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Gaan oot


verb \ ɡɑːn \

1. From Old English gaān (“to go”)


adverb \ ˈüt \

1. Chiefly Scottish variant of out

Last Sunday we went to visit the dead whale which has been on a beach at the North end of the island. We weren’t exactly sure where it was and as we walked along the coastline we started to think we must have missed it. However when we finally go to it it definitely wouldn’t be easy to walk past without noticing it (or should I say smelling it)! It had broken into a few pieces but it was amazing to see the size of the skull bones and vertebrae which were instantly recognisable. As it gets bashed by storms throughout the winter it continues to break up further, providing a rich meal for the birds.

An engineer has been out to try and fix our heating, which annoyingly turns itself off completely due to an error every time it gets up to temperature. This means resetting it sometimes every 10 minutes to try and keep the place warm, and if we go out we return to a very chilly house! Unfortunately it was working while he was here, then started getting the error again about half an hour after he left. Typical!

Luckily we have the stove to keep warm!

Access from the roads onto the shore is varied throughout the island and not very “accessible” in some cases. In order for the stiles to be sheep proof they are vertical ladders with a platform in between over the dyke. Not only are these difficult for a lot of islanders and visitors to get over, but going over the top of them in high winds (on my knees) is bit hairy for me too! It would be great to get gates installed making walking on the shore an option for everyone. The problem with basic gates is that if they get left open the sheep get onto the island and have to be herded back onto the shore. These tricksy sheep are going to require a smarter solution. Watch this space…

Not the easiest stile to help get over the wall

This week I have been repairing at Nouster Bay. What starts off as a small gap, becomes larger and larger once work starts. Before building can begin the site must be cleared of fallen stones (and in this case sand, a lot of sand) back to a stable foundation. Often the clearing process can reveal very loose sections of wall adjacent to the gap which have to be pushed over to avoid it falling and injuring someone. The gap had been there for some time so many of the stones which were originally in the wall had been covered by sand, which meant even more digging out sand to find them. Paradoxically it seemed like the amount of sand coming out of a hole was ten times the size of the hole.

Sand, sand and more sand

On Thursday Olly and I went to Kirkwall for a night “oot”. We went to Nordic night, held at the Orkney Distillery, celebrating Orkney’s Scandinavian roots with contemporary makers, craft and design. We sipped Glögg (a sweet, spiced festive wine) while admiring the beautiful ceramics, jewellery, carvings, and knitwear that were on show. It’s been interesting to learn of the affinity Norway has with Orkney, and vice versa.

"Get to know your locals" - Tesco, Kirkwall

The rest of our stuff finally arrived! I am ashamed to say I was most excited to be reunited with the washing machine and hoover as the place had accumulated a lot of dirt in the last 3 weeks. It’s been great to fill the bookshelves with all our books, have complete sofas, and a full wardrobe again. Between unpacking we playing a few rounds of badminton with Tegan (the last pupil in the school on North Ronaldsay before it closed) and Louis in the community centre (the school’s sports hall). The unpacking continues…

Hagrid choosing a book to read from the now full bookshelf

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