All a-board

Blessed with a still day and a calm sea, we found ourselves at Loth terminal more or less as the sun came up. There was much low cloud, but the early light broke through where it could and lit the sea beautifully – we had several beautiful views of silvery sea on the drive to the ferry and Backaskaill, Stove, and the Eday sound all looked very lovely.

Water Socks WIP
Water Socks WIP

The Varagen was in service, and we were scheduled to come and go via Eday yesterday. Normally we take advantage of the deck space on the Varagen and travel outside in the fresh air, or go in the half deck cafeteria for the bacon butties. We were eschewing the bacon, so yesterday was the first time I had set foot in the passenger lounge. “Mostly too hot, and rather uncomfortable seating” was my verdict.

I knitted on  my Water Socks in both directions and by the time I got home I had added half a leg, a heel flap and one third of the gusset stitches. It won’t be long now until I have a pair.

Low cloud over the Kirkwall area
Low cloud over the Kirkwall area

We arrived in Kirkwall to find it far colder than Sanday had been when we left. There was some low cloud and mist that brought with it the kind of chill that instantly seeps into one’s bones and saps all energy.

We coped with the chill by heading for a good breakfast, which we found at the new Smiddy’s Eatery. I do love an establishment that serves breakfast until a really civilised hour – in Smiddy’s case, 11:30 am. A pot of tea and a breakfast fry-up in a toasted bap was just the job and it fuelled us for the remainder of the day. I should think so – fried egg, crispy bacon (2 rashers), sausages, and mushrooms, enough to feed a small army.We bought some cheese for our anniversary dinner before we left and hit the street.

At this time of the year, Kirkwall is boarded up and looks like some kind of Wild West Frontier town or something. The reason is that the annual games of Ba’ are held at Christmas and New Year. It’s a rambunctious event and there is little in the town that is not protected from the expected heaving mass of testosterone that surges through the town, for what may be many hours. I tried to get a good shot of the shop windows all boarded up but anyone who knows Kirkwall will understand the hazard of attempting to step back and get a wide angle shot… so here’s one taken in a safer place.

Ba'-boarded
Ba'-boarded

For once, we had the opportunity to explore a few shops that we don’t normally have time to visit – I made sure that I got a look at the Wine and Wool shop of Tait and Style and cannot begin to explain how thrilled I was to discover their button drawers! No yarn was purchased, but I did spend some time admiring all the wonderful colours on offer. I also checked out the price of cones of New Lanark Mills Aran in RA Finn’s. That was interesting. More to come on that subject, I feel.

In Shearer’s I purchased some Oak Smoked bread flour (rolls currently rising) but very little else. In fact, in general our trip was a waste of time.  We were looking for something nice for our Wedding Anniversary dinner tonight and found most shops had not yet restocked from Christmas. I am not surprised – we are a long way from anywhere.

While I was out I also tried to find some fun small things that could be related to the letter “E”. The exercise was largely fruitless but one or two things made me smile. I shall have fun putting my RAK parcel together after the holiday.

Finished in town, we walked back down to the harbour and towards the car, so that we could move it up to the supermarket car park. The harbour looked lovely   thin light and I tried to capture it, unsuccessfully, on the pocket camera.

Autostitch panorama of Kirkwall harbour - click for larger image
Autostitch panorama of Kirkwall harbour - click for larger image

Then I noticed something in the water – and was I glad that I had my camera out and open? Oh, yes, I was.

There was something in the water...
There was something in the water...

There was definitely something in the water and it was certainly moving.

Two somethings...
Two somethings...

I got a little closer, to find that it was in fact two somethings…

Small seals
Small seals

…and those somethings were seals…

Closer - two very small seals
Closer - two very small seals

…closer inspection proved them to be very small seals. This year’s pups, maybe two months old. The bolder one of the two hauled out on the ramp and it’s baby white fur could be clearly seen where it remained on one side of its head.

...much closer
...much closer

Evidently these two were not above scrounging, perhaps their survival skills are not yet fully developed. A fishing boat had just tied up and clearly these chaps knew a thing or two, despite their youth.

Feeding Time
Feeding Time

Maybe they didn’t know quite enough yet because, when the expected bounty came, and one of the hands threw a couple of fish in for the pups, they swam off in fright – and the gulls got the benefit.

The supermarkets were pretty gruesome. Lidl was stocked at about the 50% level, with nothing in the way of fresh items. We spent sixty-odd pounds, and that included seven bottles of wine! We fared not much better in Tesco, where there was rather more stock and an awful lot more people. Where on earth did they all come from? It was taking ages for people to get out of the car park and I began to get nervous about the return ferry.

We failed pretty dismally in Tesco as well and each acknowledged to the other what a waste of a day it had been. We could just have stayed at home and cooked dinner from the freezer as we managed to find nothing enticing anywhere in town at all.

We got home just after 5pm and put the shopping away before heading for a hot bath that has done nothing to ward off my muscle aches and  stiffness today.

Issue 09/01
Issue 09/01

So, what is for anniversary dinner? Well, it’s scarcely credible, but clearly it suits us – we are having cheese and wine. That’s it – one extensive cheese board, with all the trimmings. I have made the smokey rolls, and we have crudité, fresh and dried fruits, and nuts etc. We shall progress through the cheese board as though it were a meal, matching the wine to the cheeses and going from light starter to robust main and on to dessert (mascarpone.) Will it work? I’ll let you know. What I want to know is, where’s the cheese course?

We have an array of what must be ten  or twelve cheeses (I haven’t counted), from that humble staple of Cheddar, through a farmhouse Cheshire and a Blue Lancashire to an infeasibly ripe unpasteurised Camembert and the very plebian Roulé and Port Salut – and that walnut cheese that isn’t a cheese at all, but a spread, and is far too nice with port to be snobby about it.

And now I must go – and wash grapes and celery and prepare a pineapple and find cheeseboards from cupboards.

EEK! I forgot to make the oatcakes!

(Like the magazine cover? Click for bigness)

Wordle - click for full size
Wordle - click for full size

And the final word of the year goes to Wordle. I like Wordles – they demonstrate my obsessions and provide inspiration for projects…

Recently, at the: Crooked House

A Month in France: Nothing is Lost

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I am lagging on the Month in the Country prompts, and lagging badly at that. I have a list of prompts t be caught up on and I shall be working my way through them here, or at Scattered Thoughts depending on where the post most naturally sits. I have elected to tackle the prompts not in date order necessarily but to seize upon prompts that offer me space in which to write down the things that I am feeling the need to say. Even if I need to crowbar it in. The thing is, I am going to continue to be short of time and space in which to write and so a two-for-one is useful and I hope to do as many of those as I can. Seems like a plan? … Continue readingA Month in France: Nothing is Lost

Oh, deer

Oh, deer

Nell and I had a lovely walk this morning. The weather has cooled considerably and there was a very pleasant breeze. We both made better time than of late. … Continue readingOh, deer

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4 Comments

  1. SpinningGill
    December 31, 2008

    Happy Anniversary!

    • January 1, 2009

      Thank you! We survived another year. Always good news;-)

  2. January 1, 2009

    I have never heard of oak smoked flour before… must check out Waitrose.

    Happy anniversary.
    Cheese and wine sounds like a perfect dinner to me!

  3. January 2, 2009

    Thanks, Natalie.

    According to the stockists list, Waitrose don’t do the smoked flour. Suma are distributors, though – so your local wholefood store might turn up trumps. The rolls were very good – I think they would be excellent as a ham sandwich or a BLT, or with any suitable cheese. Very good just with butter, I have to say.

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