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Brother Stephan comes to visit

Orkney is lovely in winter, but visitors favour the summer. The isles decided to reward Stephan and Maria with some lovely weather when they were here last week. It's also very good for us, as it drives us to get out more. I dearly love the view from where I am sitting as I write this, but I suppose it does me good to go and see other beloved ones.

This year we went with Stephan Thto Waulkmill Bay and discovered that the heather was flowering already. Beyond belief beautiful.

The beach became crowded, suddenly being occupied by four (!) people, all at once: Stephan and Maria in the distance, William and Arthur on the rocks. It was the height of the season after all:

Back to the car for the next destination:

Our main destination was the Point of Ness, the site of major WW1 and WW2 naval defences, but we naturally stopped at Scarradale on the way to enjoy the view from there over the bay to Stromness:

The photo above was taken from this path leading further up the hill. I always think of paths like this as 'stairways to heaven'. Orkney being hillocky, we have plenty of them:

When we reached the Point of Ness, where we were intending to interest ourselves in historical matters, we came upon an interesting intrusion of the modern world – this drone, which is currently being trialled for delivering mail to the islands of Graemsay and Hoy, just across Scapa Flow from Stromness. The inhabitants will now get their mail one day sooner since this drone can carry a 10kg box to the islands in 15 minutes, rather than have to wait for a ferry the morning after the mail arrives.

We chatted with the technicians and learnt they reckon it will be able to fly a little over 50% of the time before Orkney weather becomes too much for it.

When we got into the old defences for a visit, we were able to see it from a gun emplacement doing one of its runs!

WW2 concrete was of such excellent quality that it looks like nearly new to this day:

Iron work, however, suffers:

(Note how new I-beams have been added to actually hold up the building and make it safe to visit!)

None of battery's naval guns were ever fired in anger during the war (something that was NOT the case for anti-aircraft batteries), which is probably why one one the soldiers based there had time to paint the interior of the mess hall with these paintings.

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For me best photo is pathway to heaven, the one of 4 of us on the beach also pretty good, great visit, thanks, Stephan


Jul 31, 2023

Your heather foto could be an illustration for the song "Braes of Balquhidder":

“Let us go lassie, go tae the braes o’Balquidder,

Where the blaeberries grow among the bonnie bloomin’ heather.”

which some Irish guy "borrowed" for "Wild Mountain Thyme". Lovely songs, both.

The concrete WWII ruins, though, I find not so charming. Too bad they weren't built with a little bit of style. They could be there for a while. There are still concrete structures, extant, that the Romans built!

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