After arriving we spent the weekend unpacking the few items which had made it with us to the island and catching up on sleep. We were effectively "camping" in our new home, but sofa cushions on the floor infront of the fire with an upturned wicker basket as a coffee table made for an excellent napping spot. Making the most of the amazing weather we cycled up the spine of the island.
The first day on the job required me to fly back to Kirkwall on the Mainland for a manual handling course at the UHI Orkney College (yawn...), but we did have time afterwards for a wee shopping trip which made for some interesting baggage on the flight back!
Over the next couple of days I was taken out by Alison to walk around the dyke. Alison runs the Bird Observatory and owns some of the North Ronaldsay sheep. Every croft and farm on the island has the right to keep sheep on the shore. The native sheep of North Ronaldsay are the only domesticated sheep still to be managed under a communal system of farming in which key events in the shepherding calendar bring together the whole community.
Historically occupants of each croft would have a right to put a fixed number of sheep on the beach, in return for agreeing to look after the maintenance of the sheep-dyke. However with a declining and ageing population, the physical task of repairing the dyke is beyond the current capacity of the islanders.
On our walks Alison pointed out bits on the dyke to look out for, the dos and don'ts of dyke building and small repairs that I could get started on to get my eye in.
Unfortunately I became quite ill with a chesty cough but managed to get out with Olly at the weekend to explore and take in more of the dyke around the island.