Monkfish and friends

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Posted by Mark on Tuesday, 23 June 2015

We are in the middle of the St Magnus festival, a couple of weeks of various entertainment events. One of these is a play based on a true event that happened in 1875 in Kirkwall. A delicatessen, Kirkness & Gorie ( a favorite of ours ) bought a barrel of Gin from a captain of a ship but somehow they ‘forgot’ to tell the local customs office. They were found out and were tried. At the time this caused a lot of public interest. So this year a play has been arranged about this event and also 140 years later this weekend, Kirkness & Gowery shipped over a barrel of French Bourgogne Pinot Noir ( duty paid this time ! ) as well as the vineyard owner,Bernard Vallet, and on the Friday they were bottling and labelling 140 bottles. I just had to pop in and buy one.


”  The barrel was full of gin  .  It was rolled into the back yard of James Kirkness, Grocer & Wine Merchant, just before Christmas 1875.  Unfortunately Kirkness had ‘forgotten’ to pay duty and tax on the spirits, having entered into an agreement with a rascally skipper called Askam who smuggled the cheap ‘stuff’ from Holland.  The subsequent trial of James Kirkness was one of the most sensational Orkney has ever seen. This week the thrilling tale will be retold using music, comedy and court-room drama, in a new play written by Duncan McLean and performed by some of Scotland’s finest actors. ”

The last weekend was not only the first ‘Steve Fest’ a daylong event of music raising money for charity on the Saturday followed by the summer solstice event at the Ring of Brodgar at 3.30 am! Neither of these events we went to in the end as during the day we had a pile of things to sort out with regards to the work on the house and in the evening we played hosts to Ruth and Lou who were up for the weekend doing a survey for the Orkney tourist board. Ruth is the sister of our dear friend Alan Fleming, we used to meet up in Manchester at Alan’s birthday party in December, an event we always looked forward to.

We struck up a friendship with these two lovely ladies and were happy to help them out when they asked if we knew anyone who could help them with the survey. We put them in touch with Vicky our new friends who have just moved here from the Isle of Man.

Anna cooked her dish of curried Monkfish followed by fresh fruit in cream and Vodka and then some interesting cheeses. We chatted the evening away and were sad when the time came for the taxi but the girls did have work to do the next day.

The next day, Sunday, was wet and miserable all day but we had a nice time discussing the arrangements for the ensuite bathroom and then whilst I settled down to watch the Austrian Grand Prix, Anna got on with her bread making. A lovely end to a productive and fun weekend. By the way Steve Fest raised £5000 for charity a great effort by all.

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