View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Trip to Orkney - 4 October

On awakening, the rain was pouring and the wind was howling. Dreadful morning, which I spent around St Magnus Cathedral in the heart of Kirkwall. Although I know the town quite well, they had changed it around. So, I had to pop into a tourist attraction to ask for the Tourist Office and the Bus Station, both of which had been relocated. Anyway, I found 3 wargraves outside the Cathedral (photographing wargraves is the objective of this trip).

After a cuppa in my favourite coffeeshop on Albert Street, I walked up the Old Scapa Road, by which time it was drying up. Glanced in at the Youth Hostel, which was my base during my stay in Orkney during September 2004 - see Northern Trip - The Start. Happy memories, although the place does not look terribly attractive.

A little way down the road lies the St Olaf Cemetery, where I located 125 wargraves, of whom 16 were for Norse sailors, 1 Greek and 1 German. In death, all are equal, and political and military differences no longer apply. Next, I went down to Scapa Flow to visit the memorial to HMS Royal Oak. This battleship was sunk by U-boat 47 on 14 October 1939, with the loss of 833 men.

At 1.45pm, the bus turned up to take me to the ferry terminal at Houton, some 10 miles away, from where the ferry would sail to Hoy. The weather had turned severely showery and perishingly cold. During the crossing to Flotta and Hoy, a heavy hailshower strafed the islands, leaving a thick layer of hail in the verges of the road on Hoy. I found the Lyness Naval Cemetery on Hoy, but could not find my B&B. A quick call on the mobile confirmed my suspicion that I had overshot, and a few minutes later, Helen and Derek gave me a warm welcome into their B&B. I was their very first paying guest.

Dinner was at 7pm, and I was served a very creditable pie as a main course. The light died over the sea. Spent the evening in cordial conversation with my hosts. Retired for the night at 11pm.

Inside St Magnus

A street in Kirkwall

Kirkwall Youth Hostel\

Cross of Remembrance, St Olaf's Cemetery; Scapa Flow in the distance

Exhibition on the sinking of HMS Royal Oak

On board MV Hoy Head

Derelict naval installations at Lyness, Hoy

View from Wild Heather B&B


I've decided to put a few ads on my blog. I've used this on several of the sites I keep, and it's not terribly intrusive here on Atlantic Lines. You really have to look for it lol. If you like, click on the ads. No obligation to do anything on the sites you end up on - far from it.


A couple of notes on recent events. Not asking anyone to agree, but just my perspective.

AOL seems to be on auto self-destruct at the moment. Pulling journals and the FTP-space on Hometown will have alerted anyone who's a wee bit Internet savvy to avoid them like the plague. What do they have left? Chatrooms?? FGS, been there for a while, never again.

Well, AOL's loss is Google's gain. They are now hosting our journals, and although technically we'll have to get used to them, it's no really major issue. To be honest with you, I like it that I can see people's real (first) names and a portrait photograph in some cases. Yep, I don't show my face, but that's my decision. The people have not left, the provider has. The community remains and by virtue of the Internet it is supremely easy to stay in touch. Hence the cross-reference journal which I shall build in the near future. Famous last words.

I'll probably follow Indigo's advice and start reading new entries, rather than try to catch up with a backlog of a couple of weeks.

Thursday 16 October

Nice sunny day - in amongst some pretty beefy showers. As nothing when compared to the Leeward Islands in the eastern Caribbean, where hurricane Omar has been blasting through with maximum sustained winds of 132 knots - that's 150 mph. The Hurricane Hunter aircraft had to abort its investigation of the hurricane due to the extreme turbulence. Five HH's have been lost on missions in the past. The Southern Hemisphere hurricane season is now only 6 weeks away, and the first system is trying to form near the island of Diego Garcia in the southern Indian Ocean.

Anyone with problems transferring their journals may want to try again. Don't ask.