Well, that didn’t work. I made a resolution to write every second Friday, but I’ve messed that up already. Whether I can forgive myself and give it another chance in a fortnight we will see. At least all that festive season nonsense has now passed and the days are already getting longer, so spirits are on the up. Now where was I?
A consequence of attending the Sanday Development Trust AGM is that we are now members of said trust. There was a tiny monetary commitment, comprising a whole pound, which will disappear into the ether if the trust is ever wound up, but I think it’s worth the risk. The trust effectively runs the island, other than core services operated by Orkney Council, by committing grants and subsidies, not to mention quite a tidy sum from the small wind-farm at Spurness near Loth pier, to community based projects. For example, the croft and the heritage centre are run by the trust and their trading arm runs the bus service. I cannot imagine that there will be so much money in the kitty in the near future as austerity driven budget cuts kick in, but we’ll now have some small say in where it goes.
|The old Spurness windfarm|
© Copyright hayley green and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Within days, a cold bug took a holiday to visit us and it goes without saying that I thought I was dying. You know what boys are like. On my way back from a meeting about the bus service (the drivers were invited to attend so we did) I dropped in at the doctor’s surgery to see if they had a bottle of Night Nurse. No such luck. As there are no dispensing chemists on the island, I had to resort to half a sleeping tablet, dispensed by the missus, to help me to get to sleep. I woke up in the morning about an hour before my cold so I managed the morning drive to Loth pier before the symptoms returned. The afternoon run was like looking through beer-bottle spectacles, but my reading of the islands roads, even after dark, is coming on nicely. If it wasn’t for the animals, both wild and domesticated, roaming across them then it would be an absolute breeze.
Talking of breezes, a strong Southerly pushed Gail’s ‘Jodrell Bank’ TV aerial out of alignment. Neither of us fancied braving the elements, especially when a friend reminded us of Rod Hull’s untimely demise, so we settled down to some of our favourite DVDs. Gail kicked off the ‘Harry Potter’ season and put on Philosopher’s Stone while I cooked my signature dish haricot and olive bake for dinner. For those asking the question, yes it does take me two hours to prepare a meal. I have to make sure that I have all the clean utensils to hand, the myriad ingredients are weighed out into bowls, the oven’s to heat and that I have a list of all the expletives I know that I am guaranteed to have exhausted before it’s time to plate up. During dinner we watched episodes of Firefly.
The poor weather continued for a few days, prompting Kirkwall Grammar School to advise their students from the other islands that they start their weekend early as there was a real possibility that ferry sailings would be cancelled on Friday. Consequently, the Thursday afternoon bus run from the boat was positively heaving. Lucky skunks. With this increase in passenger numbers, this meant that I had to drive down a few roads that I had previously only seen on Google streetview. It wasn’t quite the same. It’s much easier to hang a ‘U’ on the laptop than it is in a twelve-seater Transit.
|The road to Stove. The only way out is the same way you came in.|
© Copyright Rob Burke and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
When it calmed down at the beginning of the next week, rather than doing any outdoor work, I took the bike out for a twenty three mile ride instead. I had never been to the very top of the island before, even in the car. There’s not much up there past the Angora shop, just fields with what you’d swear was a Roman road cutting between them. It was so remote that an opportunistic black-winged seagull started circling above me in the hope that I’d crash into a ditch and be carrion for him. At the end of the road is Whitemill Bay. A reasonably high dune gives a splendid view of North Ronaldsay and a fine sandy beach runs Westward and, the other way, heads around the corner to the South. A skerry, called ‘The Riv’ heads off straight out ahead and terminates at an outcropping about 1500m from the beach and on which a marker stands. The tide was in so there was only a tumult of colliding waves between the two, whereas the Ordnance Survey map suggests that, at low tide, a causeway is revealed that runs the full length. I’m already planning to test the theory as soon as tide and season permits. I’ll take a big packed lunch in case I get stranded at the marker and have to sit out high water. If it’s going to happen to anyone then I fully expect it to be me. On the way back home, I stopped in at Heilsa Fjold for a warming soup and a cup of tea. A very welcome treat they were too. I availed myself of their PC and posted on Facebook what I’d been up to, thus clueing Gail in on what I was up to. I must learn to be a little more discreet.
|View from Whitemill Bay to the marker at the end of 'The Riv'|
Winter is the ideal time to set up the raclette on the kitchen table. I think that spotting new ones for sale in Didldidi may have put the notion into our heads. A timely reminder it was too. Cue the writing of a shopping list comprising lots of fresh vegetables and a cheese that nobody stocks. In the circumstances Gouda and Edamer had to suffice. I also dug up a handful of leeks that I have left to overwinter in a raised bed in the garden. They may be small but they certainly pack a punch. It takes a while for the granite slab top to be warmed through from the grill elements below. By which time the shed is nice and warm all around. It must be said that, other than for a couple of mornings at the start, December has been quite mild, so I fully expect that it’ll be dragged out again early in the new year. Spring won’t reach us until June, so there’ll be plenty of opportunity.
|Nosy neighbours. Came as a bit of a shock at the time.|
You may have gathered by now that things have been pretty slow on the home improvement and gardening front. I must confess that other than cutting lengths of garden hose to make cloches at some time in the near future, continuing to make paper briquettes to burn on a fire we don’t even have and writing a shopping list of items required to put a ceiling up in the storeroom, things have been pedestrian to say the least. It doesn’t help that I’m a lazy git and nice days are at a premium, nor that there are a million and one things that I’d rather be doing when the conditions outside are conducive to more relaxing pursuits. The prospect of visitors in the summer, I hope, will be the catalyst for me to metamorphose into a whirling dervish in order to get things hospitable for our guests. For the moment I’ll continue to act like a complete tourist. At least the photographs will be more interesting, I hope, and I can maintain a certain mystique about my practical skills. So far, the number of people aware of the danger that I, armed with a hammer, pose to world peace are thankfully few in number. I don’t think that I need to compound my faux pas by providing evidence of my incompetence to a wider audience. So, with that in mind, when asked to repair a hole in the wall in the smallest room in the house, see if you can guess what I did.
|Cata Sand through the grass|
Yep! I grabbed the camera and went out for a ride.
|A ruin at Cleat and reflection.|
Happy 2013 to all my reader.