By Bruce Fletcher.

This article first appeared in the Stronsay Limpet

Bruce & Maureen Fletcher moved to Stronsay in April 2004 after leaving Scarborough in January and renting a cottage in Orphir whilst looking for a new home. Bruce began a blog soon after their arrival and this is the entry for January 2006. What is it like to relocate to Orkney?

On Boxing Day we were being taken by some friends for a lunchtime drink at their cottage in Lower Whitehall when we came across a lovely sight. Margareth, one of the island’s nurses, was doing a passable imitation of “Heidi” by taking her goats Lara, Naomi and Frivolous for a walk along the quiet road at the far end of Whitehall village. The goats were very well behaved and obediently moved off the road and waited until we had passed before continuing their perambulation.

‘The Orcadian’ newspaper reports that Orkney was one of the warmest parts of the UK in December 2005, the highest maximum temperature topped 12.5 degrees C on December 10. The first few days of 2006 were bright and clear but very cold.

After a pleasant, quiet Christmas, both Maureen and I succumbed to the winter cold virus. Fortunately, we were well stocked with proprietary cold remedies so we took to our beds at 10 pm on New Year’s Eve and waited for the virus to run its course. Unfortunately, the sniffles meant that I was unable to play for the 11 am service on 01 January.

The car was off the road for a week or two over the New Year as a cracked hose was causing a serious leak of transmission oil. One lunchtime I ordered some spare transmission oil from Kirkwall and the package was delivered to our door by Jim Holland, our trusty haulier, at 7 30 pm – just under eight hours from order to receipt, the usual excellent service to which we have become accustomed.

I had booked the car & myself onto the 0730 ferry on Fri 06 Jan, booked Surrey (our cat) into the Kirkwall vet at 0945 to receive her annual vaccination booster and booked the car into the garage in Stromness for 1030 to get the hose replaced. I was up early on Fri 06 Jan, had breakfast, got Surrey into her luxury travelling box and got her settled in the car. When I tried to start the car to drive down to the ferry I discovered that the battery was flat! Panic telephone calls brought immediate assistance from Bob Wilcox and Viv Erdman, the car was soon started and Surrey & I caught the 0730 ferry.

As I was still recovering from my cold and therefore even more dopey than usual I was concerned that I might mix up the bookings and leave a bewildered cat at the garage and give a startled vet a Land Rover Discovery for vaccination. However, all went well and Surrey is safe for another year whilst the car is running smoothly again.

In my last Saga I mentioned the visit by Santa on 17 Dec. “Orkney Today” newspaper has produced more information on the visit. The wonderful sleigh and reindeer float were prepared by Yvonne and Steve Weaver and club helpers, and it was driven by Ingram Stout. As Santa paraded down through the village the youth club children accompanied him collecting money for Macmillan Cancer Relief as they went. The club had voted to raise money for charity this year instead of for their own group. £140.75 was raised for Macmillan.

After the parade everyone gathered in the Stronsay Hotel where carols were sung accompanied by Andy Brown on keyboard. Lee Caithness representing the Youth Club gave a vote of thanks to everyone who had helped towards the event with special thanks to Santa, who received presents for his hard work and to Alan and Carol Cooke of the Stronsay Hotel for providing hot dogs, crisps, sweets and juice for all the children.

Whitehall Stronsay

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