Posted by Mark on Monday, 29 February 2016
Well it has been a while since I last posted, this is mainly because everything has quietened down after all the building and my son’s wedding. The weather this winter has been varied with the usual high winds and a fair bit of rain which on occasions turned to snow, although the temperatures are such that the snow has not amounted to much. But we have also enjoyed a lot of clear days and beautiful winter sun.
Looking out of our new office window we are very aware of the different visitors that each month brings. The starlings are back in force, covering the few trees here and chattering away. The geese fly in like an air force squadron to feed in the fields, and we now have the arrival of curlew and the oyster catchers, who as they fly en-mass and change directions their black and white bodies appear to flash on and off. Obviously these numbers are supplemented by the masses of sea birds of various varieties which arrive unexpectedly in their masses. The destination for all the birds is the loch at the bottom of our garden, whilst Stenness loch is one of the deepest lochs in Orkney, our end is fairly shallow and is a favoured feeding area for these visitors along with the beautiful white swans who live around here and share the area with the seals who come and sunbathe on the rocks in the very shallow areas on the nicer days. Herons, cormorants are other visitors as is a pair of Hen Harriers and a Merlin.
As we slowly move towards spring it is interesting to see the island ‘awake’ as the hotels and restaurants that are closed for some of the winter start to reopen, although often for only a few days in the week. Talking to locals the topic of conversation is often about preparations for the influx of visitors, the local paper has published the list of cruise ships visiting Orkney this year, a few more than last time. During the winter the island belongs once again to the islanders and is blissfully quiet although give it a sunny winter’s Sunday and the popular spots can soon become as busy as when the season is in full flood, as the locals ‘escape’ and try and get a couple of hours of sunshine. We found this out when we took a drive out to Birsay, when we left, the place had filled up and there wasn’t a single space to park ! Visitors at this time of year can become frustrated that so little is open, even the main Hotel in Stromness closes for a couple of months, a number of people ‘disappear’ during the winter to warmer climes so getting things done or agreed can be frustrating , but that is the way of things.
We have had several local visitors come and see our house improvements and their reactions have been very favourable, we are loving the whole living environment, very different to before but just what we had planned. It is now ready for people to stay with us when they visit and we are looking forward to seeing you all.