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Monday, 11 December 2017

A dusting of snow....

Button ready for a walk to the shore

I'm catching up with myself now.  Sorry for the lack of posts but this was due to sinusitis and the consequence of me being very grumpy.  Mostly all better now so on with blogging!

These photos were taken on 1st December when we had our first sprinkle of snow.  Orkney rarely gets snow so the children get *very* excited at the thought of snowmen, sledging etc.  Sadly the last decent snow was about 6 or 7 years ago. Most will have outgrown their sledges in that time!  Anyway here are a few pictures of a lovely fresh day in December.

Showers over Stromness

Then brighter again

Ooops incoming for Graemsay! Button and I headed indoors!

Madam Button MOST put out as she wanted a walk to the shore...

Then the sun was out again....

Looks chilly in Stromness!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

A different view of Graemsay

I thought you might like to see Graemsay from another angle. Ale Carini visited Orkney earlier this year and has made this film of a trip along the Orphir coast, looking towards Graemsay, Hoy and Stromness.  You can see the Hoy High lighthouse on our island (my house is just the other side of that).

I'm not sure where the boat journey is but it most definitely is NOT our MV Graemsay! Hee hee!

Best viewed in full screen (we are only a small island!)

Do visit Ale's website, particularly "50 shades of Scotland" (ahem) - and click on the tab for Orkney Islands for some beautiful photos of a whistle-stop tour of Orkney Mainland!

Use Google translate to share the journey too.  And there are wonderful travelogue photos and blogs to read and follow too.  Definitely one to recommend.

Linke to Ale's website: click here

Blue sky and sunshine....

Most of November (Orkney's wettest for 10 years) and December so far have been under a lot of grey cloud and rain.  There is an excess of water everywhere.  So yesterday to see some bright sunshine was a sheer delight!  Even if it was sub-zero temperatures!  Above photo is of Hoy High, with the Orphir hills in the background.

A chilly view to Stromness but at least the sea is calm!

And the sun setting behind the Hoy hills....

The cloud looks like someone is walking over the Hoy Hills onto Graemsay! A giant perhaps! Or Paddington Bear?!

And this one looks like a giant rabbit!?

And here Button was looking at the sun wondering what I was I think, it's been a while since we've seen it! And although I am no domestic goddess, the windows are covered in salt spray - not dirt!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Winter storm....

Photo courtesy of Mick Braddock
The first Winter storm was early this year arriving early December. Often we don't get the worst of the wind till January or February.  We've just seen Storm Caroline off now and she was somewhat feisty.  Winds in some parts of Orkney recorded at 145 mph at some points.  It was a North Westerly gale too which wasn't pleasant. 

Schools were closed, and ferries cancelled.  Well .... mostly!  The Hamnavoe ferry which sails between Stromness and Scrabster set off in the morning and because the wind was so strong and from the North it was unable to dock back in Stromness.  In trying to dock, with the help of a pilot boat and tug it managed to "glance off" the Pole Star, one of the lighthouse board ships.  The Hamnavoe then had to seek shelter in Scapa Flow where it was calm enough until the next morning.  23hours folk were on board! There were few folk on board so the passengers would likely have been given cabins and were no doubt warm and cosy but not the same as getting off the boat when expected! 

Our own wee ferry did a couple of the morning runs before cancelling the rest of the runs of the day. Above you can see the vessel coming into the Graemsay pier. Mick was down collecting post and took the photo. SO glad I didn't need to be on it!

We lost power for about 6 hours, but it came on at 5pm so wasn't too bad. The electricity linesmen were out working in the most atrocious conditions!  I was fine. I have a gas hob (hotplate) on the cooker so I could eat and have hot drinks.  The underfloor heating stays warm during the day anyway and Button was warm!  The phones were off for a couple of days but they are back now too.

I'd been out to give the hens lots of extra rations and Charlie the barn cat too. I didn't think I'd get out on Friday as the wind was due to still be bad, with added sleet showers and I was afraid of flying debris.  I've been out today and they are ALL fine with food left over!

Anyway here are a few photos taken of the Thursday storm, from the shelter of the hen house!

Looking towards the normally sheltered harbour of Stromness.

Looking West - towards Canada!

Looking towards the West Mainland where the sun sets in the summer...

This was the weather forecast for Thursday... "Sunrise" and "sunset" times were immaterial as it barely got light all day.

And at high tide the waves were crashing over the links (sand dunes) and onto the "main road" on Graemsay.  No damage to the road but lots of seaweed thrown about.

The seas around Graemsay are usually fairly sheltered, even in a storm.  Other parts of Orkney had spectacular seas...  this was Kirkwall Harbour (photo courtesy of Kirkwall Lifeboat station).  This too is normally a sheltered harbour!

So that is the first Winter storm by.  Time to replenish supplies and enjoy the respite from the gales while it lasts!

Monday, 20 November 2017

Graemsay Harvest Home

It's that time of year again when the parishes and islands in Orkney hold their "Harvest Homes" and Graemsay was no exception.  So this weekend there was the making of clapshot (neeps (swede) and tatties (potatoes) along with lots of butter are mashed together). There were cold meats, salads, soup and trifle too.  Of course there were also homebakes and tea while the evening's speaker, Magnus Thomson from Hoy, gave a speech about the harvest.

Our hall is small so just takes about 40 folk seated together.  It's a real community affair with each household doing something towards the event.  Some musicains very kindly came over, despite the appalling weather, so there were accordions and banjo, and mandolin for those that could to dance too!  Here are just a few photos of the evening.....  Well done to all those who helped to make it another great night on the island.

All seated for the supper..... just waiting for a few more folk to arrive.

After the meal Magnus said a few words...

The tables were cleared and the musicians started playing.  Here is John Budge from Walls on Hoy with his accordion.

Now joined by James Groat on the mandolin (with banjo for later).....

And then by Jack Yorston from Stromness - his band, Aff the Cuff have played for us for several years now.  Just he and James could come over this year, for which we were very grateful, and John stepped in to play along too.

Then there was time for dancing.....

Think they are trying to work out exactly *what* this dance might be!

And then had a go....

There were lots more dances too, including our speciality, the Graemsay Strip the Willow! But I was helping out selling the raffle tickets so didn't get so many photos.  The Graemsay Harvest Home Raffles are the stuff of legend...they go on for about an hour with lots of prizes!

And this wee flower child needs a bit of a nap!

So another good night on the island with money raised for hall funds too from the raffle. 

There's still a lot of weather about....

Last week was a fairly quiet one for me as I had sinusitis and really did not want to play at all!  The weather was also still very rough with high winds, rain etc.  But in Winter with rain we get beautiful rainbows.

Above a rainbow from the "back door" of Sandside.  Looking towards Stromness, with Hoy High lighthouse to the right.

Meanwhile the ferry that sails between Scrabster on the North of Scotland and Stromness came "up the Flow" - which is a more sheltered sail for it.  So the MV Graemsay and the ship had a bit of a race into harbour. Haha!  Actually the laws of the sea mean that the Hamnavoe had precedence so won that particular race.

And a sail home from town last week, among choppy seas and darkened skies.

There are still some wildflowers in the wildflower patch in the garden. This is a particularly sheltered spot.  The rest of the garden has been blackened or blasted to smithereens with the wind.

On really bad weather days the hens stay in the henny house. They have plenty of food and water in there and rootle around amongst the hay that I use for bedding, or just sit on the perches.  If the weather calms down a bit then they will go into the byres of find shelter in the shrubbery. Now the days have shortened only a couple of young hens are laying eggs. The rest have stopped for winter.  But I don't begrudge them a rest!

Meanwhile Madam Button spends more time snoozing!! With the odd foray out if I go to feed the wild birds or down to the shore.  But only if it is NOT too windy! Neither of us are keen on getting up in the morning these darker days...

And now Winter is here I am back into baking mode.  These are flapjacks, but made with locally milled Orkney bere meal, oats, dried fruit, nuts and seeds.  A very healthy snack.  Well apart from the sugar and butter!

I'm hoping for a calmer week weather wise so I can get out and about a bit more - and have something to blog about!!

Sunday, 12 November 2017

More "weather"....

Graemsay by Viv Rorie
There has been a lot of weather about this last week or so.  Today was cold (3 degrees C), with a chill breeze and heavy hail showers.  Dramatic to watch but not so good for those that have to work out in it, or the beasties in the fields. 

Photo above and the next two below are by Viv Rorie from Stromness who was out on a walk today and caught these dramatic photos of Graemsay! She kindly said I could share them here.  Above - the sun shining down on Graemsay! Specifically Hoy High lighthouse and Sandside.

If you click to enlarge the image you can just see Sandside next to the lightouse.

Lovely ethereal images!

Then today I was alerted by fellow blogger, Imperfect & Tense over on the East Mainland, that the Hamnavoe ferry was sailing "up the Flow".  So I took the opportunity for a few photos.

This is a bit like the "Jaws" movie - we need some of the theme music! Haha!  The Hamnavoe hiding behind Hoy High lighthouse garden wall.

Ah there she blows! 

But the weather changed before it even got to the harbour!

Hoy High looking magnificent as ever..

And Stromness with the Pole Star ship in I think

And then the hail came and the lighthouse and everything disappeared!

And here's another short time-lapse.  This one was from an upstairs window.  I'm still experimenting with views.  Ahem... I know the windows are a tad grubby, but it's salt -honest!