you can buy anything from decorating supplies, to kitchen utensils, light bulbs, bird food, rodent poison, and "widgets". Indeed you can buy widgets individually!  What are widgets? Well they are what I call odd little screws and such like that tend to hold the fabric of life together.  I just wander in with a broken widget and ask for a replacement and as if by magic, exactly what I want is produced.  No sharp sucking in of breath, or shaking of the head and a "Ooooh they went out years ago". Nope, they've never let me down yet!

As we walk past the roadworks, daffodils nod happily despite appearing to be "in jail". They are in the garden of the Town House, now used as council offices, but always presumably some sort of "municipal building".

Now we need to watch our toes as we walk down the street because this is also the "main road" through the town.  NOT to be driven by the faint hearted and I usually avoid driving down it unless absolutely necessary. Because despite being one vehicle wide it is, in fact, two way!  Much manouvering and reversing may be required... So pedestrians need to keep an eye out! On the right is my hairdresser, Orcadia Cuts, and on the left the Pier Arts Centre (we're just about to walk past Barbara H's sculpture on the left)

And here we are outside "Soft Pink", the local florist, and a great place to get locally grown plants too. AND they deliver to our boat!

And here is another of my favourite shops, one of the "Quernstone" shops, run by Elaine Bentley.  I love the colours and fabrics in this shop. Lovely knitwear and lots of gorgeous "bits and bobs". Elaine is used to me chatting to her as I wander round getting my "colour therapy"!

The shop has quite a history and used to be an ice cream parlour and coffee house run by an Italian family many years ago. The sign remains....

Here's another glimpse down onto one of the piers....

We're now outside one of the local hotels, the Orca (the proper name for killer whales), with Orca bones outside the door and the town is sheltered enough to have trees! To the right is Andrew Appleby's shop, selling pottery he makes out at his studio in Harray - he's known as the original "Harray Potter". Hee hee!

And a view of a lovely row of houses on one of the piers, with the Stromness lifeboat moored in the harbour ready for immediate action (all by volunteers).

I have yet to find out WHAT lies behind this peedie (small) door, and the significance of the old sign set into the wall above it....

And opposite the door is Church Road. There are THREE churches (or kirks as they are more usually called in Scotland). Up on the left out of sight is a former church which is now known as the Town Hall where concerts, parties, plays and other events take place. The local fringe cinema operates from here too.  On the right  halfway up the hill is another small church still in use, and up the top of the hill, the Community Centre which was also a church at one time.  There was a huge split in the Church of Scotland many years ago, hence so many "kirks" in one wee town.

Now we are at the Bank of Scotland. A solid looking building from a time when banks were - er - solid!

And opposite another glimpse down onto a pier into the harbour....

And another kirk! This is the main Church of Scotland kirk in Stromness with regular services and events. The Minister and some of the congregation travel out to Graemsay every few weeks to hold a service in the community hall for those Graemsay folk wishing to attend.

And here is an interesting piece of history. A "fishery barometer" dating from the 1850s, recently restored.  It was used to give weather information to guide local fisherman and seafarer's. Apparently the information was telegraphed to a London office!  And now we stand in the street with our mobile phones checking the weather for the moment for our exact location! Um..... okay.... the weather is horizontal today...sigh.... I hate technology sometimes....

Moving swiftly on...oooh look someone has their washing out!  You can't feel inhibited living in a town with a very public washing line!

And I think we'll take a break for today just outside Cream, a great shop that sells lots of made by local artists, as well as fun recycled stuff.  Up to the right is a small delicatessen that has delicious fresh coffee "to go" so shall we pop up there now for a coffee and carry on again tomorrow?

Sunday 19 April 2015

Remember to dream....

Many years ago when I lived in  North Kent, and commuted through London, I would dream of one day living near to the sea.  Given property prices in the South East of England, I imagined the closest I'd get to "living by the sea" would be in a town, where I might spy the sea from an attic window across many rooftops.  But I dreamed..... and I would collect pictures of my dream. Like in the photo above.......  and now I have this view from my bedroom window.... No daffodils in a jug, but they grow along the stone dyke instead..

I did have a beautiful tabby cat like in the first picture. But dear Fitzicat died a few years ago and now I have Button.

And of course there are daffodils......

And Button.......

Ahem.... yes Button....that'll do now!

So I got my dream picture for real .......Life is cool when it works out like that!