Posted by Mark on Friday, 1 May 2015
I thought I would just write a little about our ramblings around the island over the last week. We went into the main ‘city’ – well it does have a cathedral! – Kirkwall on the Saturday and as you can see from the photo it is a typical Saturday with the streets crowded with shoppers all pushing and shoving to get their fix of commercialism! Seriously it did strike us that in Orkney there does not seem to be the ethos of having to go out to town on Saturday.
Having said that the council have announced that on the days when the biggest cruise ships will be in that they will be closing some of the streets to traffic as a trial. There is one junction in particular that amazes southerners like Anna and myself, it is almost as if there is a virtual zebra crossing there, the traffic will stop for you if you are on the pavement wanting to cross even though according to the road makings the traffic has right of way. It takes a bit of getting used to, as you stare blankly at the drivers who are sitting in their cars waving at you to cross and you are not sure if this is some sort of game of ‘spot the tourist!’
Although on this particular Saturday the streets were quieter than normal, every fifteen minutes or so there appeared one of two open back lorries filled with young men and girls covered in dark brown molasses drinking and banging on the side of the lorry as they toured the town. This is a Blackening and a prelude to the subject of the Blackening getting married in a few days’ time. New visitors to the island understandably stop and stare, first in fear as these rowdy and fairly unrecognisable beings hove into view, then the cameras come out as they realise that tourist is not on the menu today!
One day we were driving past Harray loch and pulled into the Standing Stone Hotel for a bite to eat and noticed a huge amount of swans all sleeping in the loch ( see photo – sorry about the quality ) The swans of Harray loch are not an uncommon sight but we have never seen quite so many altogether. Also in the same car park we were lucky enough to witness the extremely rare event of the migration of the bath tubs which apparently occurs during a full moon before the solstice, I managed to get of photo of this event and have sent a copy to National Geographic!