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Sheeplock Holmes

*** See below for Coronavirus and Volunteering Operations update ***

After last week's collapse of some dyke near Howar I have spent a couple of days collaring at adjacent dyke in order to avoid more collapses there in the near future. Impossible to say how much more life this gives the dyke, but it could be years. So it's well worth taking the time to slide (and bash!) some stones in vertically at the bottom to hold up foundations where the ground has eroded away. The sheep seem to love running right along the dyke, causing this erosion.

It was a spectacular day to be beside the sea on Thursday, and when I had finished for the day Olly joined me for a swim. I spent some time hopping between rocks along the shore, searching rock pools for interesting creatures, then we found a 'sheltered' pool to plunge into. The water is so wonderfully clear here, I can't wait to investigate with a snorkel. The water is freezing, and we haven't managed to properly swim yet, but paddling around waist deep is enough to clear my mind of anything else, all I can think about is the cold - a much needed break from stress and anxiety sometimes.

It's lovely to see a burst of colour around the island, our driveway is looking aprticularly good lined either side with daffodils. The spring has brought lots of frogs and frogspawn to the ponds, I love tadpoles and am looking forward to seeing them grow over the next few weeks. A grey seal pup was enjoying the sunshine near the pier on my walk past this week

A bit of detective work was needed to find where sheep were getting onto the island near Nether Linnay. Giveaway signs are wool caught on the stone and wood as they brush past and little hoof prints on the grass. Just call me "Sheeplock Holmes"! I had a very inquisite audience while I made the repair....

Sadly, but sensibly, my Mum and friend Linda decided to put off their trip to visit North Ronaldsay. It was a tough decision, but the risk of travelling through airports was too high. We were all very disappointed. All that cleaning and tidying for nothing ;) Mum and Linda are sewing buddies, and they managed one last sewing session together over the weekend before social distancing. An impressive merry dancers performance on Friday night felt especially bittersweet.

Olly returned from working on the Mainland on Saturday for the foreseeable future. The cafe at the Picky (leisure) centre has closed and the wildlife centre has also closed. We were just getting on our feet financially but are facing a real set back, along with thousands of others across the UK. I am so lucky to be able to continue working. The silver lining is I have full time volunteer (so I can put my feet up)!


Following the latest government advice on the Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), to stay at home and minimise non-essential travel, I have made the decision to close my volunteering operations from 23rd March 2020. Please know I am as disappointed as you are about this. I will review this decision in 3 months time (end of June 2020).

Given the seriousness of the global situation with COVID-19, and the potential impact on our community, its health services and resources, are now actively discouraging visits to Orkney. The Scottish Government has also advised ferry companies across the country that sailings should only be for island residents and those who have a need to travel for essential supplies or business. That guidance applies to Orkney, and Orkney Ferries, NorthLink Ferries and Pentland Ferries are following it.

As an island community, our healthcare systems, social services, shops and supermarkets are facing a serious challenge at the moment and we must do all we can to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on Orkney, and especially for the elderly and vulnerable community on North Ronaldsay.

Please stay at home.

I appreciate your understanding at this difficult time and look forward to welcoming you to North Ronaldsay when this unprecedented crisis has passed. If you need any help re-organising travel or accommodation please let me know.

In the meantime, I’ll do my best to share all that’s wonderful about North Ronaldsay, the dyke and the sheep through my social media channels and blog.

Stay safe, Siân

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