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Sunday 31 January 2016

Frosty days...

These photos are from a few weeks ago.  Sorry I keep posting the same scenery but in Winter I don't tend to walk too far.  And anyway it's good to see the same scene in different weather/seasons. That's my story anyway. Haha!  Above, snowy/sleety clouds gather behind Hoy High lighthouse.

Geese are grazing in the field at the side of the house.  Snow on the Orphir hills across the water.

The chooks were eager for breakfast!

And later in the garden came running towards me. I was checking that the water in the barrel and dishes wasn't frozen (it was).  The hens and cats drink out of these as do the wild birds.  I wash them regularly, but frozen solid on this day!

It was a lovely day for a walk to the shore.  The moon was bright in the sky.  Love this photo, the natural light of the moon beside the man-made light, both guiding lights in their own way.

It was a frosty walk down to the old pier and the beach.

Button wasn't too keen on getting cold paws, but neither would she be left behind!

All was calm and peaceful

There's a natural "swimming pool" by the pier - didn't fancy a dip though!  Not even my toes!

Frost and snow above the strand line

Looking across to the old croft of Quoys....

The MV Graemsay sailing back to Stromness. It had called in at Graemsay for the cargo run earlier and then sailed on to Hoy.  This is it returning to harbour now.

All looks calm in Stromness

One of the small fishing boats sailing out of Stromness, closely followed by a flock of gulls.  I'm guessing it's dumping remains of fish.

This old bit of farm machinery is teetering on the brink!

And the seaweed is frosted

On the way back to the house, the sun has melted the frost on part of the roof, but part of it remains sparkling white!

And the hens, ever hopeful!

And the geese STILL grazing on the grass.

While Button watches....

And "Jack Frost" has been busy decorating the wheelbarrow wheel

But the frost didn't last long and it was back to wind and rain again.....

Saturday 30 January 2016

Gloomy day....

Weather has been gloomy today, but finally this evening the wind has died down and the rain has stopped.  We get some respite tomorrow and then another storm (Henry) makes an appearance on Monday.

No major damage on the island as far as I have heard, nor across Orkney either.  We are used to Winter storms and roof tiles are nailed on, anything that might move in a 100mph wind is tied down or put in shelter.   Most of us stock up our freezers, and have lanterns and other preparations ready. Just like folk in many rural communities.  The main thing for me is to remember to charge all my "electronic devices"!  But I have a battery radio and "real books" to read so as long as I can stay warm I'm fine.

Stromness was disappearing into the hail mist today.....

No doubt the hens will be knocking on the door tomorrow morning for breakfast!  I'd given them and Charlie the barn cat, extra rations as I had no intention of going outdoors on Friday.  Saturday morning was a bit hair-raising too.  I thought I was going to have to crawl on all fours back from the hen house!  The hens had found shelter in the shrubbery so were out scratching about but were glad of a full breakfast.

This will be them tomorrow....a normal morning..... Ninja cockerel to the fore, but usually it's one of the black hens battering on the cat flap with sharp pecky beaks!  Actually yesterday afternoon when it was still quite windy I could hear one of the cockerels crowing out in the garden!  I didn't shut them in the hen house completely, they could still get out through their little hatch.  I think they get more stressed being shut in as they are not used to it.  And they always manage to find a sheltered spot in the lea of the wind.

"The Outrun" by Amy Liptrot

A new book by Amy Liptrot, journalist and writer, who grew up in Orkney, has gained great acclaim since it was published a couple of weeks ago.  Rave reviews in newspapers and magazines.  It's not an easy read, but it is compelling and I highly recommend it!  Amy's style of writing is just extraordinary.  She weaves stories of her recovery from addiction to alcohol and drugs, with the Orkney landscape where she returned after being in rehab in London.

Here's a short film of Amy speaking about her book.

Her book is available in hardback or on Kindle via Amazon here

I know Amy a little.  And I am proud to say we shared a pot of tea in my kitchen when she came to swim in Sandside Bay.  :-)

I took her book to the shore too.  It seemed only right.

Friday 29 January 2016


While the storm rages and I may unplug my modem for safety, here's a "surf's up" interlude.  Some lads were in Orkney a while ago and filmed their surfing experience.  Here is their film.

Click here to see on Vimeo

Stormy days.....

There's a "bit of a blow" going on at the moment.  Forecast to be 80mph by lunch time.  I may be gone some time!

However I have battery lanterns, torches and radio, a cast hob (hotplate), and hot water bottles to keep warm!  Button went out at midnight last night and I'm hoping she sleeps through the current "hoolie" until this evening when the wind drops.

Heavy rain, hail and sleet at the moment, and snow forecast.  Some water coming in over the kitchen window, but if that is the worse that happens we'll be fine!

Yesterday Button and I went for a walk along the shore.  It was definitely the calm before the storm!

This storm is called "Gertrude" (Met Office naming them this year!).  There used to be a Gertie living in my house, so I'm hoping this Gertie will be good to us!  This storm is the tail end of the one that hit the East coast of the US last weekend.  We don't expect so much snow though!

See you on the other side of the latest "bit o' wind"!

Sunday 24 January 2016

Bonkers Button

So Button and I set out on our usual walk to the coral beach today.  The sky was overcast but there was hardly a breeze and it was very mild so it was a pleasant meander along the shore.  On the way back Button decided she didn't want to leave.  She is sitting in a very determined fashion in the photo above.  I had "things to do" so I headed home.  I cast her a backward glance and saw THIS!

Gah!!!! I was in panic mode.  I called her, but of course she ignored me.  The photo above was taken on a zoom so I knew I couldn't rush to grab her and anyway that may have made matters worse. There was nothing for it but to wait in trepidation!!

Sigh, this is her "WHAT?!" pose, typical of many a teenager when they are interrupted doing something they enjoy.....

Of course she knew exactly what she was doing......

And made a safe descent to sea level.  Though WHY remains a mystery to me!

On a historical (rather than the earlier hysterical) note, the old stone pier was built around 1860 and is known as "the lighthouse pier" at Sandside, because all the stone was brought across from the Point Of Ness in Stromness to this pier and then hauled to either end of the island to build Hoy High and Hoy Low lighthouses.  I love this pier!  As, it would seem, does Madam Button!

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Acres of calm.....

Even the clouds were stretching out in the calm
A belated Happy New Year to you!  I've not been in the mood for blogging since the New Year.  We have had unremitting gales and rain.  No floods like many people in Scotland and the North of England, so I'm thankful for that.  But low grey skies, rain, wind, more rain, more wind.  On Sunday the wind was from the North East and about 70mph with gusts greater than that.  Thankfully we at Sandside are all OK.  And there doesn't seem to have been much damage on the island either. Unlike other isles in Orkney that had ferries and piers damaged!

Anyway today we had "acres of calm".  Ohh the sky stretched high and far, the water was mirror calm.  I could hear BIRDS calling.  The lovely warbling call of curlew, gulls, lapwings and even a sparrow twittering in the garden with a wren scolding it nearby.

It's almost the first time since New Year I've been out of the house except to feed hens, or go on a quick visit to town to do some shopping.  It's been hard to stand in the wind, and getting in and out of a car is a challenge if you want to keep all your doors intact!

Today was pure joy.  Button had made the most of the start of the calm yesterday and had been out hunting.  "Evidence" of mouse hunts littered the porch (sorry were you eating?!).  And today she was delighted that we could resume our walks to the beach.  So here are some photos of "acres of calm".....  I hope you enjoy the views as much as I did!

These few were taken earlier in the day, about 9am, not long after sunrise.

The sun is just kissing the head of the dragon of Hoy.

Then just after lunch time for a proper wander....

Looking over towards the Orphir hills

Towards Stromness.  Not even the approaching cloud bank could put us off!

We were going for our first proper New Year Walk on the 12th January. Geezsh!

Button stepping out too of course.

The sea was like a mill pond....

I could skate across the mirror to Stromness maybe?

Looook at that s-p-a-c-e

Er - and lots of seaweed.  The smell was a little pungent on the shore.  Tons of seaweed thrown up during the gales.

Did I mention space?  And Button?

This old house is teetering on the brink!  Each winter it gets a little nearer....

And there goes our wee ferry, the MV Graemsay, heading back to Stromness.

These old buildings are slowly crumbling.  This is the old sail shed at Sandside.

I scrambled down onto the sandy beach too.  Button was slower than me, she kept stopping for lots of lovely sniffs. Goodness knows of what, all I could smell was seaweed!  Can you spot her??

The girls were delighted to have some sun on their feathers!  They'd been able to get out in the shelter of the buildings near their henny house, but it was miserable in the wind and rain so had spent much of the time hunkering down indoors over the last 10 days.

Today was also momentous because I cleaned my kitchen windows!  Not a very frequent occurrence! But the kitchen windows looked like this.... and they are NOT frosted glass! It was impossible to see what the neighbours were doing.  hee hee!

So a quick spruce up and now.... a room with a view.

And what did we do during the stormy days?  Well *I* was working much of it.  Did some baking.... But I also had fun with a Christmas jigsaw..... and Button..... as you can see - she hibernated!

The forecast is for some calmer weather, though we may have SNOW before the weekend.  Actually, that would make a lovely change...for a while!