The days are short. Christmas is upon us. As I look out the window on my left over the bay, I see the seal which has been haunting the waters near us do a graceful plunge. He's a large one, with a great big doglike head. We have been having wonderful dawns lately. A couple of days ago, I looked up from my third or fourth coffee of the morning (it was shortly after 9am and just beginning to get properly light) and the colours were even more magnificent than usual.
I took this photo
I promise that this is just what it looked like. When I had finished my first go at processing tis photo, I felt it looked too much like a picture postcard and had to call William to advise. So he cast a critical eye on the screen and commented until we could both concur that I was not exaggerating any of the colours. In fact, I had to apply negative saturation and negative clarity to the photo to stop it looking too blindingly clear and sharp to us.
This is the time of year when we have photographers' 'golden hour' all day. So a couple of days before that dawn, I went for an 'early' (after 10am!) morning walk because the west side of the village was being so strikingly lit by golden sunlight. Like this, one of the finest houses in the Hope:
or this (I like the trees growing out of the Nissen hut)
As you can see, there are actually a few trees in Orkney! But they are a rarity.
After taking these pics, I walked home and could not resist this Orkney sandstone wall of the neighbour's house just around the corner from our own: look what a couple of hundred years of wind and salt air can do to stone!
The other thing we did this week was to make a few trips to Windwick, this time not see the seals and their pups on the beach, but to give some TLC to the little monument there. It had looked particularly fine in January 2018, at the centenary of the foundering of HMSs Opal and Narborough (see here for the story)
but this year, when we went to see the seals, it looked like this
So we tidied away the tired wreaths and put a new one up, but what was saddest is that the brass plaque was very dull, with the text barely legible. It had not even been cleaned up for the centenary. So we ordered some polishing mops and supplies and went out a couple of times with a power tool to see if we could do something about it. It's not as nice as I would like, but at least the plaque now looks like this
So there's still a bit of work to be done. It's a short drive to Windwick, and there are some lovely old abandoned dwellings along the route. In true Orkney style, the improved, larger and more modern homes that the owners built to replace them (that's how we seem to do things in Orkney – simply start afresh!) are just a few dozen yards away. I had to maneuver carefully to keep the new dwellings out of shot for these photos: