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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.


  1. Boy, you you get a front row view of your Real island life with this post! Still sounds wonderful though. Fresh air, ozone and beautiful views . Wonderful breakdown service too!

  2. Yup, there's no sitting passively in the back seat for any part of island living!