I feel Christmas is really coming when the big tree for the island arrives. It goes up on the grass right in front of my house. Flotta volunteers put up the tree, with the help of a tractor owned by one of the farming families.
The first part of the operation involves sawing off the trunk to the right height for putting into the permanent hole set in concrete. Two pairs of two guy ropes are attached to the trunk of the tree while it is on the ground, and the ropes holding the branches to the trunk for transport are cut. This in the tree is hoisted up so that the trunk goes in the hole.
Now the pegs are put in. These are a couple of feet long, and half is hammered into the ground. The guys are then tied to the pegs, and the tree is straightened. This year that wasn’t easy – until they realised the trunk was not straight, so if the bottom bit was vertical the top was leaning…!
But 8 straight guys are not enough to keep a tree up in the Orkney weather. The four main guys are then double pegged – a second peg is put about 18″ behind the first, and a separate rope joins the two together, strengthening the hold in the ground. This pic, taken later, shows the arrangement:
There was a slight misunderstanding somewhere along the line, and the boys from Talisman (the oil terminal on the island) didn’t come along with the cherry picker to put up the lights until Saturday morning. Once again Kenny Gee directed operations, and all was finished by lunch time.
The lighting ceremony was at 7 pm, with Cathy the nurse turning on the lights. The weather in the afternoon was foul – wet and windy – but the rain stopped just in time. Twenty islanders turned up for the occasion (there are about 64 folk on the island).
At 6.59 pm it looked like this:
And at 7 exactly it looked like this:
Then we sang a few carols before adjourning to the Community Hall for more carols, mulled wine and eats. The Flotta Community Council do this, and a very good ‘do’ it is! Thank you, one and all.