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Orkney Time

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Time passes differently here in Orkney. It goes in two, seemingly mutually contradictory ways, at once: on the one hand, because one is surrounded by beauty (of the gorgeous light or super stormy sort) so much of the time, the days seem long because the senses have so much to take in; on the other hand, weeks and months seem to fly by.

Therefore, because time is odd here and one never feels rushed, I decided to experiment and buy an odd kind of wristwatch. Here it is:

There is something remarkably soothing about a watch that slowly and smoothly, in time with Orkney time, moves a single hand around its face. It took a few days to get used to, but now I like seeing that the time is 'a bit after six' or 'getting on for seven' without any extra fuss.

I took this pic at breakfast a couple of days ago. If one wants to read it carefully, it says that it is 10 minutes to 10 precisely on Saturday 15th. If once in a blue moon one needs to catch a bus, the time is easily read to the nearest 2½ minutes – more than enough for our bus service here!

Here in Orkney, though, 'getting on for 10' is quite good enough, and things being so calm here, it doesn't hurt to be reminded of the day of the week, since that is easily forgotten.

I liked it so much, I got a similar wall clock for the kitchen. It has an extra advantage in that, without a second hand, it doesn't click. Given the lovely silence we enjoy here (except during storms), the ticking of the second hand of a quartz wall clock would have driven me crazy.

Meistersinger make only one-handed timepieces and this is a reproduction of their first ever wristwatch face, hence the No.01.


On the photogrpahy front, it being a lovely spring day, I went out to take some photos. And took just one picture! (Why rush? Do things in Orkney time!).

This is the Tomison Academy, a few miles down the road from us here on South Ronaldsay. It was founded by William Tomison, from this isle, who after starting as a fur trader, rose to become one of the Governors of the Hudson Bay Company. The school was his gift to the island of his birth. It operated for many years but closed some time ago, in the 1960s I believe. It now belongs to Orkney Island Council, who are letting it go to rack and ruin.

When I moaned to William that I always seem to take photos that look like potential postcards (it's clearly how I see things), he stood over me and suggested a different crop. This one:

It's the same photo and I like both. Although I'm afraid I'll always be looking wider!


Incidentally, there is a brilliantly produced music video by a truly excellent Orkney band called The Chair, which they filmed at the Tomison Academy. Here it is:

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Apr 17, 2023

Lovely timepieces; and once again I'm impressed by the sharpness of your lenses. Keep up the good work. Nice crop, William.


Apr 17, 2023
Replying to

Thanks for the comment. I take it you think the cropped version is better. Me, I think it’s more artistic, but I still prefer to see the whole thing.

I have a friend in Maine who goes out walking with his dog and takes all sorts of pictures of small things – a leaf in the snow, the crook of two branches in a tree, etc – and they look like art! When I go for walks, I see vistas that would frame nicely but fail to see the art at my feet or in front of my nose. Brains just work differently.

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