Describe your ultimate escape plan (and tell us what you’re escaping from).
What can I say? I have no plans, I made my escape back in 2003. I am living the Good Life here and now and plan to go precisely nowhere.
Describe an item you were incredibly attached to as a child. What became of it?
Droopy entered my life when I was 4, I think. I can remember… just… choosing him from a counter in British Home Stores. My twin chose a white rabbit, in blue trousers. She named him Whiskey – he was over-stuffed and filled with sawdust. Droopy on the other hand was soft and squishy and plush. I fell in love with him the moment that I lay my hands on him. He was known in our house as a bloodhound. The breed, I feel, was debatable. He resembled in no way any real dog that I have ever met.
Droopy was a dark golden brown, with a white chest. The plush fur that he was made from rippled when he was fondled, and it shaded with the light – endlessly fascinating my young eyes. He had a short stub of a tail and two long floppy ears that reached almost to his waist. Yes, Droopy was an upright dog. I made him a pair of trousers from some cotton scraps in the family rag bag. The trousers were of a different colour front and back and had a hole in the seat, to hang his tail through.
Droopy’s name now became Droopy Drawers.
On my first day at school, Droopy came with me. At lunchtime my cousin, who was then in the Big school, came over to examine my friend. She made a grab for him and I would not let him go. We held a brief tug of war. I ended up with Droopy, and cousin Pauline ended up with one of his ears. I sewed the ear back on as best I could, but it never stayed put and eventually was lost, leaving my dog not only drooping, but also lop-sided.
When Droopy first came to live with me he had a bark; squeezing his white tummy made him emit a deep groaning noise.
I was five, going on six, when I was admitted to hospital to have my tonsils out. Of course, Droopy had to come too. Mother, being the mother that she was, suffered some mortification at this idea. Droopy had been much-loved in the time that we had together and was now less than white, shall we say. Missing an ear, and all… There was some arbitration, which ended up with Droopy hanging by his one good ear from the washing line.
The poor dog was never the same again. One-eared, and with all his stuffing now migrated to the ends of his limbs, his bark had also disappeared. Droopy did his duty, keeping me company in the hospital and he did not seem to mind the nurses laughing at his trousers.
When we were discharged, I had a period of recuperation at home before returning to school. During this hiatus, I turned surgeon myself, operating on poor Droopy to remove his broken bark – which was located somewhere around his appendix – a misshapen lump of cardboard bellows and now-rusty metal spring. Bath-time had not been kind to poor Droopy. I stitched him up and solemnly promised no future indignities of a watery nature.
Droopy lived in my bed for many years. I moved him out when I reached an age where boys figured larger than cuddly toys did in my life. Droopy sat guard on the shelf. I was 16 the first time that he went missing. I came home from school and… no Droopy! Where was he? He was in the bin! My mother had decided that I was too old for toys and just tossed the “dirty old thing” out for the bin men. I retrieved my best friend forthwith.
A war of attrition followed; periodically I would rescue Droopy from the rubbish and restore him to my bedroom.
I left home at 18, and went to live in the Nurses Home at the hospital where I was to train as a Radiographer. Droopy kept me company for a while. Then the awful day came when I told myself that I was all grown up and in a fit of prematurely adult behaviour, I tossed Droopy out into the rubbish myself.
I regretted it of course. I still do. Whatever possessed me, I do not know.
Bloodhound image: By Bruce (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Does a messy home (or office) make you anxious and cranky, or is cleaning something you just do before company comes over?
I make no secret of it, I am a hopeless housekeeper. The creative part of keeping a home, I can do standing on my head. I love to cook. I dislike the clearing up but tolerate it as a necessary evil. The routine nature of housework otherwise makes me wish to weep. I find it soul-destroying. Back in the days when my mother was still speaking to me I had at least to keep things in reasonable condition, or I’d have been given what-for. Since I was liberated from her control, well… things have just gone to pot, and especially so since I began to live the life of a hermit in rural Scotland. Visitors just don’t happen these days, so I have no incentive to hire a JCB and move the muck.
Even if I could afford a housekeeper (which would be nice) I would not wish my home in tip-top order. A tidy house makes me feel very ill at ease. I like things comfortably shabby and nicely disordered. Books should be arrayed about me and not lined up neatly, and unread, upon a shelf… you know?
You’ve being exiled to a private island, and your captors will only supply you with five foods. What do you pick?
I am going to assume that my captors merely wish to isolate me and not to kill me, so the island has an ample fresh water supply. There will be edible plants growing naturally, some will be fruiting. I think that we can assume that my Vitamin C is taken care of. It is an island, so I can catch fish for protein and essential oils etc. I can evaporate sea water for salt.
That being so, I would ask for:
So, I have fish and two meat proteins, milk, cheese and eggs. I have flour to bake bread (flatbreads or sourdough) and to make pasta. I can forage for wild carrots, wild garlic, whatever grows in whichever climate that I find myself in. I hope it is tropical – plenty of water and lots of wild fruits. Herbal tisanes will have to take the place of tea and coffee, which will soon work their way out of my system and the cravings will go.
No, really, I’d rather not be on the podium, ta.
Write a piece about a typically “local” experience from where you come from as though it’s an entry in a travel guide.
I know that this does not quite fit the brief but we are a small island of around 150 properties, with 500 or so people living in them. Facilities are limited and there is no special provision for visitors – they needs must muck in with the rest of us. So, I’ve gone for the full guide. The Sanday Experience is really an outdoor one.
The warm welcome begins before you arrive on Sanday and you will already have experienced the friendly natives on the ferry crossing from mainland Orkney. From the moment that you set foot at Loth, you will that the warm welcome continues. One of the first things that you may notice at the ferry terminal is that everyone, from Harbour Master, David Muir, down is relaxed and smiling. The rat race has not reached this part of the world yet.
The largest smile of all is reserved for Kelly, the local bus driver. Should you be arriving as a foot passenger, Kelly will take you and your luggage to your island destination – you may get a tour of the island first, depending on who else is needing the bus. You will certainly be rubbing shoulders with the locals once more.
Before you leave Loth, take time to look about you – a fishing boat may be landing scallops, or there may be Seals or Heron about. You might even spot one of the resident otters in the harbour. In the summer, swallows will be swooping over the water, catching insects to feed the broods being raised in nests under the pier.
No matter where you stay on Sanday, you are certain to find friendly hosts and generous hospitality. The food will be excellent and most likely locally-sourced. Sanday beef is second to none, and there will be a chance of delicious rare-breed lamb, too. Locally-raised pork and poultry are also available – and locally-caught seafood of course. What you might not expect are Kaye’s excellent hand-made Belgian Chocolates! Well worth a detour to try.
A range of accommodation types are available, from camp-site and hostel, through family-run Bed and Breakfast establishments, to Full Board arrangements at The Kettletoft Hotel. There are specialist providers too – for bird watchers and for writers looking for a quiet retreat. A number of self-accommodation cottages are available to let on both long and short terms. Book one for three months and visit Sanday to write that blockbuster novel that you know is in you or stay all winter and observe the thousands of geese that over-winter on the island – stay on for summer and see the summer migrants arrive.
There are few points on this small island that do not have a view of the sea and many visitors will be lucky not only to have a sea view but also the sight of one of the many expansive sandy beaches, from which Sanday gets its name (from the old Norse for Sand Island) At low tide there are likely to be seals hauled out and warming themselves on any available rocks. Come at the right time of year and there may be pups to see.
Sanday is rich not only in wildlife but also in its History and Archaeology. The island has been settled since at least the Iron Age. There many well-documented archaeological sites on the island and most are freely accessible to visitors. Sanday, like the rest of Orkney, is very proud of its Viking heritage and fiercely so of the relics found here, such as the Scar Plaque and the Runestone.
The Sanday Ranger is at hand to assist visitors at any time and he has a wide ranging programme of events throughout the season covering all facets of the island, including natural features, wildlife, and archaeology. You might be lucky enough to help the Ranger with bird-ringing – the night-time ringing of Storm Petrels is a special treat.
There is always something happening on the island, though most entertainment is home-made – Sanday is not the place to stay if you like pubbing and clubbing. A wide range of regular activities are held in the Community Wing of the island’s School and visitors are more than welcome to join in with Country Dancing, or to join the Spinners at their weekly group and learn to make yarn. The fortnightly knitters love to have new people to natter to at Knit & Natter and over-Fifties are welcome at the weekly Afternoon Club meetings. Over the Summer there are four Sanday Soulkas – weekends filled with a wide variety of events, tying in to wider Orkney events such as the St Magnus, Folk, and Science Festivals.
Sanday is an Agricultural community and fishing these days takes a lesser profile than in the past, though boats do still go out to bring in the lobster creels and the crabs. Visit Sanday in early August and see the highlight of the island’s year, the Sanday Agricultural and Industrial Show. Nothing could better represent the life of the island than this one day in the Farming calendar.
Bring your binoculars or bring your camera, your easel or your sketchpad. Whatever your interest, Sanday is sure to refresh, inspire and invigorate you.
Come for a walk up to the school and we’ll try some shots from the hip.
So, the first challenge is up: Phoneography Challenge: My Neighborhood I’m willing to give it a go – I found a phone and charged it up,…