Saturday 19 April 2014

Very good Friday

Good Friday was the last full day of my brother and his wife's week long visit to Orkney. They had arrived the previous Saturday on the ferry from Scrabster to Stromness, which was forced to sail up through Scapa Flow due to strong winds and heavy seas. Their first night involved gale force winds (nothing to do with my cooking) and the next day was sunshine and intermittent hail showers. As they say, Welcome to Orkney!

They were able to do touristy things during the next few days: Tomb of the Eagles; Burwick cliff walk; Skara Brae; Stromness street amble. But Wednesday was a return to wet and windy weather, so we all explored the sights of Kirkwall: St Magnus' Cathedral; umpteen shops; and there may have been tea and cake at a cafe. That evening's entertainment was the power outage that affected the whole of the north of Scotland, including the Western and Northern Isles, always a fun-filled hullabaloo, what with all the candles and torches!

The following day, with electricity restored, life returned to its meteorological windy normal. We visited the Orkney Brewery and partook of their tour (this will be a separate blogpost), followed by a quick trip to the Harray Potter and then Betty's Reading Room over by Tingwall.

Yesterday dawned both bright and reasonably calm. so we all piled into the car for a West Coast adventure (erase from your mind any images of a VW Camper decorated with a primary colours flower motif, with its occupants sporting long hair and garish clothing, not that West Coast). As we trundled through Finstown, I recalled that Our Lass and I had had a conversation the previous week about whether to visit Happy Valley, so as it was virtually en route, we made a small detour to take in this little gem of a place.

I will apologise right now, as there aren't any habitat shots here. I was carrying Very Wrong Len, so all the below photos are close-ups of one form or another.

The little wooded valley was teeming with Spring flowers: Bluebells, Primroses, Wood Anemones, Purslane, Lesser Celandine, and several shrubs were in flower too, notably Redcurrant and the invasive Salmonberry.

I heard, but did not see, a Willow Warbler, which is always a treat and more so this far north. It really did finally feel like Spring. Numerous species of bee were buzzing from bloom to bloom and we flitted about the place in similar fashion, drinking deep of the spirit-lifting sweet nectar of life bursting anew.

Suitably invigorated, we bimbled up to Birsay for lunch, before heading across to Marwick to explore the bay, cliffs and Kitchener Memorial.

In keeping with some deeper Easter tradition, a Hare ran across our path, at some point in the day (our local farmer has banned the shooting of Hares on his land, so we are doubly lucky).

Good Friday? Pretty much perfect.


Katie (Nature ID) said...

Harray Potter? Bluebells! Is the timing of the spring season later than what you're accustomed to that far north?

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Happy Valley was a man-made garden turned nature preserve?

Imperfect and Tense said...

Katie, I really should've put in some habitat shots, eh?

On Orkney, there are very few sheltered, wooded valleys, so over the course of 6 decades, this little valley has become a unique habitat. Which is probably reason enough for the nature reserve designation. I guess it has a 'pocket park' community project feel, with added appreciation from knowing that it began s one man's vision.

And Bluebells! I was wondering how I was going to find those on Orkney! Our Lass wants to check whether they're native or introduced, so we will head back over there when the flowers are a little more advanced.

In the village of Harray, there's a potter who makes all sorts of interesting ceramics. He also carries out experiments investigating neolithic pottery techniques, using only the materials and methods available 5000 years ago. When the books were published about the 'wizard boy', he couldn't resist the pun!

Unknown said...

Good morning from Nova Scotia, Canada. Today my routine breakfast was sweetened with the accompaniment of your writing. And I have to say, this was a wonderful way to start my day! I have found humor, nature, travel-to-a-new-country, photography and storytelling all in one spot! I will definitely be back for more. By the way, your profile picture had me laughing out loud. I knew immediately that "here's someone with a great sense of humor". I'll be back. :o)

Imperfect and Tense said...

Hi Chickadeegirl and welcome. To save you loads of trawling through my scrawl, the profile picture is a nod to the first line in Dodie Smith's 'I capture the castle'...

Beyond a deep affection for the rock band Rush, I know very little about Canada, so I'm looking forward to putting that right!