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Sunday 31 December 2017


A sleeping dragon breathing fire

It's Hogmanay in Scotland, and there will be much partying tonight around the country, as well as "first footing" over the next couple of days. In Scotland there are two public holidays (1st & 2nd Jan) for the New Year as a mark of how Scots choose to celebrate! Haha!

On Graemsay our last boat home will be late afternoon today and none again till Weds am.  There will be a party up at Fillets, to which all are usually invited.  Then folk pop round to neighbours over the next day or two for a "first foot" - though these days folk have slowed down and it's more likely a coffee with a shot of whisky in for first footing than a continuous party.  The first New Year I lived on the island (Winter of 2000) parties went on for 4 days and I did think I might have to go away the next new year as I couldn't stand the pace. But as I say things have calmed down a bit now.

I have a slight cold and am wheezing a bit (asthma) so will likely stay indoors tonight curled up with a book and a dram or head to bed early. But good luck to all those with more stamina than me!

Anyway here are a few photos of Sandside and the environs over the last week or so!

The Hoy hills look magnificent whatever the weather.

Winter sunset....

Hoy under the duvet of cloud....

Sandside Bay - the panorama distorts the landscape a bit but I still love it!

The old "steading" leading down to the old pier....

Walking down to the pier at high tide...  Stromness in the distance.

Looking across the sandy bay

At the top of the coral beach.  The remains of an old wooden boat that was burned some years ago.

High tide on the coral beach....

Bit chilly for a paddle!

Seaweed on the shore

Another Winter sunset...

And on this day Hoy well and truly under the duvet!

Looking out West, Graemsay on the left, Orkney Mainland on the Right.

So that's it for another year.  I don't wander far from my home on my wanders so hope you are not bored with the same scenery! Thanks for commenting and liking my blog! I hope to share more with you in 2018!  Meantime I wish us all the very best for 2018.

Friday 29 December 2017

Adventures with hens....and sheep...

Did someone mention a lighthouse?
Above is one of my hens, I call her "Cheeky Hen" as she is very!  She was posing on top of the dyke at the end of the garden - perfect shot!

The weather these last few days has been brighter but very cold.  It's barely got above freezing some days, and today I don't think it did at all! 

I've made sure Charlie, the barn cat, has lots of food and extra rations for the hens too.  I also put lots of food out for the wild birds in the walled garden.

Now you will remember a while ago I mentioned some marauding sheep in the garden?

...That were eating all my shrubs and trees?

Well I got a neighbour to put the sheep hurdles up more securely. (I bought them a couple of years ago to cover the opening to the garden).  It worked - though the sheep were none too pleased. They spent a while trying to figure out a way in....

Photo by Mick Braddock
The hurdles however have proved effective in keeping ALL livestock out.... then Madam Button protested as it meant SHE couldn't get into the garden.  Well she could if she bothered to climb the walls etc but she is a rather large middle-aged cat (aged about 11.5 years) and the indignity wasn't worth it.  So at the house end I made sure there was a space she could get through but not big enough for a sheep to get through.  Worked a treat.....

THEN I discovered that the hens were getting through the gap.... no problem I thought.... except they are not particularly bright and having got IN at the top of the garden they wanted to get OUT at the bottom of the garden....which was resolutely blocked off.  Now as you can see in the photo at the top of the post, some of my hens can fly (I don't clip their wings).  But two of them clearly don't wish to do this.

So the other day I went out to check near dusk (about 3.30pm) and sure enough they were still in the garden, trying to huddle down behind an ornamental grass for the night.  Well they just would end up as frozen chicken if I left them.  Of course they saw me as a scary monster and just ran around the garden clucking when I a) tried to catch them or b) tried to coax them near the end gate so I could lift them over.

Eventually I had to dismantle the end gate so they could waddle through and back to the hen house.  I then had to re-mantle the sheep hurdle protection. ..... In.A.Blizzard.....  I also had to go and check that all 12 of the hens were safely tucked up in the hen house.  Fortunately most were already tucked up on their perches!

Meanwhile the hail/sleet/snow combination we have been getting has carried on....

And the sheep continue to seek shelter around the house....

Which, given the weather, I don't blame them. It's pretty bleak out there.  Though that doesn't stop the local creel fisherman (catching crabs and lobsters)

But there is also sunshine and rainbows!

Moody skies.....

The hens have been sitting on the doorstep in the morning. Though they have plenty of food in a hopper in the hen house so can eat whenever they like.  I think it's fairly sheltered here so they are happy to just sit there and admire the view.

And the hens still go into the garden for a dust bath in a sheltered corner....

But NOW they also have a "hen exit".....which I'm hoping is still sheep proof!

Tuesday 26 December 2017

Christmas Day Walk

Yesterday was a lovely calm day on Graemsay, well weather wise anyway!  No wind, and not too cold.  Not much sun but I didn't mind as it was just lovely to be outdoors.  Here are some pix from a walk along the shore.  Button came out briefly but went off hunting on her own.  Which in a way was nice as it meant I could potter along at my leisure without any complaints from Madam Button that I was being too slow!

The hens were enjoying a potter around too.

They'd been knocking on my door earlier demanding breakfast!

I love this old stone pier.  Looking across Sandside Bay to Garson

Some geese flying over to Stromness maybe!

In the recent storms the coral sand has been heaped up on the shore....

So of course I had to go "groatie buckie" hunting..... these are tiny cowrie shells, much prized by those who seek them. But they are tiny and take a keen eye and "the knowledge" of where to look.  Lots of lovely other shells to see too....

Nope none among this lot...

Nope, nor here...

None here either......

But then..... my eye spotted one! I put it on a tiny stone so you can see it better. Tiny pink and white...

The sun did a fair job of trying to shine...but failed!

Some escaped sheep had been down to the pier too.  Wonder if they were groatie buckie hunting!

And sheep may safely graze - away from my garden!!

A bonny day for a walk though

And new shoots ARE growing!  Eek they may be in for a shock when the frost or gales come!  Or the sheep for that matter!

And back home - my haul of treasure - THREE groatie buckies! The most I have ever found unsupervised!  I am SO pleased!

And for a little added atmosphere, here is a short video of the gentle waves on the shore.

Monday 25 December 2017

Graemsay Nativity

Each year Irene of Breckan organises the Children's Nativity Play and Carol concert.  The children are growing up now so I'm not sure how much longer we will do it, but it is one of my favourite events!

Mary and Joseph in the stable. Mary is "with child"....

The Baby Jesus is born in a nano-second.  Mary looking very pleased with herself, quite rightly!

The angel Gabriel arrives to speak to the shepherds "in the field".

The audience look on.

The shepherds arrive at the stable with their sheep. Mary and Joseph seem pleased to see them.

Having a bit of a blether.....

Then the three Kings arrive with gifts for the baby Jesus. Love the cheeky smile on the King on the right!

Mary and Joseph in the stable with the Ass and the Ox, the sheep and the gifts from the kings.

And then the cast take the applause.  Joseph looking very relaxed with a "My work here is done" expression on his face!

While Irene, her halo slipping (again) thanks everyone for coming along. She is accompanied by her young assistant, Andrew, on Guitar.

Then it was time for mulled wine and mince pies! No pictures of those because I was serving them up - not eating them all! Honest!

And then time for a bit of a Christmas Sing Song.

And a performance by a wee lad learning the fiddle.

And Irene and Andrew leading the community singing.

It was a lovely way to begin Christmas itself......