Saturday, 14 December 2013

Journey to a land beyond the north wind

Hello from Orkney! 

The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur to be honest, but let's have a recap.

Our Lass headed northwards in early November to take up her new post on Mainland, the largest of the Orcadian archipelago. Yours Truly remained behind in Milton Keynes to look after the arrangements for the house sale and move.

After a few last minute hiccups and traumas, a little over a week and half ago, I said my final goodbye to Tense Towers, a fond farewell to a building that has provided some magical natural history moments over the eleven years we have lived there. Having locked the front door for the last time and driven to the end of the street, I found that I had to retrace my steps for one more photo.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you...

the first...

the original...

the classic incarnation of...

Tense Towers!

See? No turrets

Earlier in the day

With the weather set to deteriorate all across my planned route from MK to Orkney (about 600 miles as the crow flies), I set off with a little trepidation and plenty of last minute packing crammed into our car.

My first pit stop was an overnight in Manchester, courtesy of First Born and her beau. With some business to attend to in the city the next morning, I was able to sit out the worst of the storm force winds, before heading northwards once more, to spend the night with family near Dunfermline in Scotland.

The following morning, I set off early on the full day's drive to the ferry port at Gill's Bay, on the north coast of Caithness.

Dawn over Fife
En route through the Cairngorms
As the sun set, and darkness fell, I finally reached the port and nervously waited for the ferry. I shouldn't have worried, the hour's crossing of the Pentland Firth was as smooth as smooth could be. So my huge thanks to the Pentalina and her crew.

Arriving at St Margaret's Hope on South Ronaldsay, I experienced Orkney as I had never seen it before. In total darkness. All our holidays have been in late Spring and early Summer, when darkness is a very rare commodity. After crossing the Churchill Barriers, the causeways that link South Ron with Mainland, I eventually crested the rise that revealed a street lit vista of Kirkwall, city and Royal Burgh, capital of Orkney.

It was fantastic to be reunited with Our Lass, for these four weeks had been the longest we had been apart in more than 24 years.

And now a different life beckoned. A fresh start. A new day.

Kirkwall dawn
Whilst we are house hunting for a new home, Our Lass has found us temporary lodgings in a small stone cottage. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in location.

View from the cottage garden
By the shore of Scapa Flow, alongside a fresh water lochan and nestled above an ayre.

A new chapter of our lives begins here...


holdingmoments said...

Bit different to MK.
Just a tad envious here.
Hope you're new life goes exceptionally well.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Keith, give over, this looks just like the H10 between Caldecotte North and South ;o)

Don't worry, you're allowed to be smug about stuff like trees and Blue Tits and calm weather.

Thanks for your kind wishes.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Awesome. Thanks for sharing your journey. Glad you made it safe and sound.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Cheers, Katie. The really windy, middle day of the journey saw many roads affected by high-sided vehicles that had blown over. Fortunately, my only scrape with danger occurred on the M60 in Manchester, when a lump of polystyrene about a foot cubed appeared from stage right, blew across the 3 oncoming lanes, the central reservation and bounced in front of and then under my car. Obviously, beforehand, I didn't know it was polystyrene!

Martin said...

I wonder if the lorry had ever been that far south...! And assume it survived the high winds on the route back north.

best of luck to you both for the new life on the Mainland

biobabbler said...

Wow. Looks amazing. Super envious of all that water (& the associated wildlife you'll be ogling). Glad you made it up there. Fantastic lighting!

Imperfect and Tense said...

M&R has a wagon in England every week, I believe. And I must admit to an amount of trepidation when it left MK, that I would see it upright ever again!

Imperfect and Tense said...

Thanks, bb. I think they make the light so fantastic because there's only 6 hours of it a day at this time of year. Perhaps it's a spin off from the manufacture of whisky, a sort of distillation of the quintessence of light, if you will.