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Monday, 22 January 2018

From the doorstep

The main road on the island
Here are a few photos from Saturday....  The local council have been too busy with main roads on the Orkney Mainland to send over salt for the road so local folk just have to do the best we can going slowly on the roads.

Looking over a white out to Hoy

Blue skies

And big clouds

Sun shining on the Orphir hills as the snow comes in

The stray sheep are back, glad of shelter around the house.

And down at the shore work is being done on the island pier to prevent it rusting and disintegrating.  In freezing temperatures there is actually a diver underwater doing the work!!

And then there is sunset......

Sunday, 21 January 2018

The First Swell

I may have shared this film some years ago but it bears sharing again.  In the UK you have to be really serious about your surfing to come up to Orkney and surf in some of the challenging waters.  This film is just about such a journey, filmed off the West Mainland - where you have to watch the waves don't pound you into the cliffs!

Enjoy (approx 6 mins) First Swell

Saturday, 20 January 2018

We have snow!

Photo by Richard Thomas: Standing Stones
Well not a lot of snow compared to other countries and other climates.  But Orkney is in the Gulf Stream which means we have a very temperate climate and temperatures are mild in Winter. Most of the time we get gales and rain.  But for the last couple of weeks we have had icy conditions and some snow.  Just a smattering.....   While I catch up on sorting out my own photos for the blog I thought I'd share some with you taken by a friend, Richard Thomas (no relation) who lives outside Kirkwall and takes his trusty Labrador dog, JK for his  daily walk.

Photo by Richard Thomas: Snow over the hills

Houses among the snowy hills

Photo by Richard Thomas
The road into Kirkwall. The spire of St Magnus Cathedral to the right and Kirkwall Bay beyond.

Photo by /Richard Thomas: Kirkwall

Snow across the dyke (stone wall)...

Photo by Richard Thomas: Snowy scene
Trees at Happy Valley in Stenness.

Photo by Richard Thomas : Happy Valley

And a happy JK!

Photo by Richard Thomas : JK!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Video of Orkney

Ewan Dunsmuir has created this lovely short video of Orkney during a very benign period of weather in December 2017.  It's about 5 mins long.  Enjoy!

Monday, 1 January 2018

Happy New Year!

Here we are at the start of a brand new year.  I wonder what it will bring us?  Here's to adventures.

It was a lovely morning with no wind.  A chilly 4 degrees C (40F) but pleasant enough if well wrapped up! I have family in New York City where it has been -14 C so I'm not complaining!

Anyway - the usual shots around the house today......

A rainbow! And Hoy High lighthouse of course.

Look carefully - it's a full rainbow

And the other end - looking towards Stromness

The girls having their first breakfast of 2018.

Charlie, the barn cat.  He is a very shy boy but posed for a nano second to have his photo taken today!

Looking towards the Hoy Hills - they have lost most of their snow....

What is that light in the sky. Oh wait! It's the sun!  We've had lots of very grey skies lately so it is a joy to see the sun even for a wee moment!

And the clouds are beautiful too of course

May 2018 bring you good times,

Sunday, 31 December 2017


A sleeping dragon breathing fire

It's Hogmanay in Scotland, and there will be much partying tonight around the country, as well as "first footing" over the next couple of days. In Scotland there are two public holidays (1st & 2nd Jan) for the New Year as a mark of how Scots choose to celebrate! Haha!

On Graemsay our last boat home will be late afternoon today and none again till Weds am.  There will be a party up at Fillets, to which all are usually invited.  Then folk pop round to neighbours over the next day or two for a "first foot" - though these days folk have slowed down and it's more likely a coffee with a shot of whisky in for first footing than a continuous party.  The first New Year I lived on the island (Winter of 2000) parties went on for 4 days and I did think I might have to go away the next new year as I couldn't stand the pace. But as I say things have calmed down a bit now.

I have a slight cold and am wheezing a bit (asthma) so will likely stay indoors tonight curled up with a book and a dram or head to bed early. But good luck to all those with more stamina than me!

Anyway here are a few photos of Sandside and the environs over the last week or so!

The Hoy hills look magnificent whatever the weather.

Winter sunset....

Hoy under the duvet of cloud....

Sandside Bay - the panorama distorts the landscape a bit but I still love it!

The old "steading" leading down to the old pier....

Walking down to the pier at high tide...  Stromness in the distance.

Looking across the sandy bay

At the top of the coral beach.  The remains of an old wooden boat that was burned some years ago.

High tide on the coral beach....

Bit chilly for a paddle!

Seaweed on the shore

Another Winter sunset...

And on this day Hoy well and truly under the duvet!

Looking out West, Graemsay on the left, Orkney Mainland on the Right.

So that's it for another year.  I don't wander far from my home on my wanders so hope you are not bored with the same scenery! Thanks for commenting and liking my blog! I hope to share more with you in 2018!  Meantime I wish us all the very best for 2018.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Adventures with hens....and sheep...

Did someone mention a lighthouse?
Above is one of my hens, I call her "Cheeky Hen" as she is very!  She was posing on top of the dyke at the end of the garden - perfect shot!

The weather these last few days has been brighter but very cold.  It's barely got above freezing some days, and today I don't think it did at all! 

I've made sure Charlie, the barn cat, has lots of food and extra rations for the hens too.  I also put lots of food out for the wild birds in the walled garden.

Now you will remember a while ago I mentioned some marauding sheep in the garden?

...That were eating all my shrubs and trees?

Well I got a neighbour to put the sheep hurdles up more securely. (I bought them a couple of years ago to cover the opening to the garden).  It worked - though the sheep were none too pleased. They spent a while trying to figure out a way in....

Photo by Mick Braddock
The hurdles however have proved effective in keeping ALL livestock out.... then Madam Button protested as it meant SHE couldn't get into the garden.  Well she could if she bothered to climb the walls etc but she is a rather large middle-aged cat (aged about 11.5 years) and the indignity wasn't worth it.  So at the house end I made sure there was a space she could get through but not big enough for a sheep to get through.  Worked a treat.....

THEN I discovered that the hens were getting through the gap.... no problem I thought.... except they are not particularly bright and having got IN at the top of the garden they wanted to get OUT at the bottom of the garden....which was resolutely blocked off.  Now as you can see in the photo at the top of the post, some of my hens can fly (I don't clip their wings).  But two of them clearly don't wish to do this.

So the other day I went out to check near dusk (about 3.30pm) and sure enough they were still in the garden, trying to huddle down behind an ornamental grass for the night.  Well they just would end up as frozen chicken if I left them.  Of course they saw me as a scary monster and just ran around the garden clucking when I a) tried to catch them or b) tried to coax them near the end gate so I could lift them over.

Eventually I had to dismantle the end gate so they could waddle through and back to the hen house.  I then had to re-mantle the sheep hurdle protection. ..... In.A.Blizzard.....  I also had to go and check that all 12 of the hens were safely tucked up in the hen house.  Fortunately most were already tucked up on their perches!

Meanwhile the hail/sleet/snow combination we have been getting has carried on....

And the sheep continue to seek shelter around the house....

Which, given the weather, I don't blame them. It's pretty bleak out there.  Though that doesn't stop the local creel fisherman (catching crabs and lobsters)

But there is also sunshine and rainbows!

Moody skies.....

The hens have been sitting on the doorstep in the morning. Though they have plenty of food in a hopper in the hen house so can eat whenever they like.  I think it's fairly sheltered here so they are happy to just sit there and admire the view.

And the hens still go into the garden for a dust bath in a sheltered corner....

But NOW they also have a "hen exit".....which I'm hoping is still sheep proof!