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Wednesday, 21 April 2021

A different ferry.....

 


While our usual ferry, the MV Graemsay, is away on it's annual refit (boat equivalent of an MOT) we have a replacement vessel for a couple of weeks.  In the past this has been the Golden Marianna, a very old boat, not easily accessed even if you are fit, and takes a limited number of passengers and no cargo.  This boat has been needing replaced for many years.  Finally a "new" boat was bought by the local authority. Much controversy has surrounded this vessel as to suitability etc.  Costs are unknown but the vessel was purchased for £500K and has had new engines, new crane and other modifications made.  It was a former river cruiser in Norway.  Anyway this last week or so island residents had an opportunity to sail on her and here are some photos.  She's called the "Nordic Sea".  

Now she had completed standing in for our ferry she has sailed up to the island of Papa Westray, on one the Northern Orkney Islands.  There she will sail between "Papay, as the island is known, and Westray. Taking children back and forth to school and any residents or visitors who want to go over to the larger island of Westray. There is also a 7 minute air service between the islands!!

Anyway here are a few pictures of my sail over on the Nordic Sea - it has a ramp at the bow, which was at quite a steep angle on arrival at Stromness.  Depending on pier and tide either the ramp at the bow is used, or stepping off the rear deck onto the pier steps.  You have to be fairly agile for either!

Up the ramp we go!


When you get to the top....


Pulling up the drawbridge - haha!


Inside the cabin is very smart.... easily accessible toilets too....


The vessel can seat about 35 I think from a quick count.  A few tables too.  And the school kids will be happy as there are power points by each seat so they can charge their devices on the way to and from school!  No refreshments on board though.  However on some of the more Northerly Orkney Islands the ferries do have a cafe as the journey time is often 2 hours from port to port.  On our Graemsay ferry we usually have a coffee machine.  Wonder if they will put something on this posh "new" boat?



To enter the cabin you have to be able to step over the entrance.  But it's lower than on our usual ferry which for me means potentially less scraping of shins!



This wee boat can't take cargo either, although hand carried parcels can be delivered.  But we are usually given fair warning when our own ferry will go away so we make arrangements to get deliveries before and after!

Sailing past the island of Graemsay a while ago (when we had snow).  She makes quite a noise in comparison with our usual ferry.  I could hear her coming round from Hoy!



The weather was comparatively calm when she was sailing between Graemsay, Hoy and Stromness. So it will be interesting to hear how she gets on in roughter weather....



Monday, 19 April 2021

A visit to the "Hup" (St Margaret's Hope)

 


I went off adventuring with a pal the other day to St Margaret's Hope, or "the Hope" or "the Hup" as it is known locally.  The Hup is a village in South Ronaldsay, now know as one of the linked South isles of Orkney.  However these islands (which include Burray too) were only linked via causeways as "recently" as WWII - 1944 (and actually not completed till 1945) via the Churchill Barriers. From Stromness I usually allow an hour to get there, although it's only about 20 or so miles.  But we don't have dual carriageways or motorways in Orkney! And getting stuck behind a tractor or heavy goods vehicle can fairly slow down progress.

Anyway - here are a few photos, which don't really show much of the village.  It was a chilly day with snow showers!  I have friends in the village so will be visiting again soon once that is allowed and can take more photos then.  But for now here is a glimpse.....

Above looks across the bay to the pier where Pentland Ferries sail from to Gills Bay on the North Scotland coast.  The ferry in port, a catamaran and fairly speedy.  This route is known locally as the "short sea crossing" and takes about 45 minutes.

A famous local writer, George Mackay Brown, said of the houses in Orkney that "they turned their shoulders to the wind". That is the gable ends are to the prevailing wind, usually with no windows.  Windows and doors reserved for the more sheltered (relatively speaking!) sides of the house.



An interesting, if rickety, staircase...


Love this old building. The stories it could tell!



Now this is definitely "living by the seaside"!


Along the street.....quiet eh?



These pictures were taken along Front Road, which borders the shore, hence Front..... and it's in Front of Back Road, which - er- runs at the back of Front Road....


Looking across the bay, the gorse is out.  I love the coconut smell of gorse on a warm sunny day.  This was not one of those days......


This was the weather that particular day - driving back to Stromness in a blizzard....




Friday, 16 April 2021

The view from Hoy......

 


From the top of Ward Hill to be precise!  Thanks to Trish Avis for a) climbing the hill and b) sending me these photos!  Stromness is on the other side of Graemsay in these photos....


And a closer look at Sandside and Hoy High lighthouse....



Thursday, 15 April 2021

The view from the Stromness shore

 



Charlie Groundwater,  who lives in Stromness, goes out for a daily walk and sent me these photos of Graemsay in the recent show. I thought you might enjoy them too!  Above is Hoy High lighthouse.

Sandside.... not much snow here....



Hoy High again..... doubt there were picnics on that particular bench that day!


The beacon just outside Stromness


Hoy Low.... with the Hoy hills in the background....



And another snowy breezy one of Hoy High and Sandside....



Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Random April photos......

 


The weather over the last couple of weeks can best be described as "changeable".  Regular British weather then!  I'm trying to venture forth once a week to the Orkney Mainland - weather permitting.  Orkney is currently in Level 3 and likely to remain so for some weeks to come.  However from this coming Friday we can meet outdoors with up to 6 people from 6 different households (a change from one other household with a number limit).  From 26th April travel will be allowed across Scotland (at the moment to and from Orkney is "essential travel" only).  And from 16th May then folk can travel to and from the rest of the UK AND we can meet a limited number of people indoors.  It's all a bit complicated but mostly won't affect what I am doing.  I get my second vaccination on 6th May (also polling day for Scottish elections).  I will mostly meet folk outdoors for the summer and just see how things go as everything opens up and visitors start arriving......

Anyway back to photos.... Blue sky over Hoy and Graemsay


Hoy High light and Sandside


Leaving Graemsay and heading to Stromness


A lovely sky over these small islands called The Holms which are linked by a causeway at low tide to Stromness.  The house  on the island was up for sale a while ago.  Not sure if it has been sold yet or not....


Over Winter boats are taken out of the water and given a lick of paint.  This one is now ready to be taken back into the water...

And a chance for takeaway coffee and cake at Julia's cafe with a pal!



And a run into Kirkwall to meet up with another pal for a picnic in Tankerness House Gardens (behind the Orkney Museum which is shown in the photo below).  


The gardens are a lovely quiet place to sit just off the main street (Broad Street) in Kirkwall.  It was a bit chilly this particular day but we had flasks and rugs!

The spire of St Magnus Cathedral between the rooves of the town....


The garden looks a bit sparse at this time of year.... still well maintained though!


In the garden is the relocated "Groatie Hoose".  This was moved from its original location in another part of Kirkwall.  It was a former summer house of one of the wealthier inhabitants of Kirkwall!  The "Hoose" was made from ballast from a notorious pirate's ship that was Pirate Gow when he was captured in 1725.  The roof was originally covered with tiny cowrie shells found on local beaches and known in Orkney as "groatie buckies".






Back at home the hens have been delighted to get out and about again after their own "flockdown".


They just love sunbathing, stretching out wings and legs to soak up the warmth....



And Spring brings new growth and flowers - some of which managed to weather the - er - weather...





Most of these catkins ended up on the grass in the wind and snow.  But new green leaves are coming through regardless....






Monday, 5 April 2021

Winter gales and snow showers - in April....

 


In Orkney it is called "lambing snow" - just as the lambs are due the weather seems to turn foul.  And this weekend we have gales (56mph average) and sleet, hail and snow.  The snow isn't settling on Graemsay or in the West but have heard it is drifting onto roads on some parts of the Orkney Mainland.

There are some lambs in the field in front of the house.  They seem to be doing OK.  Sheep have a knack of finding sheltered spots.  These (above) are sheltering in a dip which was for the old mill dam that used to be at Sandside.  The ewes get plenty of food and as long as the lambs get milk they are generally OK. There are hay bales around the field, plus a huge muck heap for the lambs to find shelter in.  Other neighbours are also getting lambs now, though some can lamb indoors or at least keep them in for a day or two.

Morning view - the snow showers come over the landscape in swathes, and then clear to blue skies and sunshine for a few minutes, then repeat.


Cat flap battened!  And a mini snow drift for her to wade through were she foolhardy enough to go out...


Incoming showers for Hoy High.....


Looking across to Stromness..... I should point out the windows are covered in salt etc.... not just dirty - hee hee.


Yup that's about it....


And a friend sent me this photo of a street in Kirkwall in the early hours of the morning! Sheet ice....