Things are getting busy as summer approaches, although when
the winter showers that bring a light dusting of snow on the hills and the icy
cold winds from the north blow it is sometimes difficult to believe. My step
daughter, Anna’s eldest, Vickie, and her partner Mark a long standing friend
came to visit for a week. They drove up and as it was Mark’s first visit to
Orkney and he is very interested in the military history of the area, I arranged
a half day guided tour by Norman Shearer who does this sort of thing for a
living. I am quite happy to show people around the Neolithic stuff but I don’t
know quite so much about newer history, although I am learning! Although Norman’s
tour occurred on perhaps the worst day for weather of their stay, Vickie and
Mark said that they really enjoyed it and learnt a lot, Norman certainly seemed
to have covered a lot in the time. Poor old Vickie did come back freezing and
damp but a nice hot bath soon sorted that out.
The rest of the week we spent some of the time sight-seeing
and showing them the island plus we had some time to ‘chill out’ with them and
chat which was great. It is very easy with so much to seem on the island to overdo
things and not leave time for the important things like nattering. Vickie and
Mark seemed to have really enjoyed their visit, so much so that they were
talking of possibly coming back up for a visit in the summer this year which
would be great.
Easter has come and gone there were some egg hunts for the
children, one of which a lot of the shops in Kirkwall joined in, and some large
dressed up Easter Bunnies in the town. Bank holidays don’t seem to happen here
like they do in England, whether it is because of the large agricultural community
who can’t take time off or another reason I’m not sure, so the shops are all
open and it seems like any other day, obviously the kids are off school but
they are generally so well behaved that you barely notice them!
The weekends in Kirkwall, and to a lesser extent Stromness
are punctuated by the raucous noise of Blackenings. These are where a prospective
Bride or Groom are grabbed by their mates and covered in molasses, rice
krispies and all sorts of stuff, then bundled into the back of an open lorry
and driven around the town several times to the much blowing of whistles and
banging of sticks on the sides of the lorry, I believe a small amount of alcohol
may also be consumed. After this parading through the streets the ‘victim’ is then
tied to the stone cross outside the Cathedral or some other landmark. Their
mates then drive off only to return a little while later to release them and
usually throw them into the harbour! A good time is had by all! We never fail
to be amused by the reactions of any visitor who does not know what is going
on, it is often a mix of puzzlement and apprehension, the participants can look
quite scary and threatening, and that is just the girls!
Just another Saturday in Orkney.