Monday, 12 November 2007

On tour

Listening to: There Is A Light (The Smiths)
Looking forward to: Pint of Dragonhead stout on draught
But I've got to: get a haircut first
And: get some pig wormer thingy from the vets
Birdwatch: Shags, eider ducks, goldeneye (?), little auk, greylag geese, whooper swans, black-backed gulls.

Sometimes I forget to look at the view.

Days when the sheer weight of tasks that need doing close in and the solitude gets a little bit too much. I walk out of the front door - which overlooks the sea and the island of Rousay and Orkney mainland beyond - and some days completely fail to notice it.

That has a lot to do with being here on my own. It's hard to say "oooh, look at the way the sun is shining off the sea" or words to that effect if there is nobody to listen. Pigs, I have found, have no interest in scenery.

So, after seven days that have not been the best in my life, I dragged myself out of bed at 6.30, walked the dogs, fed hens and pigs, evicted the cat and got down to the ferry terminal for the 9am boat to Kirkwall. The weather forecast was for cold sunshine and I figured a sea voyage and day in town would perk me up no end.

Got to the pier to be greeted by the harbourmaster who said that, because of a long-running work-to-rule by the ferry crews, the boat would be calling at Sanday on its way to Kirkwall, so would take two hours or more instead of the usual hour-and-a-quarter.

I looked on the bright side. I've never been to Sanday and even if I wasn't going to get off, it would be good to have a look.

And it proved to be a smashing trip. The sunshine was bright and I spent the whole time out on deck with my binoculars. The ferry rounded the north coast of Eday, then squeezed between that island and it's 'mini-me' The Calf of Eday, going to within 100 metres of the shore where the crofts run down to the sea.

At one stage I could, if I turned 360 degrees, see seven islands. The eider ducks are gathering in large numbers, the males in their distinctive black and white plumage, while huge numbers of ducks, geese and swans were flocking on the north shores of Shapinsay.

I had a terrific time. It was a reminder just when I needed it that this is a quite astonishing place and I'd be a fool to take it for granted.


I, like the view said...


that soothes my soul

you do it for me and report back, because I can't. . .

could tell you about the heron on the tidal pools of the river, and the cormorants kinda flocking in a weird way - they don't look right when they fly high like other birds - and the sea gulls swooping and screeching (I was on the eighth floor of a tower block, observing this lot) and the way the river rushed in

- and filled up the pools and covered over the scar between the two halves of London Town with its muddy grey winter ribbon (so pretty at night, reflecting the the lights in the river - red and blues from modern developments, scattered white from the tube train going over the bright, flashing from the planes on the final path into Heathrow, green and orange from the underside of the bridges, yellows somehow from who knows where) -

bringing a mixed bunch of flotsam and jetsom, mainly leaves more leaves and a few branches and some more leaves. . .

but it's not the same as the sea

and a wonderful view of islands

thank you

Anonymous said...

That was a timely post for me, and I can relate to no end. Today I have the day off so maybe I need to take in some of this beautiful place...after I walk the dogs, feed the rabbit and the fish and evict the cats, of course!

fiwa said...

I start feeling like that in the winter, when it's rained for 30 days in a row. It does help to get out and do something different.

Hope this is a better week.

ziggi said...

sounds truly wonderful - when are you going to be open for B&B?

it's hard to count your blessings when things go wrong and you have no one to take it out on (or share it with) but you seem to be doing a grand job and it's always interesting to read your escapades, makes you realise how easy life is down here!

Have you got your laptop?

And Cornwall?! That's a fair jaunt! You don't like an easy life do you?!

Reg Pither said...

It's starting, admit it? You're starting to go ever so slightly doolally-bananas up there in a kind of Robinson Crusoe way?
You'll be sacrificing chickens while dancing naked at midnight and making whicker men before the year is out, mark my words.

andrea said...

Been lurking here for a couple of weeks as it's like a trip out of suburbia for me. Because of my work I get what you're saying about solitude, but it's pretty nicely balanced in my life. By the way, if Ziggi comes to visit I'm tagging a ride with her -- but only if she brings her equine friends. :)

The Birdwatcher said...

It certainly beats spending the day with the ungrateful lot that I have to deal with. Glad you put a comma after Shags.

Arabella said...

Glad you were able to take some time out from tickling Mrs D with a goose quill for her flapjack recipe.

martin said...

Jealous, me ?.

Malc said...

Blogger has just wiped all my answers to your individual comments, which was really quite irritating. I haven't time on this borrowed computer to write it all again so it's a rather lame, but very sincere. . .

Thanks all for your good wishes.

Malc said...

Right, I've got the laptop fired up again so. . .


That's lovely. I think you've proved there's beauty everywhere if you look in the right way. Remember Reg's 'Sunrise over Wolverhampton' pic the other week?

Dyna Girl

Hello there. Hope the day off did the trick.


Winter can be such a drag. It's getting dark at about 4pm here now. And, yes, this is a better week, thanks.

Malc said...


B&B was an integral part of 'Plan A', but we are on to 'Plan E' now and it has disappeared. Mrs Trainee Pig Farmer was never that keen and I suspect she would have had to do most of the work.
Visitors would be more than welcome. It's a long way, but it really is worth it when you get here.


Naked? This is the north of Scotland fercrissakes! I wear a fleece to bed.


Hello hello. Lurking - I love that word. The Lurkers were a pretty fine, if short-lived, punk band back in 76-77. We should have Xena the mare from hell here next spring. Tag along by all means, friendly faces will always be welcome.


I always put a comma after my shags.


She cracked. I'll pass the information on soon.


Comfort yourself as you raise a pint of decent ale in a pub five minutes down the road or you pick up a curry without having to spend an hour-and-a-quarter on the ferry, or make a last-minute decision to go and see a film.

Malc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.