Nablopomo Day 1: Trying not to fail

Given my post the other day about wanting to liven things up around here, I was an easy target for Natalie‘s reminder about Nablopomo. (A bit US-centric, as usual, but no reason why we International types cannot use it for a little impetus.)

I’m a little uncomfortable. The fit ought to  be good – I want to work on the blog – but I know that life will conspire against me. I’m just not sure that I want to jump on that wagon or be that regimented about things.  Maybe I just want to be aware of Nablopomo and let it prickle me into more frequent action.

While I remain undecided about participation, I’m scratching this post together in order not to fail on Day 1!

What have I go to say, though? Not a lot! I’m spending my weekend in the pub, pretty much – though I did get out and about yesterday.

If I do carry on with Nablopomo, I want to include a photograph in every post. I don’t have one for today, so I shall cheat with one from yesterday if that’s OK with you, dear reader.

Storytelling at Whitemill Bay
Storytelling at Whitemill Bay

This weekend sees the first (Annual?) Sanday Jig & Swig event. The Sanday Tourism Association has arranged a programme of what I shall term here folk and ale. We shipped in some Real Ale from The Black Isle Brewery, stocked up on guest bottled ales, and arranged some traditional music events. In order not to leave the children out of the fun, Rod the Ranger put on a minibus tour of the island, with some spooky tales once told to frighten Orcadian children. Between the child inside and the fact that the trip ended up at the pub for soup and sandwiches – I couldn’t wait to book, and secured my seats as soon as possible.

Unbelievably after so much wild weather, yesterday dawned fair and we were blessed with some blue skies and sunshine. Not very atmospheric for Halloween storytelling but very clement for sitting outside and hearing tales of witches, trows, and seals.

The trip began with a visit to Walter Traill Dennison’s grave – he was a notable folklorist and responsible for getting much of the oral tradition in Orkney into hard print. Clearly an important man in his time, he has the grandest memorial stone on the island.

Dennison's Grave
Dennison's Grave

Rod gave us a little background on the man and then attempted to scare us by showing us a very old grave in the Cross Kirkyard – adorned with skulls and crossed bones, and looking for all the world as though the occupant has attempted to lift the lid…

May Allan had been enlisted to asisit with the tale-telling and she told us a tale of the great Stoor Worm that was slain by Assipattle, and in its death throes formed the Orkney islands from its shed teeth.

From Cross, we went to Roo to hear a story about a sea monster. At Scar we heard tales of far-flung rocks and modern day stories of real spooks in the old house there.  On the return we stopped to hear about a Sea Trow. At Otterswick we were treated to the first instalment of a three part story about the last witch to be tried in Orkney, who hailed from Sanday. We stopped twice more to hear the last two instalments before heading off to lunch.

Jolly good fun.

Many thanks to Rod and to May for entertaining us so well.

Sustained by an array of sandwiches, some fine bacon and lentil soup, and a couple of pints of Red Kite,  we went home for coffeee and collected the dogs and the recycling. We saved the planet, and then took the dogs for a run. An afternoon on Cata Sand and Newark beach proved a fine antidote to being cooped up in a van for most of the morning.

There was a mass of kelp stalks washed up at Newark and this suited Suzie just fine – her idea of Heaven, in fact. Griff’s Heaven was somewhere up along the beach… somewhere. He just kept on looking; plodding doggedly along as usual. Nell dug up any stones that looked suitably round and tried to roll them along the beach. Me, I just watched the breakers roll in and got childishly excited every time they clashed and formed a sideways running flume of spray. I don’t know what this phenomenon should be called properly or even how to describe it accurately but… sometimes when the waves reflect back off the beach they clash with an incoming wave and seem to squeeze the wave energy between them. The result is an extremely fast moving spout of water that looks just phenomenal as it runs parallel to the beach.

We stayed by the sea as the sun came down behind us to hide in the rising mist; while the moon in front of us did the reverse and emerged slowly from the thickening haar.

Home for more coffee, and a hot bath, before heading off to the pub again for more of the Red Kite and some traditional music – not to mention a fine fish and chip supper.

And now, dear reader, I must leave you – for the Yellow Hammer must surely be tapped by now, and the band is due to play at 3pm. The weekend continues.