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Thursday 29 December 2016

Christmas Party

A bit out of sequence but still.  A week or so before Christmas we had our island Children's Christmas Party.  Though the adults have to take full part as well too of course. Hee hee! So here are a few photos of that night.  Above - pass the parcel!  Overseen by Irene (she's a busy person at Christmas, what with the Nativity etc).

An older cousin tries to explain to a younger one that, well yes, you must pass the parcel along without opening it, but when the music stops you CAN open it...and the sweetie you find is YOURS!

And there is the flapping fish game, first one back "home" is the winner.  Fiercely fought this one....

And the little ones...

Two young cousins watch and learn....

Big sister explains to wee brother, how the game works...

And carefully watches over her brother in the egg and spoon race.

While a young lad wisely shares his sweeties with Granny.

And this rather chaotic looking photo is a game called "Musical Arms" - it's like musical chairs, but you need people to put an arm up (or not) and then when the music stops you grab an arm, and if you are "armless" you are out.  Years ago we had benches in the hall so couldn't play musical chairs, hence musical arms!

Then there is the balloon game - it mustn't touch the floor!

And the "snowball" game - you have to throw "snowballs" into the bucket. The team with the most snowballs in the bucket wins....

And then..... Santa arrives!  Irene supervises proceedings. (Told you she was busy!)

A young lassie gets a wee dog that walks and barks!

Two of the boys get racing cars....

...that stick to walls and have flashing lights!!

While another wee lad is happy to play with a digger....

So that was another fun night over on Graemsay.  There was, of course, also a buffet with cake..... !

Wednesday 28 December 2016


Sunset on Graemsay today.  Five minutes later than on the shortest day, 21st December. Yay! The days are getting longer!

And, after months of work, the Hoy High lighthouse is finally shining "properly" again! Stromness in the background.

Tuesday 27 December 2016

Graemsay Christmas Nativity, Carols and concert

The weather was too wild for us to venture forth on Christmas Eve for our traditional Nativity and Carol Service.  So we had it this afternoon instead.   Along with mulled wine and a mince pie or two!

Irene Mathieson, who used to be the teacher on Graemay some years ago, organised it as she has done for many, many years.  Here she is above left , striding forth to organise proceedings, while everyone gets settled.  I'll let you into a secret - the children are locked in the cupboard behind her. heehee... well not locked..... but still a bit Harry Potterish! We did let them out eventually AND they got mince pies...

Mary & Joseph in the stable, overlooked by two donkeys.

Mary looking very pleased with herself after the birth of Baby Jesus, a breech birth again this year. (He's in the crib, and yes he's a boy doll - we go for authenticity on Graemsay!).

Irene and Andrew accompanying us for the carols.

And the shepherds arrive with their flock (of 1 sheep and 1 cow, we also go for minimalism too).

Is it a sheep or a dog? Even the cow isn't sure.

Ah here is the Angel Gabriel with a proclamation to her siblings - er the shepherds.

A wee shepherd in contemplation while her "flock" had a nap.

Her "flock" wants a wee hug.

And then the three, yes THREE, kings arrive.  One is a little wooden in his acting....

And after mulled wine and mince pies.... to the concert...... James and his sister, Katie, along with cousin, Andrew, play a wee tune or two.

Katie on the cello! Hiding behind her music stand.....

Irene, Becky and Hannah on guitar

The Band!

It was a lovely afternoon after several days of hibernating.  Nice to chat to folk about their Christmas and enjoy the entertainment.  You did well, Irene, and all your actors and musicians!

Monday 26 December 2016

Boxing Day....

In the UK, Boxing Day is also a public holiday.  It is characterised in much of the UK by the "Boxing Day Sales" where shoppers compete for post-Christmas bargains.

Meanwhile in Kirkwall, the Christmas Day Ba' was postponed till today, as in recent years they have not held the Ba on a Sunday.  What's the Ba'?  Basically a game with one ball, two teams (the Uppies & Doonies) and no rules.... It's legendary.... read here for some more info.

On Graemsay we have no boats Christmas Day or Boxing Day so again I have spent a quiet day indoors. Hmm quiet being relative.  There is a gale blowing (Storm Babs gave way to noisier Storm Conor).  Windspeeds recorded of over 100mph.  I've not been out to test it!  Though Button has!! Blooming island cats!  She was out for over an hour and I was thinking I would go and search for her before darkness fell when she reappeared. Swearing because it was so windy.. her, not me. I was just swearing at her for staying out so long!  As you can see above, she has catfully overcome her trauma by sprawling on the sofa all afternoon.

Meanwhile, I've broken open the jigsaw!!  Love jigsaws... get a bit obsessed with them!

Yesterday was a very peaceful day for me, spent quietly inside with lots of good things to eat and books to read. My perfect day :-)  I know others may see it as odd, but I am fairly solitary (er - clue is I live on a "remote" Scottish island! Hee hee), and I hate travelling in Winter.  So I hibernate and come out again in the Spring :-)

Tomorrow, however the gales abate and I'm hopeful of getting out into the fresh air and seeing how the hens have fared, and Charlie in the barn!

Sunday 25 December 2016

Season's Greetings!

Whatever your are celebrating just now, I hope you are having a good time, with family, friends, or like me, in quiet solitude.

Well quiet is relative!  Gales still battering the shores.  Storm Babs is on her way out, but Storm Conor is due tomorrow and he's even meaner!  Expecting wind speeds here of 80+mph.  Eeek!

Hens & Button are bearing up.  Button by mostly sleeping.  I'd post a picture but a black cat asleep on a dark blanket doesn't show very well!

Anyway, back to the season.... I've posted this YouTube film from the Winter Solstice in 2010 every year since. I make no apology. I love it!

Friday 23 December 2016

Black is SO over-rated....

Photo courtesy of

Folk say that people in the UK are obsessed with the weather. Hmmm in Orkney we are obsessed with the wind..... speed, direction, tide.....

And for any readers not sure where Graemsay is - at the moment we are wearing purple to the right of the North of Scotland.... I always liked purple..... but not on a weather chart....

Thursday 22 December 2016

Preparing for the storm....

I got all my supplies for Christmas in yesterday, so today I've been working as well as making sure all hatches are battened.  We've already had hail showers, with thunder and lightning. I've been racing to unplug the internet modem at every rumble!

The skies have been quite dramatic today but it has barely got light. These photos were taken from an upstairs window at 2.30 this afternoon.

Though things were a bit brighter at 10am this morning.

The hens are hopefully comfortably settled in their hen house.  They have had to be kept shut indoors in most of the UK since 6th December by order of DEFRA as a prevention measure due to fears of transmission of avian flu from migrating birds to domestic poultry. Sadly the two cockerels had to be "despatched" as they would have fought in the hen house, and the girls are more settled without a cockerel around.

They have lots of straw, as well as roosts.  The hen house is a reasonable size with natural light (I'm about a 3rd of the way down it taking this photo). They are being fed more often and I'm giving them lots of veggies and things for them to rootle about with, as well as extra grit and shells and food scattered among the straw to stop them getting bored!

The hens only get up once it is proper daylight and go to bed as soon as the light level drops, so even on good days at this time of year they would only be out for a few short hours.  In this weather they are better shut in anyway to prevent them being blown away!  They have a small run cobbled together outside "for the duration", but it's a bit "Heath Robinson" so in bad weather they get shut in for safety.

I've left Charlie, the barn cat, with extra supplies of food.  He'll just hunker down among the hay and straw. Plenty of mice for him to catch if he feels like it!

As for Princess Button, she's nice and snug and warm, thank you very much.  She's got plenty of food and is quite happy indoors. Indeed we will have arguments when she needs to go out "to do the necessary". Sigh.... she refuses to use a litter tray so out she has to go!

There will be no more beach walks for a few days yet!

Mmmm think I might join Princess Button on that fleecy blankie!

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Winter solstice

The circle of friends guard the light so the sun remembers to return tomorrow.  Sunrise was at 09.05 this morning and sunset at 15.15.  That's 6.09 hours of daylight. Tomorrow is about the same but Friday we get a full 6.10 hours of daylight!  Whoo hoo here come's summer!  Haha I know, delusional again.  But still, we are on the road to my favourite light filled days.

Santa arrives via the Stromness Lifeboat!

With our own wee ferry still being repaired, the Stromness Lifeboat and crew stepped into the breach and brought Santa out for a visit to Graemsay.  He was on his way to the Community Centre in Stromness but always does a bit of a detour for us which we all appreciate!  It was a chilly, breezy day, but most of the Graemsay folk were at the pier to meet him, plus a few extra "wee ones" who were visiting their Grandma and Grandad!

Lifeboat coming alongside....

Ooooh look there's Santa!

And he arrived with some elves! And .... a penguin....

Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus stayed on the boat, protected by an elf as it was too windy for them to come on the pier.

Even quite big "children" got presents.... sometimes teenagers don't mind still being considered kids ;-)

And yes, the dog gets a fuss from Santa too!

And ahem.... some very big kids get a hug from Santa...... well he didn't get me a present!

And a lovely wee boy wanted a hug too....

Then Santa led the elves, and ahem, penguin in a couple of songs (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and Jingle Bells).

And soon it was time for Santa and his gang to head back to Stromness.  Thanks lads of the lifeboat for bringing him out to Graemsay!

Bye Santa!