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Monday, 27 January 2020

Calm seas....

Grey, but calm seas. I'll take that!  Someone having a bonfire in Stromness?

Button likes to "take the air" too when the wind drops enough for a wander to the shore.

Waves from the Atlantic sea at the mouth of Hoy Sound...

One of the local workboats sailing out of Stromness harbour under the gaze of a watchful....cormorant?

Rockpools and seaweed.....

Anyone for a paddle by this lovely old pier?

The remains of the old wooden boat....

The Golden Marianna, our replacement ferry as the MV Graemsay is broken - a bearing on the engine gone.  We've had the GM for some weeks now and no sign of our proper ferry returning.  It's getting tiresome but these things happen... at least I can choose NOT to go on the boat if the weather is rough.

The old steading at Sandside....

Button on a hunting trip....

The girls enjoying being out and about instead of hanging around the hen house....

And on windy days when I need to "batten hatches"..... yes seriously, this is Button's cat flap which would get blasted through with the force of the wind....

Sunday, 26 January 2020


The last week or so has seen better weather, less of the high winds.  Though it's all relative - many days it has still be 40mph.  But the days ARE getting longer, sunrise is now at 8.35 and sunset at 16.15.  It's surprising how noticeable it is and most welcome!

So far no power cuts (most power lines are overhead in Orkney and susceptible to wind damage).  But I'm prepared with lanterns and red shoes.... "There's no place like home..... come on Toto (er Button).... there's no place like home..."

And one of the TEN hens has started laying again.  Now the light is returning I'm hoping one or two more might feel inclined to join in....

Look you can see the sun rays! Sun rising over Windbreck hill on Graemsay....

Sunrise over Windbreck

The whole sky was alight with the sunrise...

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Fresh air!

The last few weeks can best be described as "windy".  A couple of gales, with winds up to 63mph (fairly normal for Orkney at this time of year), and then general windy days with wind speeds of about 42mph.  It gets boring!  It's noisy and I don't find it pleasant to be out.  I've generally done a dash to feed the hens and Charlie the barn cat, and then retreated indoors.  I've been over to Kirkwall a couple of times but even that was a challenge with rough seas and blustery showers.  Ah well... it is Winter.  However today was far less wind (still breezy mind!). 

So Button and I made the most of it.  Sorting out recycling in the shed, organising bird and cat food, putting the car battery on charge (it went flat a few days ago but too windy for me to put the bonnet up to put on charge).  A wander round the garden and then to the shore.  It was a grey day, but just lovely to be out and breathing fresh air!

These shags (or are they cormorants?) enjoying some respite from windy weather too.

The Hamnavoe ferry which sails to Scrabster on the Scottish Mainland is away for a refit (the marine version of a car's MOT) so we have this vessel instead.  It's mostly a cargo ship but takes a few passengers too.

Button enjoying the air too.....

Here she had the wind up her tail and was chasing seaweed!

There have been extremely high tides this week due to Spring tides (nothing to do with the season, a Spring tide occurs after a full moon). With the high tide and high winds the stones were piled up against the shoreline all along the beach.

Low lying cliffs!  They still take a battering and chunks of earth and grass break away.

Surprisingly little seaweed on this beach.  Made it easier to walk along I have to say!  I avoid slidy seaweed!

It amazes me that these walls are still standing after the years of battering by the seas and wind.  Though they have a distinct "lean" on them now... This used to be a workshop, thought to be used by the workers when the lighthouse was built.  Tumbling onto the shore now due to coastal erosion.

A wall hanging in the air - the rest of it fell onto the shore some years ago.  The old Sandside steading (byres) in the background.

More of the old byres.  The nearest one used to be a dwelling house, there is evidence of fireplaces inside...

The old sail house.  The sails for the yole (a small sailing boat that most households had to get to Stromness for supplies, taking things to market, or going out fishing). No sail boats on the island now.

Button heading home after our walk.  She enjoyed getting out and about too having been cooped up indoors (her choice!) during the windy days.  Though she does make forays out but they are short when the weather is poor.

Sandside beach.  Not much seaweed there either! In days gone by in Orkney apparently the seaweed would be taken off the shore and fed to the cattle - they loved it!

The "main road" round the island...

And signs of Spring!  In Orkney the growing season starts late.  About 6 weeks behind most of the UK I think. 

And as I type I can hear the wind rising again.  Ah well it was a lovely day to be out and about and there will be others.  At least we are not having to deal with huge floods or fires, nor snow storms.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Windy days....

I tend to stay indoors as much as possible on windy days as I don't HAVE to go out.  The seas around Graemsay can be rough but never look as dramatic as the Atlantic just at the mouth of Hoy Sound, or along the West Mainland of Orkney.  Jim Middlemass took these photos at the Bay of Skaill the other day and kindly let me share them. 

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Blustery day....

Just to show that not every day is a glorious day, today was decidedly grey.... and breezy. 

The hens still like to get out to "take the air" and as it was a Southerly wind they sought shelter in the shrubbery with the garden dyke protecting them from the wind...

As you can see in this out of focus shot, it's pretty windy, with the Cordyline being blasted.

Tomorrow the first gale of the new year is due.  Winds of up to 50mph with gusts greater than that.  So I have been and given the hens plenty of food tonight to tide them over tomorrow, and piled food on Charlies feeding barrel so if he ventures out he can get breakfast.  I shall stay firmly indoors and hope the electricity stays on!  The winds hopefully drop tomorrow evening.

In the Winter months most of us in Orkney keep an eye on the Orkney Harbours forecast as that is the most accurate locally.  Tomorrow there are warnings of ferries being cancelled, with some already so.  Hopefully only for the day though.

Our usual ferry, the MV Graemsay has been out of service for the last couple of weeks with engine trouble.  It may be some weeks before she is back on service.

Instead we have the Golden Marianna, which is usually runs the service between Papay Westray and Westray in the summer (they also have a plane link which is more popular in Winter so hopefully we aren't depriving them of their service).  But it's not an easily accessible boat for getting on and off, and once on you have to hurry through the wheelhouse part to the passsenger cabin below and sit down quickly so you don't fall over!  It's obviously sea worthy!  But has no bow thruster and so is a challenge to get aligned with the pier when the tide, swell or wind are working against it.

It cannot take cargo either, only small boxes.  So the heating oil and diesel tank, rubbish bins, animal feed and anything else has to come over on a work boat with a crane. Here our rubbish bins are being taken off the island over to Stromness for onward delivery to landfill or recycling.

Can't wait for our "proper" ferry to return!  But at least we have our usual ferry service, and I have the luxury of choosing whether to go to town or not.  I think the school children are hoping for lots of cancellations in January so they get the day off school! Haha!