Monday 21 June 2010

Quiet day in Orkney

It's drizzling as promised, but we spent the morning hanging around inside working anyway. Our house is a typical Orkney shape in that it seems very small on the outside and quite spacious inside. It has huge windows in almost every available space from which we can watch the ducks and chickens. Last night, I saw a curlew hovering over the farm, and this morning, a flock of sparrows came down and seemed to be feeding on the red hot poker flowers that seem so popular in the gardens here.

In the afternoon, we went out, first to the beach for a little while, where we had a good time bothering the local wildlife. Antonia is armed with a seashore sticker book and a nature detective book and she is developing a more precise view of the species she finds: they are not just 'shells', but whelks, or limpets, or periwinkles... Mike and I are trying to use our new camera, but we are not very good at it yet. It has to be said that the weather isn't really doing us any favours, and we don't have a suitable macro lens for close up nature shots. At least I can now recognise an oystercatcher whenever I see it!

It stopped raining while we were at the beach and started again just as we were setting off to visit the local whisky distillery. We've been round whisky distilleries before, but I enjoyed this one. If felt quite small and intimate, and it was interesting to be able to handle the barley, peat, and casks and smell them. I didn't know this before, but all the whisky distilleries are black becase they get covered in an alcohol consuming mould. It's funny to think that there really is an 'angel' drinking the so-called angel's share (the alcohol that evaporates out of the cask), and that it's a tiny black mould. Our guide said this mould is pleasant in summer, but gets quite slimy in winter. Also, we finally got our whisky!!! They gave us a taster and we bought a few small bottles for later.

That's about it, apart from a quick drive around and a bit of shopping. We will start exploring properly tomorrow.

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