Festivals and Commemorations

Matthew and the Sundae
Matthew at Brodgar
Band at the Cathedral
Princess Anne arrives
The Birsay Boys at the Festival

Well, Oliver and Nicola left us, promising to return whenever they could. They had a better flight back (we dosed Nicola up with travel pills, ginger sweets and acupuncture style wrist bands!). Then there were three days and Mark’s nephew Matthew arrived in his Lotus 7 after his Lotus club “haggis run”. He looked somewhat jaded, but we didn’t let him get away with that, and took him on a whistle stop tour of the island, hopefully giving him at least a flavour of what it is like here. The weather was kind and we managed to tire him out, but he did only have one day to do it all in. As you can see from the pictures, we subjected him to the Ring of Brodgar, but only after he had sampled the delights of an ice cream sundae at Gerri’s – though he bottled at the thought of a Stenness Monster – for those of you not in the know, a Stenness Monster is seven (yes SEVEN) scoops of our very creamy, rich Orkney ice cream in a very large cornet. It has to be eaten by one person and then they get their names in the roll of honour. Some brave persons have done 2 back-to-back and one lunatic managed three but … felt very green afterwards I am told !

At the same time ex-next-door-neighbour-and-purchaser-of-the-Old-Railway-Station Steve arrived. Now Steve was up for the annual Folk Festival and had planned to bring his lovely VW camper up and … camp. But it was not to be – it shattered a wheel bearing in Inverness and had to be left in the tender care of a garage while Steve hired a car and continued his journey. After all he had a lot of the gigs booked and didn’t want to miss them. We understand he was not disappointed. The Folk Festival is great fun, with the set gigs, but also with lots of music in all the bars. We hadn’t booked any concerts ourselves because of one thing and another but we had a great time wandering between the Royal, the Stromness, the Ferry and the British Legion bars and enjoying the music and the atmosphere. And in Mark’s case, some of the beer on offer ! The sun shone (not like last year !) and we really needed the sun block – there were several very red faces about at the end of the first day. And, it has to be said, one or two people a bit the worse for wear … I am told that one man decided to walk off the edge of the harbour on the Sunday night, but his friends duly fished him out and I expect the cold water soon sobered him up. I didn’t take as many pictures as last year, but there are some online on my Flickr account for those interested.

The Festival finished on Sunday – Monday was a bank holiday I am told, but they just don’t happen up here, so it was off to the dentist for Mark and I (deep joy) followed by a soothing session of Mahjong for me while Mark and Steve went and sampled the delights of a tour of Scapa Distillery – an expensive experience for Steve who purchased a couple of bottles of the amber nectar.

Tuesday actually saw us getting up in good time for once, because it was the day of the Battle of Jutland Commemoration and we wanted to get into Kirkwall in good time to find a) somewhere to park and b) find a good spot to watch the proceedings. And we succeeded magnificently on both counts ! We walked from our parking place into the town centre and took up positions about half way along  … the area right in front of St Magnus Cathedral was already pretty full. And didn’t we do well ! this turned out to be exactly where the bands were going to march and … even better … where the “VVIPS” were escorted to in order to take the salute. So in due course, David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon arrived on foot escorted by several top-echelon Naval officers, all beautifully “frogged and braided” and positively weighed down with medals.

They were swiftly followed by a very highly polished dark blue Range Rover which stopped almost beside us, bearing Princess Anne, the Princess Royal. Sadly Prince Philip had been advised by the doctors not to attend so he didn’t accompany her. The next Range Rover brought the President of the Germany, Joachim Gauck along to join the party and they took the and then headed into the Cathedral for the service, while we returned home in order to watch on TV. We couldn’t get over how slick the organisation was, and we were so proud of the band of the Royal Marines who were truly splendid with their intricate marching and their music. It really was a very special occasion. And it was also fascinating playing “spot the security officers” in the crowd !

You can see several more pictures from Mark – he had the long lens and took some great shots so do have a look. Just click here …

We get some fabulous experiences here on Orkney !!

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