Click on pictures to see them enlarged in a photo stream. Comments: word verification on to allow anyone to comment but try and deter excessive amounts of spam! I LOVE getting comments!

Monday 26 June 2017

Anyone for tennis? Pool? Air Hockey?

Some months ago Voluntary Action Orkney (VAO) launched a scheme where island communities could apply for funding for projects called "Your Island Your Choice".  Irene Mathieson on Graemsay volunteered to go along to meetings and find out more.  Folk from VAO then visited Graemsay and handed out survey forms to gather ideas.  The outcome from the community was that we wanted various things for our Community Hall and after discussions on the island, and voting, we agreed to put forward some proposals. We all felt it was important to get things for the hall itself, and something for the children and young people to use, perhaps as a start up for a youth club.

So first, we settled on getting mains water to the hall. The funding pays for phase 1 - getting a standpipe outside the hall itself and we can then go for further funding to do some more work to the kitchen to get a sink in etc.  This will make a HUGE difference as currently we have to take water up in canisters to use in the kitchen to even make a cup of tea.  The work is ongoing getting that connected at the moment and we should have a working tap outside the hall in about a week or so.

The hall was also in need of a new cd player, and as technology has moved on it was agreed to also buy one with "bluetooth" so that we can connect up to phones, tablets etc to play music if we wish. The one we got also allows us to have karaoke sessions (eek!).

Here is Bobby Mathieson setting up the sound system.

And the kids having a go at the Karaoke.  It has to be said that the adults didn't need to read the words OR use a microphone as it was playing a classic ABBA song. Haha!

The Craft Ladies asked for some lights to help them with their craft sessions, particularly in the winter months - you can see the super bright light to the right of the picture above.  Two "daylight" lamps to help with "craft".

The children and young people (we have six on the island) specifically asked for a games table. So some research was undertaken and THIS is what we have - a table that morphs from a pool table, to air hockey, to table tennis.

Some lessons being given!

Serious match in progress

And with the flick of a switch and a bit of manoeuvring it turns over into the air hockey pitch.  A fan blows a layer of air and the discs are pushed around - ideally into the goal.  I think there are rules - but nobody was paying much attention to them!

Hmm probably a bit unfair when you have extra long legs and arms and can lean halfway across the "pitch" .....

And to round off the evening, a game of table tennis!

This was the first time everyone had seen all the new goodies so there was great excitement and as you can see from the photos, lots of fun too.  Hopefully we will have many years of fun out of all the new "toys" and many cups of tea from the new tap!

Sunday 25 June 2017

Around the Summer Solstice

These photos were taken around the Summer Solstice of 21st June when sunrise here was 3.58 am and sunset was 22.28, giving us 18.5 hours of daylight!

And at nearly midnight it still isn't dark, even on a cloudy night.

Some evenings had dramatic skies even before sunset....

Long shadows as the sun begins to set...

This early evening shot was taken from Orphir looking towards Hoy with Graemsay in the middle

Sandside Bay....

Late afternoon calm seas....

And of course, the glow of sunset at nearly 10.30 pm.

Saturday 24 June 2017

A blustery day.....

It's been a bit of a blustery day today.  This is taken from a bedroom window at Sandside.  I love the long grass waving to the sea waving to the grass.......

Boats in the bay

I drew the blinds the other morning to see five wee boats in the bay. They had moored there overnight.  I saw some of the folk out walking, and they put a note in our island visitors book "The Ragamuffin Crew - lovely peaceful island".

A bit later the sun went in but they seemed quite happy on their boats, sailing off about lunch time.

They were spotted down at the barriers in South Ronaldsay later in the week. Hope they enjoyed their Orkney cruise!

Friday 23 June 2017

The old quarry, Graemsay

A couple of weeks ago I headed up to the old quarry on Graemsay.  I was hunting for dragons...well ok dragon flies and damsel flies.  I didn't see any (some were recorded there last year), but I spent a pleasant hour just wandering about looking at wild flowers, the scenery and listening to the birdies.

The old croft of Dean, with the Hoy hills behind.

Ladies Smock

Looking towards Sandside, Hoy High Lighthouse and Orphir across Hoy Sound.

Same view - a bit distant....

Looking towards Stromness

Stromness across Hoy Sound.

Croft of Dean and Hoy Hills again.


Dwarf willow

Apparently these are female catkins and fluffy seed on the dwarf willow.  Only just discovered what these were. Aren't they delightful?

And this is, Common Lousewort! Sounds an unkind name for such a pretty plant! (Thanks to Imperfect & Tense for help with ID plus other flower folk!)

The quarry with Hoy High and Orphir in the distance.

The shallow end of the pool

A dragon's head maybe??

Heading home to Sandside.....

Saturday 17 June 2017

Orkney Folk Festival

Still catching up with blog posts!  In Winter not a lot happens so not much to blog about and in summer, so much going on no time to blog! Arggh!  Anyway these photos are from the last weekend in May when it was the Orkney Folk Festival in Stromness and around.

This year I went to quite a few gigs.  A friend, L, had a camper van in Stromness so we used that as a base during the day for refreshments as the town was so busy it was hard to get even a cup of tea!

Above is Kris Drever from Orkney. He won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2017 and is a prolific composer of contemporary folk. He now lives in Shetland so it was good to see him performing back in Orkney.

Below is Norwegian Ragnhild Hemsing, a virtuoso in Norwegian folk music, and hales from Valdres. She plays the very distinctive tunes from that area.  She played on the Hardanger fiddle (you can hear her play here on Youtube. She also played some more classical pieces on a conventional violin. Both were great!  I'd never come across the Hardanger fiddle before and it is a beautiful looking instrument.  But she said if you play this kind of fiddle you spend half your time tuning it!  It has 9 strings and certainly seemed very sensitive.  The concert was in Skaill House in one of the lovely reception rooms upstairs.  It has a great atmosphere about it and I love going to concerts there.  The room is small so tickets scarce, but it feels like one is at a private "soiree" than a concert!

Back in Stromness Town Hall now (a former church) and Talisk. This group from Mainland Scotland were extraordinary. They were winners of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award in 2015 and I could see why.  The young chap on the concertina (Mohsen Amini) was extraordinary and played with such energy it was mesmerising!

As well as existing professional artists and groups there is a chance for members of the community to get involved in workshops.  This was the Song Shop Choir performing on stage at the Town Hall. Great to see some youngsters on the stage too!

And in a quieter, more reflective event was the Per Mare "Haven inside the Bay" - it was a celebration of Stromness and some of the characters.  The performers were Stromness folk.  At the mic is Joanna Ramsey, poet and writer. Sitting behind are Morag McInnes, Fiona Matheson, Bryce Wilson, Graham Garson and the empty chair had held storyteller Tom Muir. Behind them all was Tom, a young musician from Stromness.  And on the right - lots of cakes to be bought!!  Though I was too busy rushing to the next gig to even peruse them closely!

Back to the folk music, and Saltfishforty made up of Douglas Montgomery and Brian Cromarty. I just loved the energy of their playing!!

And outside the weather was glorious!  I even had bare feet and sandals!  It was great around the town, lots of folk milling about.  There was music outside some of the pubs too.  And in the harbour the Swan from Shetland was giving sailing trips around the Orkney waters. Sadly I didn't have time to go.  Just in the distance between the rigging you can see Graemsay and the Hoy High lighthouse!

On the deck of the Swan

And in the street - singer Eddie Reader chatting to Frankie Sinclair about whelks!

Back home on Graemsay and all was calm....

Monday 5 June 2017

Sunny day along the shore....

The "main road" that runs past the house and around the island.  The community hall "up the road", Hoy hills in the background.

The Swan sailing past....

And caught in the wind chimes!

At Sandside Bay looking towards the Hoy Hills

Looking across Sandside Bay

Madam Button taking a stroll! She looks like she's on a mission....

And down at the Graemsay pier, looking towards Hoy High lighthouse and Stromness....