Tuesday, 30 July 2013

White water lillys...

Not long after we first moved to Shetland I remember driving out west and passing a pool flowering with white water lillys so reminiscent of the lotus blossom...


I'd not passed by that place since with a camera to hand and the lillys in flower...


They really a beautiful flowers and rare natives to Shetland...


These are in a pool near the roadside, but I did notice more in the distance...


They were hard to take snaps of on a foggy breezy day, but well worth the pause in my drive...


Beautiful flowers rising from the mud and hidden amongst the general noise of life...


I'd like to say I took the chance to sit for a while, but tempting as it was the office was calling...

Sunday, 28 July 2013

A spot of cliff jumping at Nibon...

By the powers of Facebook I met up with a couple of lads for a spot of cliff jumping at Nibon Isle in Northmavine. I came here some time back with another friend, but they'd not been before so I was 'guide' for the day and a good day we had! All the photos and video are courtesy of Brian Gray.

Here's the Isle of Nibon, not a long swim, but not having a decent wetsuit I was in my dry-suit which is a nightmare to swim in both in terms of movement and drag especially with my floatation vest on,also not having worn it for some time the neck was way too tight. I get there in the end without passing out, just. I won't be swimming any distance in that again!


It was a short walk across to the south west end of the island where our fun was to be had which gave me chance to get the dry-suit off and some blood back to my brain. That crack in front of us splits the island in two and you can swim and clamber along it, but we gave that a miss today...


This is was the main arena for our jumping, it's also a nice place to kayak into for a picnic. There's a tunnel with a roof collapse on the right of the geo which runs through to the another jump spot where the highest jump of the day was...


Hugh jumping through the roof collapse...


Me just resurfacing after jumping in the roof collapse. Between jumps I was holding my suit neck open as it was far too tight, that let air back in and then when I went in it I blew up like a michelin man, venting the neck in the water was hilarious, like a whale surfacing to breathe (yeh I know, you can hold your comments there!)...




Looking down from the highest jump. I'd though it was may be 40 feet last time I'd come, but they reckoned more like 60. It's hard to tell from the fish eye lens, but it is very high and very scary what ever the actual height is!


It's definitely a long way dooooowwnnn....



Brian put together a slo-mo compilation of some of the jumps we did. What a laugh. The final jump is me doing the big one, it's along way down...


I reckon we all had a good laugh and it'd be good to get out some time with more of their crazy friends, but first I need to buy a new wetsuit! Cheers guys.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

A family trip to Orkney


Last week was spent on our family holiday in Orkney along with my Mam. Earl was due to come but sadly he is now far too big for his flight cage and one suitable would need a van to fit it in so he spent the week in prison AKA the kennels.

Clare had found a wonderful farmhouse, The Head, Grim Ness on South Ronaldsay which we can't recommend enough. It's in a lovely location, is very spacious and well appointed (better than our home) and even allows a dog.

Our own private beach was a couple of hundred yards from the house...


Apparently just right for sand angels!


Not a bad view of an evening either...


And the other side of the ness isn't bad either with seals on the rocks, grotty buckies (arctic cowrie shell) in the shelly sand and plenty of bird life...


A flock of linnets was hanging around the house along with plenty of swallows.

Mrs Linnet...


Mr Linnet. Very bonny birds...


South Ronaldsay is actually an island and to get there from the mainland of Orkney you need to cross the 4 Churchill Barriers, barriers built during WWII with a road along the top to protect Scapa Flow from German boats and submarines.I never managed to get one view of the barriers that I felt did them justice, but I did mess about with some long exposure photography of them one day. Here's a couple of my attempts at a 10 minute exposure to get the misty sea... 


The distant things in the water are the remains of block boats that were used to block the inter-island channels before the barriers were built...


Italian prisoners of war were 'employed' to make the barriers and they also created the Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm from two nissen huts joined end to end. It's very impressive...



No less impressive is St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall...





But the outdoors is my church along with many fantastic archaeological sites around Orkney. Here's a few photos of The Stones of Stenness...





Oops... seems and ancient trowie sneaked into my photo...


And the very impressive Ring of Brodgar...



We also visited the Tomb of the Eagles where you can go in an excavated burial tomb in a rather unique way...


It's not as exciting a ride as it might look, but the museum is good and the staff were very welcoming. They believe that people were given sky burials where animals including white tailed eagles would pick the bones clean before the bones were put in the tomb like here...


As in Shetland there is a good range of nesting seabirds at this time of the year. I also saw a peregrine falcon looking for lunch along the cliffs and a gannet taken down in the sea by two bonxies. Near the house we also saw a short eared owl and some shelducks. Here Beren and Clare are looking at seals near the tomb of the eagles...


A fulmar with it's fluff ball of a chick...


A razorbill in a small crevice...


Orkney is quite a big place so rather than try too hard we took it easy on the mainland. One of our favourite places was the area of Deerness and The Brough of Deerness where there are the remains of an old chapel on a isolated promontory...


A series of steps took you down to a lovely cove...


And then back up onto the brough...


It's fairly dramatic, but not as much as it may look...


The remains of the chapel...


Or should I say parcour training ground...


Another brough we enjoyed was the Brough of Birsay which is reached by a tidal causeway...


The rock pools along the causeway were ace to look in with seaweeds galore, sea anemones, star fish, jelly fish, hermit crabs and even this dead thorn back ray...


Here's a hermit crab having a feast on it...


A grand spot...


Though I have to say the lighthouse is a bit stumpy...


So there you are a quick whizz around the best bits of our first family trip to Orkney. We visited plenty other places, museums, pubs, cafes and even the mobile chip shop. It is very different from Shetland, full of cows and smelt quite alot of them too, but Orkney we loved you and we'll be back...