What is it like to move to a place like Orkney – to one of our many islands. Bruce Fletcher from Stronsay recounts what it was like for him in this article from The Stronsay Limpet
Wednesday 8th of Feb 2006
In the middle of January our elderly oil-fired boiler and kitchen stove finally gave up the struggle and ceased to work. A new boiler soon arrived from Kirkwall and Jim Holland, our local haulier, manhandled the packing case into our utility room to await the arrival of a plumber to remove the old boiler and fit the new one.
Yesterday evening the new boiler started working for its living. The house is now warm and cosy again with the exception of the kitchen which is quite cool because the new boiler has no “waste” heat like the old stove; a new radiator in the kitchen is the next priority.
When we lived in Brora, Sutherland in the 1970s the Church of Scotland minister (Rev Charles Abel) emigrated to Australia. 30 years later we got in touch on the Internet and have exchanged emails for the last year or two. One day towards the end of January we got telephone call from his son to say that he was on the Kirkwall to Stronsay ferry and would be arriving at about 6:30 pm! We knew that he was visiting Orkney because his father had been the minister at Hoy & Walls but did not think he would have time to visit us. We had no beds aired or made up and at that time our oil-fired stove was still out of action.
Maureen swung into action and a bed was soon made up, the electric fan-heater was switched and we were ready to receive our visitor. At 5 pm, we got a telephone call from the Stronsay harbour master to say that the ferry had turned back to Kirkwall because of mechanical problems. This ferry was the one that would have stayed overnight in Stronsay and was the ferry that I would have caught at 7 am to go to Kirkwall to get the car exhaust fixed in Stromness.
As this is the refit period there only two boats in use instead of the usual three so we expected the ferry timetable to be re-shuffled. However, the harbour master telephoned back later to say that the ferry company hoped to have a boat at Stronsay between 07:00 am and 07:15. Sure enough, the ferry arrived at Stronsay quay at 7 am, having left Kirkwall at 5:30 am!
I travelled to Kirkwall, got the car exhaust fixed and managed to meet the minister’s son for a lunchtime drink before catching the ferry back to Stronsay leaving at 4 pm.
There are many pleasant distractions on Stronsay.
Yesterday I saw two black lambs as I drove to the shop (my first early lambs this year) and we heard Surrey “growl” for the first time – Surrey’s growl occurred as she was sat looking out of the kitchen window at two other cats squaring up for a fight and miaowing furiously at each other.
As we were driving back from the kirk last Sunday we stopped the car a few yards from the house and parked so that we could watch some seals basking on the rocks that were being exposed as the tide ebbed.
However, later that day and halfway through cooking Sunday lunch the Calor gas bottle feeding the cooker ran out.
It was only then that I realised that I had forgotten to replenish the spare Calor gas bottle.
For folk who are interested – maybe thinking of moving here? – Here are a few more tales………..
We moved, and have never regretted it, one bit. Orkney is a great place to live. There are ups and downs, as there are anywhere – but on Orkney, the ups, far outweigh the downs.
It doesn’t suit everyone, and plenty move here, find it doesn’t suit them, for one reason or another, and leave. But many, many stay, and wouldn’t be anywhere else.
That’s why there are so many non-Orcadian accents to be heard, out and about – variety is the spice of life.
We love it here, as anyone reading my pieces in TON, can tell!
OK – you get the message! I’ll stop now.