A Travellerspoint blog

Life's Challenges


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Today was living proof that despite adversity life can continue. Even birds and animals rely on co operation, collaboration and nurturing to survive. Given the most extreme lifestyle, if you have what you need you will thrive and your species will prosper. A guillemot makes its home to invite a mate and each time one leaves and returns the pair repeat their preening and affectionate displays with each other. Not all pairs have an egg but they communally care for the ones that are there. If someone is careless and a young one is forced out of the nest, they never return.
Seals enjoyed sunning themselves on rocks around the bay, wiggling and twisting to make sure they were making the most of the day and their surroundings. They were not fussed by onlookers, in fact they looked back.
Puffins were elusive. Not as common as the postcards suggest, not as big as you'd expect. Definitely not interested in being centre of attention, unlike the skewer. Friendly enough to come close to see what was in it for him....but then wanted more, and more, and more....no attention to personal space or grasping when you've out warn your welcome....a Milly with wings.
We sailed out of Lerwick and headed around the North of Bressay, continued out to Noss and returned to Lewick around the south of Bressay, passing one of over 25 lighthouses around the islands. Crofts, sheep, waterfalls seals and native floral displays on uninhabited islands could be seen. Only one otter was spotted today, an athletic one. Not everyone on the boat saw it.
The husband and wife team who led our tour around Bressay and Noss today were an unlikely pair. He Shetlander born, she American. He older, she younger. He practical and logical, she dramatic and entertaining....but they made a happy team. It was their boat, they are both skippers, both work the underwater camera, make decisions together as plans changed according to weather conditions. It worked. They live on their boat, summer in Shetland and Stockholm in winter. She knew how to make great Swedish coffee.
Our 3 hour boat trip was so enjoyable and engaging we were unaware exactly HOW cold we were. On our return to shore my hands were red INSIDE my gloves, with little feeling. Rob too had cause to notice his skin was colder than he realised.
Protection by the people of the people has been a big focus this UK trip. Fort Charlotte is situated on the Lerwick harbour. It overlooks the harbour and guards the harbour. It was built during the Dutch wars. and is where the Highland Battery is garisoned. There are terrific views of the harbour from the fort.
The museum in Shetlands has been arranged in time sequence, telling the story of the land, the inhabitants, the changing ownership of the Iand, Norway then Scottish owing to a dowry and an unpaid mortgage. The wool fabrics, including knitted lace on display is stunning. Their displays were well thought out regarding arrangement, interest levels and pertinent information. School children on an excursion were encouraged to touch and feel many interactive pieces including laying on beds of chaff, straw etc to feel the difference. Yet again welcoming friendly staff to meet and greet you.
Stormy weather is ahead for the next few days, but no doubt calmer days will follow, everyone lives in the hope of warmth and summer. Predictions here regarding the weather are as unreliable as in Perth. So, tomorrow whoever we are, whereever we are we will get up and live the day we have.
Rob will meander across the road at 9am to visit the Shetlands hospital and lab. Chances are we will re visit Fjara for breakfast tomorrow.....they make great coffee....yeah and have seals outside their front window, maybe basking in the rain tomorrow...maybe not.
I guess the saying sunshine follows the rain is as basic as it all gets but we all look for the rainbow (Ryanbo to some) as comfort that there is hope in all of life's challenges.

Posted by DeniseUK15 21:29 Comments (0)

Rocky Shoreline


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Though we'd planned to have a sleep in this morning that plan was revised when Geoff suggested a lab visit at 9am for Rob. So we got up usual time, packed our heaving bags, ate our last Karrawara breakfast prepared by Ann and took off to drop Rob at the hospital. I moseyed for about 45 mins then went back to collect him and get to the airport for our 11.10 flight. Thank goodness we were at the airport early as we'd paid our excess bagage fee, had to relinquish a good bottle of handcream, had our bags searched as Geoff promised would happen,boarded the flight boarded and we were in the sky by 10.45 and landing at Sumbourgh, a 40 min drive from Lerwick, Shetlands capital city at 11.20am.
I was expecting a not so green island, but its very pictuesque. We drove across the airstrip ...no kidding...in our Kia hire car and tootled off to book into The Lerwick Hotel. On line the hotel looked old and characterish, in reality it has been renovated to look new from the outside, and the decor has been modernised in patches but the character of the old building is still in its walls and ceilings.
We ate lunch at The Brasserie, unloaded the car, grabbed cameras and thankfully rain jackets and walked to town, about 15 mins walk away. The sun was shining brightly and we were enjoying our little explore until from no where a black cloud rolled in and opened up on our heads. We began our walk back to the hotel, with a briskness to our step. Our coats wet and trousers got quite damp...but the rain left and the strong wind blew it all dry again. I think thats a good thing?! The sun came back, rain left but we took the car for the next explore just to be safe.
In Inverness our room had a pale purple feature wall. Rob suffered it, no comment, then Orkneys the room had a dark purple feature wall....mmm Rob less pleased, now in Shetlands we have pink sheets! Denise not happy sleeping on Pink Princess linen. Rob has aleady fallen asleep on top of the bed, so I'd better get him onto this luscious pink sheets....
I spoke with mum this morning and messaged with Ally today also. Erik has been in touch regarding the parcels we sent on ahead...not arrived yet??? and letting us know all is well at The Escarpment.
Tomorrow we will drop off the laundry, do some points of interest in Lerwick, travel to Noss by boat to see the sea birds and water animals eg seals. Following our return we will head out to find puffins.
The scene from our window is a rocky shoreline, just as you'd find in Albany. The water is lapping around the rocks ...beautiful. between that and us is a green grassed area where people walk themselves or their dogs. Relaxing to watch.

Posted by DeniseUK15 20:52 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Rocky Shoreline


View Uk Trip 2015 on DeniseUK15's travel map.

Though we'd planned to have a sleep in this morning that plan was revised when Geoff suggested a lab visit at 9am for Rob. So we got up usual time, packed our heaving bags, ate our last Karrawara breakfast prepared by Ann and took off to drop Rob at the hospital. I moseyed for about 45 mins then went back to collect him and get to the airport for our 11.10 flight. Thank goodness we were at the airport early as we'd paid our excess bagage fee, had to relinquish a good bottle of handcream, had our bags searched as Geoff promised would happen,boarded the flight boarded and we were in the sky by 10.45 and landing at Sumbourgh, a 40 min drive from Lerwick, Shetlands capital city at 11.20am.
I was expecting a not so green island, but its very pictuesque. We drove across the airstrip ...no kidding...in our Kia hire car and tootled off to book into The Lerwick Hotel. On line the hotel looked old and characterish, in reality it has been renovated to look new from the outside, and the decor has been modernised in patches but the character of the old building is still in its walls and ceilings.
We ate lunch at The Brasserie, unloaded the car, grabbed cameras and thankfully rain jackets and walked to town, about 15 mins walk away. The sun was shining brightly and we were enjoying our little explore until from no where a black cloud rolled in and opened up on our heads. We began our walk back to the hotel, with a briskness to our step. Our coats wet and trousers got quite damp...but the rain left and the strong wind blew it all dry again. I think thats a good thing?! The sun came back, rain left but we took the car for the next explore just to be safe.
In Inverness our room had a pale purple feature wall. Rob suffered it, no comment, then Orkneys the room had a dark purple feature wall....mmm Rob less pleased, now in Shetlands we have pink sheets! Denise not happy sleeping on Pink Princess linen. Rob has aleady fallen asleep on top of the bed, so I'd better get him onto this luscious pink sheets....
I spoke with mum this morning and messaged with Ally today also. Erik has been in touch regarding the parcels we sent on ahead...not arrived yet??? and letting us know all is well at The Escarpment.
Tomorrow we will drop off the laundry, do some points of interest in Lerwick, travel to Noss by boat to see the sea birds and water animals eg seals. Following our return we will head out to find puffins.
The scene from our window is a rocky shoreline, just as you'd find in Albany. The water is lapping around the rocks ...beautiful. between that and us is a green grassed area where people walk themselves or their dogs. Relaxing to watch.

Posted by DeniseUK15 20:52 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

Surprises in the Palace

rain
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Yesterday was sunny, today the forecast was for a more grey day so we set off early to South Ronaldsay to explore the south. In Perth the causeway separates suburbs, in Orkneys causeways separate islands. So we crossed, Churchill Barriers among the islands to South Ronaldsay.
Along the way the Italian Chapel, built in the 2nd world war had a mildly ornate front, bland top and rear, but the inside was surprisingly ornate, compared to what I was expecting.
The views of outer laying islands were somewhat hazy in the morning fog, but had lifted when we returned about 40 minutes later. It was not that far to the end and back! Our views included the islands of Hoy, Mainland Scotland, Long Hope, Flotter, Swona and Hunda. We experienced the expanse of the Scarpa Flow.
Rusted tops of sunken ships, trawlers, the John Groats Ferry coming in to dock and Burwick Ferry all sat out in the bays and water lines. The ferry dock was exceptionally basic with an uninspiring platform and a variety if fishing related matrrials in piles around the sidelines.
The islands we crossed were from the East Mainland, Burray, and South Ronaldsay.
Driving on the island has been interesting. All cars here are manuals and much of the time you are battling to get to top gear. The speedo is telling us that our average speed for these two days has been 27 miles per hour. Getting caught behind tractors, buses forklifts is a distinct disadvantage on roads that are rarely straight, but at least there were no trees in the way. This helped assure you there is little chance of overtaking...unless you are an island work vehicle van and they overtake anyone anywhere, plant their foot and go!
It rained today, and rained, and rained. Finally the sun shone at about 3 pm. By that stage our wet weather jackets had earned their keep and were wet! But we weren't. We tried to continue to explore Kirkwall in the rain visiting The Bishops Palace ...no roof but inside was a child sucking a lollipop, escaping from her family up and down staircases (fortunately not falling to her death). She went into the roofless mainhall and went back to tell her family she'd seen the best surprise, then returned and told me she was now seeing another surprise! In my semi asthmatic coughing state I was in a bit of a quandry looking around to see what would be so amazing for her to make these declarations. The only surprises I could spy was one dead pigeon and one dead headless pigeon. Not my idea of a surprise. When we left her family were still trying to locate her.
The Earls Palace at least had some roof structures in parts. There were two groups of school children engagaed in a school excursion, carrying out role plays in period costumes. They were obviously enjoying the experience, especially the young lad who stood to attention as Rob and I passed by him. He was living the moment.
The archive section the library is quite extensive and has a number of people to assist at various times. I collected some brochures with the idea to follow up a little past family history at a later date.
The Orkney Museum was well organised into centuries and had some interesting displays to look over.

Rob is off to look at the Orkney Lab in the morning with Geoff. We had dinner with Geoff tonight and the men discussed labs, Scottish Health System and life in the Orkneys and Shetlands. He has obviously enjoyed his life here and is involved with many work commitments, kayaking and gymnastics coaching for young people, has been involved in rock climbing and extensive walking and bird watching. Don't think he has time to get bored. Hes just returned from a stint at Sierra Leone working with Ebola.
Of all the lovely things here the coffee shop situation is in DIRE need of attention. Too few and too far in between. Elevenses were late today because we had trouble finding a 'Recharge post'.
Geoff has warned us the airport goes through every third persons baggage as their security system is so basic. If they start pulling my stuff out, we may end up with a horrible mess to repack. And there won't be good coffee anywhere to compensate. Hope tomorrow's flight is ok. Think it may be an even smaller lawnmower plane than the last flight.

Posted by DeniseUK15 22:11 Archived in Scotland Comments (2)

Which Bird is That?

sunny
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Correct me if I am wrong but I was under the impression that sunshine, clear blue skies, a bit of a breeze and friendly people made a place appealing. We came to The Orkneys to see if we could cope with the weather and feel as though we could fit in.... that it is wet, cold, windy, grey......mmmm not this Orkney today anyway.
We were served breakfast in a heated conservatory style breakfast room this morning and then gathered info from the Information Centre, along with our Explorer vouchers, and began the 42 mile trip today around the top of the main island. Clear skies, blue water, waves washing up onto sandy and pebbled beaches graced our drive and walks.
Today we searched for Puffins but found Guillemots and Razorbills, Tree Sparrows, Herring Gulls around bays and rocks on the shore line. In the fields near the Ring of Brodgar were adult Lapwings keeping gulls away from their chicks who were running around the field. Starlings feeding young with freshly gathered worms in a rocky nest at Robert the horrible Earl's Palace ruins (whose son Patrick was even worse) were not worried at us watching them diving in and out of the rocks bringing in food and removing rubbish -just as a parent does!
We parked the car and walked out to Brough of Birsay, when the tide was out. There are only about 4 hrs in a day you can access it by foot. From the top of the island there was a sheer drop to the crashing waves...Rob told me I had to sit down if I wanted to look, I suspect he was thinking about the 5cm rule we have at home. Anyway, I did as I was told and got some fierce shots of the waves crashing and birds nesting up the rock face. Other chicks were grouped together with their backs to the wind and a shag perched on a ledge below enjoyed a long stretch. If the holes were an accurate indication we suspect we were walking above an underground honeycomb of warrens. I always feel moved watching and listening to the sea in that sort of environment. It reminded me of Albany, the joy and terror you feel at the same time knowing how powerful the rocks and water are yet so beautiful.
There were others standing and looking out to sea also, in awe.
Places of interest today were; The Holme of Grinbister at Finstown, the back end of the Maeshawe, looking at the standing stones of Stennes, The Ness of Brodgar and the Ring of Brodgar which are between Stennes Loch and Harray Loch, the Loch of Clumly and the Loch of Scaille. We looked out over the Bay of Skaille from Scara Brae aand looked inside Skaille House. Driving north we passed the Loch of Isbister and The Loons to Birsay, St Magnus church and The Brough of Birsay.
Heading East we took in Swanae Loch and The Broche of Girness where we could also see the two wild straits between the mainland Eynhallow Island and Rousay. We drove back to Kirkwall passing Tingwall and looking out over the Bay of Isbister.
Along the route everyone who has a craft making business is open for anyone to drop in, say hello and make purchases directly from the maker. The lady at The Woolshed had a grumble, as she put it, about the weather, today being the exception, that its been so cold and wet most of the cattle are still being kept indoors. See, I knew it, animals should not be left out in the rain they get cold and their feet get muddy! Finally found some people who understand this! We've seen a lot of cattle and sheep though so goodness knows how many they have tucked away, waiting to see sunlight!
The Guest House end of the road we are staying on is down town suburbia, half way along (3 minutes drive) is farming land, and then at the end ( a further 4 minutes drive ) is the Bay of Inganess where cows in the field abutting the shore watch over a rusted old ship resting in the shallow waters. Something for everyone in our street.
Someone here today referred to The Orkneys as one big farm and that sums it up pretty accurately. I can't see anyone dressing up for fine dining or the opera. Everyone so far seems to be comfy in casuals and happy to nod hi or have a chat about the weather, which they tell us has been so cold for so long, and today was out of the ordinary.... so much for our impression in the first 24 hours.
Tomorrow we rev the engine and head to the south of the island, that should take a couple of hours! In the afternoon we will look at the archives and library for a little while as my maternal family line has a history dating back to the Orkneys. Rob has a time to meet up with Geoff tomorrow to chat some things over.
Tonight will be an early night as I have the same stupid headcold I had in Melbourne in January and my face feels like someone is smashing it in while I swallow Razor blades. Hopefully Rob won't get it.
Today was a public holiday at home, so hopefully you all enjoyed a day off work. No doubt Kirsty and Ian are wishing they had a staff member with a higher attendance rate at the moment. My apologies as I bet you did not get a long weekend!
Enjoy your short working week. We have actually unwound so much we barely can remember what the day is, and matching it with a date is almost impossible without serious finger work. I did comment to Rob that it will be hard to go back to work when we return. He muttered something about Yep and paying for this adventure!!! Typical Rob style.
Back to the birds.....maybe we'll see Puffins in The Shetlands.

Posted by DeniseUK15 19:40 Archived in Scotland Comments (5)

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