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Sunday 26 June 2016

More summer photos....

This morning I was putting factor 50 sun screen on (I'm fair-haired and burn easily) and set off to the garden to do battle with creeping buttercup.  This afternoon I came in with rain dripping off my nose after what I thought was a light shower turned into more persistent rain.  Ah well I did succeed clearing one border of the cheeky buttercup!  So now it's a cup of tea and time to blog.  Here are some photos taken over the last week or so around Graemsay.

The longest day has now past (sobs quietly), but sunset is still about 10.30 pm and sunrise about 4am so on a clear night it really doesn't get that dark. Below is a poor picture taken at 2.15 a.m from my study window. Sun rising behind Hoy High lighthouse.

Everything is growing really rapidly now with the long days, warmth and a few rain showers.  Lots of the flowers are blooming in the garden.  Here's a yellow columbine.  In Orkney columbines (aquelegia) are known a Granny's bonnets.  You can see why - this would be Granny's Sunday Best I would think!

The verges along the road are full of wildflowers and this year the cow parsley and buttercups are doing particularly well.

Looking over Sandside Bay to Quoys and Garson.

Lots of marsh and health orchids blooming.  In Orkney this particular Orchid is known as "Adam", it's paler counterpart is known as "Eve".

Again they are all along the verges and I even have some in my grass at the back of the house.

Now for a wander along our island "main" road. Cow parsley and maran grass line the banks.

On the other side of one of the banks is a wonderful display of the cow parsley

And further up what passes for a hill on Graemsay we get a lovely view back across Sandside Bay to my house and the lighthouse!

Zoom in a little bit....

And a little bit closer.  The hills in the background are the Orphir hills on the Orkney Mainland.

Across the hill and a field of buttercups is Quoynanapp with the Hoy hills in the background.

Heading back home now and the lambs are looking chunky and growing fast. They are enjoying feeling the sun on their backs.

And the house is in sight, hope Button has put the kettle on! Who wants tea? There is lemon drizzle cake too, freshly iced :-)

Friday 24 June 2016

EU referendum

I don't usually report on anything too political on my blog but it would be odd if on a momentous day like today I didn't say something. So..... what to say, except I am stunned.  I did vote to remain in the EU. I voted in 1975 to join the then Common Market and I voted to remain in the EU. I know it's less than ideal and change needed to be made to the EU structure etc.  But I felt we were stronger together than apart.  In this age of globalisation becoming a very small country in a very big world doesn't seem to make much sense. I also feel that a simply In or Out vote didn't cover the many complexities of the issues. However the majority of the UK population voted to leave the EU. To be precise 52% voted to leave and 48% voted to remain.

In Orkney the vote was in favour of remaining part of the EU.  Voting figures released today show that 7,189 voted to remain while 4,193 voted to leave, with a turnout of 68.45%.

Scotland as a whole voted to remain in the EU (62%), with just 38% voting to leave. Nicola Sturgeon (First Minister for Scottish Government) has said that a second Scottish Independence Referendum is "highly likely". Then Scotland would be able to apply for EU membership.

The UK Prime Minister has resigned as he supported remaining IN.....  Though it was HIS idea to have a referendum because his own party were fracturing.  He misjudged the mood of the voting public...badly.

So, we live in interesting times.  It's oh so easy to put a cross next to REMAIN or LEAVE but it will take years to untangle the legal issues and the ramifications will be felt for generations to come.

Today I drink tea, eat cake, wander on the beach and endeavour to calm my troubled soul.

Old kirk on Graemsay

There was a time that folk regularly walked along the paths to worship at this old kirk on Graemsay. Nowadays services are held intermittently in the Community Hall.  This kirk, like many others, has been sold off due to rising costs and falling numbers of the congregation.  It's now used as a barn for storing hay.  The kirkyard is still in use though and is maintained with regular grass cutting during the summer season. It's in a beautiful, peaceful setting. A very tranquil "last resting place".

Not much glass left in the windows now.

I haven't gone round to look for the oldest headstone, but most are from the 19th Century.

Most have very simple family headstones, though one or two have more elaborate "obelisk" type monuments.

And look at the view! This gate was the original entrance. Now it leads to a farmers field and you approach the kirkyard from the road on the other side.

Looking towards the Kirk and Eastwards.

The kirkyard is right on the shore and there is a lovely walk around the coast nearby.

And S. who is cutting the grass this summer, has been leaving delightful patches of wild flowers among the graves. Bluebells....

Blue and pink bells (hybrids obviously)!

Grass of parnasus (it's the white flower).

Pink sea thrift

And on the old stone dyke (wall) hangs this wonderful hairy lichen!

Me though, I plan to be scattered along the shore, but hopefully not for a while yet!  :-)

Thursday 23 June 2016

Mist over Graemsay

There is actually a tune written by Fran Gray, of Longhope, Hoy, called Mist over Graemsay which she composed for one of our parties.  Though at that party we might have been more like p*ssed in the mist over Graemsay. Hee hee!

I'm not sure these photos are quite as atmospheric as actually seeing this, but they hopefully give an idea how the sea mist (haar) sometimes creeps in after a warm sunny day, bringing a chill to the air. Click on the pictures to see them in a slide-show view (er bigger!).

Above looking towards Stromness as it disappears in the mist. Below, looking further West a bit...

Hiding the Hoy Hills.

And it doesn't seem to stop the hens in their quest for tasty morsels!

And this is the view from the table where I often compose my blog entries in the Spring/Summer. Looking at my little piece of paradise :-)

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Sunsets, flowers, hens and Button (again)

These photos were taken earlier in the month but I just love summer and the sunsets. Oh and the sun and warmth too of course!  As indeed do the hens and Madam Button.

And on sunny days I can hang my washing on the line, just as the Sandside women have done since the house was built in 1860(ish) :-)

And the joy of flowers in the garden - remember this was back at the beginning of the month....

Aquilegia (columbines)....

The bees just love all the flowers.  Here a carder bee is enjoying the nectar from the cornflowers.

The hens enjoy the sunshine too of course.  One of my Light Sussex hens having a wander across the grass. A girl on a mission, clearly.

She joins another of the hens for some mutual rootling....

And when it gets too hot in the sun hens and cockerels retreat to a shady spot beneath the grey willows. You need to look closely as they are well camouflaged!

And, of course, Button likes to snooze in the sun - here she is under the fennel! She comes in smelling rather lovely sometimes!

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Some views of Graemsay

A bit of a drive around the island one sunny evening in June. Above the hill leading down to the old Kirk (more of that later).  The hills of Hoy looking magnificent in the background.

Below, facing South towards Hoy.  This is known as Burra Sound, and is one of the entrances to Scapa Flow. When I first moved to the island there was a block ship still visible, deliberately sunk to deter submarines during WWII, now lying below the surface.

The sleeping dragon not looking quite like a sleeping dragon....

Big skies, the sun's rays behind a cloud....

"Who are you looking at?"

Hoy High lighthouse (actually Hoy Sound High lighthouse as it shines upon Hoy Sound).

The light at the top of the tower.....

And ....Button still snoozes..... in the conservatory overlooking the water and the lighthouse.