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Thursday 29 September 2016

Merry Dancers!

Well despite my various electronic calamities this week there have been some awesome meteorological goings on!  The Merry Dancers (aurora/Northern Lights) have been giving wonderful displays over the last couple of nights.  I haven't cracked how to take photos of them yet so will rely on others. Premysl Fojtu, a local photographer, takes some very evocative and stunning images and he is happy for me to share these.

The one above show a photon beam (bit Star Trek if you ask me!) proton arc in the sky to the West of the Northern Lights last night.  I wasn't out at the time so missed it.  Amazing though, along with the millions of stars in the sky.

And this panorama.....

Stunning images!  I love seeing the lights.  Though there is a lot of light pollution from Stromness so I have to go out the front of the house where that is blocked off so that I can really see the aurora.

Interestingly in recent years I've developed a fear of being outside in the dark. Irrational I know. I always have a good torch with me and I know where obstacles might be.  But still.... so it's a bit of a challenge for me to stand outside even for this display, but I'm determined to conquer my fear! At the moment I can last 3 minutes outside, hoping I can extend that!  Though obviously the weather has to be appropriate - ha!

Grrrrrr! Blogger stole all my links!

Seemingly Google Blogger has changed some techno stuff and now I have lost ALL the links to the blogs I like to read.  I will have to start from scratch.  Sigh..... VERY Grumpy on Graemsay.....

Not been my techno week.  My email was playing up earlier in the week (provider problem they said. Well it was MY problem too!!). Broadband was playing up just when I needed to submit some work. Then my external keyboard died. Add to that my TV digibox managed to wipe all the recordings. Gone were my "cosy sofa day" recordings such as Morse, Lewis, Wycliffe and lots of lovely interesting documentaries. And now this..... sobs quietly.....

Ah well I have the technology (pah!) I will rebuild it to misquote Billion Dollar Man.....

I'll begin with the Orkney list.......

Monday 26 September 2016

Late summer on Graemsay

Space ship about to land on Sandside ;-) Beam me up Scotty!

Below, looking across Hoy Sound to Stromness from Graemsay.

A closer view of the harbour

Looking across to Hoy High, Sandside and the Orphir hills

The old croft of Quoynanapp

Another old croft above Western Horn

Across the green fields under a blue sky....

A field of sheep - Jacob and Zwartbles.....

Looking across the garden at Sandside to Stromness

Pecky hen strutting her stuff on the grass in front of Sandside

Look at that beady eye!  Definitely a hen on a mission for worms!

The weather is set to change this week but the last two weeks of glorious weather have set us up for Autumn that is for certain!

Sunday 25 September 2016

A couple of links.....

Mario has written a lovely post about Graemsay that you might like to take a look at (and other posts on that site too of course!).

Many of you will have seen my photos of the Italian Chapel in Orkney (see here for details)  Well here is a recording of Panis Angelicus sung by Angela Chiochetti in the chapel her father decorated when he was a prisoner of war.  Click Here to listen and watch

Saturday 24 September 2016

Graemsay Concert Night

Last night Jean Leonard brought over some youngsters from a local Strathspey & Reel group to play a concert for us. We had it as a bit of a fundraiser for our wee hall, so all the Graemsay folk were there and a few from the Mainland came over too.  On a Friday there is a ferry back to Stromness at 9.45 so although it's a short evening it does mean we can have folk over and they can get home again on the same night.

Anyway back to the concert. They were brilliant!  There were 9 youngsters ranging in age from 14 to 18. Seven of the lasses were playing the fiddle while the two lads played accordion and/or piano. One lad (I'm hopeless with names I'm afraid to say) composed a tune for the accordion "A visit to Graemsay" just for the concert.

Jean is fantastic and for many many years has been nurturing and encouraging young talent in traditional music.  And this group certainly did her proud.  She told wee stories about them and their playing.  She missed her vocation - she should have been a comedian as well as a gifted musician.

I was blown away by their talent, all of them skilled in different ways.

We had laid on a supper, including home bakes (of course) and then afterwards there was some dancing.  The lads and lasses starting us off. Though they were a bit fast for most of us. We do the dances in slow motion these days. Hee hee!

Anyway here are a few pictures.  I did check they didn't mind being on the blog!  I promised no embarrassing photos.

Take your partners please! Not to be put off by the lack of men willing to dance, the ladies just dance together!

Meanwhile two boys are laughing at their older siblings having a go at dancing.  They will get their own back boys, never fear!

The visiting lasses showed the way.....

Others join in too.

One of the Graemsay lasses shows her dad a few steps.

Meanwhile a wee princess in sparkly shoes joins in.

Aforementioned Princess very proud to have completed the dance.

We raised quite a few pounds for the hall funds and had a brilliant night into the bargain.  We're hoping they all want to come back again!

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Late summer flowers.....

As ever, some things worked well in the garden this year and some not. A couple of unseasonal gales didn't help either. Though quite a few plants have rallied since and I have a second flowering of poppies.  So here are some photos from the garden.  Overall it's still very "bitty" and some of the borders need a bit of a rethink. However my aim was to be a haven for all insects (bees in particular) and that has certainly worked well! Lots of pollen available from early bulbs through to autumn flowering, and berries for the birds (ahem they probably nab a few insects too!).

Above some random sweet peas found their way into the wild flower mix which was a great success. Borage is in there too - a perennial that's been in the garden for many years.  This patch has been a favourite of the bees.  There was corn cockle in there too ......

Here's a new bed in the middle of the lawn. I covered it with plastic last winter aided by S who helps with the heavy work in the garden.  Then this summer I planted up with perennials.  The sea holly is my favourite. I have some elsewhere. Just love the texture and colour. Bulbs planted in spaces and more plants to go into it in Spring.

As I say, a few bulbs planted..... miniature narcissi (tete-a-tete). They do well in my garden as they are low enough to survive most wind without snapping off! Overall I planted about 150 spring bulbs.

Another view of the new bed.....

One of the hens came along to see if there was a chance for a spot of lunch... (there was).

Yes she looks moth-eaten. The hens are moulting. She's lost her tail! (Don't fret it will grow back soon!).

A pretty pale geranium. I love the hardy geraniums, and they come in so many lovely colours!

No idea what this is but it grows from a bulb and is very pretty!

There's lots of crocosmia in the garden. Love the colour, it reminds me of fire....

And rudbekia - such a happy plant...

And in this bed a solitary poppy (though more about to burst into flower).

I mentioned the poppy - it was buzzing as there is a bee deep within!

And on the subject of bees, here is another one! Can't remember the name of this plant but it is another of my favourites.

And now the photos you've all been waiting for....Madam Button....sigh.... it's being so cute that keeps her alive sometimes! She's taken to waking me during the night to announce she has brought in a late supper/early breakfast.  Sometimes I have to rescue and release said supper/breakfast.....I have become adept at catching very hoppy mice.... to Button's amusement....

The garden is just a few yards from the shore, so although I do get a bit despondent about progress it probably does pretty well given salt spray and sand being blown over it for 6 months of the year!

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Still warm and sunny!

Apparently, meteorologically speaking it is Autumn. However in Orkney the temperatures are above average and the sun still shines.  I'll take as much of that as is available thank you very much!  Last year at this time fields were awash with water and there was a poor harvest.  This year looks set to be much better.  Anyway here are a few photos taken on Graemsay over the last few days.

The photo above was taken yesterday from my bedroom window - hence the reflections!  Some view - eh?

Clouds over the Hoy hills - no really there are hills in there somewhere!

Ah that's better...... loving the clouds in this photo....

Looking towards the mouth of Hoy Sound - Canada next stop....

And Warbeth on the right on the Orkney Mainland - the other bit of land to the entrance to the Sound.

And time to dabble among the shells and maerl (cold water coral).

And back in the garden - Stromness in the distance!

And finally a couple of sunsets.  The sun has moved to set behind Graemsay now. Sunset at 8pm.

Monday 19 September 2016

New chick!

On my return from my holiday last week (did you miss me?!) I found one of my hens had hatched a wee chick.  I knew the hen had gone broody again (she's already got one from earlier in the years who is now big enough to fend for itself). But I clearly hadn't been counting the days (21 to be precise) so on my first morning out feeding them all I heard a wee cheep cheep noise.  The hen had been brooding up in the old hay manager so presumably the wee chick had to hurl itself to the ground - fortunately strewn with hay!  It was a very new chick so probably only born the day before - the hen seems to keep sitting on them for the first day.  The chick often doesn't need to feed for a day or two as it is ingesting the remains of the "yolk" etc.

This hen is a very good mother so I wasn't able to get too close to the chick without both getting quite flustered and I didn't want to upset either of them! The powdery stuff is crushed up hen food specially for the new chicks. Plus some grain for Mum.

On sunny days the hen brings the chick outdoors but on cooler days she keeps it safely within the barn, usually tucked safely underneath!

Now talking of eggs, which we were, sort of....  I found this rather larger than usual egg in one of the nests.  Bet that made the poor henny's eyes water laying THAT.