North Ronaldsay, March 2013 – Part 1

Greetings from North Ronaldsay!!  This was written on Sunday night, but only posted on Tuesday as the net was down yesterday…!!

Cathy, Scottie and I got by plane on Thursday – but the wind was strong and the boat didn’t go, so I don’t have my car until next Friday or Saturday. Which means I don’t have a LOT of things. However, we are surviving… I have hired a car from Tommy ‘until mine arrives’ – a very accommodating man!

Nouster, the house where I am staying, is lovely. It belongs to June Morris, and she rents it out as holiday accommodation. It is very well appointed, and it is lovely to be able to watch the waves from my bed…!

We arrived as it was getting dark, and by the time we had settled in it WAS dark. So first thing Friday morning, Cathy was up and out walking along the beach. The wind was pretty strong, and the cloud cover thick, but she and Scottie had a good time – it was her first time seeing sheep on the shore…

01. North Ronaldsay sheep on the beach

… and a variety of waders, here Oyster catchers and Godwits.

02. oyster catchers and godwitts

Steve joined us on Friday evening, just in time for a dinner of North Ronaldsay mutton at the Bird Observatory. Delicious!

By Saturday the sky was brighter, and we saw the sun occasionally. We went up to the mill and Steve and Cathy learned how the fleece was turned into yarn. They then went for a walk while I caught up on the net (Wifi at the cafe there) and then we again eat the sheep – this time either mutton pie or sausages – and again delicious!

Later in the afternoon Cathy and Steve went up the lighthouse – 140 steps and 140 feet high. They were able to see Fair Isle, and most of the Orkney islands from the top. Unfortunately their pix are on Cathy’s phone…!

Yesterday morning Cathy, Steve and Scottie went for another walk along the beach. It is that sort of bay – you want to walk there. The seals were playing in the waves again and the sheep were eating sea weed at the far end.

04.North Ronaldsay ewe and lamb with dyke

And at one point, Steve captured alpaca over the dyke:

03. alpaca and dyke 640

Lunch was up at the lighthouse cafe again, then in the afternoon we went round to see June and her animals. She has a variety of rare breeds – these are some of her rams with Cathy – see if you can spot the breeds!

05. Cathy and North Ronaldsay rams

It was getting near feeding time, so the male alpaca had congregated in the yard. They were hopeful that Cathy might have brought the food…

06. Cathy and male alpaca

Also in the yard were some of the ewes. There are North Ronaldsays, Soay, Oussant, Icelandic and Herdwick here:

07. June's ewes - several breeds

June has one field of ‘special needs’ sheep – the elderly or recovering. Some have recovered, but stay here because they like it!! They include this ewe and her lamb I took pix of last September – the mother had been very ill during her pregnancy, and the lamb has only one ear and its mouth is deformed. But it is very healthy!

08. 1 eared lamb and ewe

Finally we went over to the female alpaca, with the one cria (baby) born last year. They again knew it was feeding time and were very curious to know what we had in our hands!!

09. female alpaca at feeding time

And in the spaces between going outside, we have spent the weekend knitting – all three of us. Steve has finished another neck shawl and work on his first ‘real’ lace scarf. Cathy has been working on a bolero and on a crochet bag. And I have been working on samples and getting designs ready for a couple of project, none of which I can tell you about yet!!

Cathy and Steve go back this morning. As I write they are having one last walk on the beach with Scottie. I will take them to the plane, then go on up to the cafe to get this on line and catch up on emails. It is rather nice to be able to confine the net to one part of the day – it means I am getting a LOT of other work done!

And added now, a pic of Steve and Cathy walking out to the plane…

Cathy and Steve leaving


10 thoughts on “North Ronaldsay, March 2013 – Part 1

  1. The shot of the alpaca at the dyke is just magic. (Though not as emblematic of place as the sheep, of course).

  2. Lots of lovely pictures, my favourite is the one of the sheep along the shore. I had no idea there were alpacas on North Ronaldsay, but they do look well-dressed for the weather!

    1. Yes, June Morris has about 15 – she started with 8 and 2 were in pod when they arrived. Then Gerry let some breed when June was away (she wasn’t wanting babies but he was!!) Then one young male got active before the book said they could so there was one new one last year…!!

  3. Back on Flotta and we have lots of snow. Flight back was fab as we stopped at papa and weather good with good views. I saw your car!!!!!

  4. Those were the fluffiest alpaca I’ve ever seen!!! I’d love to spin some of that. Love your tours – nice change from all the traffic, houses & chaos in my part of the world!!

  5. Hello Elizabeth, I have just finished reading all of your photos and descriptions posted March12th. on your blog. I am very interested in communicating more with you. I have a spinning business in Vermont. A spinning friend in the USA (Vermont) has given me your blog address and e-mail. I will send you an e-mail with more of my thoughts and questions.
    Warm Wishes, Carol Johnson Collins

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