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Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Happy New Year!

Ingrid Budge
I have to confess I was cosy and asleep when midnight arrived last night rather than out carousing! But as ever there was a Hogmanay party on the island at a neighbour's.  And a few folk "first footing" around today.

The last couple of days have been cold, windy and wet.  The stunning image above was taken by Ingrid Budge, a local artist who uses photography as part of her artistic creations.  These cliffs are high and on the West Mainland at Yesnaby.  The waves and spray are crashing over them.  Some foolhardy people appear to be on the top fairly near an edge (if you click to enlarge the photo).  Dramatic cliffs but never underestimate the power of nature.....  anyway I love the photo and Ingrid kindly said I could share with you.  (We have no boats for two days due to public holidays so I can't get off the island!).

As you can sea the seas were pretty rough.  Another local photographer, Cecil Garson, took this photo of the MV Hamnavoe sailing from Stromness to Scrabster. Glad I wasn't on it!

A couple of days ago there was a medical emergency on the island.  A patient was taken by the Scottish Ambulance helicopter to the local hospital in Kirkwall.  The patient is doing well and due home once the boats sail again  after the holidays.

A neighbour keeps the landing lights ready in a shed and they are put out in the designated landing spot in my field.  In good visability the helicopter can (and has) landed elsewhere on the island. However in poor visibility (such as that late afternoon) they use the landing lights at Sandside.  Here are a couple of pictures.  I haven't shown close ups so as not to embarrass anyone.

Big yellow whirly bird!

On the Orkney Mainland there are some Christmas and New Year traditions taking place.  In Stromness yesterday was the annual Yule Log pull - the Soothenders (Southenders from the South of Stromness) against the Northenders (from the North of the town) play tug of war with a log down the main street in the town.  I'm delighted to say the Soothenders won again (our pier is at the south end so Graemsay folk qualify to be on the team!).  Yesterday for the first time there was a junior version and one of the Graemsay lads took park.  Later there was an adult version and again the Soothenders won! Yay!  Here's a photo by Cecil Garson again of the adult version......

Meanwhile in Kirkwall there is a whole different tradition, known as the Ba'.    Both a boys and a men's ba'.  No women take part.  They are held on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. This is a game of street "football" with no rules and two teams.  The Uppies (traditionally the farmers) and the Doonies (traditionally the fishermen). Now it's where you were born or where you live that determines which team you might join.  Or your particular allegiance.  It's a tough game and there are surprisingly few injuries given the "srum".  Spectators also have to be quick on their feet or they can get caught in the scrum!

Here is a report of the Men's New Year Ba

And here is a report of the Boy's ba that went on for SIX HOURS this year!


  1. I wondered how the Ba went. This time of year, I always think of this song as sung by the inimitable Jean Redpath:

  2. Happy New Year to you, dear Sian. And thank you for all your wonderful postings. It's always a great joy to drop by.

  3. Happy new year Sian! As always, thank you so much for your blog posts. It is nice to see the stories and the images :D


  5. Good morning Sian, thank you so much for that link. We've just had a week in Kinlochbervie (Oldshore beg to be precise) I would have loved to have met him. I know those bothies well - he does a grand job, big respect. Sounds an interesting character. Thanks again, Mark.