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  1. There’s more to Birsay than the Stane – written originally for Tripadvisor, before The Orkney News came into existence!

    “We live on Orkney ( that’s not the Royal ‘we’, it’s me and my husband, Mike) we’d lived here for 11 years, and had never visited The Barony Mill at Birsay. I didn’t really have much interest, but Mike did. It was raining one morning, the mill is indoors, so we went along to have a look. It’s brilliant! The building itself, and it’s workings, are fascinating, and the man giving us the guided tour told us how so many sayings link with milling – the most striking is the root of the saying “Show us your metal”. It conjures up a strong, strange image. You’ll have to go there and ask to find out why!
    It’s so good to see something working these days. Really working, not at the press of a button, and every part of it depends on every other part working properly, including the Miller – much depends on the Miller’s senses – touch, smell, hearing. Today we are losing our senses as the modern world doesn’t require us to use them. Here, we step back to a time when, if you didn’t use your senses, either you lost some part to your anatomy, or what you produced simply wasn’t right. It’s a different world, and a fascinating one.
    The Mill is run by the Birsay Heritage Trust, and they don’t charge for admission, but donations are very welcome and all contributions are gratefully accepted!
    We then went to the Birsay Bay tearooms for lunch, which was gorgeous, as always. Then to the Antiques Centre near the big standing stone. In a way, this echoed the visit to the mill, as there’s a everything from lovely old furniture to quite gnarly old tools and implements – some of which I have no idea what they are for! Another little link with the past.
    Birsay is accumulating places of interest. The Brough has been there for millennia, as has the Stane O’ Quoybune, the Earl’s Palace has been there for hundreds of years, as have various mills by the burn. The Antiques Centre is in what was the old Birsay Village Hall, and now there’s also a delightful little shop selling jewelry, crystals and fine stones, by the bridge.
    Birsay used to be a bit of a stopping off place, now, it’s definitely a day out.
    And me and Mike had a Grand Day Out!”

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