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Sunday 29 August 2021

Orca pass Sandside!


Photo Credit: Scott Sinclair

The above photo is by Scott Sinclair of a pod of Orca (killer whales) swimming around by Hoy High lighthouse.  They later swam past Sandside too.  Amazing to see them through binoculars, and hear them blowing too.  

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Around Sandside


Here are a few photos I took at the weekend after the silage had been removed from the field edge behind the house. 

A former home teetering on the edge of the shore now. That gable end would have shouldered the Westerly gales for a few hundred years....

The building on the right is already collapsing onto the shore

This part of the field is usually quite boggy and is, indeed, a pond in winter.  But with so little rain this summer it's as hard as rock!

Looking South across the field to Hoy

Looking North (ish) to Stenness

Stromness! The Hamnavoe ferry is in harbour.

Hoy High light....

The lighthouse and surrounding buildings

Elegant chimney!

Looking Eastwards....

Across the water to Orphir and the arctic explorer, John Rae's former home

Across the water to the croft of Quoys

Hope you enjoyed the wander....

Monday 23 August 2021

Still Summer!


Although we had a day of rain, largely the weather is dry, no wind (oh joy unconfined!), and many sunny spells.  Indeed today was very warm.  But these photos are from the end of last week so the sky looks a little grey.  Still warm though.

Mid August is when the parish and island agricultural shows are normally held (sadly again most cancelled this year) culminating in the "County Show" in Kirkwall (again cancelled).  It's tradition that folk then say "ah well that's summer over then..." and it is also tradition that I roll my eyes because it often isn't.  Though it is true that summer is drawing to a close. Grasses and other plants are seeding now, and most young have fledged the nest.  Though I see some swallow chicks still resolutely in their wee nest in the barn. Plenty of swallows skimming over the field for insects including their fledglings.  But while it is warm and not windy I count that as "still Summer!

In the garden - woundwort and the crocosmia is coming into bloom....

Monkshood, a late summer favourite (yes I know it's poisonous but I don't eat

A soggy hen (the day it rained...) among the woundwort.....

Did I mention it had rained....sigh....  snail munching the monkshood.  Presumably not poisonous to it.... then again have I discovered a snail deterrent! 

Green, yellow and white predominate in the border....

And the "shrubbery" round the back of the garden.... not much colour at all here but in summer the rosa rugosa is in bloom, as is the mint. Fuschia's are somewhat hidden now and I haven't seen the honeysuckle for some time. Berries are appearing on the whitebeam though. This border is definitely feral!  I don't really do anything with it except get bits pruned in Winter.  The hens love it, especially in the winter as even the bare branches give some shelter from the winds and rain. The hebes are evergreen so always shelter there.

Button out on her evening perambulation.....

Stopping to watch the Hamnavoe ferry sail into Stromness....

This is the house well.  Not been tested for some years so no idea if drinkable.  But it would have provided water for the house, and cattle and sheep.  In later years there would have been a pump to pump the water into the water trough alongside - apparently then the cows were led down from the fields to drink.  There was a water tank outside the house to store the water for the family.

Some houses on the island still choose to use well water, though mains water comes over from Hoy nowadays.

This is the base for the old trough.

Er Button it is NOT a good idea to stand on the well cap!! 

It reminds me of a children's nursery rhyme

Ding, dong, bell,
Pussy's in the well
Who put her in?
Little Johnny Green.
Who pulled her out?
Little Tommy Stout.
What a naughty boy was that,
To try to drown poor pussy cat.
Who ne'er did him any harm,
But killed all the mice in the farmer's barn.

Fortunately no rescuing was needed..... So I could relax and look around at the old buildings

And then a walk to the shore.  A neighbour's boat ready to go out fishing once the tide is in.

Someone has been having a go at a standing stone circle!

A walk back in time.... well not really but I thought a black and white cat should appear in black and white for a change!  The old farmyard....

Then there was time to sit on one of the several picnic benches around the island and admire the view.....

And lovely light in the evening.....

Sunday 22 August 2021

Around Graemsay

For various reasons I'm not venturing far from Graemsay at the moment so here are yet more photos "around Graemsay".... Yip more sunsets.... The evenings are drawing in now as summer moves on.  Sunset is about 20.44. Gone are the almost endless light nights. Instead I sit in the conservatory watching the lights come on in Stromness.

Sometimes I'm too lazy to get up from the sofa to take a sunset photo. Hee hee...

And often the scenery distracts from TV - even Gardener's World (fantasy TV for an Orkney gardener...).  But I can watch hen harriers and a short eared owl hunting in this field behind the house. Even Monty Don can't compete with that...

No I haven't put Madam Button on a pedestal.  She does that all by herself!

There is, of course, a story to Button in a house.... sigh.  I bought this for her when she came to live here 13 years ago (she was 2.5 years old at the time). Nope, had no interest in the house.  It has been in a cupboard since then in case any other Graemsay cat was in need.  They weren't, so it was going to the local "Cat" charity shop.  And yup, after 13 years Button decided to sit in it..... well for one day.  It may yet end up at the "Cat" shop....

Stripey cows.... (Belted galloways) grazing in a field off the "main" road on Graemsay

Up the main road... ahem the only road... 

A creel boat just off the main Graemsay pier...

Our Graemsay ferry coming into the pier

Meanwhile in Sandside Bay a nice wee yacht....

And a small sail boat in at the pier....

And on another day..... as mentioned before we don't have a ro-ro ferry so this is how vehicles come to the island (but not on a regular basis.)

Meanwhile up at the Graemsay quarry the heather is out.  Blue tailed damsel flies were still in evidence but unfortunately no sign of common blue or emeralds this year. Well not when I have been looking anyway.

Also at the quarry, possibly mushrooms - but I wasn't going to try out eating them, as I'm not an expert forager.

This is a favourite daytime spot of the hens.  It's under a bird feeder which helps! But also they love to rootle among the willow trees here (Canadian willow) and get shade from the sun, or wind, or indeed bask in the sun.

Harvest time - cutting silage in my field...

Swallow eggs! Well the remains.  There seem to have been several fledgings this year with lots of swallows swooping on the garden and field for insects.

And I mentioned sitting and watching the lights of Stromness come on after sunset