September was probably our busiest month so far, in terms of travel. So we let the blogging go in favour of trying to just go with the “doing”. It was also our month to rely on the kindness of friends in terms of accommodation. From Orkney, to the Dales, to Bavaria, we were generously hosted and cooked for, and not even allowed to wash dishes! In addition, we stayed in our most minuscule space to date on Cartwright Gardens in Bloomsbury. It was called a studio, and it did have everything a studio should have. It was about 6 feet wide and about 14 feet long (plus a bathroom). There was also a teeny balcony thro the large sash window and a folding table and chairs, very sweet.
So here is a glimpse at just a few of our adventures in the month of September.
One highlight which happened on the way up to Orkney, was that Sam got to play golf again after a long absence from the course! First at Tain, then at Brora right on the sea, a spectacular links course.
Here he is with his clubs and then coming up the fairway of the first hole at Tain Golf Club. Lizzie was caddy, and supporter, and was heard several times in two days saying: “at least it didn’t go in the rough”.
The ferry to Orkney (Scrabster to Stromness) took 90 minutes, and passed the sea stack The Old Man of Hoy.
On Orkney we got to stay both on the Mainland, and on the Island of Westray to the north. On the Mainland we stayed in a little inn inland, and had the added excitement of driving a hire car. (Sam discovered ditches on the side of the road, but fortunately didn’t drive into one…no thanks to Lizzie’s hyper-vigilance.) We saw our fill of spectacular Neolithic World Heritage sites,
and walked across a tidal causeway to an island, (the Brough of Birsay) explored the nearby coastline, found a sheltered sandstone pebble beach to eat our lunch on and ended the day at the Birsay Bay Tea Room.
While on the mainland we managed to see our landlords Kate and Andy from Edinburgh who were in Orkney for a wedding. We spent a lovely day with them, including some very wondrous seal watching on their local beach on the isle of South Ronaldsay.
I remember going with my family to Orkney when I was about 12. We watched the arrival of the Queen Mother at St. Magnus Cathedral (she was wearing canary yellow) in the centre of Kirkwall. Kirkwall seemed rather big then, but on returning there it felt quite manageable. I think it had to do with the fact that we tended not to visit populated places on holiday. On revisiting the cathedral, I found it quite a fascinating repository of the history of Orkney and its peoples. Also the reddish weathered sandstone is quite lovely.
A small ferry took us across to Westray on a rather rough day. I examined the nonverbal behaviour of fellow passengers to see if I should be as worried as I felt. One of the crew came upstairs laughing at something, so I felt a little better. I don’t remember being on a boat that rocked from side to side! We were met off the ferry by Lydia and later took a very windy walk for our first look at the island. Apart from exploring the island on foot and by car, we attended a Quaker meeting, an opening of an art exhibit in a historic farm cottage, as well as going for walks on beaches, and added to the already incredible sightings of seals in secluded coves. We also had some poetry evenings, both writing and reading, which were delightful. We didn’t get to visit the Neolithic village on Westray’s satellite island, Papa Westray, because the days we were planning to go the winds were 45 mph. The landscapes of sea and sky are expansive.