A very windy start to the week as Storm Brendan geared up and swept through Orkney. Unlike other dry stone walls, the dyke has lots of gaps between stones which allows the wind, water (ie waves from the sea) and sand to go through without (in most cases) it being knocked down. Nevertheless, when the high tides coincide with storm force winds such as these the dyke is very vulnerable. Thankfully I have been spared any huge collapses. The waves have, however, delivered an unusual sight. A half eaten fish (my guess is seal predation) on the grass at the pund near Westness! Sea foam covered the ground up to the dyke and beyond, resembling snow.
Aside from fish, the storms have brought an abundance of seaweed ashore, keeping the sheep very happy. These "tangles", Laminaria hyperboea and Laminaria saccharina, have long stalks that grip to rocks with a holdfast, and leathery brown fronds that spread out in the water. These kelps cover the sound between Sanday and North Ronaldsay, and are ripped from their moorings by the waves. This is why the sheep are in prime condition in winter, rather than summer like other sheep, because they are able to feast on tons of seaweed brought by the storms.
On my way back from checking the dyke for damage in the South East I received a very exciting tweet. Dan Schrieber had got in touch for interesting facts about the sheep for the podcast No Such Thing As A Fish, which he hosts alongside James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray and Anna Ptaszynski, the "QI elves"! I listen to show religiously so it was a huge honour to share my "insider" knowledge with them. I can't wait to listen to the episode, which will be released on 24th January.
The internet has been playing up this week,which has made replying to emails and blogging a rather tedious process. Cloudnet who provides our internet services sent out a new power supply on the plane Saturday morning and I was tasked with installing it. It appears to have improved the wifi in the house, but we ran into further technical difficulties at dance club, so invited Alex back for tea and Olly's homemade shortbread instead!
Later that day we met back in the community centre for this years first panto meeting. We had a read through of Pinocchio and assigned parts. I will play Jiminy Cricket (excited for the top hat and umbrella). I remember finding the Disney version quite scary as a child, but was looking forward to recreating the scene inside the whale... with smoke machines and water guns... but it had been left out in the script! Strewth!