Apologies for two posts in quick succession, but the weather told us to keep going out and about. A few days ago now, we went out with our Ukrainian friend Dr Oxana Bavar to hunt for heather. The reason for this is that heather, like holly as well in fact, are known to the Slavs as something exotically European that does not seem to grow in their part of the world.
Therefore, as soon as we noticed that our heather had begun to flower, we suggested to her that we should go on an outing.
The surefire way to see plenty of heather (rather than patches, which are everywhere) was to head for the hills. So we went to Evie and then drove up the road to Dounby, which passes through an upland RSPB bird sanctuary. This was, of course, guaranteed to work.
Here is Oxana in the heather:
It's a fun place to be in Orkney, because one feels far from the sea. (It's also more like Scotland). This being the height of the tourist season, it was rather busy: two or three cars passed by as we wandered about. I actually had to wait for one to pass as I was taking this shot:
Oxana was also fascinated to see the patches where peat had been cut in the past. (Sorry, no photo).
2. Happy Valley
This is a very strange place for Orkney: it has trees! Suffice it to say, it's a totally un-Orcadian little nook and very pretty. It also has a Loutit connection, which adds to its spice for us.
More on its story here.
Below is a mix of photos I took on this visit and also on a previous one.
Oxana, above, admires another novelty: a monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana).
This bridge just leads to the garden shed!
It is practically impossible to imagine that the pic below could be of somewhere in Orkney:
3. Harray Loch
After all that exploring, it was time for a picnic. We chose to have it at the viewpoint over the Loch of Harray, home to lots of wildfowl, on the other side of the water from the Ring of Brodgar, which was pullulating with tourists at the time, but where we were completely alone.
Finis for the day