Flotta in Summer

The weather has been awful this spring and summer. Cold and very wet. But there have been a few nice days, and some interesting skies. These are a few photos taken on my everyday dog walks.

One walk takes us along a track running above the harbour. The nearer pier is used by commercial boats while the link span (for the ferry) is the one further back.


On a different day, the light was completely different. The island of Fara with the Hoy hills behind.

I had visitors one day, and the ‘guns’ were very popular!

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I often park here, and walk along the track. The views over to South Walls are always changing with changing weather. This is one of the two Martello towers under the sun’s spotlight….

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…. and on another day it was the lighthouse which was highlighted.

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One beauty of constantly changing weather is the rainbows. One day the bow was spectacular, with very bright colours.

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It was a full bow, and this was the other end:

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A few yards further on I got a better view of what was actually at the end of the rainbow. An Arctic Skua!

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The weather hasn’t always been bad. One evening we went out quite late and the Highland cattle were grazing close to the path.

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I cannot resist taking loads of photos of these animals! All have slightly different shaped horns….


Then over the horizon came the bull. So here is a family group!!


And finally, for those of you on Ravelry I thought I might change my Ravitar for the summer. Not much difference!!

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Flotta in January

It has been a miserable month. We expect gales at this time of year, but we do not expect them to be constant for weeks on end without a break. And we do not expect thunder storms day after day. It has also been very wet, leaving the land waterlogged and turning paths into streams.

This dawn was, as it turned out, a Shepherd’s Warning! But it was striking while it lasted.

01 red sky in the morningAt the very end of the month we finally had a glorious day. It was theoretically colder than of late, with thick ice on all the puddles, but because the wind was down it did not feel nearly as cold. So we headed up to Stanger Head for a circular walk in the heather.

Flotta was an important base in both World Wars, and bits of the built heritage survive all over the island. This area was covered in barrack huts in WWII.

02 sun over StangerTurning round, with the low sun to my back, the hills of Hoy were stark against the skyline. Geese are everywhere: some passing through, some deciding the long migration back to the Arctic is too much bother, and staying here to breed. They are a real nuisance, eating the new grass, and later the new crops, and making a mess of grazing land. There are islands close which are reserved for them, but unfortunately they prefer the cultivated land to rough pasture.

03 snow and geeseWe wandered up to the look out. From here you can see across the island from south to north. I am on the eastern hill. To the west, in the distance, is West Hill, the highest point on the island, and between the two hills is the main cultivated area, with the houses and farms. (You can just see the sea on the far right of the photo.)

04 south to northZooming in, to the south you can see more gun emplacements and a lookout post. These were vital in protecting Lyness, on Hoy beyond, which was the main base for the British Fleet in the North Atlantic.

05 Balaclava bayMoving north is Manse Bay, with the old Manse to the right of the photo. Sheep tend to winter out up here, but most of the cattle come in, to save the ground from being churned up.

06 south and turbineNorth again, and the kirk is the large building towards the right. On the far right is Burnside, the group of houses where I live, and the community hall.

07 Kirk and turbineSwinging further round to the east of north, is the lochan that was dug out to hold water in WWII. It is iced over here. My ‘new’ car is on the far left of the photo, mid way up. Being green it hardly shows.

08 towards KirkwallFinally, a closer view of one of the brick chimneys on Stanger Head. These are all that is left of the officers quarters in the barracks. The men had iron stoves in their huts, but the officers had a proper fire!

09 turbine and chimney

Flotta Christmas 2014

Christmas for the Flotta community arrived on the back of a lorry. As always. And as always people appeared to help as soon as Kenny drove his pick-up into Burnside.

Flotta Christmas  14  001This year, of course, Scottie was not here to supervise them, but Isla took up where he left off.

PhotoELF Edits: 2014:12:28 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizePutting up the tree might be the same as most places, but Flotta has its added extras – 8 guy ropes, double pegged, to make sure the tree stays upright whatever the weather throws at it.

PhotoELF Edits:2014:12:28 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeAs always, lots of folk turned out to watch the tree lights being turned on, and to sing carols. The rain kept off for a while, so there was one carol before the lights went on….

Flotta Christmas  14  004… and then the two boys from the school pushed the switch.

Flotta Christmas  14  005Then there was another carol, before folk adjourned to the community hall for refreshments and more carols. (I went back to work – deadlines wait for no man.)

PhotoELF Edits: 2014:12:28 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeThe lights go on just before twilight, and off at midnight. The tree is right outside my gate, and means I have no need of my own tree inside.

PhotoELF Edits: 2014:12:28 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizePhotoELF Edits: 2014:12:28 --- Save - Overwrite --- resizeWhen I take the dogs out for our last night walk, the lights do look pretty. (The red one is on the hub of the wind turbine on the top of the hill.)

Flotta Christmas  14  009A few days before Christmas we did have a bit of snow. This is Fara and the hills of Hoy taken from down near the pier on Flotta.

Flotta Christmas  14  010The kirk is an important part of Flotta life, and Christine always decorates it to look its best.

PhotoELF Edits: 2014:12:28 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeFlotta Christmas  14  012Many of the decorations were made by the children over the years.

PhotoELF Edits: 2014:12:28 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeThis year we had the addition of Christingles, brought over by Marion for the Carol Service.

PhotoELF Edits: 2014:12:28 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeOne of the great traditions is the Watchnight service on Christmas Eve. This starts at 11.30, and ends with the bell being rung at midnight. We then come out of the pews, hold hands in a circle, and sing Oh Come All Ye Faithful. Then we have a party.

PhotoELF Edits: 2014:12:28 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeChristmas Day was cold and crisp. It was icy underfoot, but the dogs still enjoyed their morning walk, as did I.

PhotoELF Edits: 2014:12:28 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resizeI hope your Christmas was as enjoyable as mine!

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October Days

I love the light at this time of year. It has a quality all of its own, and it changes every minute. The days are getting much shorter, and dawn is now at a sociable hour. My door looks due East. 001. dawnThe weather has been remarkably good recently. The dogs think that they should be out all the time, and give me not-so-subtle hints! 002.  pre walkOne of our favourite walks it up on West Hill. It is covered with heather, which Isla loves to bounce over… PhotoELF Edits: 2014:10:15 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; gamma; resize.. and in! PhotoELF Edits: 2014:10:15 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; resize; gammaThe views towards Hoy, a neighbouring island, is ever-changing. 005.  viewAnd at water level, the seals are sunbathing! 006. seal sunbathingRecent storms have thrown up a lot of seaweed on the shore, and Isla and Meg have both got a taste for it! Their favourite is the laminaria, the same one as the North Ronaldsay sheep eat. It has fronds about 3 or 4″ wide and a crunchy texture. Meg eats it where she finds it… 008. seaweed eating dogPhotoELF Edits: 2014:10:15 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; gamma; resize… while Isla finds it… PhotoELF Edits: 2014:10:15 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; gamma; resize… moves it to better ground… PhotoELF Edits: 2014:10:15 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; gamma; resize… and eats the lot! PhotoELF Edits: 2014:10:15 --- Save - Overwrite --- crop; gamma; resizeWe are getting pretty sunsets at present…. 013. sunset… and the full moons for September and October have been superb: 014. big moon015. big moon with cloudsNo filters have been used!!

Dog Blog

I think it is time for some dog photos! I almost always have a camera in my pocket, but sometimes wielding a camera and two leads can be tricky.

The dogs are both good at communicating their wish for a walk. Isla favours the ‘door’ approach….

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…. while Meg sits in front of me and stares.

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This one also needs to go in, as it looks as if she was giving me a hint!

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There is only one place I can let the dogs off the leads – the emergency airstrip. This is completely enclosed, with areas of moorland each side of the tarmac, so they can play as they like and come back when they are ready.

Meg is usually the first back. She is 11, and is definitely a senior dog.

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Isla runs more and explores more. The typical view of her is this:

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But if you wait you get this:

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The heather is out at present, giving a purple tint to the grasslands.

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The daily walk is to the shore, where at present the thistles are out.

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Even when they are not expecting a walk, the dogs love to sit at the gate, looking through the struts to see what might be happening in the outside world.

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Once we get down to the shore, Meg is fond of paddling:

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The nights are drawing in, and so the evening walk is getting darker. We tend to go about 9.30, and I felt it was time the hi-viz coats came out. The first time they went on the dogs were not keen…

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… but the soon forgot them and were dashing about as usual, looking for rabbits. These blurs are Isla.

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When we got to the shore, I took a pic with the flash, which shows what those coats look like in car headlights. (The leads also have reflective bits in them.)

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Then home to bed for some….

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