Now you can buy your postcards of South Ronaldsay before even coming here and post them from your favourite post box back at home (or bring them with you to pop into the post here and get a St Margaret's Hope postmark, or even, now that you have the postcards, cancel your trip and booking at the Creel and save yourself a pretty penny). I have just made a series of 10 postcards of South Ronaldsay. These can now be bought at the Creel or at The Old Trading Post (and post office) just around the corner from us.
If you would like to buy the set (£9 -UK, £11.25 Rest of World including p&p), please email the Creel (click here) and with the name and address you would like them sent to. We will send you an invoice that can be paid by the click of a credit card and then post to the address you have given.
Saint Margaret's Hope
Our local church/cemetary on the far side of the island with the North Sea beyond
A calm sunset one day just outside the Creel
View from the old battery at Hoxa, guarding the entrance to Scapa Flow. (The Pentalina takes a risk as it passes here 6 times a day as it crosses from here to Gill's Bay in Scotland.)
And here she is, seen from Hoxa too, but further up the Flow and safely past the battery
The Altar, near Herston. Three and a half miles by car then two muddy fields and a slightly hairy clifftop walk away from the Creel.
The Hope basking on a fine summer's day
Tomison's Academy (going to ruin) in the South Parish and a fine Orkney sky
The Sands of Wright, 2 miles from here. Some brave folk swim here (but not me).
A stormy winter's day at Windwick (5 miles away. I went to take a foul weather pick during a raging storm with sheeting rain/hail but the sun came out when I arrived!
Here are the snow-capped hills of Hoy, seen from South Ronaldsay a couple of days ago. Time to plan that skiing excursion!
Shame there's no ski-lifts, the snow is only an inch thick, and it all melts in a couple of days.
Here in Orkney, the sun stays low in the sky from dawn to dusk. This means that we have great photography light all through the day. It also means that in changeable weather (which is most days!) we can get some lovely rainbows. Today's, however, was a doozy even by Orkney standards. Here it is:
This rainbow was a full semicircle but too close for my lens, even at its widest, to capture it. That was just something to enjoy while I took the shots.
This lovely little church is St Mary's in Burwick. It was falling into desuetude and the Church of Scotland no longer wanted to look after it. A group of local people formed a trust – the St Mary's Preservation Trust – to rescue it and turn it into the social and tourist amenity it deserves to be since it is not only of historical interest but also located in one of our island's lovelier spots. Do visit the website for more information and pictures. Click here.
This being the off-season, with less work to do (apart from maintenance and improvements), I was at last able to get around to carrying out a project I had had in mind since the summer. One of the most senior residents of our village, George Esson, some years ago produced a book called South Ronaldsay In Retrospect, filled with wonderful photos of past times here. However, it was basically just bound xerox copies and the images were really somewhat lacking in quality. During a conversation last summer, I suggested that I might rescan them and do a reprint if he was agreeable to the idea. He was. And in a superbly organised way, dug out all the old photos that he had used for his book. You can page through an online copy by clicking here.
Today was a lovely autumn day and definitely one on which to check up on our seals. There had already been some pictures in various Facebook pages of the new arrivals, so William and I headed off for the South Parish to the sealy spots we had found in previous years. And bingo, they were there!
These were on the beach at one of my favourite beauty spots on the island. There was a fine view from the clifftop:
It was incredibly bright and everything sparkled. Several dads seemed to be guarding the baby beach from the sea:
And there was plenty to guard. Why do the seals choose to lie in mushy seaweed when there are nice clean stones right nearby?
These seals were in the sort of sunny spot I might have chosen for myself (but it was another beach and it didn't have any seaweed):
They also had some cormorants to watch over them
The season being nearly over, there are gaps between bookings. Seeing we had a few days free, son William and I decided to take our motorcycles for a spin in mainland Scotland and decided on a quick little run to Cromarty in the Black Isle.
This little town was so nice, I thought I'd write about it as a possible interesting stop for people en route to us by car from down Sooth! I would highly recommend it as a small detour off the A9 main road.
This is the detour:
An added plus is that one gets to use one of the sweetest little car ferries (we were told it’s the smallest car ferry in the UK), which runs to and fro 40 times a day between Cromarty and Nigg. Details here.
But here is the ferry itself!
Good eating (and staying) in Cromarty at the Royal Hotel
However, we stayed right next door in a flat with a lovely view over the Firth and highly recommend it (Seascape Holiday Apartment). Owned and managed by a lovely lady called Helen, it was cosy and so spic and span that I was almost afraid to touch anything😊. This was the view from the sitting room window (iPhone pic). That's our bikes parked on the waterfront.
On the return journey we detoured just a few miles to Dunnet Head, northernmost spot of Great Britain, as we had time before the ferry home. Great spot – and it was good to see Orkney on the horizon.
While this must be Great Britain's most northerly dwelling:
We did not get rained on once during our 2-day trip, It only started to rain when we were safely on our lovely Pentalina, heading home. And even this gave us a lovely view of Dunnet Head as we headed off.
Everyone knows the Standing Stones of Stenness, but far fewer have met the Drowning Stones of Tankerness
(I confess that I've just invented that last name, but take a look)
Everyone coming to Orkney wants to – and get to – see the Standing Stones. And lovely they are too!
Far fewer go to see their lowly, but sympathetic, cousins stuck out in Mill Sand in Tankerness. But there is something sweet about them.
Seas have risen and these poor things now barely get to keep their heads above water at high tide.
And here they are at low tide
A short drive to Tankerness is very worthwhile. I also like the Iron Age village of Mine Howe on the same road. And there is a new plus this year: Sheila Fleet, one of Orkney's great jewellers,has her workshop (and a shop) there, to which she has now added a very pretty eating place in an old kirk.
(not my photo)
Check it out here
...as the temperature fell a bit below average and a NE wind of gale / strong gale force whooshed in. It was therefore just the day to go to the cliffs at Yesnaby to enjoy the weather to the full.
If one turns left from one's landing point at Yesnaby, a short walk along the grassy clifftops
takes one to this😀❗️❗️❗️
We saw something yesterday that we had not ourselves seen before. What at first sight looked like snow was whipping up and over the clifftop.
This in fact was foam churned by the pounding waves to a froth that was then carried up and over the cliff!
Getting to Yesnaby from the Creel is easy. This is what Google Maps suggests. (We went there by another route but it's more or less the way we drove back). This route takes you past the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness, two extra treats.
The weather turned so ridiculously nice a few days ago that I began to wonder if we hadn't drifted off into the vicinity of the Canary Isles or at least the Azores.
So one afternoon, after our nice guests had gone off sightseeing, I grabbed my camera, jumped onto to my Moto Guzzi and went for a spin.
The sun seemed to be in the right part of the sky for a ride to Deerness and I decided to have another wander around Newark Bay and the Geo slipway.
This is what I found and we will deffo (just had some Australian guests😀) do a picnic there this summer.
Just look at this:
Newark Beach. (It was a little crowded as there were at least 4 people on it).
I walked down onto the Geo Slipway and just loved this rockpool:
There were several possible picnic spots and places to sit, but I liked this one best:
Getting there is easy
I like to take photos and am fond of clichés - so I'll say I find them to be worth a thousand words.