Wednesday 1 April 2020

Key largo

I will attempt to not make this post too florid.

After a week of ploughing through my Lockdown To Do list (starting at the bottom and working up), I was given an urgent job in an adjacent county for a key worker who was having trouble accessing IT at home. Those of you who were paying attention in Geography class will be aware that the phrase 'adjacent county' when applied to Orkney involves a sea journey. So it was, that early yesterday morning, the van and I hopped aboard the ferry from St Margaret's Hope in South Ronaldsay, in the company of a lorry and a pick-up towing a trailer. It was not busy. Upon reaching Gill's Bay in Caithness on the Scottish mainland, we trundled westwards on roads so quiet that I felt like waving at each passing vehicle, à la small island mode.

The job took about an hour and a half, even with the help of several curious cats, so just before lunchtime I left a satisfied customer and began to ponder how to fill the next seven hours before the ferry sailed for home. Our Lass had anticipated my predicament and had selflessly furnished me with a shopping list, with which to while away some time in a supermarket. The westerly breeze was bitingly chill as I, and a dozen or so other folk, queued outside an emporium of essentials for our turn to peruse the gaudy shelves, respectfully maintaining our two metre distances and contemplating our plummeting body temperatures.

Once in-store, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a plentiful supply of dairy-free milks. I have long suspected that I have an uneasy relationship with cows' milk and so have been on a reduced dairy intake for a year or so. Back in Orkney, presumably like many places when the panic buying started, unthinking milk drinkers were quick to snap up all the dairy-free milk produce in case the dairy stuff was ever in short supply. Believe me, lactose sensitive is not a place you want to be if there's a toilet roll shortage. It's quite graphic for all the wrong reasons. Just sayin'.

Fortunately, Our Lass's list was not a long one, and I soon found myself in another queue, this time for the checkouts. Curiously, the alcohol aisle had been chosen as the holding area for this queue, and I couldn't decide whether this was purely for the smooth routing of customers or a subtle hint as to how to cope with self-isolation and worrying about cashflow.

In an unexpected, yet magnificent, display of forethought and planning, I had brought a packed lunch, three o'clock and dinner, so nourishment wasn't going to be a problem. I found a convenient place to park up for lunch and checked emails and the like whilst watching the panorama before me.

Gulls and waders were huddled down in a sheltered spot on the rocky shore, a few pipits and wagtails pottered about the car park, corvids looked for any morsels the gulls might have missed and a pair of Oystercatchers noisily and frequently made love. Some things are independent of the temperature, obviously.

The remainder of the afternoon passed by in a slowly flowing stream of online office work, podcasts, wildlife watching and a bit of reading. Eventually, the mv Alfred hove into view and I could finally head for home. Today is wet and windy (not an IBS reference), so I am definitely not venturing far from a kettle.


Mark said...

Is that Dunnet Head?

Imperfect and Tense said...

It is! Though seen from the opposite direction to most of my Dunnet Head photos. I was forgetting about your encyclopedic and intimate knowledge of Highlands topography 😃