I took Scottie and Nigel out for the usual walk down the pier road earlier, and I nearly took the camera. I should have done.
1. A Blackening. This is an Orkney thing. When folk get married the bloke and the girl have separate blackenings. I had heard the noise earlier, but when we went out, there they were on the shore.
Now a blackening goes like this. The bride is accompanied by her girl friends, and the groom by his mates. This was a bloke. His mates strip him down to not much, and cover him with treacle – cover – from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. He is then sat in the back of an open lorry or trailer pulled by a tractor (as tonight) and the mates get in and make as much noise as possible, with any form of drums, banging tin lids etc etc etc. Bagpipes may also be employed and whistels always are. They go round the streets of the village (or town) shouting to anyone they know, drinking, and generally making merry. The mates usually end up with a fair amount of treacle on them too… And very often it ends in the sea. When we saw them tonight they were at the stage of washing the groom in the sea – getting some of the mess off, and still making a lot of noise.
The women do the same thing, but with the added extras of feathers – the bride is first covered in treacle, then handfuls of feathers are stuck all over the bits they can get to. Face, hair, all get the treatment.
For both sexes, cling film may be involved, to tie the bride or groom to a variety of places. And they may be left tied up in some public place….
It is all a lot of fun.
2. A red throated diver. We were wondering along when I noticed a stranger amongst the other birds just off shore. My eyes aren’t what they should be, but the jiz said red throated diver. I wasn’t sure, as even in Orkney this is not a common bird, but it very kindly did all the things it should do and allowed me to get a good look all round. Since I have got back I have checked it out, and it very definitely was a red throated diver (or red throated loon on the other side of the Pond). It will be interesting to see if it stays.
And tomorrow I WILL take a camera… Assuming the weather is OK…