Sunday, July 08, 2007

Orkney 2007 - Day 1

Friday 22nd June 2007 saw the Soniamost hand in her PhD thesis, and what a wonderful day it was;  glorious sunshine accompanied this rite of passage, as did Theakston beer from The St Macher's Bar where I met her after work!  Congratulations to the full to my little bright cookie.

The hand-in was a release of many kinds, for we were now on holiday. Not only were we off to the Orkney Isles on the Monday, but the Saturday saw us tripping over to Corpach (home of Neptune's Staircase), Fort William for the marriage of Sonia's friends Catherine and David, but only after my exhaust fell off just outside Aberdeen forcing us to drive for over 2 hours a la Spitfire.  Some unorthodox notes on marriage by the minister, including stories referring to joint credit card accounts not being misused, lead to the knot being duly tied and the congregation milling about on midge-lawn out front, savouring views of Ben Nevis (when not being bitten).

(L-R) Paula, Catherine and Sonia getting midge-bites:

A great reception followed that even saw me dancing with the bride (after a pint) and, even more proudly, correctly guessing Highland Park from a blind buy!

After an action-packed Saturday, Sunday was mostly taken up with the mission to buy a new exhaust, which we managed to do in Oban, and buying me a new coat, which we did back in Fort William, and all that lead to...

Monday 25 June - Kirkwall and St Magnus Cathedral

The Orkney Islands consist of 70 separate islands, 20 of which are inhabited.  A trail of these islands to the southeast of the group are connected by The Churchill Barriers, built during the second world war, to protect the British Fleet from U-boat attack.  We were due to stay on the southernmost of these, South Ronaldsay.

The Orkney isles at the north-eastern tip of mainland UK:

After chasing Team A (Alison, Andrew R and Andrew L) up the A9 and A99, we arrived at St Gills Bay (our start point to cross The Pentland Firth) before them, due to the nose of The Leach bizarrely seeking out a Costa in John O'Groats.  After introductions, Sonia, a marine biologist, was asked if we were likely to see any dolphins or whales on the crossing.  To which she confidently replied in the negative.  To which, in turn, a group of massive killer whales passed the boat about a half hour in exciting everyone on board!

(L-R) Andrew R, Alison and the Soniamost:

Upon arrival, we were very grateful to find that our accommodation for the week, Lower Cara cottage, was wonderful, and ideally placed with fabulous coastal views all around.  Once the rooms had been assigned and bags dumped within them, the whisky was cracked open as Alison announced she was four months pregnant!! She'll be driving from now on then! Congratulations Alison.

A brief shopping trip and introduction to Kirkwall saw us back and cooking-in before returning to town and the impressive St Magnus Cathedral for a great performance by Viktoria Mullova as she played Bach's Partita in E major and Partita in D minor as part of the St Magnus Festival, which our visit happily happened to coincide with.  An 11pm finish did not mean the sun was even fully down at this time of year as we drove back to fine views and the close of the first day.

St Magnus Cathedral; not your average venue:

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Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Looking good! Glad you had a good time.

9 July 2007 at 16:48  
Blogger George Walks said...

And that was just the start! Much more to come!

9 July 2007 at 21:46  

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