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!

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Back in the Summer....

Ah yes I remember those days!  Haha!  I was so busy in August & September there were some things I didn't get time to blog about.  So here is one of them.  The Graemsay Summer Party (held in August).

An Orkney group, The Polka Dots, kindly came over to provide the music, along with another couple of visiting musicians, Lawrence Wilson on keyboard, his daughter Thea on fiddle, and Jennifer Wrigley (of the Wrigley Sisters duo).

It was a great night, with a lovely supper, as always.  And there was dancing!  The Polka Dots played and sang an eclectic group of tunes, pop, swing, jazz, traditional, country, you name it! And mostly we sang along too!

Above are the Polka Dots, and below, Lawrence, Thea and Jennifer

And the dancing.....

I still had my "surgical boot" on because of my poorly foot but I danced too (no pix!).  And rather bizarrely a neighbour, Pat, had also damaged her ankle and was wearing a boot.  We joked that if we sat next to each other we'd end up velcroed together!

Pat having a slow dance with Mick (I think looking at the feet - haha!)

The youngsters having a go at Strip the Willow (no trees were harmed in the process).

A wee lassie dances with her Daddy....

And there's a new dance craze going around among the kids... it's called The Floss, and apparently has nothing to do with teeth.  The kids tried teaching some of the adults with limited success....

And some of the more traditional type of dancing!

Awww a smoochy number......

And then there was the baby shark song led by Neil with all the kids joining in.....

So a good night was had by all.  As with all parties, if folk off the island want to party they need to stay overnight, so spare beds are taken up.  I had John B from Longhope staying with me and he brought along his wee pup Charlie.  Charlie is a great character and was very well behaved.  Button and he met briefly but Charlie was too bouncy and Button beat a hasty retreat in disgust upstairs to bed.

Monday 15 October 2018

October days

We've had some gloriously warm sunny days with no wind, and some gales, rain and grey skies. Both are just part and parcel of Autumn.  I treasure the sunshine as the days shorten.

The windy days are dramatic, though Graemsay is fairly protected in terms of rough seas.  But NOT from the wind which screams like a banshee around buildings. Incoming rain here!

Choppy seas.... the ferry from Graemsay to Stromness doesn't get cancelled that often, though there are days when it doesn't go. And others when I choose not to be on it!

But back to calm, sunny days... while they last!

The hens just love the sun, taking time to preen and sunbathe, holding out wings and stretching in the warmth. The willows here are one of their favourite spots!

This dappled grey hen stretching her legs to get the rays!

Tallulah is the black hen on the right.  So called as she reminds me of a showgirl with her top knot of feathers.  Pecky Hen is resting on the ground (plotting my downfall I'm sure!).

This corner of the garden is quite sheltered and still has quite a few plants flowering.  The geum, lavatera, and asters doing well, as is the borage and the last of the wildflowers. Some annual marigolds happily providing nectar for the bees too.

My garden sculpture (a recent aquisition) is now safely in the shed for the winter, but seemed happy in the garden with the geum.

Button likes the old pallets (used to grow salad leaves in summer).  It's a handy step ladder to get up onto the wall! (Hoy High lighthouse peeping over the dyke (wall)).

This old elder tree sadly is not sheltered and with the first of the Autumn winds the leaves are blackened and then blasted off.  This tree is over 60 years old and each Spring dresses itself in bright green leaves once again. It gives me hope!

A panorama from the back of the house.  Looking towards Stromness.

But the sunshine is at the front of the house (it faces South this side) so Button and the hens spend their time here, of course!

The sun has moved round now and the days are shorter.

You can see how the sun has moved across the sky from mid-summer (One I shared in July/August). Sunset in summer is the Sun in the middle.  Now we are heading to Winter and the sun has moved further left (OK I know it's the Earth that's rotating but you know what I mean!).

Remember the story of The Princess & the Pea?  Hmm I think this is Button re-enacting it!  On rainy days she's curled up on the sofa.  As you can see the house is till in disarray and I'm awaiting the finishing touches to the room before the new carpet can be put down and I can get all the furniture and bits and pieces sorted.  Both Button and I are a bit fed up with it all now.  But we will have a cosy Winter! (We hope!).

But she will find the sunshine, come what may and moves around the house accordingly....

Sunday 14 October 2018

Island life.....

We are fortunate to have a good ferry service to Graemsay.  Of course we always want more, but during the day it means we can get to and from the Orkney Mainland quite easily.

But if you want a night out on the town then you need to say on the Orkney Mainland and get the ferry back in the morning.  I did this last week as I went with friends to one of the London "Theatre Live" satellite streaming productions.  This meant I also got to have dinner out with these friends, a real treat.  Next morning I woke to the view above.  Looking over the Churchill Barriers and to the distant Hoy hills.

I then headed into Kirkwall to do a "big shop" at the Supermarket as I'd sorted out the freezers at the weekend in readiness for re-stocking for Autumn.  Gales are a feature of Autumn/Winter in Orkney and although our boat to Graemsay isn't cancelled that often there are days when I don't want to have to make the journey! Hence stocking of the freezer.

Unfortunately with a well stocked car boot full of goodies, just outside Kirkwall my car broke down! Eeek!  Nice view though while waiting for the breakdown truck....

Fortunately I only had to wait about 40 minutes for the breakdown truck.  The nice lady at the end of the phone was most concerned about my safety in case I was in a vulnerable place. I kept reassuring her I was fine, I was in Orkney!  Just then someone stopped to see if I was OK and I heard the woman on the phone say, don't get out of the car, wind your window down and lock the doors. Oh dear... reminded me of times South when you would be a bit anxious about that sort of thing.  Several folk stopped to see if I was OK or if they could help.  And I got several "welfare calls" from the breakdown service.

Kevin Clouston of Esson's Garage run the Breakdown Service for all the various "Breakdown insurance companies".  He arrive and we found, ahem, the car started.  He asked me what I wanted to do with the car.  I said I didn't care what happened to the car but could he get me to the 12 noon Graemsay ferry with my frozen food PLEASE!  So we headed back to Esson's garage which was on the way, dumped my car there to be taken on to my usual garage in Stromness, and we headed off for the ferry.  He even carried my shopping on board!

Normally it's a 15 minute trip but there were 30+ kids to take off from Hoy after they'd been on an outdoor course, and because of tides they had to use the rear doors of the boat.  And on Graemsay they were shipping sheep, who would be at the rear of the boat.  So first we had to go to Hoy to collect the children (25 mins), and then to Graemsay to collect the sheep (another 15 mins).  I feared for my frozen food!! (However it was fine).

Here the sheep are being put onto the ramp down to the boat (52 of this year's lambs). Being sheep, once one or two of the flock have gone down the ramp the others follow reasonably well.

Here they all are (nearly) at the back of the deck.....

And time for a vehicle to go away.  Fly away Firefly!!

Meanwhile a wee boy helps Grandma clean the pier after the sheep have gone.....

As well as livestock, anything one wants for the house has to come over on the cargo run.  Hence my new carpet was on board too!  Like most things it requires team work and so I was grateful to neighbours to help me get the carpet up onto a tractor & trailer and taken back to my house.  My job in the team was to open the doors - well it's a tough job but someone has to do it!

And after all that I was able to unload all the food for the freezer!  I use insulated bags and frozen blocks to help keep things cold and frozen for as long as possible so all was well.

Thankfully it was a glorious day for this busy cargo run.  But I have been stood on the pier in the freezing rain and wind waiting for stuff to unload.  And as much of the animal shipping is from October to December the farmers often have to put up the heavy livestock gates in awful weather and stand to load livestock onto the boat.  A hot toddy is definitely needed after THAT!

Car still broken and at garage in Stromness.  But I'm home now with lots of goodies so I'm happy for a while!  I can easily get to Stromness and that has most of what I need for a few weeks.

Tuesday 9 October 2018

A trip to the moon.....

At this year's Orkney International Science Festival in September the Moon put in an appearance. And not just in the sky!  It  dropped into the local school for all to see.  The exhibition was by SkyranMOON and it tours around the UK.  It was fascinating to see, and as the building isn't that high you could get really close up to it!  OK, so it was really a giant balloon, BUT it was a proper representation of the proper moon with all the geological features.  There were talks and lectures and various sound effects.  I only had a short time to pop in but just sat and gazed at it (as I do the real moon!).  It was fun and really educational for kids and adults alike!  So here are a few pictures of The Moon!

These children just loved it and were fascinated by the surface.

Hundreds of people young and old went to visit the exhibition.  Brilliant idea!

Monday 8 October 2018

Sail boat....

This sail boat, Tecla, was in Orkney waters recently.  Photo by Irene Mathieson of Breckan.

Sunday 7 October 2018

Autumnal weather.....

These photos were taken last weekend.  Above, Hoy looking very moody.....

While I was feeding the hens showers were incoming!

The hens were happy for breakfast.  Though to be honest they have food "ad lib" in hanging feeders.  But they get treats in the morning so are happy to come and greet me....

Hmmm the treats are not supposed to include cat food (Charlie's breakfast). Wonder if they noticed I stole their eggs?

Button meantime stayed indoors keeping her paws warm.  She's woken up and having a yawn here... or complaining that she has to get up for dinner!

She's not a cat who sits in a box so it was a surprise to turn round and see this...... She does make me laugh!

And later during the weekend the sun came out (though it was still windy as can be seen by the "white horses" on top of the waves).