Sunday, 4 October 2009


ok I admit the picture was taken a few weeks ago but isn't it beautiful? The weather has cooled down a little now but we had a glorious summer so can't complain. The exciting news is that my parents moved up here a week ago. Who'd have thought that when I set sail for these shores they would follow? They are settling in well and are enjoying exploring their new environment as well as the joy of time travel..... (back in time about 20 years.) I still have much to be thankful for and am enjoying putting down roots and forming solid friendships as I get to know who's who on a more firm foundation. I really enjoy going to Stromness Baptist church and after having a year off rotas I'm now taking my turn with a few jobs which have proved both challenging and fun. Last night we had the first of a regular Saturday night meal together. A Once a month get together for folk to eat and blether. It's held the first Saturday in the month so put it in your diary and come along. It'll be worth the journey up here, honest!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

One year (and a bit) on

I can hardly believe I have been here just over a year now. I always said I would give it a year before I truely declared it the right move but I can say with hand on heart that decision was made months ago. I have no regrets about moving here. (well maybe one, I should have done it sooner) My dad tells me I should get a job at the tourist board as I could sell Orkney to everyone. Here are some reasons why.....

I have been working long and hard over the summer but thanks to the long hours of daylight I could still enjoy a dog walk to my favourite spot in Birsay late into the evening. (The stones pictured are just one of many, many creations one stumbles upon while walking. Very arty. )

I haven't taken one single hayfever tablet since being here. (Gave one to the dog but I've been fine) The clear, sea air has done me the world of good.

I've not sat at a red light, been in a traffic jam, had anyone try to clean my windows while I sit at said red light, encountered parking problems, paying for parking problems orr had to wait to be squished onto a park and ride bus with hundreds of others for a year now.

It really is another world here with a slower pace of life and beauty to be seen at every turn. I've no intention of going anywhere else. God willing my parents are moving here too. About time, the ironing pile has been waiting patiently ;-)

Sunday, 5 July 2009

am I the worlds' worst blogger?

I realise I'm not very good at keeping this updated but apparently more of you lovely people are reading this than I had imagined.

Next month will be the first anniversary of my arriving here. I always said I would see how I felt in a year and all I can say is. No regrets. I simply love it here and am so thankful for so much. The weather has been simply gorgeous and we are just back from my son having a dip in the sea just down the road. The very sea I can see from my lounge window. Even oldest daughter is settling down and smiling more than frowning these days! The summer brings with it loooooong days and I am still able to read a news paper out side at nearly midnight. Not that I do. But could if I wanted to!

We've enjoyed annual events such as the local gala day where children dress up and parade with a piped band and carnival floats. There is also a local raft race with much flour and egg throwing. Folk festivals, St. Magnus festival, shopping week, jazz festival, county shows. The island comes to life for the summer months and having been here through the winter months I know they have other delights to offer too. Notice from the picture that even our graffiti is upmarket!

All in all a jolly good move (in case you were wondering)

I would end this by saying I promise to write more often, but we know that isn't going to happen ;-)


Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Hello mum *waving*

Talking to mum recently on the phone she said ''you haven't updated your blog lately'' to which I replied ''You actually read it???!!'' I was unaware people actually log on from time to time to read my musings. (maybe it's only my mum) So as promised mother dear here's an update and a wave ;-

Life has been busy as usual but enjoyable so no complaints. A few weeks ago I was asked to show a visiting friend of a friend some of the places to see in Orkney. Our first stop was Skara Brae an ancient neolithic settlement. In modern speak it was a 5 thousand year old housing estate which was uncovered in the winter of 1850 after a severe storm. What lay beneath the years of sand and earth was a rabbit warren of houses and 'corridors' showing the homes of our ancestors. The condition of these homes was virtually intact and it was amazing to see how resourceful these people had been. It was hard to truely visualise it however until we went into the reconstructed house complete with roof and we were able to see how small their accomodation was with several people all living in one room. The weather on that day was grim. That awful drizzly, grey rain. Imagine living like that with no electricity and worse still no broadband!

The weather improved the following day and we were able to cover more places to see including the Italian Chapel and shipwrecks, but it reminded me that there is an awful lot of Orkney to discover and I've really only just begun.

Other news is that I'm now working in a restaurant called Waterside and loving it. It's pretty much on the doorstep and fits perfectly around the children and my extensive social diary (ha!) and all in all it's been a real gift.

The next Love Orkney celebration is taking place on Saturday and I was with a couple of friends yesterday practising a wee drama we are going to be doing. The script was written in Orcadian and most of the afternoon was spent with the three of us crying with laughter as I tried to translate from Orcadian to English on the spot and not sound like Joanna Lumley. It's not meant to be a comedy but turned out more like a scene from Acorn Antiques with the 'cast' really not taking our role seriously and ending up not being able to look at one another without cracking up. I guess it will be alright on the night.....

I'm looking forward to a visit from mum and dad in a couple of weeks and hoping the weather is in our favour. There's a lot to pack into a week.

I'm still enjoying my frequent dog walks on the beach. Sadly the computer is sick so no photos today. However all in all life is good, all is well and I'll try to update more often I promise! toodle pips darlings. (said in Joanna Lumley type way)

Sunday, 15 March 2009

You Are Here

Spring hasn't quite sprung but it's springing. The evenings are definitely getting lighter and the weather improving. One of the joys of moving to a new and beautiful place is the excuse to go out exploring. My trusty dog is always happy to explore with me and in the last few weeks I have been to some stunning places. The first picture was taken at Birsay on a Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago. A spectacular coastline with amazing cliffs and mesmerising waves. (do you think I should write for a tourist mag?) The second photo shows a gorgeous secluded spot I found when asking a friend and local about where was a good place to visit. It's called Wulkmill Bay and I really was the stranger on the shore. Last week I enjoyed a cliff walk in Deerness. To say it was windy is putting it mildly but still so lovely with a pebble beach and more stunning views. So many places to visit and I've only just begun. It never ceases to amaze me as I drive around what a beautiful place Orkney is yet so many people don't even know where it is. Their loss....

Monday, 2 February 2009

Loving it here.

It's been a crazy few weeks. Flying out to Florida, coming back for a quick turn around then flying South (every where is South from Orkney. John O' Groats is still south. If you go north you hit the North Pole always go south!) for Christmas, flying back to Orkney for new year, A loft conversion just finished (hurrah) and waiting to be painted, getting the children back into term, and dealing with the the coughs and colds that seem to appear with January. However one thing I know for certain is that I love Orkney and feel a huge sense of peace that I am in the right place. The bible says we will have a 'peace that passes all understanding' and I certainly got me some a' that. Going back south reminded me of what I already knew. That I love it here! No traffic jams, or huge shops with rows and rows of tacky giff that no one really wants needs or can afford. People still question why I would make such a move and I appreciate it wouldn't be every ones cup of tea (or is that Iron Bru?) but it's great for me. I love opening my door and smelling the sea air and how that alone takes me back to childhood holidays. I love how my son stops off with a friend every day to see the seals by his school. I love driving through the country side and seeing the old stone houses from years ago and wondering what tales they have to tell. I love the spectacular skies, sunsets, sunrises. (Pictured below is a sunset taken on Scapa Beach on Jan 2nd) I love the atmosphere and the boats and the see and the creativity and the open space. The list goes on. It just feels so right.
Needless to say it was not hard for me to attend a launch night on Saturday of 'Love Orkney' It certainly seems to be my daily phrase. Love Orkney has been born out of a group of praying women who attended a christian conference a year ago called Islands Ablaze. From that they prayed and sought God on what they were to do. The heart of the message is as simple as the title. Love Orkney, pray in all the parishes, love the people, share the gospel message, help those in need. It very much links in with the lighthouses of prayer which I wrote about back in November. The launch night was held in Harray which is the heart of Orkney and had a huge turn out despite the winds. Boats were cancelled and it was a grim night but still some 200 people turned out to hear about the vision for Love Orkney, enjoy the music provided by Michael Harcus as well as the the Men of Orkney choir and songs from the CE children. There was a supper afterwards with traditional Orcadian 'bannocks' which is unleavened flat bread served with cheese and very much enjoyed. (It's worth mentioning that Orkney cheese is delicious too) followed by heart shaped shortbread and cakes. All in all a very encouraging evening. Did I mention I love it here?
Photos of the evening and more information about Love Orkney can be found here

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

The Ba' an Orkney tradition

New Years day 2009 and no sleeping off hangovers for Orkney folk. You can find a large crowd gathered together to watch the Ba' which is a long standing tradition which dates back to well before the war. Christmas day and New years day every year gathers together brave (or slightly mad?) to play what can only be described as a giant game of rugby in the streets of Kirkwall. Now obviously I'm a newbee but I will try to explain the basic rules then add pictures so you can see for yourselves. here goes.
1. There are two teams the 'uppies' and the 'doonies' Your team is decided on which side of Kirkwall you live on, or how you first came to Kirkwall (boat or plane)
2. At 1.00pm when the cathedral clock strikes, the Ba' a large leather ball is thrown into crowd of waiting men and never seen again. Well at least not for several hours.
3. The object of the game is to get the ball up the way and touch it on a wall some way down the street or down the way and throw it into the harbour. That decides the winning team. Then follows a further scrabble to get the ball and from that emerges the overall winner who gets to keep the Ba'
4. It appears that the rule is there are no rules. Other than if someone goes down they are supposed to stop until they get up.
I think that's pretty much it but it's great fun to watch. As the two teams arrive to face each other off there is quite an atmosphere. There's a hushed sense of anticipation as the crowd wait for the clock to strike then the place goes mad. You need to stand well back in order to avoid getting caught up in the middle of it and as the scrum breaks and moves up or down spectators can me seen suddenly making a run for it!
All shops bar their doors and windows to prevent someone going through them and team players strap their trousers to their boots with yards and yards of duct tape to prevent losing their steel toe cap boots! (it appears it doesn't matter if your head gets mashed so long as your feet are ok!)
It's generally good clean sporting fun although they occasional fight breaks out and maybe it's an opportunity to settle an old score but I haven't heard of too much damage being done. That said I heard of a man who punctured his lung playing on Christmas day and was back playing on new years day!
The game lasts a minimum of 2-3 hours and the one pictured too 5. A long bath, a decent meal and a good sleep is probably what's needed after. And that's just for those spectating!
scroll through the pictures and note the shops being boarded up, the arrival of the two teams, hands ready to catch the Ba', scrum scrum scrum, and most amusing of all the steam rising from the scrum after just a few minutes. Just be thankful it isn't scratch and sniff!

The Ba' pictures (click on the picture to enlarge)

Th Ba' Pictures (Click on them to enlarge)