Kirkwall at Christmas

It’s  starting to look a lot like Christmas in Kirkwall despite the best efforts of Storm Caroline to batter away at Orkney.

Andrea and Keith Austen of Skaill House Falconry were showing two beautiful owls at Shearers, Kirkwall on Saturday as part of their Christmas events.

Upstairs Shearers have all the antique grocery and hardware items on display.

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  1. We went to the Lucy Service in St. Magnus’ on Saturday. Up to then, I hadn’t felt ‘Christmassy’, but…….the cathedral was beautiful – it always is, what it is, but on Saturday it was extra-special. The tree, the lighting, which was subtle, catching the little upstairs windows. The Magnus Sails have been left since the Festival, and definitely add to the atmosphere – I wonder if they’d consider leaving them there indefinitley?
    Then we had the choir of children, in their blue shirts and tinsel, and the Norwegian lady in her beautiful embroidered dress with pom-poms down the front – if you need to dress warm, that’s the way to do it!
    And then…and then….the children dressed as elves, and Lucy with her crown of light.
    There was an excerpt from the Orkneyinga Saga, with actors playing Haakon (Jim Chalmers) and Magnus (Scott Gilmour), wearing tunics which, again, made me think that we dress far too plainly these days – they looked warm, and also, just……..cuddly! And The Rev was playing the soothsayer – very appropriately.
    The music was lovely. I particularly liked the Norwegian Medley. Harvey Johnston made a very fitting speech about making friends and staying friends – very relevant at this time of possible division from our European neighbours.
    There were a lot of children there, from tiny ones, through to young teens, all entranced by what was happening.
    The lighting was dimmed and heightened , to match what was happeing, which all added to the wonder and magic. When the lights went down for the procession of Lucy and her attendants, I noticed that one of the side-widows, was suddenly clearly lit from outside, glowing. I don’t know if that is the one of Magnus, but I’d like to think so!

    We try to go every year, and, it’s always cheering and uplifting. For some reason, this year was even more so. There were a few changes made, such as the actors and some of the children coming down into the central aisle for parts of the readings. It was a joy, and bucked me up no end.
    Then we came outside, and, thankfully, the full rage of Storm Caroline had passed and it was just a bit windy – not bad at all. The pipes played, the count down was counted down, and the tree was lit to a big cheer from everyone.
    Looking round me – well, as Fiona’s item here says, Kirkwall really is Christmassy – there’s the cathedral lit up , glowing red, and the tree, and the lights in the trees on the Kirk Green, and the Christmas lights along the streets. And – the atmosphere – an atmosphere of everyone having a good evening together, friendly, children loving it, running round, one child making shadows on the front of the cathedral, from one of the spot-lights – it looked great – a big shadow, jumping about with glee.
    We were going to eat at Helgi’s, but there was ‘ no room at the inn’, so we went to The Ayre instead, and then we went home.
    What a truly heartening way to spend an evening. The Orkney people, and friends, getting together in their cathedral with Norwegian friends, singing, talking, reading, blessing. Another link with an ‘Orkney News’ article – I gave the ‘Live Long and Prosper’ blessing to The Rev! he said he’s managing to do so, so far, and he blessed me right back!
    For me and Mike, I think Saturday evening meant that Christmas has begun. Sunday we went round the neighbours, distributing Christmas cards, having a chat, meeting a new puppy – the season of goodwill and neighbourliness.

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